In the 1950s, at the age of 16, I was drilling water wells in Oklahoma. Our well casing for screened wells was commercially made from 22-gauge galvanized tin. It was rolled 51⁄2 inches in diameter by 3 feet long with large crimped male and female threads on the ends. Then there were 12-foot joints that consisted of four 3-foot pieces riveted together with the same large, crimped threads on the ends. Each joint end consisted of about four threads. These were screwed together using two strap wrenches, and we used no lubricants. They worked quite well.

The well screen was made the same way, except before rolling it into a tube, it was perforated from the inside and end to end, except for the threaded part, with chisel-type rollers. These rollers just penetrated the tin, and left chiseled ridges on the outside of the casing. Depending on the sand or pack sand size, we would hammer shut each chiseled slit to match the sand size.

We would use a round wooden plug for the bottom plug secured with nails. Surprisingly, this well casing lasted for years. Just 2 years ago, I returned to the first well that I ever drilled, and it still was supplying water by the windmill that I installed at age 12. I’m 73 now. That’s unbelievable, but true.

In the 1970s, I was drilling water wells in south Georgia. Most of the wells were either shallow, bored terracotta-cased wells or deep steel-cased wells. Many of the people in the South couldn’t justify a deep well, and shallow bored wells were increasingly frowned on by the health regulators. We were the first rotary drilling company to introduce the use of PVC for well casing in the South. We used PR-200 for shallow wells, and schedule 40 for wells deeper than 200 feet.

First, we made our own slotted casings using a hack saw, and later designed a slotting machine that slotted four slots at a time the width of a plywood saw blade on four sides. It took a while to slot a 10-foot joint of PVC. I put both of our sons to slotting casing anytime they couldn’t find anything else to do. They hated slotting casing, so most of the time, they managed to find other things to do, like sweeping the floors or even loading pack sand in bags. Of course, this was before commercially bagged well gravel.

This continued quite well until our counties and Georgia state regulators became concerned that the PVC had never been tested for use as well casing by the NSF. The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) is a privately owned laboratory that tests materials for endurance and safety for a fee. After manufacturers pay the fee and meet testing parameters, they are allowed to and must stamp “NSF Approved for Well Casing” every 2 feet. I asked my friendly competitor if his terracotta pipe had a NSF stamp every 2 feet, and he said to me, “Porky, don’t you start any #$%^&* trouble. Of course, his terracotta didn’t have any stamps, however, the state regulators said that it has been used for years, and had proven itself to be durable and safe.

Needless to say, if we wanted to use PVC as well casing, we had to go through the legal steps to get it approved. At that time, we were the only drilling company using PVC for well casing, which was cutting a few drillers out of drilling deep, steel-cased wells.

My wife, Bess, went to the work, time, travel and expense to get the PVC approved by the state of Georgia regulators. After more than a year of efforts and expense, she got the regulators to approve it. A short time later, another Georgia county regulator stopped us from using PVC in his county. Bess advised him to contact the Georgia State Engineer who had approved it. Can you believe, that engineer had retired, and there were no records of PVC ever being approved for use as well casing. Another year and an engineer later before we got final approval.

That, along with fighting various other problems for years with the good old boys of Georgia, and we decided it was time for us Oklahoma Yankees to get the #^@%! out of Georgia. Moving was the best decision we ever made, as it led to our forming Drilling Consultants International and doing international ground water consulting.