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Our vintage 1970 Avion truck camper has its original Peters & Russell water pump. While we will be upgrading the water system, we test the pump for fun.

We completely gutted our 1970 Avion truck camper, but we have kept a lot of the original parts for reuse or reference. While we do intend to replace our water pump, we thought it would be fun to give it at least a test run. After all, we never even tried to run it since acquiring the pump three years ago. (Let’s just say that the water pump was not the weakest link in the water system’s metaphorical chain)⁠

Our vintage 1970 Avion truck camper has its original Peters & Russell water pump.  While we will be upgrading the water system, we test the pump for fun.
View of water pump input / output.
Our vintage 1970 Avion truck camper has its original Peters & Russell water pump.  While we will be upgrading the water system, we test the pump for fun.
Gears view of the water pump.

About the Pump

The pump we have is a Peters & Russel 12-volt water pump manufactured in Springfield, Ohio. To the best of our knowledge, it is original to our 1970 truck camper. Years of exposure have worn away a lot of the markings on the pump body. A yellow sticker on the side designates the pump as “yacht safe”. But most interesting of all is the engraved plaque on the bottom associating this design with Patent U.S. 3347273. A little bit of googling gives us a peek into the inner workings of the pump:

Drawing of Peters & Russell water pump for patent U.S. 3347273
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Drawing of Peters & Russell water pump for patent U.S. 3347273
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Testing the Pump

While we don’t have the original hookup for the pump, we have what looks like a positive and negative wire coming from the motor. We can see from one sticker on the pump that it is built for 12 volts. So we grab a power supply and hook it up to see if it still works.

Eureka!

Not only do we successfully run the pump, but we grab some hoses and a bucket of water to test the pump’s ability to move water. 50 years and this pump is still running surprisingly well!  I guess we may have to find some use for this pump after all.

Our vintage 1970 Avion truck camper has its original Peters & Russell water pump.  While we will be upgrading the water system, we test the pump for fun.
Successfully pumping water with the vintage pump.

To Replace Or Not To Replace?

The pump works, and there are reasons to keep it. But there are also plenty of reasons to replace it. We are looking at updating this pump with a modern, aluminum pump. While aluminum makes it much lighter weight, it is far less durable than the original cast iron pump. Some TLC and our 50-year-old pump could run another 50 years. But that TLC is not simple. Any rubber fittings will need to be replaced to maintain proper suction along with basic cleaning and greasing of the mechanisms. But the clincher remains noise: if one of us is washing our hands in the middle of the night, we don’t want to wake up the other by triggering an old, noisy motor. So, the new motor is ordered. But we’ll keep this one around for future projects.

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.

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