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Engineering and Recreation Tech Tip
February 2005
7100 Engineering | 2300 Recreation
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New Accessible Handpump for Campgrounds

Tyler Kuhn, Mechanical Engineer, and
Bob Beckley, Project Leader

The Forest Service is committed to making its campgrounds and recreation sites accessible to individuals of all abilities. National and regional accessibility coordinators have been working with the Forest Service Technology and Development pro- gram to identify accommodation needs.

One recurring need has been an accessible handpump (figure 1) for potable water in Forest Service campgrounds and recreation sites.

[photo] Forest Service employee testing handpump
Figure 1—The first Forest Service accessible
handpump was installed on the Lolo National
Forest in the fall of 2002.

The Missoula Technology and Development Center (MTDC) conducted an indepth market search and found that no hand-operated water pumps met the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. The ADA Accessibility Guidelines (14.15.4) require that an accessible handpump must operate with a maximum force of 5 pounds. The pump's control heights should be between 28 and 40 inches from the ground. Industrial managers contacted by the center felt that private development of an accessible handpump was not economically feasible because the market was too limited.

MTDC designed and built an accessible handpump that meets ADA requirements. It operates with no more than 5 pounds of force (figure 2), and its handle is easy to reach and operate from a wheelchair.

[photo] Fiberglass pump sucker rod
Figure 2—Lightweight fiberglass pump sucker rods help the
accessible handpump meet the 5-pound maximum force
requirement of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The center built 12 accessible handpumps for field testing. They were installed at these locations:

  • Tioga Lake Campground
    Inyo National Forest, Lee Vining, CA
    Contact Steve O'Connor, phone: 760-937-8427

  • Bonfils-Stanton Outdoor Recreation Center
    Winter Park, CO
    Contact Beth Fox, phone: 970-726-1646

  • Grouse Campground
    Payette National Forest, McCall, ID
    Contact Wayne Hersel, phone: 208-634-0740

  • Norton Campground Lolo
    National Forest, Rock Creek, MT
    Contact Al Hilshey, phone: 406-329-3970

  • Holy Ghost Campground
    Santa Fe National Forest, Pecos, NM
    Contact Carol Linn, phone: 505-438-7879

  • Elizabeth Furnace Campground
    George Washington National Forest, Edinburg, VA
    Contact Barry Stata, phone: 540-265-5192

  • Woodbine Recreation Area
    Monongahela National Forest, Richwood, WV
    Contact Mary M. Smakula, phone: 304-636-1800, ext. 260

  • Five campgrounds (Rawlings Field Station, BLM)
    Rawlings, WY
    Contact Mike Jensen, phone: 307-328-4380

All of the pumps were installed (figure 3) between the fall of 2002 and the summer of 2004. They have performed with few problems.

[photo] Forest Service employee installing accessible handpump
Figure 3—The accessible handpump is easily
installed on standard well casings.

The accessible handpump uses a rotary crank that has an offset weight to ease its operation. When the weight is going down, the pump's piston is coming up. When the weight is going up, the piston is going down. As a result, although 10 pounds of force is available when the water is being lifted, the user applies an even 5 pounds of force throughout the rotation of the pump's handle. The pump has relatively few moving parts.

The pump needs to be adjusted based on the water depth at a particular site. The deeper the water, the more force that is required to lift water to the surface. A pin allows the pump to be adjusted to determine how much force is generated with each rotation of the handle. The deeper the well, the more times the handle will have to be rotated to pump a given amount of water. The pump works best when the well is less than 60 feet deep. The pump can produce an average flow rate of about 1.5 gallons a minute (figure 4).

[photo] Water flowing form the accessible handpump
Figure 4—Water flows an average of 1.5 gallons per minute.

The pump's handle has been approved for use with a closed fist. A demonstration of the pump in use can be viewed at the Technology and Development Internet site:

The Forest Service received a patent on the pump (figure 5). Other Federal agencies have expressed a need for an accessible handpump, not only for public lands and sites in the United States but also for use in developing countries.

[image] Graphic showing the different parts to the accessible handpump.  From top to bottom: handle, counterbalance, scotch yoke, waterspout, supply line, pump rod, well cover, well casing (which is just above the ground), cylinder, and piston.
Figure 5—The inner workings of the patented prototype
of the accessible handpump. The ADA 100 handpump
looks slightly different, but works the same way.

Forest Service units hoping to use an accessible hand- pump should ensure that the selected sites are accessible. For further information on the accessible handpump, contact the MTDC.

Ordering an Accessible Handpump—The Simple Pump Co., is now manufacturing an accessible handpump, the ADA 100 Handpump. To contact the company:

Simple Pump Co.
1140 Amarillo Drive Gardnerville, NV 89460
Phone: 877-492-8711
Web site:

Other companies have expressed an interest in manufacturing an accessible handpump.

About the Authors

Tyler Kuhn began working at MTDC as an intern in 2000. He received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Montana State University in 2001 and works for the center as a mechanical engineering technician.

Bob Beckley received a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Montana in 1982. He began his Forest Service career as a timber technician on the Nez Perce National Forest. Beckley was a smokejumper when he came to the MTDC in 1990. He works as a project leader, public affairs specialist, and blaster.

Additional single copies of this publication may be ordered from:
USDA Forest Service
Missoula Technology and Development Center
5785 Hwy. 10 West
Missoula, MT 59808–9361
Phone: 406–329–3978
Fax: 406–329–3719

Electronic copies of MTDC’s publications are available on the Internet at:

Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management employees can search MTDC’s documents, CDs, DVDs, and videos on their internal computer networks at:

For additional information about Accessible Handpumps, contact MTDC:
Phone: (406) 329-3900
Fax: 406–329–3719