Some of the things I remember him telling me about the old wood machines: They had no power and casing had to be jacked back using latch jacks because you just could not pull anything with the wood machines. Casing was driven via a large steel block, and because the cable was rope and not steel, the drilling action was much superior to cable used later because the rope would stretch like a spring on each stroke. One thing he liked about the all-wood frame was that it was easy to repair, as there were no portable welders back then.
Almost all the wells back then were 11⁄2-inch or 2-inch, and they used 1-inch pipe to jet down the well until water-bearing sand or gravel they could screen was reached. The screen was dropped in using a gunnysack for a seal between the top of the screen and the casing. The casing then was pulled back away from the screen so the screen stuck out below the casing. Back then, a 100-foot well was a very deep well. All these wells were in the northeast part of Illinois.
Later, he went on to all-steel machines, including BE 21s, 20s and 22s, a couple of Speed Stars and a Cyclone - all cable rigs. He never got into rotary as he just figured he was too old by then to get into them. I sure enjoyed learning from him and hearing all the old stories about the old machines.
My dad passed away a few years ago and had logged more than 3,000 wells in 60 years of drilling. I worked with him for a few years after high school and always was fascinated with the old wood rigs and how hard well drilling was back then.
This past spring, we took a trip out west and I saw the machine pictured alongside a road in west Texas. It brought back many fond memories and I thought readers of National Driller might enjoy them. I have not seen a wood rig in many, many years. This one probably was used for oil drilling.