24x24 in Western New Mexico

Started by hpinson, February 07, 2011, 03:50:41 PM

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That's reassuring!

I went a little bigger with a 104AH battery.  I'll live with that for the rest of the summer and fall weekends, and since the battery investment is modest, can always move up to a bigger battery or even array of batteries next year.  The charge controller will support that. I think it will do for now anyway. I'm curious to see how the AGM performs, as Simplepump was really recommending the 6V golf cart deep cycle batteries.  The specs for hot and cold weather performance seem more flexable and there is no watering to worry about.

Next comes the automation -- relay and timer to pump the one hour daily unattended. I have worries about reliability. We shall see.


The Linoleum that I had planned to use for the outhouse floor is not available locally, and quite expensive to buy and ship.  I'm thinking of using a product that I saw at Home Depot called Allure Resiliant Plank Flooring. It is attractive, supposedly waterproof and durable, and easy to install.  It costs about 1.70 a square foot, and is available in 45 sq. ft packs.

Does anyone have experience with this product?


A concern is that it is a floating floor.  The outhouse floor is 4' x 5'.  I don't want to floor to move.  I wonder if there would be any problem using vinyl adhesive to lock it in place on a plywood subfloor?


i used that in two bathroom. i cant say enough good things about it. it will hold up to anything short of nuclear war. only thing is if anything hravy sits on it for a long.time it will leave a dimple but it straightens back out, just takes a while

it wont move. just lay it down and run a moulding around the wall basen the backside grips a bit, its not like laminate. believe it or not once its together its real hard to tell.its not wood unless you reach down and touch it. i think mine is hickory, alot darker then what you linked to. i like that barnwood style i see now.


The solar pump well rig is complete and working!

http://ruratec.com/media/well-pics/solar-pump.mp4 (Video)

-- 210W/12V Sun Electric A-210-FA3C Panel, B Grade.
-- Grounded to buried copper grounding rod.
-- Midnight Solar Combiner with a 20 Amp DC breaker and spare.
-- Delta LA302R Lightning Arrestor (would have perferred the Midnight Solar 600V unit, had I known about it).
-- 6GA UFB wire, 15'.
-- Morningstar Prostar-30 PVM 30 Amp Charge Controller, mounted in NEMA4 enclosure on a post.
-- 6GA + welders wire and 30 Amp Blade Fuse to...
-- 104AH AGM Deep Cycle Battery buried underground in a irrigation control box.
-- Back to Charge Controller withm 6GA - wire.
-- Remote temp sensor from Charge Controller to battery.
-- Charge controller to the Simple Pump via 8GA wire.
-- SimplePump and 105ME/GM 12v DC, 60 rpm, 1/5hp bolt-on Motor Extension.

I'll detail performance next; what is working well and what is not.


Here's the Morningstar Prostar 30 Charge Controller doing its thing, in this case showing battery charge in Volts.

The meter cycles between showing PV input in Amps, battery charge in Volts, and load draw in Amps.  I like all this, because you can really understand what is going on.  For example, I could see the solar panel output drop as the sun went down.  I could also see how much amperage the DC motor is using on the lift.  This proved very helpful in troubleshooting a problem that has been dogging me.

There is a useful self test.

I like that the unit accepts stranded 6GA wire. I think it may not accept single core 6GA. 

It's a nice little unit, though does not have MMC. I don't think I really needed that for this small application.  It also has a built in load disconnect.

I need to plug those holes in the NEMA enclosure. JBWeld I guess?


Here's what worked and what did not...

Let me begin by repeating that the well is low-yield, testing at 0.5 Gallons Per Minute (GPM) output in October of 2010. Keep this number in mind for later.  The well is 305' and the static water level is 170'-180'. I measured this static water level many times throughout 2011 and that seemed to be stable.  The water storage column of this well's 4" casing is about 81 gallons.

I have no AC power to the site.  Solar seemed the best option.

