December 24th, 2008

This is the sound of an old-fashioned rod-type well pump, which, until a few years ago, were quite prevalent on the island where I live. The pump consists of a piston at the bottom of a pipe that extends down to below the water level in a well. The piston is linked, via a long series of wooden rods, to a motor-driven crank. The rods move up and down inside a pipe, each piston stroke bringing water to a pressure tank in the well-house. The motor drives the crank through a heavy gear-box, which makes the characteristic groaning sound you hear. When water is being lifted up the pipe, the pitch is low, then, as the piston plunges downward, the gearbox races, generating a higher-pitched sound. You can hear the sound of the wooden rods banging against the pipe extending down inside the well, the groan of the gears, the subtle note of the motor, and a click at each cycle, whose source I'm uncertain of. Possibly it's due to play in the crank linkage. Sad to say, this wonderful pump was replaced by a silent submersible type pump not long after this recording was made. But at least you don't have to pull out the rods every couple years to replace the leathers on the piston!

The recording was made in 1985 with a Sony Walkman Pro cassette recorder and an Audio-Technica AT9400 mic.


  • avatar
    blindmanonacid 1 month ago

    Fantastic! Thank you.

  • avatar
    Glasgow 4 months, 2 weeks ago

    I can hear the pump saying "eat oil, eat oil"

  • avatar
    pop1040 9 months ago

    so this is where mechanism gets its osmium compressor noise

  • avatar
    syndy 2 years, 8 months ago

    This is amazing.
    Thanks for your great work!!

  • avatar
    gpalmer16 3 years, 3 months ago

    So great! Thank you : )

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