The Wind Rustler. A queer and simple contrivance this, and quite common in Western Kansas. One of these odd arrangements to attract the curiosity of the modern Don Quixote’s of the plains is but poorly illustrated in Figure 71. In this machine the fans are eight feet long and three feet wide, with their broadsides placed so as to catch the prevailing north and south winds.

The box is a trifle over eight feet square, with the axle of the wheel resting on the top and sides. The lumber had to be hauled fifty miles, and yet the whole plant cost the maker but fifty dollars. The water was raised forty-five feet and irrigated five acres. Such a mill may give good service where only a small quantity of water is required, or where the mill is not surrounded—nor likely to be—by trees or other obstructions which shut off the winds; but for irrigating considerable tracts, or if trees or buildings are nearby north or south, results will scarcely be satisfactory.

Another plan for a wind rustler is used in Nebraska. Four tall posts are set in the ground at proper distances apart. A wooden windlass revolves in boxings attached to the top of each pair of posts. The fans are made of boards set into auger holes in the middle of the windlass. A small iron crank at one end of the windlass operates the pump.

I came across this piece in an old book about irrigation, as I was doing some research on how the old timers used to supply water to their crops in the absence of rain. It looks pretty crude, but I think it could work ok if you have limited resources available, and a good strong, steady wind to power this gizmo. But research is research and I found that probably the best solution to a steady water supply with minimal effort is to install an old fashioned windmill on your survival homestead. They work 24/7 and aside from a little lubrication every now and then need no attention. And they won’t be affected by an EMP or solar event that would disrupt the normal electrical supply to your electric motor.

I also came across this piece from the 1911 Breeders Gazette on how to hook up your windmill to a pump through a system of gears. It has its applications, but it may not necessarily be the best option for all situations. Read it over and you may find a use for this bit of knowledge as you create your own survival homestead.


The problem of pumping water by means of a windmill that is located some distance from the well is not always easy of a satisfactory solution, especially with any light, cheap equipment. For example: Suppose we had a 14′ wheel and wooden tower and want to pump at about 125′ from the tower. Water can be had at 18′ deep in quicksand.

First: To locate the pump at the windmill, which could be located as desired at one end of the granary. Then connect this pump with the well by means of piping that is laid in the ground of sufficient depth to protect it from frost, the piping being carefully laid so as to prevent its getting out of alignment and developing any possibility of leaks. This would work satisfactorily provided the suction did not exceed 25′, depending, however on the altitude of the place where the pump is located.

If it is desirable to pump water from more than one well this can be accomplished by piping to each well and putting a cut-off valve on each line of suction pipe installed.

In order to have this equipment work satisfactorily it is of utmost importance that good material be used and that the possibility of leaks in the pipe be prevented, as any small leak in the piping would destroy the vacuum and would cause the equipment to work imperfectly.

Second: Another method would be to equip the windmill with gearing instead of the ordinary reciprocating motion. (Fig. 621) The power could then be transmitted to the pumps located at the different wells by means of tumbling rods or shafting. The power from the windmill to these tumbling rods or shafting could be transmitted by bevel gears at the windmill end, and at the other end the power would be transmitted from the tumbling rods or shafting by means of a pump head or crank and connecting rod.

The shafting of the transmitting mechanism can be placed in a shallow covered trench, care being taken to see that the bearings are given a good foundation and that it is in good alignment. In this way the transmitting mechanism would not encumber the ground and would be less liable to be injured and misplaced than when placed on top of the ground or on scaffolds overhead.

There would be some lost motion and some lost power in this kind of mechanism, due to the friction of the shafting in the bearings and gearing. The amount of power lost would depend to a large extent on the manner in which the apparatus was installed.

Third: Where the windmill is already installed with a reciprocating motion an installation similar to the second could be used by equipping each end of the shaft with a rocker arm that could be connected with the pump at one end and the windmill at the other by means of a link. In this kind of installation it is advisable to make the stroke of the windmill as long as possible so as to use as long a link on that end as it is possible so as to compensate for the lost motion, which is considerable in some cases.

This latter equipment would most likely be cheaper than No. 2, but not so efficient, and we do not recommend it, as it is at best short-lived.


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