Further exploration of this versatile cable-tool rig.

In my last article, I wrote about a truck/rig. As I explained then, the rig is a Ruston-Bucyrus 22-RW, which was British-made. As I explained, this is a very versatile cable-tool rig that is capable of drilling small-diameter wells up to and including some pretty large ones.

The 22-W is a three-line machine, which is pretty standard for a modern cable-tool-type. The lines include a bull-reel, which spools the drill line; a sand reel, which spools the bailing line; and a casing reel, which spools a hoist line generally attached to a traveling block or moveable pulley onto which is connected a hook. The traveling block centers the hook over the hole, and does not allow for side stresses on the mast.

Early 22-Ws had a rating of 1,500 pounds to 1,800 pounds of tools; that is, the tool string, which consists of a socket, drilling jars (some of the time), a drill stem and a drill bit, can weigh no more than these limits at the surface. As the hole goes deeper, the tool string weight has to be reduced to make up for the weight of the drilling line. For instance, in a hole 600 feet deep, if we are using 3⁄4-inch drill line, which is a popular size, the line itself will weigh nearly 550 pounds. So if we have one of these earlier 22-Ws, we can only run 1,800 pounds minus 550 pounds, or 1,250 pounds, of tools if we are to drill to 600 feet. The 22-W was up-rated in the 1960s to what is called a Series II, which included heavier-capacity clutches, and, I believe, a little more powerful engine. A 22-W produced since then is rated at 2,500 pounds tools at the surface – but only on the intermediate stroke. On the long stroke, this rig still is rated at about 1,900 pounds.

The 22-Ws have three adjustable strokes, those being a short 16-inch meant mainly for fishing, a 26-inch intermediate stroke, and a 35-inch long stroke. Most cable-tool drillers like the long stroke; I personally like the intermediate stroke on the 20-Ws (a smaller version of the 22-W) that I have run.

Both the 22-W and 20-W rigs, along with the larger 60-L, have several points on the spudding beam where the pitman from the crankshaft is connected. By using the proper connection hole, the driller can change the character of the stroke from a slow lift/fast drop that is desired for drilling to a slow drop/fast lift, which is far more effective for bumping pipe out of the hole. In my experience, if the casing pipe really is tight in the ground, changing the stroke to the pulling nature is worthwhile, and it also helps to go to the short stroke adjustment. Making these changes takes some time, but if one has quite a bit of pipe to pull or is coming back a long way, it is time well spent. The spudding gear on a 22-W is gear driven from the jack-shaft like just about all spudders.

Two of the cable reels on a 22-W are gear-driven, those being the bull reel, which carries the drilling line, and the casing reel. Bucyrus-Erie has developed a handy way to run these two reels with one clutch by sliding the drive gear (or pinion) to whichever reel the driller wants to operate. The big advantage of this is that the reels are free-running, or free-wheeling as it sometimes is called. This means that the drive clutch is not spun backward at a high rate of speed when running tools in the hole, and pulling cable off the casing reel by hand is much, much easier. When bumping pipe, I sometimes put extra pull on that pipe with the casing reel, and as the casing moves upward, it is necessary to switch back and forth between these two reels to maintain proper line tension. This is a little unhandy, but the pinion shifter that accomplishes this is well thought-out.

The bull reel on a 22-W will spool 900 feet of 3⁄4-inch drill line, or 1,275 feel of 5⁄8-inch line on each side of the divider. The divider is built into the middle of the bull reel to separate the line currently being used from line in storage. Some dividers can be moved so that more or less line can be kept on either side – either the working side or the storage side. The casing reel, which operates the casing hook or, in most cases, the traveling block, will spool quite a bit of 5⁄8-inch line, but this usually is limited, as it will hoist a lot more without a big spool of cable. With 50 feet of line on this reel (enough to lift 25 feet, which would be enough for a standard length of pipe), this reel will handle about 12,000 pounds.

The sand reel on a 22-W, which handles the assorted balers (and sometimes a jar bumper), will spool more than 2,000 feet of 3⁄8-inch line. Most drillers don’t carry anywhere near that much, and with 400 feet of line on the reel, it will handle about 1,400 pounds, and have line speed of more than 750 feet per minute. This reel is friction-driven with a shoe brake that contacts about a quarter of the circumference of the drive flange, which is part of the sand reel. It is operated by one lever, and is actuated by the driller pulling up on the sand reel control to engage the friction on the jack shaft and pushing down to engage the brake shoe. In-between is the neutral position, where the sand reel is free-wheeling, and allows the baler to drop easily into the hole.

Well, as I don’t want to get this article to be too lengthy, I’m going to stop writing about the 22-W at this point – for now. Next month, I will write about masts, power units and mounting for this rig. I even will write a little about the competition for this rig – the 71 Speedstar. In the meantime, if you are running a spudder 22-W, 71 or something else, keep your hands away from those drive blocks.

We are in the midst of the winter blahs here in Michigan with little snow that has not melted. My regards to you and yours.