View Full Version : Almost OT: Water well drilling

08-14-2007, 03:12 PM
I am looking at the small water well drill setups that are available to drill a 150 foot 4 inch water well. Does anyone have any experience with any of the available brands? I have included an example web site below.


I have property in the mountains and you can't get a well driller up there and a hole drilled for under $5000 (with no guarentee of a producing well). I actually need two wells (two different lots), so buying and drilling my own well seems to be cost effective, if the drill unit works reasonably well.


Things are alot more like they are now, than they have ever been.

Steve Steven
08-14-2007, 03:26 PM
My experience is with drilling shallow water wells in flat land with no rocks, so it may not be too applicable. I drilled 5 or 6 wells, most to 35-40 feet, 2 were over 100 ft. My bigist complaint was the short reach of the pipe length, 5 foot. Too many stops to change pipe lengths. I was using a hand supported rig, got too heavy after 30 feet, had to go to a tripod support.

Not too sure of how that Rockmaster unit will handle heavy weight drill pipe, and not sure of its ability to handle rock. Will require high power unit to do a rock bit.

You need to drill on the lower level of your property, I think, to get water at a shallow depth. Will you be putting in a casing for the well?


08-14-2007, 03:44 PM

I don't have any experience with anything that small.... up here in Wild Rose Country, it's not even legal for a home owner to drill their own wells.

In your situation though, I'd be very tempted to build my own rig. At $2000 for the 450 model, it would be hard to beat unless you have access to recycled parts.

How deep do you have to go to water? Locally, it can be as shallow as 40 ' or as deep as 400 ' for adequate flow rates. Your local well drillers should be able to give you some idea how deep, or point you toward a state agency with info on aquifers, etc.

Good Luck! Sounds like a fun project.


P.S. The solution to short drill pipe is to take a hint from the oil rigs and extend your mast to drill with doubles or even triples, or make your own drill pipe with a pipe threader and some hardware store couplings.. If you have a choice look into plastic (PVC) casing. Depending on the specific area, you can drill to the bedrock and run casing to the top of the pay. Seal around the casing with Bentonite available from oilwell drilling fluid suppliers as "enviroplug" or as powder. Farm supply stores often have it for sealing ponds and dugouts against seepage.

P.P.S The only complicated parts are the water swivel and the top drive. The rest of the unit is a relatively easy fab project.

08-14-2007, 05:19 PM
The average well in the area is about 130 feet. Most suppliers state that the smaller units can handle some rock (few feet) and recommend changing locations if too much rock is encountered. If you run into more rock than that, they have tricone bits to drill with (mighty expensive and slow though).

I do plan on casing the wells with 4 inch Schedule 40 PVC with a screen on the bottom.

I also have thought about building one, with the speed reduction and water inlet swivel being the only somewhat complicated parts. However, as you said, $2400 (when shipping and more drill stem is added) would be hard to beat.


08-14-2007, 05:35 PM

I can only speak for my local situation, but roller cone bits are rarely required for water wells. Hard rock drilling may require them though. If you're in oil/gas country look for bit companies that recondition or retip drill bits. Retip/recond/rerun bits are $0.20 on-the-dollar of new. A word to a buddy that works on a rig can get some very good (for water wells ) bits at nominal (scrap) cost or free. Oil feild rentals companies often get lightly used bits returned and will part with them at nominal cost.

Service rig hands often have access to used tubing 2", 2 1/2", or 3" that is unsuitable for reuse as production tubing, but will work well for a water well rig. The typical lengths are +/- 33', but pups are available in 2', 4', 6', 8' , and 10' lengths.


08-15-2007, 01:43 AM
I looked into DIY well drilling when I bought my property, and came to the conclusion that they were best suited for shallow wells in dirt/sand/gravel.

I don't know what your mountain is made of, but most mountains are made of rock. $5000 would be cheap for a well in a remote location.

In my area, the water table is about 1000 feet down through solid rock and wells cost $25K - $40K, and require a 5hp pump.

I ended up going with a rainwater collection system instead. That might not work in Utah.

08-15-2007, 03:32 AM
If a water swivel has multiple bolts around the top and bottom, Its not "state of the art". It will have a flat rubber washer type of seal that can't take the required pressures. It will leak after only a few hours of use and may just give you an unexpected shower! Our water seal system is redundant and will provide you with trouble free operation that eliminates the need to stop and work on your equipment while drilling!

I think someone buggered up in the add " Our water seal system is REDUNDANT??


08-15-2007, 12:35 PM

Even the DIY rotary rigs are a quantum leap ahead of some of the technology used to build wells. There are several hand dug wells (think short handled spade, a rope and bucket) and more than a few around up here that were done with cable tools (think heavy bar on a cable, and a flapper style bailer)..:D

As far as rain water collection, isn't Utah semi arid < 12" annual rainfall?


08-15-2007, 02:44 PM
What I meant to say was, if you only need to drill 130 feet and if you expect it to be mostly dirt/sand/gravel, then yes, the DIY is a viable option.

But if it is mostly rock, even at only 130 feet, I'd be cautious of spending a couple thou on a DIY rig only to find that it may not punch that deep in rock.

I'd try to find out more about the local geology, how hard it is to drill, and does it cut a clean hole or is it prone to collapsing.

If you have any surface water, that can often be developed and purified for less than the cost of a deep well. Even if it is full of cow pies and doesn't seem like something you'd want to drink, you may be able to clean it up with the right equipment. If you spend $1500 for a cistern and $500 for filtration and treatment, that's still way better than $5,000+ for a well.

08-15-2007, 03:19 PM
Other wells in the area have hit some rock, but mostly dirt. No surface water on my properties, although there are several springs in the adjoining area.

08-15-2007, 06:09 PM

FWIW. The fact that there are springs close by is cause for optimism.. there are 3 springs within 1/2 mile of my house at 3 points of the compass and my well is all of 40' deep:o There is roughly 30' elevation between my well and the springs. I think the first sand stone is the aquifer.