Porky Cutter offers his expertise on buying drill rigs.

Expert consulting over a couple days is insufficient to prepare someone to be a driller.
When buying a new or used car or truck, the salesperson assumes the buyer knows how to drive. The same goes when a prospective buyer contacts a drilling rig salesperson to purchase a drill: They assume the prospective buyer at least has a basic knowledge of his drilling needs. Occasionally, however, inexperienced people decide to go into the well drilling business. Some prospective buyers are wise enough to contact a drilling consultant or knowledgeable friend to assist them in purchasing and starting up a new or remanufactured rig or other related equipment.

Inexperienced people often don’t understand there is a difference between a $150,000 and a $500,000 drilling rig. They also usually don’t realize when buying a drilling rig that it doesn’t come with everything they will need.

Recently, a person contacted us to teach him to drill with an excellent new drill. Our contract states we do not operate the equipment except to demonstrate or in the case of emergencies.

Upon arriving at the job site, we found that the owner/student had no help. Had I not brought my son Piglet along, the student/purchaser would have been in trouble.

The drill was set up, and the owner had been practicing with his new toy. The rig had to be torn down, moved and set up on a new location nearby. The client didn’t have proper equipment available to move the rig and compressor. Piglet and myself assisted the client in moving the equipment.

We drilled a 6-inch pilot hole to base rock, then reamed the hole with an 83⁄4-inch roller-cone bit for the casing. The casing was 61⁄4-inch ID. The bit was not large enough for the required 3-inch annulus. However, I had advised the client before arriving at the job site that he could weld key stock to the bit to enlarge the hole … he had not done this. We had a limited amount of air (400 cfm at 200 psi).

We were not advised by the owner that he had a foam injection pump. Without sufficient air, it’s nearly impossible to drill large-diameter without using foam. However, on a new job with a new inexperienced client, we try to do the job with what’s available so as not to shut down, costing the client unnecessary consulting fees.

Reaming the hole to total depth and into the base rock enough to be sure it was base rock, we ran the PVC casing. As sometimes happens without a stabilizer and sufficient air, the casing encountered a mud ring and refused to go below 70 feet. We removed the casing and readied to ream the hole again. At that point, we called the manufacturer to see why it hadn’t included an injection pump in an air package. We were advised that one was, indeed, included. After further searching, we found it (the owner didn’t know what it was or where it was). Once we had the injection pump set up, we were ready to go again.

Inexperienced drillers often make mistakes in purchasing the rig and equipment right for them, usually due to a lack of knowledge.
Before starting any engine each day, we check the oil, water, etc. This new engine was gaining oil on the dipstick each day; it was hard to start and smoking too much. On the third morning, we advised the client that he should call the rig manufacturer. After the rig manufacturer talked with the engine manufacturer, they and the owner were in agreement that they should send a factory representative to check out the engine.

After two days teaching the owner and one half-day lost waiting on manufacturers’ decisions, the owner decided he had enough experience now to drill wells on his own.

Unfortunately, the owner still doesn’t know how to properly grout the casing, install the bit in the hammer, install the over-hammer shock sub or adjust the hammer oilier. He also doesn’t know the correct amount of water/foam to inject or how to properly service the hammer when the project’s completed.

It takes a person years to learn by his mistakes and thousands of wasted dollars. Two days of expert on-site advice isn’t nearly enough to make even a basic driller.

This owner was, and is, one of the most earnest clients we have ever had. Unfortunately, we are concerned that without sufficient help and more training, this person soon will become discouraged with well drilling. Meanwhile, he will have spent thousands of dollars unnecessarily and will want to sell his equipment. Then, when selling his nearly new equipment, he will be unable to recoup what he has invested.

Unfortunately, inexperienced and unknowledgeable people who decide to purchase well drilling equipment often don’t do enough research. Most unknowledgeable people look at what an overall well system costs and thinks there are big monies to be made.

We have been assisting people all over the world with their well drilling questions since 1980. If you were to contact any of them, they would tell you they wish they had known of Porky before they purchased anything.