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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Changing the Leathers on the Windmill

It doesn't seem that long ago that I posted about changing the leathers on the windmill... they last around one to two years depending on use.
It's not a difficult job to do...just takes a bit if muscle and a bit of good luck. :)

Secure a chain high on the windmill tower, then attach a comealong to the chain..

Attach another chain to the comealong and make a couple half hitches around the windmill wooden rod. Use the comealong to pull the well rod out of the ground.

Unscrew each rod as you go and set them to the side out of the way...

the old, worn leathers...

the new leathers....

The new leathers attached to the bottom of the wooden well rod...

ready to drop back into the well...

the wooden rods ready to be attached and lowered back into the well...

use a wire brush to remove any dirt on the threads, brush with a bit of anti-seize, then screw the two rods together.... repeat with the remaining rods.

as you lower the rod back into the well.. make darned sure you have a good grip on it or you'll be fishing it out of the bottom of the well. lol :(

when all wooden rods are in the well, attach the windmill rod with bolts...

the windmill rod goes up to the windmill head...

if the windmill turns and water comes out, you're good to go... If not, call the windmill repair man and hope for the best. lol :)


Drew @ How To Cook Like Your Grandmother said...

Oh yeah? Well I had to tighten the two screws on top of the screen door today. And it was really cold out.

Top that.

cowgirl said...

LOL Drew! Hope all went well for you! Thanks for the laugh.. :)

Big Dude said...

Looks like a nice little wintertime project - I just filled the bird feeders for my project today.

cowgirl said...

Larry, I was just thinking that next time I should replace the leathers in advance in the fall before cold weather sets in. Sure would be nice not putting up with the cold north wind while out there!

I bet the birds are going to appreciate that feed!
Thanks Larry...

Old Smoke said...

Sounds like you may have dropped a rod into the well once before? HUH!:)
I noticed that it was getting a bit cool out there in "sage brush" country. Just raining here since Thursday and off and on until Christmas.
Stay warm and dry

cowgirl said...

:) Not a rod Rick but about a 2' section of pipe broke off down there one time. $579 later it was fixed. lol
Glad to hear the weather isn't too bad in your area. I've not checked the forcast for here but it's been a fairly nice weekend... cold but dry.
Hope you have a great Christmas Rick!

Jim Dorchak said...

Where did you get the new "leathers"?

And did you build the original wind mill?

LindaG said...

Oh my gosh. I can't imagine having to fish it out...
Hope you have a great week!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the education, Cowgirl. I never would have imagined there was wood down in that hole. My only experience with windmill towers was a 100 footer converted to hold up a ham radio antenna. It was a fun climb.

cowgirl said...

Hi Jim,
The local hardware store carries the leathers. Windmills like mine are common around here so they keep parts on hand. There are also a few windmill repair men in the area that keep rods, blades, etc.. Some of the ranchers have switched to solar... but I like the old windmill.
This one has been here for years...I'd say at least 40 years anyway.

It takes a little bit if TLC but it's a good deep well. :)

cowgirl said...

It sure is a pain when something has to be fished out of a well.. The well repair man has the right tools to get the job done, it just costs me quite a bit to call him to come out. lol
Thanks Linda, hope you have a great week too!

cowgirl said...

Thanks Anonymous, windmills are pretty amazing. :)
I bet climbing that tower was exciting! I should check into ham radios, I can just imagine the people you are able to connect to with one. It would be interesting!

Mrs. JP said...

Wow, that was a great tutorial. Do you use that well for all of your water?
Merry Christmas, Cowgirl, if I don't get around here the rest of the week!

cowgirl said...

Thanks Mrs JP, This well waters the pastured cattle and horses. Also keeps water in my little shrimp pond.
I have a different well for the house, barn, coop and farmyard.

Hope you, JP and family have a wonderful Christmas too!!
Thank you! :)

elenarain said...


Your posts are always so interesting!
I thought I was doing well yesterday when I finally learned to shoot a rifle..WOW, you've got quite the skill set going. Can't wait to see what you are up to next. Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

what kind of wood are the rods? they used to use ash here on cape cod years ago. if we can find any we use them for eel spear poles

cowgirl said...

Thank you Elenarain! Seems like you have to be a jill of all trades when living in the middle of nowhere. :) Hope you have a great Christmas too!

cowgirl said...

Anonymous they are ash. How interesting to use them for eel spear poles! I would love to see pictures of them... sounds very interesting. I've not seen many eels in person, can't imagine what it would be like to catch one. :)

Frugal Canadian Hermit said...

Hey that was pretty educational Jeanie. I have a well here with a hand pump that maybe someday I might have to do the same. I don't know, I hav'nt used it much yet, but I suppose my leathers could rot away before they actually wear out.

cowgirl said...

Thanks Mark! I'd like to have a hand pump well here at the house. The windmill works great in the pasture but I would get tired of the creak and moan of the thing if it were right outside of my window..
who knows maybe I'd get used to it. :)

Unknown said...

Thanks a lot for the pix and narrative. I'll be evaluating a windmill tomorrow.

If I don't know I can't do it, I'm almost sure to try to do it.

Vision Farms, Inc.

cowgirl said...

You're sure welcome Johnny! Hope you have great luck with it.
I've had to replace some of the well rod with fiberglass rods. It's getting harder to find the wooden ones here.
I'm told the fiberglass ones work just as well though.

Good luck and thanks for stopping by. I'll check out your facebook page. :)

williamw said...

