Discription of a water pumping windmill
The IRON MAN Windmill™ is a modern version of the Traditional American Water Pumping Windmill. This legendary machine has dependably provided significant amounts of water, serving the needs of farms, families and communities with only minimal attention for over 150 years. First designed in the mid 1800's, the traditional American windmill has been improved with countless innovations and is now a highly refined and successful technology that is only slightly reminiscent of it predecessors. The Iron Man Windmill is able to pump impressive amounts of water in very light breezes as it lifts water economically to elevations greater than 1200ft (400M). It has a practical working life greater than 1/2 a century with proper maintenance. They routinely survive storms that wreck buildings without suffering damage. Many earlier models of the traditional American Windmill are still working today after providing 70 or more years of dependable service. Iron Man Windmill™ Co. is proud to continue this long tradition while working consistently to improve our windmills and striving to make them even more affordable.

While they are simple in operation, they incorporate many details that are necessary for proper operation, protection from storms, providing correct lubrication of the moving parts and ultimately a long and trouble free life. We will describe and attempt to explain the operation of the major components here.

Two or more heavy steel bands support the sails and maintain proper alignment. They also provide strength to hold the wind wheel together in strong winds, when the centrifugal forces can be great. Strong steel Wheel Arms connect to the Hub to hold the Bands in alignment and provide strength like the spokes in a bicycle wheel.
Water pumping windmill wind wheel
Aerodynamics of a water pumping windmill
All IRON MAN Windmills™ use a steel multi-bladed wind wheel. Multiple curved sails are rigidly mounted at an angle to the wind. As the wind passes through the opening between the sails, it is compressed on the face of the sail. As it exits the wind wheel, an area of low pressure is created behind the sail. It is this difference in pressure that applies a force against the sail, causing it to rotate. This design provides a high torque at very low wind speeds. Because low wind speeds are the most common, it is essential that water-pumping windmills work in low wind speeds.

This design is not a product of accident! It is the result of two years of meticulous scientific study where more than 2000 tests were conducted on 65 different designs of wind wheels and many variations of these designs. The result is the lightest, strongest and most efficient wind wheel ever used on a water pumping windmill. Although there has been many attempts to improve on this design, it still stands unchallenged as the most practical design yet produced. It is interesting to note that the design has been so well refined, that small changes, even to the curvature of the sail, result in a reduction of pumping ability. While countless efforts to improve this design have been made, it still reigns supreme, especially when working in very low wind speeds.
The Hub in the center of the Wind wheel is attached to the Wind Wheel Shaft (often called the "Main Shaft") of the windmill gearbox. The wind wheel rotates and causes the Wind Wheel Shaft to turn. The Wind Wheel Shaft is supported by bearings, usually made of Babbitt metal, which has been found over many years to provide excellent service in windmills. The Main Shaft supports 2 Drive Gears, often called the Small or Pinion Gears. The two Drive Gears rotate causing the two Driven Gears (often called large gears) to rotate. Two Pitman Arms are caused to move up and down as the Driven Gears rotate. The Pitman Arms cause the Guide Wheel and the other parts attached to the Guide Wheel Shaft to move up and down, completing one pumping cycle. The Oil Ring is one of many special devices used to lubricate the various parts. In this case it carries oil from the outside of the large gears up to the Guide Wheel Shaft and the Guide Wheel. The Wind Wheel of most Traditional American Windmills turns about 3-2/3 times to complete one cycle. Some direct drive windmills that do not use gears have been produced, but have not been as successful as back geared windmills, like the examples shown here.

How a water pumping windmill gear box works

How a water pumping windmill gear box works
Left, the Pitman Arms are at the bottom of the stroke. The Guide Wheel keeps the Pump Rod moving in a straight line for the full length of the stroke. If you look closely, you can see that the Large Gears have two provisions for supporting the Pitman arms. The common position provides a long stroke, which is the normal stroke. The other provisions allow the windmill to operate with a short stroke. The use of the short stroke allows water to be pumped in lower wind speeds or to pump water higher than is usual. This can be a very important feature if the water level in your well drops, or there is a long period of very light winds. With normal wind and water conditions, the short stroke is not used.

