Antecdotes about rig and pump problems.

Many hours and even days can be wasted because of lack of preventive maintenance. Repairing a rig.
With today's technology, the instruction and parts manual included with new equipment is one of the most important pieces included. Some manufacturers include two complete sets of manuals, one for the office and one for the rig. Take care of them as if they were gold.

When you order parts or ask questions for or about your equipment, the manufacturer's first question will be, “What's the model?” and then the next question will be, “What's the shop number?” Without these, the person on the other end of the telephone is unable to assist you.

Don't tell the parts man, “You know, the so and so on my rig.” Today's manufacturers build so many models that they too must refer to the manuals. Most manufacturers keep a copy of the parts manual for your specific equipment on file and will be able to refer to it immediately.

When purchasing new equipment, it is even more important to watch the proper levels of cooling fluids, oils and greases. Occasionally, new or rebuilt equipment will lose fluids because of improperly installed seals, gaskets or drain plugs.

Many hours and sometimes days are lost or wasted because of lack of preventive maintenance. Pay attention when an employee alerts you of a possible upcoming problem. Most times, a breakdown can be averted by being concerned enough to look into the possible problem and possibly ordering the repair parts well in advance of the breakdown.

I was a field representative and troubleshooter for several different drilling manufacturers over the years. Once, I was sent to check out a mud pump problem on a newly built drill. Through the assistance of the driller, machine shop, the manufacturer and myself, we found the manufacturer had missed a step in the machining process, causing the pump valves and seats to cut out prematurely. We were authorized by the manufacturer to have this process performed locally and the invoice sent to them. Later, we found this manufacturer had had many of these pumps missing this same machining process. Eventually, all were rectified.

Another time, we had a new drilling machine engine that was gaining lubricating oil. In further communication with the engine manufacturer, we were advised there was a defective part causing the problem. It was injecting too much diesel, getting by the rings and getting into the oil pan, thinning the oil. Shortly, this would cause the new engine to be damaged or destroyed. The engine field representative/mechanic was sent to the site to take care of the under-warranty repair. This observation by my son, Chris “Piglet” Cutter, CWD/PI, not only saved the engine, it also saved the driller a lot of down time, and the manufacturer, many dollars.

We found a new drilling machine with the winch cable rubbing the mast and that wouldn't hold a load. We found the cable had been wound on the drum backwards. Reversing the cable winding eliminated the cable rubbing the mast and made the automatic brake hold the load. We switched the hydraulic lines on the up/down lever so that they worked and read correctly.

Back in 1966, I found that when using the pulldown on a new drill, it actually pulled up instead of down. The pulldown chains were crossed at the factory. I advised the purchaser that I knew this manufacturer tested each drill for a minimum of 48 hours on a test rack before sending it out; there was something not right here. Upon further investigation, we found that the rig had been run on the test rack and checked OK. However, they were short of pulldown chain later and removed the chains from this drill and installed them on a more urgent drill sale. When the new chain arrived, it was installed on our drill and not run on the test rack again.

I've seen piston pumps that were knocking and not pumping well. We pulled the heads and found the pump pistons loose on pump rods. We changed the pistons and the piston rods and everything worked fine. We've found knocking in piston pumps that was caused from simple things such as leaking suction, collapsed suction hose (inner liner) or from restricted suction (oil can stuck in the suction hose).

A client once complained that his new drill on the manufacturer's test rack had a noise in the piston mud pump. The test rack people tried to tell this experienced driller it only was a leak in the suction line causing the noise. The driller requested the test rack remove the gear end cover to check the gear end. Reluctantly, they did and found the gear oil filled with brass particles. Needless to say, after some serious conversation and demands from the buyer, they replaced the whole pump.

Occasionally, a new drilling machine will have a vibration that the manufacturer missed. A client complained to the test rack that his new drill had a vibration. Further checking revealed that an air clutch had been improperly assembled, causing it to be out of balance. Had the buyer not noticed the problem at the factory, it eventually would have cost the buyer a lot of money and downtime, as it probably would have been out of warranty.

In 1967, while delivering a new drilling rig from Enid, Okla., to Atlanta and eventually operating this drill for the Georgia Institute of Technology, I found the new Ford F-850 tandem-axle truck only had front-wheel brakes. Going slow, it stopped great but with some speed, the front wheels only slid when trying to stop. I lifted the rig off the wheels with the leveling jacks, ran it up to about 20 miles per hour, and then hit the brakes - and the back wheels just kept spinning. There was no air getting to the rear wheels. After following the air brake line to the rear wheels, I found a plugged air line in the frame. Removing this short air line (about a foot long), I found a paper-wrapped grease pencil plugging the line.

We met with Ford factory personnel and everyone agreed it was impossible to find out how the grease pencil got into the line. We replaced the line and we had brakes on all wheels.