WorldWide Drilling Resource®

Communication - Don’t Overlook the Obvious by James Wild, President Empire State Water Well Drillers Association Sometimes the obvious is overlooked. I look back at early well drilling machines, they were a real engi- neering marvel. Keystones were a very popular brand made in the 30s, 40s, and 50s; they seemed to be a lit- tle clumsy and a bit too heavy. Bucyrus-Erie took over the industry in the 50s. Those machines were more condensed in design, as well as weight. They provided quick set up, usually by one man, and most had a third line for casing or lifting heavy bits. The downfall was they didn’t improve the design throughout the years. They didn’t listen to cus- tomers’ requests. Gravity on the drill stem couldn’t get quicker or be made more efficient, so production didn’t increase drastically since the early rigs were made; 8- 10 feet in very hard rock to as much as 50-60 feet a day in soft shales. Then came the rotary era in the late 50s. Mud drilling and air rotary rigs were on the way into the drilling industry. Table drive rigs were popular. Then, someone engineered tophead drive rigs; and tricone bits were replaced with down-the-hole hammers and hammer bits; small engines had more horsepower and stronger hydraulics to aid in rotation and pullback; and more CFM (cubic feet per minute) and PSI (pounds per square inch) capacity on the onboard compressors. This increased productivity drastically. Hammers became more efficient, as did carbide and bit designs. Don’t forget the mud; chemistry improvements for drilling in over- burden enabled the industry to drill deeper and safer. The production and speed of hydraulics is also much faster than in the early years, or even 30 years ago. The carriers are a dream to drive now, especially com- pared to the 275-horsepower motors popular in the 60s and 70s. On today’s rigs, it’s not uncommon to carry 500 feet of rods and three hammers. This is thanks to rig manufacturers listening to the drill operators and their requests to make the job easier and more efficient. I credit this to the way our country mechanized after World War II and especially after the 50s. Engineering of machines really took off with automobiles, excavating, and industrial machines. Well drilling operators had a slightly better education than the generation before. Look at how many of them were pilots or in the Air Force in the Korean War, and had plans after they made their way to success in the drilling business. It made our manpower more industrious. Yes, they had more opportunities, but they tried different ways to make a machine more effi- cient because they were open to new ideas and wanted to be more productive. My opinion is, whenever we go to a trade show, meeting, or convention, we leave with something new in our minds. Occasionally manufacturers listen, and learn what we want, or take our sugges- tions back to their people. We might never have the perfect rig, water truck, pump hoist, etc., but the more we com- municate, the better our industry will be. Twenty years ago, I asked a well- known salesman, “Why doesn’t your rig have four jacks instead of three?” His reply was, “A milking stool only has three legs, why does a rig need four jacks?” That manufacturer is now almost out of business. After about ten years, they started putting four jacks on their rigs. Yeah, much more stable and safer, plus height on the front end is greater. I don’t believe anyone knows it all, but when we communicate in our indus- try, we all learn. So, don’t overlook the obvious. 19 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® JANUARY 2020 New & Used Bits, HDD Bits & Tools, Drag Bits & Wings, Bolt-On Drag Bits, Reverse Circulation Tools, Hole Openers, Claw Bits, Stabilizers, Subs, Custom Tooling & Welding, Hammer Bits, Drill Collars, Pipe Wipers, and Drill Pipe. Office: (661) 834-4348 Rod Henderson / Eran Henderson 661-201-6259 • 661-330-0790 WWDR photo WTR