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An Amish well bucket

It looks like a rocket, but it’s a well bucket.

If a big storm or other crisis kept the power off for a long time, how would you get water? Everyone should have some containers of water tucked away for relatively short outages, but storage is not a good solution if for some reason the tap stopped working for days as opposed to hours. Those of us with wells are lucky. We have our own water. But we have to get it out of the well.

Some people with water wells solve the problem with electric generators. That will work. They’re expensive, though, and in a seriously long crisis in which the electric grid went down and stayed down, one might also run out of fuel to power a generator.

A cheaper form of insurance is a well bucket. Until a few decades ago, wells were fairly wide, and well buckets were six or eight inches, or more, in diameter. These days, though, modern wells are much smaller in diameter. Lehman’s sells a well bucket that is only 3.5 inches in diameter. It’s 52 inches long and holds 2 gallons of water. They are usually on back-order. They’re made by an Amish gentleman who has a hard time keeping up with the demand.

They’re made from galvanized stove pipe. The design is simple. The only tricky part of making a well bucket is the valve at the bottom. The valve must open and allow water to enter the bucket when the bucket hits the water, but the valve must close when the bucket is lifted. The valve in this bucket appears to be a piece of rubber which is fastened to a shaft that runs the full length of the bucket. The long shaft is a nice touch, because it should keep the valve moving smoothly. Some people also make narrow well buckets out of PVC pipe. Again, the foot valve is the challenge.

I’m stashing a bucket as cheap insurance, along with some rope, a pulley, and other hardware needed to mount a windlass over my well.

The top of the bucket

The bottom of the bucket


  1. Dave wrote:

    Nice blog about getting water in an emergency. Another source for well buckets can be found here.

    Sunday, January 3, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Permalink
  2. daltoni wrote:

    Nice items!

    Sunday, January 3, 2016 at 3:36 pm | Permalink
  3. Wc wrote:

    When I was young we had a dug well, no casing, about 30ft deep. We used a regular well bucket. Later we had a well drilled and used like the one shown, about 68yrs ago.

    Friday, November 1, 2019 at 12:03 pm | Permalink
  4. LARRY LEE wrote:

    looking for a galvaized well cylinder tube

    Wednesday, November 9, 2022 at 8:48 pm | Permalink
  5. Jeff Rhodes wrote:

    Grew up using a well bucket like this. As oldest boy it was my job to draw water. Wash days kept me busy.
    Question: I’m looking for a diagram for the support for such a well bucket. I remember well the one we used but I don’t remember the dimensions.

    Tuesday, August 1, 2023 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

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