Selecting a solar pump was difficult in that most of the available pumps, like the expensive high quality German GrundFOS SQ and the Lorentz pumps, and the newer less expensive Chinese pumps (Bison, Sun Pumps), all pump at 5 GPM or higher.  They also require a long run of large gauge copper (2GA?) cable down into a deep well, and ~300' of 2GA copper cable is REALLY expensive right now. 

Over-pumping is bad for a well, and dry-pumping will destroy the pump quickly. For AC powered pumps, you can use devices like a Coyote Pump Protector to cycle the pump to match recharge and not stress the well or pump. No straightforward cycling solution seemed available for DC pumps, at least that I could find.  In retrospect, that was certainly not the case.

The pump that I found that offered an output to match the well recharge was the Simple Pump:


At it's heart, the Simple Pump is a quality and high efficiency hand pump that can be retrofitted with a DC motor. It will pump about 0.5 GPM from a maximum depth of 200', with higher ouput rates for wells shallower than that.  I believe they have a 48V solution for even deeper wells. The warrenty is outstanding. It gets fine reviews by users.

The Simple Pump is different from the other brands I mentioned in that it sucks water to the surface by a rod and lever arrangement rather than pushing up from a submersible pump.  Windmill water pumps operate like this.

Build quality is very high, mostly stainless steel, and support by Gary Wittig, the business owner, is a phone call, or email away.

The system requires installation of 9' sections of Schedule 80 threaded PVC drop pipe, and custom fiberglass sucker rods to the depth where you will draw water from.  In my case, this was to be 290', providing an ample water reservoir to draw on given the low recharge of the well.  Actual lift is from the static water level: 180' in my case. A very nice feature is that the system is freeze proof due to an ingenious drain arrangement six feet below the pump head. When not un use, water drains back to that level.

My following comments apply to deep well installations of the Simple Pump ONLY.  I would HIGHLY recommend this pump (handpump or motorized version) for wells shallower than about 150'. Installation and maintenance would be a snap by two strong people.

However, using the Simple Pump for a deep, low-flow well, is more challenging.

[Edit - Feb 2013: Simple Pump has developed a mechanical pump lifter.  If it works as advertised this would make installation removal/maintenance much easier for the 150' to 300' deep well: http://www.simplepump.com/Support-PDFs/SIMPLEPUMP-Pump-Installation-Lift-Install.pdf ]

[Edit - Gary will not sell these to the public. After talking with him, it sounds like there is a risk of having the pipe column slip down into the well, and he does not want to assume this risk. This is an assumption on my part, but he did not want to sell me one. ]

Installation and maintenance are a bear due mainly to the great weight of the system.

The procedure for threading the pipe and rod is not difficult, and we elected to do it ourselves.  My friend Glenn and I muscled that pipe and rod down the well, sterilizing with bleach as we went. Glenn even developed a trick with a Prussic knot and some paracord to control the rate of decent of the drop pipe.  There is a "safety tool" and T attachment that prevents dropping the whole column down the well, but in my opinion, the tool is close to failure (splaying outwards) under the weight of 290' of pipe and rod AND water. I've noted this to Simple Pump, and hope for a remedy.  Perhaps the tool can be beefed up a bit with some metal stronger than aluminum. Simple Pump did not seem responsive to my concern. I don't know if they have addressed this since or not.

The installation process felt increasingly dangerous as we dropped more pipe and rod into the well.

I would STRONGLY urge anyone installing a Simple Pump into a deep well of more than 150', to hire an open minded well rigger who is willing to learn a unique new installation procedure, has a crane truck, and two strong assistants at hand.

[Edit - Feb 2013: Simple Pump has developed a mechanical pump lifter.  If it works as advertised this would make installation removal/maintenance much easier for the 150' to 300' deep well: http://www.simplepump.com/Support-PDFs/SIMPLEPUMP-Pump-Installation-Lift-Install.pdf ]

Anyway, we got the drop-pipe in place, and hooked up the hand pump, and found some binding of the sucker rod.  The two of us manned two 9' sections up by hand. The pipe column now had water in it and was MUCH heavier, it was a truly frightening experience. We found the source of the binding; a little plastic guide called a Spider was not in place quite straight.  Very fortunately this problem was near the top of the pipe column.  We also found that while the sucker rod screws together easily, unscrewing it is very difficult, and you run a fair risk of destroying the fiberglass section of sucker rod.  My best guess is that at close to 300' the weight of the rod is deforming the metal screw thread or sleeve a bit.

