Oil drum converted into diesel pump

When Neels Matthee started farming about 6 years ago, he devised all sorts of plans to equip his tool shed without having to borrow money. One such plan was a mobile diesel pump.

A manual diesel pump was one of the first things that mechanical engineer and innovator Neels Matthee, a mohair farmer from the farm Amandelhoogte near Beaufort West in the Western Cape province of South Africa, rigged up. Commercially available manual diesel pumps cost around R500.

Instead Neels came up with a clever plan to build his own diesel pump for under R150 from an empty 200 litre oil drum, 20 mm galvanized pipe, 20 mm rubber pipe, a plastic tap and the valve from a tubeless tyre.

“I drilled a hole in the small cap of the empty drum with a diameter just large enough to fit the tubeless tyre valve so that it was snug and airtight with the hose fitting facing the outside.

“The inside of the valve had to be removed so that air can easily escape,” explains Neels.

Then he drilled a larger hole in the large cap and put the 20vmm galvanized pipe through that. The 20vmm pipe was then bent by 90 degrees.

“I made sure that the pipe was long enough so that the bend was about 300mm above the drum, while the other end of the pipe inside the drum was about 20mm from the base of the drum when the cap was in place.

“It is important that the bottom of the pipe doesn’t push against the drum base as it will prevent the diesel from being easily pumped and also because, over time, the base of the drum could be damaged and could spring a leak. When the pipe is positioned in the hole in the large cap, it is welded to the cap to make it airtight,” says Neels.


A 90-degree bend is made in the galvanised pipe 300mm above the large cap to make it easier to use.


A rubber hose of just more than 20mm is then fixed to the galvanized pipe with a clamp, while a tap is fitted about 200mm from the end of the flexible rubber hose so that the flow of diesel can be stopped when the vehicle is full.

“To pump the diesel, both caps must be screwed in firmly. The rubber hose is pushed into the vehicle’s tank and the compressor is connected to the valve. The air pressure of a regular compressor is enough to force the diesel out of the diesel pipe,” says Neels.

He says that the compressor should preferably not be running while the diesel is being pumped as the engine noise will prevent you being able to hear when the vehicle is full.

“You don’t need a high pressure to pump the diesel. I run the compressor to build up pressure, then I turn it off, connect it to the oil drum and then pump the diesel.

“Also, don’t leave the drum with pressure in it, rather remove the compressor from the drum when you have completed pumping diesel so that the air pressure can be released through the valve.”

ENQUIRIES: Neels Matthee, cell 073 783 2427.

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