I am sure there are times when you can't believe the problems you hear are happening throughout the country on different pieces of equipment. For instance, this past week we talked to people having problems with drilling rig's hydraulic systems, compressors, cooling systems, head assemblies, and people looking for good used rigs at a reasonable price. My wife can't quite figure out why I get so engrossed with these problems, but she hasn't spent most of her life dealing with the drilling public. I have, and, if I wind up totally engrossed in a conversation with someone, she thinks I am crazy. I failed my sanity check the moment I entered the industry. Those of us who try to solve these problems and manage to function without terrorizing anyone else are a pretty strange lot. I am okay with that - as long as I can try to handle one problem at a time - it's when they gang up on me that I unravel.

Yesterday was just such a day. We had a shop full of work, most of the phones ringing - people with erratic operating head motors; noisy hydraulic pumps; compressor lugging down engine speeds; and one individual looking for that special used rig at a "bargain" price. My grandfather once told me, "If you look to buy a gold ring for a dime, usually it's worth only a dime!!" These people look at the world and wonder what the problem is, why no one else seems to see things as they do. These are the people I find particularly hard to deal with.

Today I talked with an individual who was experiencing a rather unique situation with lubricating oil he was using in his rotary screw compressor - the oil is automatic transmission fluid. As he explained, for the past few weeks this oil would turn "milky white" after a few hours of operation and he has been using this same oil type since he purchased the rig some years back, with no problem. As I was informed, the ambient temperature in his territory was very hot and humid. He wanted to know what kind of oil he could use that would eliminate his problems. Desperation, however, can drive strange behavior, and equate something less than their best judgment. So I asked if he had changed his oil supplier from what he used to use - are the oils the same? He didn't know, but thought they were the same type oil. I instructed customer he needed to check this out with his local oil product supplier, or look in his instruction book that came with his rig to see if this was the right oil. For now, though, he needed to check out his compressor system operation: 1) drain and flush out the milky oil from the system; 2) remove compressor filter elements and replace; 3) inspect filter canister for any evidence of copper, metal, dirt and hose particles - if any are found he can be sure he has internal compressor wear, as a result of a low oil viscosity problem due to condensation and bearing wear.

It is so important to keep condensation out of the lubricating oil, especially in hot and humid summer operation. The next thing I instructed him to do is be sure he has a "good operational" compressor discharge temperature gauge operating on his rig - so he can monitor compressor operating temperatures daily - and be sure his cooling fan is functioning at normal speed. Subject high-pressure compressor has no oil pump, so he needs to check operation of the minimum pressure valve mounted at the 2" outlet pipe from the receiver tank.

This valve insures there is always a back pressure in the receiver tank of 135 psig, especially during rotary drilling, or "blowing" a well. This "minimum" pressure is to insure proper lubrication to the second stage of the compressor air end, if the oil cooler is not internally plugged - which causes a high pressure drop across the cooler.

There are things he needs to check. Tools needed to check these problem areas are a couple of good 0-400 pressure gauges with connecting 1/4" test hoses and a heat sensing "gun" or a new mechanical temperature gauge. Premature compressor wear will happen if condensation is not drained from receiver tank daily - "but, just changing oil will not correct any and all problems". When all was said and done, we did almost a thousand dollars worth of work - rebuilding subject valves, cleaning oil cooler, and installing new gauges and instruments - and my guess is we'll see this rig again, because there is still work to be done with the compressor.

That may sound crazy, but fixing drilling rigs is what we do and sometimes we have to remind ourselves sanity is not a prerequisite for rig ownership and it's not a prerequisite for being in the repair business, so I guess we can be sure we won't get lonely. See you next month - "good Lord willing".