I find this my biggest critique of the Simple Pump in a deep well application. Maintenance is difficult, and in my opinion, you will likely destroy some portion of the sucker rod when pulling the pump bottom for maintenance, presumably every 5-10 years.  This and the need for a lot of rigger time while you fiddle with the sucker rod to unscrew, makes maintenance an expensive proposition.

Now, we were at 270' of drop pipe, and with a little initial priming, had water at a very reasonable manual pumping effort given the 180' water level depth. My ten-year-old daughter could work the handle.  This is one AMAZING bit of technology.

As a hand pump, especially for a well that is less that 150' deep, I can say without hesitation that the Simple Pump is a great solution.

For deeper wells, in addition to the stressful installation of the heavy pipe and rod, a lot of fiddling was involved to get the stretchy rods adjusted correctly. I felt this was quite dangerous work to do.  My fingers felt in jeopardy when lifting the weight of that rod to do the final adjustments at the pump head.

So at this point, we have a working hand pump pulling water easily from near 200 feet deep. Very nice. 

Next comes mounting the motor and hooking it up to direct PV.

The solar electric system that had been specified was direct PV, a 210W/12V panel, with a Linear Current Booster that promised to run the pump motor during the sunny part of the day -- 10AM to 5AM roughly. The draw depth of 180' was within the capability of the motor.

We hooked up the 12V 1/5 HP DC motor, set the pump arm lever to the innermost setting (lowest flow, least work) turned it on, and... nothing.  Went home, thought about it, and pow-wowed with the manufacturer and solar representative dealer who both were super responsive and patient.  Patience on their part was important, because I was more than a little frustrated and stressed at this point. 

Came back and turned the motor on, and voilĂ , it pumped. But no water came out. 

Set it to the second cam setting on the pump arm and turned it on and the motor stalled.

Back home to confer with the manufacturer.  Out of spec sucker rod stretching was a possibility.

Back again to the site.  On the second cam setting, I turned the motor on, and this time the motor ran, and even pumped a little water.  Then it stalled. I could manually assist the pump by pulling the arm and the motor would just make the complete stroke.  Output was perhaps 1/16th GPM.  This was at the height of sun, at about 2PM.  Back to the first cam setting and the pump ran, and a tiny trickle of water came out.  A little cloud floated by in the clear blue sky and everything came to a halt.  The pump would not restart by itself after the cloud passed.

Winter arrived and I had to put the project away until spring.  I am happy to say that Gary and Ron understood the long timeline, and were willing to work with me for the duration.  I've never experienced that with a retailer before... usually after a month you are on your own.

Having time to think on this problem over the winter and consult the manufacturer resulted in us deciding that the direct PV was not providing enough amperage to run the motor under the load. The motor has a 25 amp fuse, and we were not burning that out, so seemed to be within the capacity of the motor. I had no amp meter so could not measure direct PV output, but that was our hunch. Sucker rod stretch was ruled out at this point.

When  I returned in the spring, the pump behavior was mostly the same. 

One thing I noticed, which was great, was that the pump held prime over the winter; from late November to March.

However the on-off switch was not operating smoothly.  Could this be the problem? Yes! Or at least part of it.  The switch contact was intermittent.  Simple Pump sent a new, more robust switch.  On-off and intermittent circuit operation was now eliminated as a source of trouble, but I still could not get the motor to do enough work to pump more than a trickle of water with direct PV.

As a test, Ron Castle, the very helpful and patient solar rep (Sunshine Works, http://sunshineworks.com) suggested that I run the simple pump motor directly off my car battery using jumper cables.  Half a gallon a minute water output and the motor chugs happily away! Great!

The next step was to add a battery and charge controller to the mix.  In retrospect I believe I made a bad mistake not going this route in the first place. I think battery storage is essential for anyone using the Simple Pump in a deep well situation. I was right on the margin with direct PV.

