Oil Field Engine News

Drilling Holes

| June/July 2003

My good friend Scott Hirshey recently gave me a copy of an old pamphlet he obtained from the estate of the late Harry Horner, the well-known oil field engine enthusiast who passed away last year. The pamphlet, Driiling, Getting Acquainted with Your Company's Operations, was written by professor CM. Young and printed by The Columbia Gas System in 1949. I've excerpted portions of the pamphlet for this issue, as I think it gives a good description of the cable-tool drilling method under which most of our old oil field engines labored.

Standard and Rotary Drilling

There are two principal methods of drilling wells; the cable tool method and the rotary method. In the cable tool method a heavy drill is dropped upon the rock, which is broken by the blow. In the rotary method a drill is pressed against the rock with great force and turned, and the rock is worn away by the concentration of pressure in a small area.

The Standard Rig

The walking beam is driven by the engine and gives motion to the tools. As finally developed it was an oak beam 26 feet long, supported at the middle on a Samson post with one end directly over the hole. A pitman at the other end is connected to the wrist pin of the band wheel crank and the band wheel is driven by a belt from the engine.

On the side of the derrick opposite the band wheel is the bull wheel on which the drilling cable is wound. On one side of the bull wheel is a grooved wheel that carries the bull rope, by which the bull wheel is driven from the band wheel. The other side has a brake drum for control of the tools when they are run in the hole.