Southern Agrarianism and the culture of the Old South

More Information on the Simple Pump

In May of last year, I wrote a post (see original post) about the installation of a hand pump in tandem with the electric pump that supplies our household water. The folks from Simple Pump learned of the post, and pointed our some incorrect information in that post concerning their product. I invited them to provide corrected information and to describe the Simple Pump and its benefits. I deeply appreciate the opportunity to correct any wrong information concerning hand pumps – or anything else covered on The Southern Agrarian.

Mr. McGehee,

I’d like to offer you some information about the Simple Pump.

It’s clear that you did not meet a “Simple Pump system”, as we do not use any lightweight plastic pipes. Our drop pipes are Sch.120 PVC, manufactured specially for us with bell-end, screw-in joints that are much stronger than PVC’s normal glued joints. The company you spoke of was not an authorized Simple Pump dealer, and I can only conclude they put together some Simple Pump parts with other components. (We have found out about a few instances of this happening. It seems you have shown us another.)

Following are some particular points about the Simple Pump.

With respect to these points — what advantages the Simple Pump has are only in respect to a particular person’s needs and perspective. E.g. A GM truck or a Ferrari have NO advantage at all over a Ford Focus — except with respect to what a particular individual wants or needs.

Do they need to pump from a shallow or a deep well? Are they looking for something lightweight (and less expensive) to pump for a couple of hours or days? Or do they want to have backup they can depend on for weeks, months or longer?

As in any field, it’s a question of each person balancing needs and cost with capabilities, durability and usability.



The fiberglass rod is 20,000 lb tensile strength, enormously stronger than necessary, even to pump from a water level of 325 feet.


Steel rods provide strength, at the cost of much greater weight and, therefore, pumping effort — to the extent that it can be prohibitive for the average person at even a moderate depth. And when we get a little further down, various other pumps rapidly become unusable. E.g. at 200 feet, some other pumps require forty of fifty pounds of downforce on the handle. The Simple Pump requires TEN pounds.

One person’s remark:
“…lifting water from 50-75 feet, and my 6-year-old was doing it with ONE HAND!!!”

The lower pumping effort also allows the Simple Pump to pump from much further down than any other hand pump — from 325 feet water level. Even then, the effort remains moderate – only about 16 pounds.


Here is just one illustrative point about the Simple Pump. The pivot points of the handle are not just drilled holes with bolts through them. They have bronze bushings — a very tough metal. And not only that, the bronze is then impregnated with graphite to lubricate. There are many other details where the quality of manufacture is evident.

Some comments:

“This is obviously the Cadillac of the industry, and I am impressed. I recognize the value of the investment in your quality.”

“These parts look like they belong in an Indy Car engine.”

“We love the pump and know it will give us many years of quality service. As a mechanical engineer myself in aerospace, I know quality when I see it – and this is the real deal.”


Of course, there is much more I could write about. I hope these few points, above, have given you a better impression of the quality of the Simple Pump. I would invite you and your readers to examine the Simple Pump and other pumps, with these questions:

1. What is the weight of the mechanism? Can I install and maintain it myself?

2. Is the pump freeze-proof?

3. Is the pump designed to share a casing with a submersible? Or must it be installed in a dedicated well?

4. What are the high-wear pivot points made of?

5. How deep can water realistically be pumped from?

6. How much pumping effort from, say, 100 foot static?

7. Does it pump into my home’s pressure tank, giving full use of all taps and fixtures? Or just pump into a bucket?

8. What is the material of the foot valve seal? What is the expected replacement frequency? At what cost and effort?

9. What is the full cost, with shipping, of a ready-to-go system?

10. Is there a written warranty?

Michael Linehan

I need to point out an important factor that we haven’t covered yet, and that is the matter of volume per pump stroke. The first hand pump well that I put in (see photo below) had a 3″ pump cylinder. Each stroke would pump a large amount of water, but it was very difficult to pump. Young children could literally swing from the pump handle; it was that hard to pump. The Bison pump has a smaller diameter cylinder and can easily be pumped with one hand – but it pumps less water per stroke than the 3″ cylinder did. The Simple Pump is even easier to pump than the Bison, but with it’s 1″ pump cylinder, it pumps even less water per stroke than the Bison. The bottom line here is that the basic rules of physics apply – you don’t get something for nothing. Lots of water = lots of work, no matter how you slice it.

• You can pump it fast
• You can pump it easy
• You can pump lots of water
Pick any two. You lose the third one.

Look at your own needs, decide what works best for YOUR SITUATION, then find what best fits those needs. If very easy pumping is a big factor, and you don’t mind pumping more strokes for the same amount of water, then the Simple Pump is clearly the better choice. If the amount of effort per stroke is not a major issue for you and you’d rather pump more water with fewer (but harder) strokes, then the Bison or a traditional hand pump may be your best choice. There is no single “Best Choice” for everyone.

Bison water pump installed in tandem with an electric submersible pump on a 4 inch well

Bison water pump installed in tandem with an electric submersible pump on a 4 inch well

Traditional hand pump. This started out with a 3" pump cylinder, but I replaced it with a smaller Bison cylinder.

Traditional hand pump. This started out with a 3″ pump cylinder, but I replaced it with a smaller Bison cylinder.