I went through the process of learning how to size a battery array, and that is detailed earlier in this thread. The forum members here were ever so helpful in helping me to understand this tricky multi-variable calculation.

And now the pump works!

Next problem...  The pump ran at the 0.5 GPM setting for about an hour, and then blew the 25 Amp fuse.  Ugh.

Consider the well flow rate of 0.5 GPM that I asked you to keep in mind at the beginning of this post.  It turns out that the well flow rate is something less than that.  Probably on the order of 0.35 GPM. 

The manufacturer suggested this was perhaps the problem all along. The pump was drawing water faster than the well can replenish and even though I was intaking water at 270', I was lifting from, presumably, 180'. For this motor, that is fine. More than 200' of lift is not (see 48v solution now offered by Simple Pump).

I was able prove this was the case using the Charge Controller load amp meter.  Pumping started at 11 amps on the draw.  After a few minutes I could watch it creep up, 14 Amps, 18 Amps, 24 Amps, and at 25 amps, the fuse would blow. 

To remedy, I needed to decrease the pumping rate. This is done by adjusting the radius of the pump stroke. I backed the pump arm off one hole, to the center of five holes, and now it seems to pump just fine, at somewhere around 0.4 GPM.  I've pumped for three hours now, and the amperage draw seems steady.  The well recharges, just a little slower than I thought and that made all the difference.

Would I choose the Simple Pump again? I don't know if it really is the best choice for a deep low flow well.  I think the GrundFOS SQF-2 or SQF-3 and some sort of DC timer arrangement may have been more straight forward, and certainly more serviceable by local riggers.  Theoretically, I could have taken advantage of maybe 75 gallons of reservoir in the column. The GrundFOS pump and copper was MUCH more expensive (pump alone is over 3K), but I may have spent well over that amount in time installing, adjusting and troubleshooting the Simple Pump.  Solar costs probably would have been similar.

No doubt there would have been a huge learning curve with the Grundfos too.

The question becomes how long can I go without maintenance; which consists of pulling the heavy drop-pipe, potentially breaking sucker rods in the process, and doing the very straightforward job of servicing the pump "O" rings?  How long would I have to keep riggers onsite or callback? Will the motor be reliable over at least five years?

I'll keep this thread updated with long-term performance.  Again, I think the Simple Pump is a great hand or motorized pump for wells under 150'. It certainly is a working solution for deeper wells, with the main issues being difficulty and cost of maintenance.


Great info. Thanks. Now if you can only guarantee that we'd find water at your depth.... 600 feet is more likely....  >:(
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


Three updates. 

1. I could not be happier with the Honda eu2000i generator. It is handling every tool that I throw at it (within reason and no more than 15 amps), and doing it at close to 8000 feet above sea level with no carb jet adjustment.  That includes a 13 amp Bosch compound mitre saw and a 15 amp Bosch circular saw (which works fine with plywood and 2x pine but will bog down in heaver material).  Neither have a soft start.  I'm also making an effort to run it every month for at least an hour and am hoping by doing that I won't run into the corrosion issues so soon from using the ethanol flavored gas which is all that is available around here.

2. I was wondering why our local mouse population was way down this year. It's because we have feral cats!  And now feral kittens!  They have taken up residence in the old collapsed barn.  Yesterday I was heading home, and saw something tiny, brown, and furry wiggling in the grass. I got out of my car and took a look, and a little brown head popped up. It wouldn't let me get too close.  I'm happy to have them as neighbors!

3. The outhouse is coming along well and I hope to post some progress pics soon.


@ Don. You can buy a lot of water delivery for the cost of at $$$600 foot well.  You must be perched on top of some pourous Tuff and Pumice rock.

Hey-- do you know of any cement contractors in the Jemez area that have a good reputation?


A low producing well certainly has it own challenges.  I think I would like to try going to a solar system on ours as well.  More for back up maybe, we are not off grid.  However when the power lines burn down or blow down or the snow collapses them for a few days it sort of makes you wonder if there is not a better way......

