In my last article, I discussed the use of wireline cutters and a combination socket. This same tool can be used to retrieve tools that have come unscrewed. The combination socket will have to have different slips installed to catch a tapered male tool joint, but these are available. We would run the same fishing string--that is socket, stem, fishing jars and our combination socket. The procedures for use would be exactly like catching the neck of a rope socket. This presumes that the tools are standing straight up in the hole, as they would be in a small diameter hole. If we lose a large diameter bit, it can fall to one side making “capture” difficult.
We may be able to straighten a leaning bit using a tool called a spud. This is somewhat a half-round with a tool joint at the top, and would also be run at the bottom of our fishing string. Another tool we might possibly use is a wall hook, which is somewhat like the spud only the lower part comes almost to a full circle. This is supposedly not as tough a tool as a spud, and that tool is none too substantial either. Using either of these tools, it is necessary to more or less stabilize the hole and soft coal is one of the recommended materials to do this. Where one gets soft coal in 2013 is beyond me, as just about everybody that lives near me burns natural gas, fuel oil or has a geothermal heat pump.
A couple of tools also useful in fishing are a ring-collar socket or a full-circle slip socket. The ring collar is a fairly light tool, but it has the advantage that it will go into a 4-inch hole and catch onto tools up to 31⁄4-inches in diameter or the size of a 21⁄4-inch API box. This tool has a limited draw or range of diameters it can catch. That is why it is important to keep these recorded. The full-circle slip socket is a little sturdier than the ring-collar socket, but has the limitation of needing a 6-inch hole to be used. It has the advantage that it can be equipped with an extension or enlarging bowl so that if the tools are lying to one side, the full-circle slip socket has a better chance of grabbing them.
If what we are fishing for is not stuck, there are several styles of friction sockets that may make our fishing job successful. Some of these will not stand any upward jarring. Others will stand a limited amount of jarring but they are all really meant to be jarred down over our fish, which is then retrieved with a straight pull.
To fish out tubing or pipe lost in the hole, we would use a tubing spear sometimes known as bulldog grab. I have pulled many a well screen using this tool, but a word of caution: You have to be absolutely certain you can jar or pull out the tubing that you are after, or you are going to have your fishing tools stuck, too.
If we have the really unfortunate experience of breaking off the reins of our drilling jars, we would go in with a center-jar rein socket. This is a much more complicated fishing job and, although I had never had to fish for broken jars, I have talked to other drillers and they say it is very difficult to accomplish. Everyone has had his own experiences-some good, some not so good-but we have all “been there.”
In a previous article, I mentioned making sure that your drill rig has the lifting ability to bring both the fishing tools and the fished tools out of the hole. I had a nice letter from a cable tool drilling in another state, and he mentioned that his father experienced exactly what I am talking about. He got a hold of the drilling tools and got them loose, but did not have enough lifting capacity to get them out of the hole.
Lastly, I’m going to write about a relatively simple fishing job, and that is to retrieve a lost bailer. Here our tool of choice would be a latch jack. This looks something like a big fork with a one-way dog on the bottom. It is simply run down over a lost bailer and the dog will close, catching the bail and making retrieval fairly simple. Many drillers, and I’m one of them, use a quick hitch on their sand line. This makes changing from bailer to bailer or from bailer to sand pump really quite easy. These hitches do complicate fishing for a bailer if the sand line comes loose or breaks off at the quick hitch. I’ve had this happen, and after several tries fabricated a heavy hook of cold rolled steel and ran it in the hole on extra heavy pipe. I got the bailer and the hitch out on the first try but, like any fishing job, it was a pain and a waste of time compared to being able to keep on drilling.
With this, I’m going to end my series on cable tool fishing. The tool catalogs I mentioned in my last column have pages and pages of fishing tools-in fact, more pages about fishing tools than about drilling tools. The impression I have tried to leave with you, readers, is that fishing is a time consuming, costly and often frustrating experience. If you can avoid fishing jobs by keeping your tools in good shape and using the proper tool in a proper manner, then by all means do so. As I have said before, I write from only personal experience as to the tools and procedures to be used in fishing for cable tools, and make no guarantees either express or implied as to your success on fishing jobs.
I will say that spring has almost come to Michigan and our snow is about 99 percent gone-hope the weather has improved where you are too. Hope you don’t have any fishing jobs anytime soon but, if you do, be patient and I hope you are successful.