Jim Walker invented the Filter Pumper after decades of observing the damaging effects of contamination on hydraulic systems. His lifelong career in the hydraulics industry has given him a degree from the “College of Hard Knocks.”
Before Jim graduated from Granada High School he had a newspaper delivery route in Livermore, California and he also worked at a shoe store. Jim’s first step towards the hydraulic industry started in high school when he began as an apprentice welder at Vandell Welding in Livermore, a suburb of the San Francisco Bay Area. He then took a position building service bodies for Service Manufacturing in San Lorenzo.
In 1972 Jim furthered his career in the hydraulic industry for R.H. Gorman Company. This was a Komatsu distributor located in San Leandro, California. Jim rebuilt cylinders in the cylinder department at R.H. Gorman Co. Recognizing he had an aptitude for hydraulic repair and looking to make a change in his life he decided to look for a new market where he could open a hydraulic shop.
Jim moved to Oregon in 1976. He came to the small town of Days Creek, Oregon where some close friends from Livermore had moved to. Jim found this place to be a desirable location to build a life. He then located some property on the north end of Canyonville just ten miles west of Days Creek. This location, next to Interstate 5, was an ideal location that included a Union 76 gas station. He named the new business Canyon Hydraulics.
In the beginning, as with any new business, work was scarce. The Union 76 Gas Station brought in revenue while Jim’s work ethic, honesty, and expertise in hydraulics and welding won over the local logging community who were the business’ major clientele. During the first year of the business Jim met a local girl named Sherry Rogers. She worked for a local dentist’s office and they were married in December of 1977. Sherry resigned from the dental practice soon thereafter to help Jim run Canyon Hydraulics. During this first year other friends from Livermore moved to town and purchased the fuel station side of the business and operated it as a separate entity from Canyon Hydraulics. Over the years Canyon Hydraulics grew into a thriving hydraulic repair business employing eight people and specializing in cylinders, pumps, motors, and valves. The retail side of the business stocked merchandize such as hoses, fittings, adapters, seals, o-rings, filters, hydraulic and gear oil, and other miscellaneous hydraulic components.
In 1982 Ernie Sessions a master machinist worked into a business partnership with Jim. During the years that they worked together Jim learned the art of metal cutting on lathes and mills from Ernie. This would prove useful in the invention of the Filter Pumper.
Throughout the many years at Canyon Hydraulics Jim worked on many different types of hydraulic systems for the logging industry. He also worked to develop a radio controlled hydraulic operated aerial logging winch. Previous aerial winch designs were completely mechanical and prone to breakdowns. Jim’s hydraulic aerial winch designs proved to be more efficient and useful. Jim also worked with a fellow friend and inventor, Dave Hansen to develop the TyteTank. The TyteTank is a stainless steel bellows style hydraulic reservoir that would expand and contract as the hydraulic fluid circulated through the machine’s tank and hydraulic components. Jim and Dave were granted a patent on the Tyte Tank.
In the later months of 1994 an opportunity arose for Jim to sell the business and the property it was located on. A former employee bought the hydraulic pump and motor repair portion of the business and four current employees purchased the cylinder repair and retail portion. The land the shop was built on was sold to a business man and is now where the current Burger King restaurant is located in Canyonville.
After selling the business Jim and Dave Hansen entered into a project to build a tracked concept vehicle for the US Navy. The vehicle was called the Iguana. It was built to maneuver on both land and water. Its tracks were designed to be easy on terrain but have maximum traction on many different surfaces. The vehicle was steered by an articulating tail and T-bar frame. The tail provided a place to carry a payload and aided in providing traction during climbing. The concepts were proven but it was not picked up for further development by the military.
Through the years Jim took many hydraulic classes to keep himself up to date with the industry. In 1992 & 1993 Jim took Rexroth classes and in 1999 he became a Fluid Power Society Master Mechanic. He also became a Fluid Power Society accredited job performance proctor and tested students at Umpqua Community College. At UCC Jim interned with and audited Hydraulics I, II, and III classes taught by Vic Bridges. This was Jim’s first year at UCC and he worked with Vic to develop the Hydraulics IV and V classes. For five years Jim and Vic co-taught the hydraulic classes offered by UCC. Jim taught Hydraulics I through III and Vic and Jim taught IV and V. While teaching at UCC and working in the hydraulic industry he worked to spread the word about contamination in new oils and hydraulic failures. This was only to become a more poignant sentiment as the industry progressed. Modern servo pumps and valves on the emerging markets had closer and closer tolerances that made contamination an ever growing problem. Jim realized then that a solution was within his reach but some years of testing and proto-typing were ahead.