I have several options.........  Storage tank or cistern or springs or ???

Thanks for a interesting post.......
Proverbs 24:3-5 Through wisdom is an house builded; an by understanding it is established.  4 And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  5 A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.


Have you thought about putting together a portable solar generator for such a situation?  After setting up this well, such a thing sounds really doable-- perhaps a 200W 12v panel, an inexpensive PWM charge controller (or the more expensive MPPT), an inverter, and a 100ah 12v deep cycle battery, all mounted on a little cart.  The big panel might compensate for clouds -- i've been really happy with how the 210W panel I have keeps the battery topped off even in partial clouds, mornings and evenings.

I was wondering if you had considered collecting rainwater?  Given how much it has rained over the Jemez the last few days, you sure could get a lot of water.  The things about roof water collection that woory me are - what's in the rain, what might leech from the roofing material, dealing with gunk (bird poop, dust, dirt, etc) on the roof that would cause coli / e-coli contamination.


I struggled a bit last weekend with how to close corners of galvanized sheets used as siding on the outhouse (which look great).

This will work I think:

Just L channel-- hope I can find it locally.


Here is progress to date on the privy:

Sub floor is a good quality 1" thick oak veneer plywood. I have questions about how well it would hold up by itself, so plan on installed a waterproof floor of some sort on top of it. I added some leftover flashing around the edges.

The shed roof is sheathed in plywood.

The shed roof is covered with 30 pound roofing felt with drip edges.

I paneled the roof with Fabral metal 8' red roofing panel.  Two sheets covered the roof.

Next, the frame was sheathed with a thin 11/32nd plywood nice quality skin for rigidity. I chose the thin plywood to keep weight down for when it has to be moved to a new location.  I hope it holds up. The plywood wood grain on the inside of the privy looks nice. Screen vents will be at the top and rear above the cedar cross braces.

The plywood was covered with 30 pound roofing felt, starting at the bottom and working up. This step was difficult for a person working alone.

I had added some internal frame of cedar 2x4's as a surface to screw siding to. At this point I covered everything, including the subfloor, with a coat of Minwax Helmsman urethane spar varnish.  I wish I had another can to do a second coat ($$$).  Todo...

And finally added 8' panels of corrugated galvanized metal roof panel. I like how it looks. I had to keep reminding myself to work with the metal panel only with gloves on. Two small but bloody cuts and now I'm convinced forever!  The panel angle cut was done with tin snips, and the sheet metal was easy enough to cut in that way.

Next, I need to seal up the corners, install the floor, install the fiberglass toilet riser, install the pipe venting, and add the door and front facing. Then some final drip edges and silicone caulk to finish up.


Yes, we've thought about rainwater collection. There are filters that would handle the debris, pollen and bird droppings. The big issue in the Jemez is winter and the freezing temperatures. That = the need for an underground tank, especially when it would be sitting for a couple + weeks at a time with nobody around to care for the system.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


The Fiberfab Taza toilet riser arrived today.  Service by Greg at Fibrefab was outstanding.

It was a little different than I expected, and I will need to rethink my floor. It looks like it is designed to be embedded in concrete, as opposed to being bolted down to a floor like the one available from the company in Alaska, or a regular toilet, and I had assumed it had bolt holes in the base flange.  I had really not planned on pouring a concrete floor given how much weight it would add to the structure. But upon consideration, I don't really see any problem pouring an inch or two of concrete on top of the sub floor. The bracing can handle it. 

This tutorial on pouring a concrete countertop should help:


It does make everything rather permanent though. 

Maybe I could add a second layer of plywood floor with the hole shaped as a neck-- that might be possible too.

Also, it is an unpainted fiberglass surface... I guess I need to paint it with some durable enamel paint. Does anyone have any suggestions for painting fiberglass?

Also, there are no holes for the toilet seat bolts, and those will have to be drilled. This gives flexibility to take different brands of seat I guess.

One thing I really don't care for in the Taza is the unfinished fiberglass inner surface. That will be difficult to keep clean due to its roughness, and ease of cleaning was the whole point of a fiberglass riser, or so I thought.  I guess a finished inside surface would about double the cost, so this will have to do. 


