A continuation of the discussion about a 22-W drill rig.

Last month, I wrote about the frustrations of a number of subjects. Having gotten calmed down, I am going to finish up about that 22-W drill rig.

Most 22-Ws are powered by a gasoline engine of about 50 HP, which is adequate for just about all conditions in which this rig can drill. Many drillers have converted to a propane-powered engine, as these engines run a lot cleaner than the gasoline units do. The last new 22-W I saw at a convention – just a few years ago – was powered by a sweet, little four-cylinder diesel, manufactured by a major U.S. manufacturer. This looked to me like a slick way to go.

The early 22-Ws had, I believe, a 36-foot telescoping mast, and it was necessary for the driller to climb up and make a connection part way up on the upper section. In later models, the mast was extended to 40 feet, and Bucyrus-Erie figured out a handy-dandy way to anchor the aforementioned bolt-on brace at the top of the lower section, which meant the operator had only to make four connections to the drill frame.

A modern 22-W weighs in at about 8,500 pounds for a truck-mounted rig and almost 10,000 pounds for a trailer-mounted, this, in both cases, being without lines or tools. The main frame is about 111⁄2 feet long, so for truck-mounting, you need a pretty substantial truck with quite a bit of wheelbase. Keep in mind that the truck is going to have to move the rig off the road in almost every case, as few wells are going to

be drilled in a roadway. I even have seen some 22-Ws mounted on tandem trucks, but that seems like a little bit of overkill. A good 21⁄2- or what might be called 3-ton single-axle truck will handle a 22-W successfully. A 750 Ford or a 7500 series GMC is, in my opinion, ideal. You might note that our rig pictured in Greece is on a four-wheel drive. I believe they have some pretty steep roads and mountains in Greece.

Well, there, you have more information than you want to hear about a 22-W, which is a very versatile rig, and can drill hole in just about anything if one has the time and patience. I believe that Bucyrus-Erie even made a blast-hole version of the 22-W, which was mounted on tracks and designed to drill 6-inch holes in rock to be loaded with powder and then blown open to break up the rock.

Lest you think that the 22-W was the only spudder ever made, this simply is not so. While this was a popular rig in the heyday of the spudder, there were other well-made and successful spudders that were competition to the 22-W. Makes that come to mind are Speedstar, Cyclone, Loomis (later Alten-Loomis), Ideco, Walker-Neer, Keystone and some others.

Here in the Midwest, the main competition for the 22-W is the 71 Speedstar. They are machines of very similar ratings and about the same physical size and weight. The 71 differs considerably in design in that it has double pitmans with a single spudding gear in-between. It has a chain-driven bull reel, a gear-driven casing reel, and a friction-driven sand reel. The bull and casing reel on a 71 are not freewheeling. Both machines share 40-foot-high masts, and the bracing systems on the two are quite similar. Power from the 71’s engine is transmitted to the jackshaft by V-belts, as opposed to the 22’s flat belt.

As I said, both of these rigs were well-designed and very capable of drilling a wide assortment of wells – from shallow domestic types up to and including municipal and irrigation wells. Owners of Speedstars maintain they are better finished and engineered than the Bucyrus Erie. This may or may not be true, but both makes are reliable and long-lived. In times past, if you wanted to get a real donnybrook started at a drillers’ meeting, all you had to do was say that one make was far better than the other, and you had a real Chevy vs. Ford vs. Dodge argument going. There were strong supporters and strong feelings for all makes.

Regardless, if you ran or still run a 22-W, a 71 Speedstar or perhaps a 42 or 43 Cyclone, these all are good solid rigs. If the operator keeps the bearings and gears greased, and does not abuse these rigs, they will run for years and years and years. Speaking of abuse, I once saw displayed at a convention a rig named a Dando; I believe this rig was made in Great Britain. Talk about heavy-built – it was parked next to a 22-W, and it made that rig look like a toy. I remember the operating levers on the Dando were made of 11⁄4-inch cold-rolled steel. I was told that these rigs were designed to be pretty much breakproof when run by unskilled operators in the so-called third-world countries where parts were not available. I don’t think 10 guys could have broken the controls, even if they all pulled together.

Eventually, the jack shaft on all spudder rigs will have to be repaired and the engine rebuilt, but while they are much slower in footage per day than a modern rotary, operating costs are much lower, too. Another advantage the spudder has is that a 3⁄4-ton pick-up or perhaps a 1-ton flatbed loaded with some fuel, a few barrels of water and casing pipe is all the support truck needed. All these rigs can be run by one man, although that is not a real safe thing to do, especially if that man gets injured. These rigs all will make money for the owners, and produce a good well for the customers, and that is about all any rig can do.

Well, Spring finally has come to Michigan; the real hot weather we had in March has cooled off, our lawns are growing, and everybody either is happy or upset to be riding on their lawn tractor or zero-turn mowers. We have had plenty of rain, along with some heavy wind, so it looks like we will have to keep mowing. Hopefully, we can keep drilling, too, with whatever type rig we operate. All the best to you readers.