During the years of expanding Canyon Hydraulics the Walker family grew as well. In 1979 their oldest son Kyle was born and in 1982 their second son Ryan came along. In 1984 Jim and Sherry became foster parents of Johannah, she was 14 years old at the time. Throughout the years everyone in the family has been involved in the family business in one way or another. Including Jim’s parents John and Gladys Walker and Sherry’s parents Don and Elaine Rogers. Don has been helping make pump components since its inception while John, Gladys, and Elaine were valued counsel on business matters.
After working on the Iguana project Jim started the mobile troubleshooting business named Hydraulic Problems ?, Inc. He customized a service truck and set out to job sites throughout Oregon, Southern Washington, and Northern California. These are the years when Jim seriously thought of a solution to the majority of hydraulic system failures. Years of observing contamination tear through hydraulic pumps, motors, and valves all while scoring hydraulic cylinders plus the training he received in hydraulics all pointed to the contamination in new oil. Jim realized he needed to make a pump that could filter oil and move oil as fast as it could be poured into a reservoir. In 1998 and 1999 Jim built and tested proto-types of a pump he designed to fit into and seal on the pop-up pour spout on five gallons buckets. The pumps on the market then were designed for old style metal buckets instead of the modern plastic pails. To use this old style pump the bucket lid would need to be removed and the pump/lid combination placed on top and fastened down with screws. This opened buckets to contamination and was messy when the pail was knocked on its side creating dangerous slick surfaces from the oil spills.
Jim soon discovered that there were no pumps on the market made specifically for the modern five gallon bucket used by mechanics in the field and in the shop. Jim made up his mind to make a pump for the modern five gallon pail that would fit in the pop-up pour spout and seal to the bucket’s threads on the spout. Since even new oils have alarming numbers of solid contaminates the pump was designed to push the oil through a ten micron filter. This method of conditioning the oil lead to the pump’s name, “The Filter Pumper.” The name was thought of by the family’s newest “brother” a foreign exchange student from Germany named Fabian Sage. This was an improvement over the working title, “The Poor Man’s Filter Cart.” The pump was also designed to transfer oil on both the up and down stroke after the pump is primed. This insures that a five gallon bucket can be emptied and filtered in two and a half minutes. Jim knew that the pump would have to transfer fluid almost as fast as it could be poured through a funnel. Most instances where oil is added to a reservoir happens in the field or on the log landing and Jim knew that busy loggers, construction workers, and mechanics would not use it if a funnel was faster. Jim designed the pump’s foot to sit on the bottom of the bucket or pail to pump out nearly every drop of oil in the bucket. He also designed it with a vent groove so it will not collapse the bucket as you pump. The carrying handle on the bucket connects to the pump’s handle latch to prevent the pump from rocking side to side while in use. The hose latch was designed to keep the hose end and cap attached to the pump and off the ground. The pump comes in different lengths and with different bung adapters to fit sixteen and fifty-five gallon drums and larger totes of fluids as well as five gallon pails.
In 1999 Jim and Ryan researched for existing patents in the law library at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. After discovering no such patents, Jim hired a patent attorney and filed his patent in early 2000. The first submission with 27 claims was rejected but Jim defended his claims. In 2001 US Patent # 6,334,760 BI was granted to Jim on 22 of the original 27 claims. Soon after Jim bartered with a local mold maker to create a four cavity mold to have the majority of the Filter Pumper parts made in production.
Since its inception the Filter Pumper has grown from a pump built to transfer and filter hydraulic fluid to a versatile pump that works well with many fluid viscosities. The pump works well with many petroleum based oils such as transmission fluid, motor oil, 80/90 weight gear oils, and double 00 grease. Other applications have been developed by altering or switching key components to different material types. The Static Dissipating and Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) pumps are the most recent variations of the Filter Pumper.
Filter Pumper line of products are made by Hydraulic Problems ?, Inc. in the small town of Days Creek, Oregon with the belief that good products are the future of American manufacturing and ingenuity. Each pump has been hand assembled and packaged to ensure top quality.