My goal in mcgyvering a vacuum pump was to remain under 100,-€ – which I did – and get better results than I have achieved with my shop-vac setup – which I did too. Still, I do not know whether to be disappointed or satisfied.
I wanted to utilize things that I already have, which includes several water pumps that are used to water bonsai trees and vegetable beds in summer and pumping water out of the cellar in the winter and some spare piping from house renovations. So I had to buy only the things for making the vacuum pump itself – in combination with a water pump, the best option seemed to be something based on the venturi principle.
So I went and bought these parts:
The parts were connected to each other more or less in the order as they are laid out on the picture. The black plastic hose connector was fitted into the brass one to lower its inner diameter. The brass hose connector right next to the right side of the chrome T junction is the inlet nozzle – I have glued an old tip from a silicone sealant tube (not depicted) in it to get the position and size of the nozzle correct. Into the upper brass hose connector was glued the white plastic 6 mm hose connector for the air suction.
So water comes in the T-junction from the right, gets squeezed through a nozzle which sprays into a slightly bigger opening in the outlet left, behind which is again a big pipe. The spray drags with it the air surrounding the nozzle and that way achieves suction through the top of the T-junction.
I am not able to write-up complete how-to, but this is the final product up and running in a vat of water.
The bubbles show it is working. When I connected the suction tube directly to a new vacuum manometer, I got a suction of whopping 0,6 bar, which did really impress me. Unfortunately, I do not get anywhere near that when I connect everything to the jar. After a few minutes, it stabilizes at this.
0.22-0.25 bar is still a bit more than what the shop-vac could achieve (which was 0.2). So it is usable and it is a definitive improvement because unlike the shop-vac it can run non-stop with zero risks of overheating anything, and it also makes nearly no noise, so a win there too. But when it achieves this, it still bubbles, so it still draws air. And when I close both ball-valves on the lid (one ball-valve is for pressure release, one for the suction), I start losing pressure in the jar really quickly. That tells me that the jar is not properly sealed and this here is not the maximum this setup can achieve, but an equilibrium between the pump and the improper sealing.
I had to make a new lid from five layers of plywood for this, with two ball-valves and the manometer, so there was a lot of potential for failure. But I did use water/airtight plastic sealant for everything and I went over all connections once more, yet I still cannot identify the leak(s). If it was a pressurized container, I might find the leaks with help of soapy water looking for bubbles, but I do not know how to check vacuum tightness.
So this is where I am now and this is where I leave this be for a few days at least. It has occupied me for three days already, time to go back to making knives.