Adventures with a DeepRock hydradrill

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog. Water is life.' started by RandyR, Nov 25, 2009.

  1. RandyR

    RandyR New Member

    Nov 25, 2009
    New Mexico
    I've been lurking on these forums for some time now and I thought I would contribute my experience in drilling my own well. I appreciate all the posts I have read and the time the authors have put into answering questions here. Here is where I learned about CSV which I will be using on my well!

    Tales of Well Drilling...

    I received the shiny new package via truck. I'm very optimistic and looking forward to digging my own well. I plan carefully and allot an entire weekend to drilling as I know it will be quite a bit of work. I inspect the package, prep the motors, assemble the rig, dig the mud pits and line everything up. Saturday morning, I'm out by 6am. The rig is ready, fuelled and connected. All I have to do is start it up and drill!. I fill the mud pit with water and begin dumping in the clay. Hmmm, first problem is that the clay doesn't like to mix to well. No problem, I grab a 5 gallon bucket fill about 1/3 with clay, then add water and mix with my power drill and homemade paint stirring tool. Fire up the mud pump, dump the clay into the water and recycle mud adding water and clay to get the consistency described in the book.
    Finally the mud is ready. I fire up the drill motor, turn the mud valve to allow the mud to flow through the rig and disengage the lock. The instructions said to let the weight of the rig push the drill bit while spinning. In less than 6 seconds flat, the rig drops the entire 5 feet and stalls. I'm pretty sure that's not supposed to happen.

    A call to the manufacture reveals that they don't answer the phone on Saturdays. It's only 9am and I'm stopped cold. I decide to retrieve the drill bit (2inch bit) from the hole. Disassembling the entire rig, I have to use a hi-lift jack to crank the 5 feet out of the ground. It takes nearly 2 hours to accomplish this as the bit acts like an anchor in the sand. By the end of the day, I'm frustrated. I have assembled, disassembled and reassembled the entire rig, created 60 galons of mud, smashed my fingers three times, and am so dirty, the wife won't let me in the house without stripping outside and don't even have a starting hole to show for it. But I'm not discouraged, I learning lots and I LOVE to learn!

    On Monday, a Call to the manufacture reveals that when drilling in sand, you have to hold back the rig to allow the mud time to line the walls to create the hole. The instructions say to drill the entire well with the 2” bit, then the 4” bit then again with the 6” bit to create a cased 4” well. The manufacturer informs me that if I'm drilling through soft material like this, I can just weld the 2” bit on to the end of the 6” bit and drill it once. It will just drill much slower. I decide I like that idea and spend the rest of the week building the drill bit and preparing for another go at it.

    Saturday morning, 6am. I'm firing up the rig and pump. I had to hand dig about 2 feet to fit the new bit on the system. Amazingly, the mud is mostly still there. Within 30 minutes, I'm drilling again. The new bit works like magic! Slow drilling though. About 10ft/hr including adding pipe in 5' sections. 10', 15', 20'. At 20' I shut down the mud pump, stop the drill, disconnect the drill pipe, raise the drill to add the next 5' section, fire up the mud pump, start the drill and it stalls. Nothing budges it; it's locked up. Shutting down the system, I spend the rest of the day trying to figure out what happened. Apparently, enough particles were suspended in the mud that when I stopped it, they settled to the bottom and seized the bit. Disassembling the rig takes another hour. Then the usual ritual to strip and hose off before entry is allowed in the house. Hey, I have a hole in the ground and I LIKE to learn!.

    A call to the manufacturer confirms my fears, I need to let the mud pump run for a while when I reach the end of the drill stem to let it float the particles out before stopping the mud pump. Apparently, I should let the drill run too during this time just in case. THAT would have been useful information to have before starting! Unfortunately, I have 20' of drill stem along with my custom bit stuck in the ground and the hi-lift won't budge it. I destroy the hi-lift in my attempts to retrieve it. Digging it out is out of the question. I may have to order new parts. One last attempt though. I need to move some dirt around the house and I figure that a front-end loader could pull it out. Now is as good a time as any to move the dirt. Rather than drill, I spend the next weekend with a rented loader moving dirt. When chained up to the drill stem, I end up breaking my chain. Wow! That is really stuck. Another trip to the orange box for some heavy duty chain and the drill stem breaks free! But just barely. I am right at the limit of the machine. Another 10 feet and I won't be able to retrieve it again. I consider myself lucky. I only destroy the top 5' of drill stem while pulling it out. Not a problem though. Remember, I like to learn.

