Theo studies hydraulic engineering (really!)

I haven’t posted anything to our blog for about a week. My wife says I should tell people what I’ve been doing. OK.

I’ve been studying.

Of course, I’ve also been drinking beer. Pretty much every late afternoon I meet up with a local buddy or two – ether Jerry from Wales, or Ludo from Belgium, or Filipinos Robby or J.B. or Juli – and we enjoy a couple cold Red Horse or San Miguel brews.

As the sun sets, we chat and laugh and talk about the surreal situations that currently confront everyone on Earth. We give thanks for our health, our families, our blessings. Once the sun is gone we each head home for supper and private time with our closest loved ones.

But recently, much of the rest of my time has been spent investigating the physics of water and pumps and pipes and tanks and transport. I’ve been studying fluid mechanics. Learning. Figuring. Struggling.


In school, I was a decent student. If I had applied myself, I could have been better. But horseplay and sports and socializing were preferable to studying. In high school and college, partying, making money, and girls became my primary interests. But I skated through; did it ‘my way’; the easy way; the fun way. Now I have a headache.

Eventually, I did apply myself to a 30-year career as a television news photographer. Thanks to dedication and planning and investing, I was able to retire at age 52 — then spend four-and-a-half years continuously wandering the planet with my wife.

That brings us to Malay, Aklan, Panay, Philippines – where we are waiting out the coronavirus crisis. And where I am struggling with the hydrodynamics of drinking water.

Diagram by Tedly.

Hydraulic engineering studies

I don’t mean to be cryptic. But at the moment, the details aren’t important. Bottom line, I need to figure how to pump potable water upwards — about 160 feet vertically and 400 feet horizontally. What pump? What horsepower? What efficiency? What pipe? What flow? What friction? What connections? What storage? What switches and safeties and systems will work? What will work best?

From what I can determine, what I seek to accomplish IS possible. Barely. More accurately, it IS possible with ‘standard equipment’. Transporting water 160 feet up is about the limit for ‘normal pumps’.

Certainly, there are ways to move water over great distances and elevations using specialized, high-power, high-pressure, high-price machinery. I need to do it the cheap way.

So my studying continues – my online search for information and answers. If I knew a hydraulic engineer I would feel better. Someone who deals with these exact issues professionally would be hugely helpful. But here and now, in a rural area of the Philippines, such assistance is unavailable.

Extra help needed

Still, in coming days, I plan to make a day-trip to where I might find that expert – or at least ‘plumbing and pumping experts’ who can hopefully inform and clarify my thinking. With luck, they can then help me find the necessary equipment, too.

In the meantime, if anyone reading this knows a genuine hydraulic engineer, I’d love to have their opinion. Feel free to put them in touch with me. Naturally, I can lay out the exact situation and specifications – as I will when I go looking for help this week.

Hopefully, in the coming days, with more effort and a little luck, I will be able to glean what I truly need to know about fluid mechanics. Meanwhile, with my friends here in the Philippines, I will continue to fill my pipes with San Miguel brewery products.

As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.

Life is NOW!

Thanks for reading, “Theo studies hydraulic engineering (really!)”

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Theo studies hydraulic engineering (really!)

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