I realize that your original post on the windmill leathers was quite some time ago, but I am in the process of replacing my leathers and our systems appear to be almost identical, including the wood rods (that was a surprise)and the valve at the bottom with leathers (the one in your pic is exactly like mine. Now, I was expecting to be pulling up a cylinder pump at the end of the rods, but there was not such a cylinder, only the last rod with the valve containing the 3 very worn leathers. I was thinking that the cylinder pump was stuck in the bottom, but the threads on the piece holding the leathers does not look like it was hooked to anything. Did you have a cylinder pump at the bottom of your sucker rods that you just did not show in the pictures; or did you just lower the rods back in as appears in pics?

cowgirl said...

Hi William!
There IS a cylinder at the bottom of the well, but it does not come up with the rods when changing the leathers.
When you drop the new leathers (and rods) back into the well, the first resistance you are going to feel, is the top of the cylinder.
You need to force the new leathers into the cylinder until you reach the bottom of the cylinder. This takes a bit of force (usually). The new leathers are a tight fit.
Once you push the rod and leathers into the cylinder AND reach the bottom. Raise the rod back up about 2 inches. Then attach your rod to the windmill push rod.

Keep in mind, the stroke length of the windmill. You want to make sure you are doing this on the down stroke of the windmill. (You don't want the windmill to start pumping and ram the rod into the bottom of the well.)
Hope this helps!

Good luck with it and let me know if I didn't explain myself well!

I posted a reply earlier and had it totally confused with my submersible well at the house. lol

cowgirl said...

William, While you have the leathers out of the ground, it doesn't hurt to check and make sure the ball is moving freely too..

Good luck!

williamw said...

cowgirl, I wish I had seen your later comments earlier. I saw your first response rather soon after I posted my question, but did not get much out of it and now see that you were thinking of your submersible.

Well, I put the new leathers on and lowered back into the drop pipe and could not it to go down all the way. I would estimate that I had about 20-22 inches further to go and I assumed that I was stuck on the top of the cylinder. I tries twisting and turning and raising and lowing the rods but no success. I started to lightly hammer the last rod but was concerned that I might mess up the threads

So just to convince myself that I was getting stuck on top of the cylinder, I pulled all the sucker rod out again, took off the leathers and lowered back down and ended up, with no resistance at all, with the sucker rod going down about 4-6 inches further than it was initially set (based on mark I made on rod before I pulled rods out the first time).

Seeing that you stressed the fact that I would meet the resistance of the new leathers and some force would be required (which is a tip I have not seen mentioned on any of the many websites and videos I have looked at), it sounds like you have some experience with this.

Any techniques that you could suggest?

I guess I can find some type of fitting to thread onto the top drop pipe so that I don't damage the threads and use a piece of wood on that and hammer, but anything you could suggest would be greatly appreciated. I did let the new leathers dry out and then lightly trimmed them with razor blade. Oh, and it occurred to me that maybe I put the leathers on upside down, but that was not the case. I went back to look at your pictures and that is when I saw that you posted newer comments from the first one I saw.

cowgirl said...

Dang it William, I'm sorry I posted the submersible info. I had the house well in mind when typing.
Sounds like you are going about it the right way.
The only thing I use to get the rod and leathers back into the well is a block of wood and a good sized hammer. Like you mentioned doing. This takes some force, but it has worked for me! I'm not sure how professional windmill repairmen go about it, but the block of wood and hammer do help.
One more thing. Leathers come in different sizes.. I'm assuming you have 2 inch well casing... that's probably the most common size. You might want to check that the leathers are the correct size.
I've not heard of anyone using an oil to "grease" the leathers up to make the process easier, but that might be something to try. Of course, use something digestible.

I'll be gone Friday and Saturday....but would love to hear how your leather replacement goes!
Good luck with it William!

cowgirl said...

Another thought. Oil might not be a good idea. The leathers need to be able to absorb water and swell!

williamw said...

Thanks for the info, cowgirl. I do have the 2" pipe and I got the leathers from local company who actually did the last work on the well maybe 20-25 years ago. I took the old parts with old leathers attached and current owner (3rd generation well company) personally took me out to get the right ones.

Of course, I tried to get as much info as I could out of him and showed him pictures of what I was working with. When he saw the well seal in pics he told me that they must have done that well because he recognized the custom well seal. (I had been puzzled by the well seal because it did not look anything like ones I had seen).

Anyway, he also told me that my submersible pump is below the cylinder with the leathers. My initial problem started when the submersible stopped working last month and I was not happy to find out the location of the submersible, as the casing is 8" and thought that it might have been on a separate line.

The windmill itself has not been working for a year because the wooden connecting rod below the motor broke. Since the submersible worked fine, I had not bothered with the windmill part, but now am hoping that, because I already fixed the broken wooden rod, if I just get these new leathers in, I will be in good shape and deal with submersible later. FYI, this water source is just for irrigation, not the house.

I hope to attempt the install again with hammer and wood block later today if weather permits as it looks like we are about to get a big change.

Thanks again and I will let you know. Have a great weekend.

cowgirl said...

William, thanks for letting me know! Great that your well man is the one who has worked on it before too. That's nice!! I'm sure he is of great help. Sounds like a good, reliable company!

I like to take notes and keep track of anything done to my wells. I'm sure you probably have a better memory and don't have to do that. lol!!

Best of luck to you with it. I hope all goes smoothly for you!
Getting a bit of snow here today. Not sure where you're located but I hope you get finished before the cold weather hits.
Thanks William, have a great weekend too!