    It's another month before I can dedicate the time to drill again. This drilling is harder than it looks! 6am, Saturday morning, 1 month later. I'm ready to go! I have to remake all of the mud, but it doesn't take as long this time. I'm drilling my 7am. The hole starts at 10', but I'm in a groove now. 15', 20', 25', 30', 35'! but then, as if on queue, DISASTER! At 40', the rig starts jumping around almost uncontrollably. Pitching, rolling, airborne! Holy smokes, what's going on!?! I'm hanging on for dear life, afraid to shut it down, knowing that if I do, I lose 40' of drill stem and my drill bits! Backing off a foot, stops the wild gyrations. But I have no mud flow. Looking at my mud pits reveals that I have no mud! I KNOW it was full just a few seconds ago! This definitely needs a call to the manufacturer! Very carefully, I shut the system down, removing the entire drill stem and bit.

    Monday morning, the manufacturer reveals that I have hit gravel. Wow, I had no idea gravel could do that. The call reveals that I need to thicken my mud, slow the drill down and increase the flow of mud. He assures me that this is good, because it means that I am close to water. Of course, his view of water and mine are different. I know I can't use that top water as 300 years of irrigation have made sure it is high in all of the things you don't want in good drinking water. I have tested and used shallow well water in this valley before. We argue for a few minutes and then he gives up stating that it's my well and I can drill as deep as I want too. He was just trying to save me some money. I'm looking at my pile of 250' of drill stem, thinking the time to save me money was when I purchased that stuff. Now it's just my time that is involved. Oh well, I'm learning lots and I'm pretty sure I like to learn.

    Another month goes by before I can restart the rig. Another trip to a local drill supply for more bagged clay and an expensive bottle of some super duper polymer liquid that will thicken the mud. I've rebuilt the rig now. Instead of just having it staked in the ground, I have arranged railroad ties and have bolted the entire thing down with lag bolts. It may still move around, but it won't get airborne with this setup! Man this gravel is tough stuff with this little rig. Down 1 foot, then it collapses. I have to raise it back up over and over. I'm beginning to think that I've spent this money and time learning how to stir gravel at the bottom of a hole. Two days, and I've gone through 10 feet of gravel! I think I'm getting discouraged at this point. I keep telling myself through gritted teeth. I like to learn. I like saving money. I like doing things myself. Maybe if I repeat it enough, I will start to believe it again.

    Winter is here and I don't feel like suffering as well as freezing, so I just put the whole shebang in storage. Maybe something will come to me while I stare at that hole in the ground. Seems like nearly everyday, I walk out to the hole, stare down as far as I can see. Sometimes I bring a flashlight with me and check to see if there is water in there. It becomes a ritual that I perform nearly every night during the winter. I'm not sure what I was thinking. I know that staring at the hole won't change things, but I'm hoping for some sort of inspiration. Of course, if you've read through this far, you KNOW that disaster will strike! Just like every other aspect of this tale, this hole in the ground is a nightmare. The dog has been barking like crazy every night for a week. Cats, other dogs, people walking by... It's becoming annoying. Then one night, I walk out the back door to tell the dog to quiet down. There is the putrid smell of a skunk in the air tonight. Surely not! It can't be!, but it is. I return to the hole with a flashlight and see the plywood board covering it moved slightly to the side and a pair of green glowing eyes staring up at me! Of all the stupid...!!!! AAHHH!!!

    I spend the next four hours attempting to get the critter out of the hole gagging and gasping the whole time. Ropes, pipes, nets, hooks.. I tried it all. Finally, I resign myself to the death of the skunk. I will return in the morning with a pistol, put the skunk out of it's misery, hook it and pull it out and then fill the hole. The next morning I return to the hole, prepared to carry out the grim deed. However, there is no skunk! The wily little critter crawled out of that 40' deep 6” hole all by itself! I contemplate if this whole ordeal was worth it as I shovel that precious hole full of dirt.
  2. RandyR

    RandyR New Member

    Nov 25, 2009
    New Mexico
    It was a full year and a half before I was willing to start the process again. I moved the hole to a better location on the property and began the whole process over again. This time, I followed the little tidbits of information I had gleaned along the way. I took a full week off of work and drilled the hole nearly nonstop. It took me four days with only 16 hours where the drill wasn't tuning. I think the only thing that could have made this hole more difficult than the 250 feet of sand and gravel I drilled through would have been hitting bedrock somewhere in there. In the end, I have a 250' 4†cased well that produces in excess of 60 gpm with the static water level at 45'. My son and I tested the well output by bailing water and we couldn't budge the static level even though we were bailing over 60gpm!

