Howard "Porky" Cutter describes why one contractor earns the title.

Douglas Allen - a very professional well driller.
A friend, Linda Cash, called me to tell me that her well was being drilled and invited me to watch. Another driller friend and I went to visit the drill site, which was a couple hours from Virginia Beach. The driller, Douglas Allen, also a friend, was drilling near Saluda, Va.

First, I noticed Doug had no helper. When I asked him where his help was, he replied, “Don't have any - don't need any.” After watching his operation, I would have to agree.

I asked Doug how he got both his drill and support truck to the job site. He replied, “One at a time.” I suspect his wife may have helped.

He was set up and drilling when we arrived. He has a small backhoe with a blade that he digs a long, narrow, deep mud pit in an “L” shape. Once his suction is covered with water, Doug starts mixing mud. When he has his mud mixed to suit his needs, he starts his drilling while still adding make-up water near the drill hole. As he is drilling, the formation thickens his mud - that's the reason for continually adding make-up water. By the time he is finished drilling, his mud is about the right consistency to set casing.

While he is circulating the hole clean, he is placing his pack sand near the hole, getting the casing and well screen lined up, getting the elevators and PVC cement ready. Since every driller has his own sequence of procedures and usually prefers to keep them to himself, I won't share the details.

Doug came out of the hole in a continuous and easy sequence. Once he was out of the hole, he commenced running the PVC casing. Once the casing was in the hole, he placed his special return line on the casing that returns the drilling fluid back into the hole annulus. This prevents the drilling mud from making a mess while returning it to the annulus, assisting in carrying the pack sand to the hole bottom around the well screen.

Once the pack sand was in the hole, Doug proceeded to install his own special casing tee to allow him to run his air development line in the casing while diverting the water flow back to the mud pit. He set his tophead on the top of the casing to prevent the casing from floating out of the hole while the well was developing.

Some drillers just have hard heads.
His air development line was on a reel, mounted on the drill, near the rear of the drill. Doug proceeded to turn on the air slowly until the casing dumped its initial load; he then set the air until he had a continuous water flow. Once the water was reasonably clear, he would surge it several times until it would become muddy again, and then he blew it again until he was confident the well was developed to its full capacity.

Occasionally, Doug would pump off the mud pit with his mud pump through a flow line reeled some distance away from the hole.

You could walk anywhere around Doug's well site in your best shoes and clothes and never step in mud or water.

Once he completes the well (and installs the pump), he backfills the mud pit and leaves the location as undisturbed as possible.

I have talked with Doug's customers, and they say he is so knowledgeable, considerate and answers all their questions in a way that they can understand.

One of the most professional drillers I have ever observed, Doug is proud of his profession and his work. His drilling equipment and drill site always were neat, orderly and clean. I would recommend Douglas Allen and Allen's Well Drilling of Hayes, Va., anytime.

I do apologize that we aren't wearing hard hats in the photos. I'm very contentious about this. I left mine with my previous driller student in Haiti. I don't know what Doug's excuse was and I didn't bring it up. Some drillers just have hard heads.