Friday, July 23, 2010

A Slightly Less Abbreviated Version

The final week was a roller coaster ride, which plunged us from the high of getting the pump working to the low of losing the pump to the bottom of the well as we attempted to locate a short circuit in the wiring that had somehow developed after two days of operation. Luckily, nobody was seriously hurt in the second plunge, although Rob's hands took a bit of a beating. When the dust settled, and I summoned the courage to call Benson and report Tragedy, Part the Second, we'd hit bottom and were ready to start rising again.

We were alarmed to the short circuit when the Pump Controller stopped working. When we opened it up, we noticed a huge burn mark on its circuit board.

I looked at the budget and found that we had money left to replace the pump, this time using PVC piping and polypropylene rope, as recommended in the Lorentz pump manual. Fortunately, we had removed enough of the pipe before the pump fell that the remaining pipe sits about 75 meters below the top of the well, so nothing needs to be hauled up to install the new pump. Benson decided to make another trip down to Ngomano to survey everything so he would know how to install the replacement pump when it arrived. On the drive back to Nairobi, he and I spoke with Nawir Ibrahim at the Center for Alternative Technologies, which is the sole importer of Lorentz pumps in Kenya. He will work up a quotation for the replacement pump and send it to me shortly. Using light piping and a rope instead of the heavy galvanized pipe and chain, Benson and Mbithi should be able to lower the new pump easily and safely, without needing the chain hoist. So, although we didn't quite hit a grand slam, I'd say that we hit a bases-loaded triple and Benson is now at the plate. All the plumbing and wiring has been done, the classrooms shine at night "like a small city," the teachers can now conveniently charge their cell phones in the staff office or the lounge using solar energy, and the whole school is excited with its makeover.

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