The Evolution Of Rampumps, Or Water Rams, And Who We Are Today


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The history of rampumps and who we are today
Owen Wilson, left
Inventor Owen Wilson, left, in the 1980's
The first practical rampump (hydraulic ram) was developed in 1796 by the same French inventor, Joseph Michael Montgolfier, who invented the hot air balloon.  Rampumps have since been used around the world to lift water without need of petrol or electricity to elevations above a source for use by stock, country homes, factories and communities. 

Through the years, several makes and models of rampumps have worked well enough and have been reasonably efficient.  With only two moving parts, rampumps are so simple that their potential to be improved upon had attracted little attention until 1982.  In that year, a New Zealand farmer brought an old rampump that needed repair into the shop of successful inventor and engineer Owen Williamson. 

Prior to this, Owen had developed the non-shortable electric fence that launched the electric fence industry.  He was passionate about green or alternative energy and was manufacturing windmills for generation of electric power. Owen discovered rampumps as another device of natural energy and turned his "mad inventor's" talent to finding how they could be improved upon.  He saw that farmers needed a model of rampump that required less maintenance and repair. Of more importance, he learned that rampumps should be utterly reliable to the point that farmers can rightly trust them to function day and night to deliver vital water to stock in otherwise dry paddocks without constant monitoring. Farmers need a rampump they can "set and forget".

And that is precisely what Owen developed.  The Williamson Hi*Flo rampumps are the best sellers in their markets by far today because of improvements Owen saw that could be made over the older models.  He redesigned the valves that are the two moving parts, used more modern non-wearing materials, and insisted upon excellence in fabrication to produce what is arguably the highest-quality rampump in the world.  The Williamson Hi*Flo rampump quickly became the choice of New Zealand farmers who moved away from the older brands. The business flourished with thousands of pumps installed and working reliably for satisfied farmers to date.

In the year 2001, Owen caught the attention of Kevin Smith, the owner of Kevin Smith Steelworkers, Ltd. who was known in the area for the quality of his custom horse trucks and other engineering products.  A skilled welder and fabricator, Kevin began working with Owen and helped to weld up Williamson pumps in the manufacturing shop.  Kevin had been raised doing engineering with his father in a farming community.  He helped a dear friend work her dry stock farm where he came to fully appreciate the need for reliable availability of water to animals.  Like Owen, Kevin became personally intrigued by the simplicity of rampumps and the excellent quality and robustness of the Williamson models in particular.  He struck up a lasting personal and business relationship with Owen that continues to this day.

By the year 2002, and with the rampump business fully established, Owen shifted his entrepreneurial attention to building up a welding gas supply business.  With full trust in Kevin as the only welder and engineer he trusted to fabricate Williamson rampumps to his standard of excellence, he turned the business with full rights over to Kevin. 

In 2008, Kevin found yet another way to improve on the physics and performance of rampumps that has kept the Williamson Hi*Flo rampumps as the finest in the world.  In 2013, Owen, Kevin and Mark Rickerby, who was there at the beginning in 2001 with Kevin and Owen, found yet another way to improve on rampump design that has increased the amount of water shifted by Willamson Hi*Flo rampumps a full and stunning 20+%! For example, a model that was efficiently delivering 20,000 liters of water per day has been boosted to over 24,000 liters per day for the same money.  All models of Williamson Hi*Flo rampumps are now delivered with this feature.

With these improvements, Keven is now expanding the sales of the Williamson Hi*Flo rampumps into Latin America where he is organizing his distribution center in the Republic of Panama.   See News and Events