    Was it worth it? If your time isn't worth much, sure. If you're trying to save cash, you betcha! But would I do it again? I'm not sure. I might wait until my sons are a bit older so they could participate. You know, the slave labor thing. In the end, I'm glad I did it. I learned an enormous amount and I have a new found respect for those that do this for a living. I think it was worth it, but it sure isn't for everybody. I think I have recovered enough to say that I LOVE learning again.

    By the way, if you are interested in a small drilling rig capable of drilling a 250' 4†cased well, let me know. I know where you can pick one up used for a good price!
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  4. FloridaOrange

    FloridaOrange Plumbing Designer

    Dec 2, 2005
    Plumbing Designer
    SW Florida
    :D Good story!

    And you learned!
  5. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Jul 30, 2008
    Tech. Instructor
    S. Maine
    Award nomination for best DIY disaster story of the year :D
  6. Waterwelldude

    Waterwelldude Well driller,pump repair. and septic installer

    Feb 11, 2009
    Well driller,pump repair. and septic installer
    That was indeed, an interesting read.:D

    Kinda goes to show, that you never know untill you try.:rolleyes:

  7. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Aug 31, 2004
    Wherever I park the motorhome.
    A great DYer story demonstrating what desire and patience can accomplish.
  8. Kawini

    Kawini New Member

    Aug 31, 2011
    New Mexico
    Rig still available

    Randy -

    Shot in the dark: is your DeepRock Hydra-drill still available. I live in New Mexico and am looking for a used one.

    If the rig is still available, please write me through this forum.

    Last edited: Aug 31, 2011
  9. Texas Wellman

    Texas Wellman In the Trades

    Feb 9, 2010
    Owner of a Water Well and Pump Repair Business
    SE Texas-Coastal
    Quite a feat with that set-up. The OP has not visited the site in over two years according to his profile. Good luck.
  10. BillyJoeJimBob

    BillyJoeJimBob New Member

    Jul 18, 2011
    San Antonio, Texas
    What's funny is I've been daydreaming about drilling my own well for the last few days. It's only about 40 ft into the side of a mountain. Sure, it might be solid rock, but how hard can it be to drill 40 ft. Plus, I'm a real fast learner, and I like to learn new things.
  11. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

    Mar 15, 2006
    Pump Controls Technician
    Lubbock, Texas
    If you like to learn things, you should become a driller. Drillers learn something new everyday. The problem is, learning is expensive. Today we are in 250’ of sand and gravel and tomorrow we are in 40’ of rock. Mud drilling works well in sand and gravel, but air drilling, with an air hammer, works best in rock. You hold back when drilling in sand and gravel, and you push when drilling in rock. Mud viscosity, air volume and pressure, pull up and clean out before changing drill rods, rotation speed, type of bit, and many other things need to be considered and mastered before drilling or you will plant the drill bit and stem.

    Then if and when you get the hole dug, do you gravel pack, cement from the production zone to the surface, leave it open hole except for the top seal, what size casing, what size slots or screen, how many feet of screen, what size and how much gravel, and many other questions need to be answered.

    If and when you get the casing in and sealed, what size pump, how deep to install it, how to control it, and many other questions need to be answered about the pump system.

    None of this stuff can be learned in school. A driller with experience, (already learned the hard way), can be worth his weight in gold. You are not paying for a hole in the ground and a few feet of plastic pipe. You are paying for what the driller knows. And there is just as much to learn about the pump system as well. Unfortunately there are drillers and pump installers who don’t know as much as they think they do. So be sure and get a good contract or don’t pay until it is right. You are paying for a well done correctly, not a deep posthole with some casing thrown in. An experienced and “honest” driller or pump installer can be worth their weight in gold several times over.

    Do it yourself drilling stories are pretty funny. Drillers can see that the drill rig is going to bounce up in the air or a skunk will fall in the well before you even say it, because we have all been there. I think everybody should try it. It will give you respect for well drillers and give you insight into choosing a driller or pump installer that knows what they are doing. A good well and pump system is a work of art, not something you can paint by numbers.
  12. masterpumpman

    masterpumpman New Member

    Mar 26, 2007
    Consult and Teach Well Drilling Internationally
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I hear these same stories almost daily. Most or these stories are funny to drillers because they have experienced the same experiences at one time or another. Drilling is easy to watch but much harder to do. I've worked with the DeepRock Hydrodrills all over the world. They work fine in some areas but not in others. It usually takes a lot of determination and persistance. . . and luck.
    I write a monthly article for a trade magazine. I wish I could obtain permission from the writer of this story to publish it, leaving out the manufacture, and the operator to protect the innocent of coarse.

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