In the state of Michigan, in 2012, the vast majority of wells are drilled using PVC casing. PVC well casing from JM Eagle.

In my July 2012 column, I wrote about a new-to-me type of PVC drop pipe that has both male and female ends. I since have learned that this pipe also is available in double male ends, which would require the use of some type of coupling to join sections. One of my readers, whose first name is Ronald, posted a comment asking about how one would handle this new-style drop pipe on installation. Ronald did not give an email or return address, so here are my thoughts on installing this style of pipe.

I understand that elevators are made to specifically work with this type pipe – at least in 1- and 1.25-inch sizes. Using these elevators probably is the absolute best way to install this drop pipe, but other methods will work, too. As this pipe has iron pipe size (IPS) threads, you perhaps have or can easily make a lifting ring to hoist up sections. This simply is a short piece of steel pipe, and I prefer schedule 80, with a steel ring welded on. I have these for all sizes of drop pipe that I have ever installed, and they work just fine, although you want to make them nice and heavy.

Drop pipe elevators, available from Dean Bennett Supply Co.

To hold sections that are down in the casing, a regular plumber’s pipe vise clamped around the drop pipe and set down on top of the casing will work just fine, unless you are going real, real deep. I have used this method for installations exceeding 200 feet with no problem. Another way to hold the pipe would be to use clamp-type slips, which you mention in your comment, Ronald, especially if the clamps have a hole only slightly smaller than outside diameter of the pipe drilled into them. The clamps can be tightened with ordinarily bolts and nuts, wing nuts, or any other device that will squeeze the drop pipe. The clamps should be made of good strong wood, and again, made plenty heavy. Thanks for the comment, Ronald, and I hope this helps out you – and others.

Ronald mentioned that he had used a slotted plate below the couplings. I have plates like this myself to match my lifting plugs, and this method will work fine if we are using pipe with two male ends and regular couplings. The plate might wedge on the tapered part of the bell on this new pipe, and be difficult to remove. It also could damage the pipe. I think the methods I outlined above would work better.

Now getting back to the discussion of casing, I would like to talk about some fairly odd types being used. I once had a good discussion with a driller from South Dakota, and he cased his wells with copper tubing in the 4-inch size. He said that he used regular, heavy, plumbing-type copper tube, and soldered the joints together with sweat-type couplings. He explained that the water quality in his area was not the best, and steel casing would corrode to failure in a fairly short time. He also said that the water was too warm to use PVC. It sounded to me that he had some fairly difficult conditions, but he had figured out a solution, and if it worked, I say more power to him. Of course, he was running this copper into a rotary drilled hole.

Speaking of difficult conditions, in the past, I’d heard of some wells drilled that were cased in schedule 40 stainless steel. While I am sure this would be a really great casing material, it also would be very, very expensive. However, you readers know that some ground water conditions are not ideal – in fact, many are not ideal – and if stainless is what it takes in some areas, then that’s what it takes.

To hold sections that are down in the casing, a regular plumber’s pipe vise clamped around the drop pipe and set down on top of the casing will work just fine, unless you are going extremely deep.

In the state of Michigan, in 2012, the vast majority of wells are drilled using PVC casing. PVC material first was approved in Michigan in the early 1980s, and originally for rather limited well types. Way back in the late 1950s, I saw some plastic casing that was not PVC; it was black in color, so it was probably ABS, but I am not sure about that. I saw this at a supply house, and it was in 21-foot lengths with plain ends. I believe it was joined with some sort of a solvent weld coupling, just like we do with PVC today. This pipe looked very much like the non-metallic gas line one sees piled along the roads before installation, in that it had a much thicker wall than schedule 40 pipe. The supply house salesman, who was good at his trade, claimed this material could be driven with a spudder. It seemed to my dad and myself that it would have to have been driven very lightly to avoid destroying it. We only saw this material once, and it quickly disappeared from the scene – I had the feeling it was an unsuccessful attempt at a new-and-improved product.

All the pipe I ever drove, be it 2-, 2.5-, 3-, 4-inch and larger, had what we always called drive couplings. These couplings are longer than a normal plumbing coupling, and the threads are tapered to match the taper of the threads on the pipe. This gives a much tighter joint than a plumbing coupling will, and the long coupling covers any threads, so they were not exposed to the earth. I do know of some drillers who used straight-thread plumbing couplings, especially when they cut pieces to necessary length needed on the job. This type of coupling would not make nearly as good of a joint as a drive coupling. My dad and I even did some 11⁄4-inch wells, or at least repaired them, before they were made illegal in Michigan, and, with difficulty, we were able to get tapered-type drive couplings for this small pipe. Most do-it-yourselfers who used this size pipe suffered pipe breakage at the joints, largely, in my opinion, due to the use of plumbing couplings.

Well, readers, long-winded John has reached the reasonable limit that my editor likes for these articles, and so I must continue our casing saga in my next column. This is written in mid-September, and it is not too early to make your arrangements to get out to Las Vegas for the NGWA Convention in early December. As I have said many times, you can’t really afford to miss this expo, if for no other reason than to see all the new products. Seeing the folks you only see once a year and going to seminars are extra added bonuses and further good reasons to make the trip. That reminds me, I have got to make arrangements for myself.

The weather in Michigan finally has turned pretty nice without the intensely hot days we had this summer, and we’ve had some cooler nights. We have gotten a reasonable amount of rain, but our spring crops pretty much are a lost cause. Until next time, work hard, work safe and take time to have a little fun once in a while.  ND