The Zimbabwe Blair Pump

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The Blair pump was first designed by Peter Morgan of the Blair Research Laboratory in 1976 whilst on a tour of the communal lands in Madziwa. It was further developed and tested at the laboratory and put on trial in many areas of Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia).

At the time no other known hand pump used the same principles of pumping water through the pushrod to emerge through the handle under pressure or to use a reciprocating hand pump which did not use seals to make a water tight link between the piston and cylinder. The water itself formed a fluid seal as it passed between the narrow gap between piston and cylinder.

The first Blair Pumps (named after Dr. Dyson Blair) were heavy duty and used a 90mm PVC pipe as a cylinder/rising main and a 25mm steel pipe as a push rod. They had a maximum lift of 6m. Later lighter duty Blair Pumps, designed for family use, used 40mm PVC as a cylinder/rising main and 25mm PVC as a pushrod. Marbles and rubber balls were used as valves in the light duty model.

The Blair Pump was also mass produced in the early 1980’s using a 50mm PVC pipe as a cylinder/rising main and 25mm PVC pipe as a pushrod. The valves were made of rubber balls. Above ground components were made of steel.

Many thousands of commercial Blair Pumps were sold. Light duty and mass produced Blair Pumps had a maximum length of 12m. The spout delivers water under pressure and therefore a hose pipe can be fitted to the spout and used to water gardens.

The concept has since been used widely in many countries throughout the developing world. The same principle can be used to pump other fluids.
 

 

Pictures, videos, & downloadable resources

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How we collect our drinking water:

 

Old footage from the 70s (Blair pump @ 1:00):

 

The Central African Journal of Medicine Nov 1977

The Blair Pump - Light Duty Model Diagrams 1984

The Blair Pump (from Rural Water Supplies & Sanitation book 1990)

The Blair Pump - 2014 update

The High Delivery Blair Pump - 2015

Making a Blair Pump for Above Ground Water Storage - 2019

Additional resources on main resource page here

 

© 2022 Dr Peter Morgan