For my riser I used a short section of 12" PVC purchased from the scrap pile of a local supplier.  After cutting it to the proper length I mounted a piece of wood to one end to fasten the seat to.  It is mounted with brackets and then sealed with silicon where it meets the floor.  Works great and sure saved some money.


cant see the flange well but it looks like you could trace the outline onto a larger square of wood and cut it out. fit the riser into that hole and seal with silicone then screw it to that wood from the inner flange then you could screw that wood to the top of the bench.

finerglass needs no special care to paint just sand it amd get a rattle can of your favorite color.

if you really want the inside smooth you could sand it by hand then coat it with a few layers of epoxy for fiberglass that you can get from any auto parts store, sand it smooth again and paint it


Brilliant!  :)   I think a smooth inside will be well worth the effort in terms of keeping it clean and odor free.


put the epoxy on as smooth as possible. it is hard and its easier to put on then to sand off. bondo could fill any pits. i used to do body work i have done lots of fiberglass and hated every second of it. 8)


Slow but steady progress on the privy. I hope it will be done by September.

We gave the 1" marine plywood floor several coats of spar varnish, then laid the linoleum floor. 

Finding a single piece of linoleum locally proved difficult, and ordering over the net was costly.  I ended up finding a single box of Marmoleum "Click" at a local green building outlet store.  It went for a good price, being a remainder but is otherwise darn pricy stuff.  The box contained 7 3' sections, just enough to cover a little less than 20 square feet. My wife is good at puzzles, and helped visualize how to piece it all together.  Some cuts had to be made with the table saw, and care was taken to keep the click edges oriented correctly.

The click flooring floats, and a 10mm perimeter was recommended. It was hot when I installed it, over 90 degrees, and it was a small area to be covered, so I went with 6mm.  I think if anything, it will contract.  Oak trim covers the small gap at the sides.

Two holes needed to be cut: one for the riser and one for the vent. A jig saw did the trick-- the Marmoleum and plywood subfloor cut very easily in a single pass.

A 4" hole was cut for the ABS vent, to be installed later.  You can just see the black ABS pipe coupler in the back.  Below that is a foot of 4" ABS poking down into the hole.

The fiberglass toilet riser was given 4 coats of white gloss enamel, sanded between coats, and allowed to dry. I hope it is a durable finish.  Below the hole in the deck I screwed 4 treated 2x4 tabs that I could tap into through the fiberglass lip, and secure the riser to the floor from underneath.  I wish I had pictures of that, but my camera had dirt on the sensor and would not focus then.  I used high strength adhesive to bond the toilet riser to the floor in addition.

I'm pretty happy with the results, though I'm a little worried about the durability of the linoleum. Time will tell. It does look nice. The linoleum is supposed to fade a bit in the sun.

After that we hung and old door we found at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which has a nice sliding screen for air, rather than the traditional half moon.  Rule #44b of outhouse building states that doors should swing inward (so as you can use them in winter), but there just wasn't quite enough room.  So outwards it is!

Next we finished the door frame (my first!) and sheathed the front with 1/4" plywood.

Then covered with 30 pound roofing felt.

And hung the metal siding and corner flashing.

It's getting pretty close to done. What's left is door trim, the black 4" pipe vent, screening the vents at the top under the roof, a backstop for the the toilet seat, and other interior fittings.  Then we can inaugurate! (After passing the State inspection of course...)


 [cool]  Nice looking and well thought out......
Proverbs 24:3-5 Through wisdom is an house builded; an by understanding it is established.  4 And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  5 A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.


That's the same idea we had for a door, one with a screen.   Looking nice.

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


My daughter dances right across the street from the Re Store, so I'm in there every Saturday morning.  They have an amazing variety of doors-- got that there. The screen is great-- it still needs a little work though-- but what a great view it allows from the throne!


Lloyd Shaw Dance Center?  Tango Club?

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


Yes, but Irish Stepdance, not Tango.  Do you and your wife do Tango there? It has the best wooden floor.