When the short stroke is used, it is also necessary to change the guide wheel shaft to the lower set of holes at the top of the Pitman Arms. If this is not done, the oil ring(s) cannot come in contact with the large gears and no oil will get to the parts at the top of the gearbox!
The IRON MAN Windmill™ uses two sets of gears and Pitman Arms. This has the advantage of dividing the load so each Driven Gear and Pitman Arm carries only half the load. This type of pumping mechanism is very important for long life and efficient operation.

The windmill gearbox provides the motion and lifting force necessary to literally lift the water from its source. The windmill pump lifts the entire column of water from the surface of the water in the bottom of the well. This is why it is necessary for windmills to have a strong and efficient mechanism.

Water pumping windmill gearbox cutaway view
Modern standard windmill pump
Located below water level in well.

Windmill pump cutaway view
Standard modern windmill pump (above)is the device that uses the power of the wind to lift the water to a higher elevation. Water is lifted to the surface when the pump rod raises the piston. The piston contains a valve(s) that opens when the piston decends to alow water to pass above the piston. The direction of the piston reverses now moving upward and water is moved up the pipe towards the surface. Water is also drawn into the lower section of the pump cylinder through a protective screen and lower check valve. When the pump rod reverses again and begins to descend, the lower check valve closes and the piston check valve opens allowing the water in the cylinder to pass through the piston check valve and become trapped above the piston when the check valve closes. Valve operation is completely automatic. The cycle is constantly repeated as the wind wheel is rotated by the wind, operating the reciprocating mechanism in the gearbox, which causes the pump rod and piston to move upward and downward.
Standard modern windmill well pump (left) connects to the bottom of a string of pipe. See illustration at the top of this page. The Pump Rod transmits the recriprocation motion from the gearbox to the pump piston through the full length of well pipe. The pumping cycle is slow and steady, reducing friction and allowing operation at higher efficiency than is possible with rotary pumps. Rotary pumps require much higher speeds and hence suffer from increased losses due to friction that are not experienced by a windmill pump. It is always best to locate the pump cylinder below the lowest level of water for the most dependable operation.

Iron Man Windmill Pumps use a stainless steel liner with a highly polished inside diameter. This SS liner is pressed into a hot galvanized steel casing that has been properly prepared. Old fashon windmill pumps used piston seals, often called leathers or pump buckets. While leather seals have provided good service through the years, they suffer from considerable friction when working on the cylinder wall and hence limit operation efficency to about 50% (see note 1). Iron Man Pumps do not use any leather seals or any leather parts. All seals are made in our factory from either a special formulation of Poly-urethane or Poly-Ethylene, depending on the type of service. Modern pump seals work with reduced operating friction. In turn, this reduces the load on the gearbox and bearings allowing the windmill to begin working in lighter winds and allowing the windmill to operate at a higher rate of speed pumping more water than is possable when leather seals are used. Seal life has also been extended an average of about 100%. Pumps for shallow well service - up to 60ft - are usually provided with 2 piston seals. Pumps used with higher pumping elevations are provided with 3 or four piston seals.

Accurately machined hemispherical poppet valves are used exclusively in all pumps from 2in inside diameter to 10in inside diameter. They provide the most efective seal, opening and closing quickly. Smaller pumps are provided with ball valves, larger pumps use two or more flapper valves that are mounted on and faced with silicon sheet as a hinge and a seal. Silicon valve facing costs more but seals better and greatly outlasts neoprene or leather. Valve ports of the largest diameter possable are used to maximize the free flow of water through the ports and around the valves.

Iron Man well pumps are available in two configurations - open top and closed top. Open top pumps allow the pump rod to be disconnected and easily removed, without having to remove the well pipe. This makes replacing the piston valves a snap. An optional removable foot valve allows the piston to be lowered and rotated, causing the bottom of the piston to connect with the foot valve cage. Both can then be lifted to the surface for servicing without any need to remove the well pipe. This is a great convenience when servicing deep well pumps. Iron Man Windmill Co. regularly provides standard or special pumps of all sizes and types for every pumping application.
Iron Man Agricultural Pumps (right) are capable of lifting large amounts of water short elevations. These high capacity pumps are an ideal solution for wind powered agricultural drainage. Tile lines drain excess ground water into a cistern. The water is then lifted in a large pump up to a higher elevation and flows to a location where it can be removed without causing further problems.