  1. doug bergstrom

    Gosh —- this posting is one of the many reasons I read and enjoy your site.
    Integrity and honesty and trustworthiness and steadfastness to the truth.
    I very much need one of these type of pump and because of your initial posting and this subsequent follow-up I am convinced the Simple Pump is now my choice.
    Keep up the good work – you very much appreciated, at least by this reader.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thank you, Doug! I really appreciate the kind words.

      I’m confident that you’ll be well satisfied with the Simple Pump. While that wasn’t my choice, as I said, everyone’s situation is different and it’s important to understand your own needs and which option best fits those needs.

      When you get it installed, if you wouldn’t mind sharing your thoughts on it, I’d love to post your review of the Simple Pump once you’ve got it installed and are using it. The friend who first got me interested in installing the pump is still looking at the Simple Pump as his first choice.

  2. Todd - Water Well Repair

    Wow I remember being a kid and using a hand pump was incredibly difficult for me. There we’re some I could literally hang off, though those may have just been incredibly old. But I am with Doug on this. You always provide a great read and the pictures to follow up. The amount of information and how logically organized it is, is wonderful. Thanks for posting again!

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thank you, Todd. Coming from someone with your credentials is especially meaningful. It’s great to have different options – each person has their own specific situation that is best suited for one of those options. The important thing is that people recognize the importance of water. The vast majority of people take it for granted. They think that water comes from the faucet in the bathroom or the kitchen. They never truly make the connection that it comes from deep underground (in most places, anyway), and that without water – a LOT of water – life ceases to exist. I’m a big advocate of folks having a dependable source of good drinking water available – a source that does not depend on resources beyond our control. Again, thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  3. Gryphon

    Hello. I have a question. I’ve been debating whether to buy a bison or a simple hand pump. Bison claims using a fiberglass rod is dangerous because if it ever splinters you have the whole well contaminated. That makes sense to me since my fiberglass driveway marker rods do splinter after time. What are your thoughts?
    I am still undecided on which pump to get… Thank you.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Having just shattered one of them myself (ran over it with the lawnmower) I agree – I don’t want any fiberglass anywhere near my drinking water. Even without that though, I just like the idea of using stainless steel. I’ve been very pleased with my Bison and I don’t hesitate to recommend it when asked.

  4. Michael Linehan

    from Simple Pump Co.

    The pumping force is linear through the rods. Our rods are enormously stronger than needed to do their job… to our maximum of 325’ water level (with just 16lbs of force needed). As long as they are not bent abnormally at a severe angle or run over, there is no reason they would ever splinter. Bending to that degree would, of course, also damage a metal rod.

    If you hit anything with a lawn mower it will probably create shards, even a steel rod.

    Yes, sunlight degrades fiberglass. But our rods are not exposed to the sun like a driveway marker is. So that UV degredation doesn’t happen.

    One con of steel is the effort needed to pump. We’ve had people replace working pumps of other types with a Simple Pump, because their pump was just way too much work to be practical.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thank you for clarifying this. Although I really like my Bison pump, I have “no dog in this fight”. If you have any further information on the Simple Pump that you’d like to add to the discussion, I would welcome the information so we can share it with folks. My own choice might not be he best choice for someone else with a different set of circumstances. If the amount of information calls for its own separate post, we can do that too.

      • Michael Linehan

        Thank you, Stephen.

        One thing I like to say is that no pump is the best… it all depends, as you say, on a person’s circumstances… whether a particular quality or ability is relevant to that person’s life.
        Just like a truck, Smart Car or Ferrari could also be “best”… depending on a particular person’s life.
        And we also, of course, have the cost and benefits balanced with what someone can afford.

        So I’d like to offer some neutral questions that let people evaluate different possibilities in light of THEIR particular circumstances, wants and needs:

        1. What is the total cost (with shipping) of a ready-to-pump system for your well. 
        2. Is the pump designed to share a casing with a submersible? 
        3. How much pumping effort from (for example) 200 foot static? 
        4. Can it EASILY pump into your pressure tank and give full use of all your home’s taps and fixtures?
        5. What diameter clearance down the casing does the pump require? 
        6. How far down can water realistically be pumped from? 
        7. How many gallons per minute does the pump give? 
        8. What is the pump made of? 
        9. Are those materials Safe Drinking Water Act approved? 
        10. Is the pump freeze-proof? 
        11. What are the wear points of the handle made of? 
        12. Can it pump uphill? 
        13. From how far down can it pump into your pressure tank?
        14. Is there a discount for multiple unit purchases – for yourself or for family and friends? 
        15. Is the pump made in the USA? 
        16. Is there a specific, written warranty? 

        That said, here are a few of the points that are distinct about the Simple Pump:
        – Requires DRAMATICALLY less pumping effort.
        – Can pump from much further down and still with only moderate effort – from 325’ water level.
        – Costs MARKEDLY LESS than comparable pumps.
        And a unique ability… as someone gets older and maybe doesn’t want all that hand pumping any more, the same base pump can have one of our solar motors added — whether for power outages or day-to-day off grid living.

        We would suggest that the Simple Pump gives the most capability and quality for the dollar. But the questions above will, I hope, help readers do their own evaluation.

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