Wayne Nash found out some years ago that a few good notes will keep things running more smoothly.

Notes in your logbook need not be novel-length in order to be helpful -- keep them short, easy to read and in a place where you can find them. Courtesy of Eastlake Manufacturing and Distributing.
This piece isn't for the office folks who already have more paper than they can shuffle. It's for the drillers with dirt under their fingernails, who might not get a payday unless that rig runs tomorrow. It's about the same, whether it's a big company or a one-horse show. If the rig breaks down or you have to re-do a well, it costs time and money. Your boss might get a little cross with you, but if you own the rig and are married to the REAL boss like I am, there's no end to what you'll hear.

Most of us keep a tally book on the rig to keep notes on a job. I found out some years ago that a few other notes in that book will keep things running more smoothly. It's easy to forget things we should remember and easy to "color" things the way we like to hear them. For instance, off the top of your head, can you remember when you changed the oil and filters in the rig, or when it's due again? If you write it down in your tally book, you will know. How about the oil and filters in the air compressor? It's easy to get going full blast in the peak season and run far beyond normal maintenance schedules.

I know. I've done it. When compressor oil starts to break down, it can be a lot worse than running engine oil a little too long. When compressor oil breaks down, it starts to carbonize and lose viscosity. The next things to go are liable to be bearings. I'd rather put in a new engine than rebuild a big compressor!

Another set of notes I keep is bit logs. I write down when I put a new bit in the ground, and keep track of what kind it is, from whom I bought it and how many feet it has drilled. This way I can tell if I'm getting the most for my money on bit life. Sometimes, I've had a bit that still looked pretty good, but "the book" said it was shot. I've run it one more hole and had to trip out and change bits often enough to believe the book now.

Pump swabs and liners - there is a definite life to the expendables in a mud pump, and it's usually pretty predicable. I have noticed that my pump life has been extended a lot by running a desander - about double the life of the swabs, etc. I generally can run about three sets of swabs before I have to change the liners, and it's good to know whether it is the second or third set I just put in there. Notes help. They don't have to be elaborate, just short, easy to read and in a place where you can find them. They allow for better maintenance planning, which can save a ton of downtime.

These note are just little extras that make life easier and more productive, but there is one set of job notes that are NOT OPTIONAL. Drilling logs. All drillers should keep a log of how deep they are, what they're drilling in and a lot of other things. If you want to see a good log, look at the example log in the back of your Johnson book. I've seen drillers put a chalk mark on the derrick leg every time they made a connection and wipe it off for the next job. I've seen drillers who did write down what they were drilling in, but only in the most general way (i.e., 0-20, sand, 20-40 mud, etc.). I thought mud came in sacks that we mixed before the job to drill actual formations, none of which are named mud.

A few years ago we ran into a problem in one particular subdivision. Years ago, most of the pumps were top ground type pumps because of a very high water level in the wells. As time went on and more houses were built and more water was pulled from the formation, in a small area the water level declined to the point that we couldn't keep the top ground pumps primed or pumping. I ran a search of my well logs - looking at static water levels - in this area. Sure enough, I found that the water was going down about 1 foot a year. It doesn't take long to get out of reach of a suction line. Now we install submersible pumps deep enough, so that even if the drawdown continues, the pump will wear out before it needs to be lowered. This information all came from field notes.

With computers almost everywhere, it is easy to build a database of drilling logs. My computer remembers things a lot better than I do. Another handy use of a database of drilling logs, is the ability to go back to an area that you haven't been to for a while - with a log in your pocket - and know the formations you will encounter, the bit you will need, about how deep you will need to go, how much casing to set, etc. It sure saves you from making the same mistakes twice. Besides some state requirements for complete logs, there is another reason that might save your bacon. What if you have to go to court on a well? A good set of field notes, backed by a computer printout, will go a long way toward making your case. Beats the heck out of "I don't rightly recall. ..."

Rig notes don't have to be elaborate. I generally make a few notes about what's going on around me while a rod is drilling down. You don't have to write a novel, but you'd be surprised to see a few words written six months later, when you are in the yard next door, wondering which bit to run or how deep to set casing.