Windmills and Farm Water Systems

Summer is well and truly here and for many of us, hot and dry days are what we will face for the next 3 to 4 months!!

Windmills are an essential part of farm water systems, so why not give them a bit of a health check before they really start working hard?

Failure of the windmill pump may be caused by the breakdown of one small, but important part, the pump bucket or cup. Inferior buckets are more likely to swell tight in the pump barrel, thus increasing the load and wear on the windmill parts and reducing the pump capacity. check out the diagram below to see where these buckets or ‘pump leathers’ are located.

Image sourced from

Maintaining your windmills will be a breeze this summer when you follow our Windmill ‘bucket list’!

  1. Check your bucket’s overall ‘Health’.                                        
  • Has the size of the buckets changed? Buckets should be exactly the same size as the pump (or differential) cylinder. Size decreases over time due to wear and tear.
  • Have the buckets held their original shape? Buckets and cups need to be shaped to suit the pump plunger (this is VERY important)
  • Are the buckets still permeable? It is essential that water can infiltrate through the bucket material and lubricate the sliding surface.
  • Are the buckets still withstanding the friction from pumping?
  • Are the cups and buckets still lubricated within?


  1. Replace any damaged buckets or inefficient buckets.
  • When changing windmill buckets, you will need to consider which material may be most suitable.
  • Buckets and cups are available in leather, neoprene, or nitrile.
  • Most new pumps and barrels come with neoprene buckets, so if your pump is relatively new, we would recommend sticking with neoprene.
  • However, if your pump is well worn it may be better to switch to leather, as the leather will then swell and fill up the gaps in the pump created by wear and tear.


  1. When changing buckets:
  • Don’t over-tighten the Plunger
  • “Crack a Leather bucket” before fitting this involves kneading the bucket to soften the leather. This will ensure that swelling in the Cup happens quickly and up the cylinder, rather than outwards to jamb the plunger.
  • Test the pump prior to assembling the Column. This test is done on the work bench, by lifting the plunger in the pump and from the top of the stroke let it go. The plunger should slide down under its own weight. If it doesn’t the Cups are too tight. If it free falls the Cups are too loose. The plunger should slide down steadily.
  • Get the pump pumping as quickly as possible (this encourages the swelling of the Cups up along the cylinder rather than outwards

At Farmco, you will find our range of high-quality windmill buckets and cups to be just what you were looking for. Check out the range here.


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