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Posts tagged ‘water well drilling’

Blowing the well

emptying mud pit

emptying mud pit

Yesterday we drilled all day but we did not hit water. The rock we bring up is dark black mixed with quartz, a formation not particularly conducive to bearing water. The hole is now about 105 feet deep. It is disappointing to everyone; we had hoped for a really productive well but the best that can be produced from this well is about three gallons an hour.





Today we blew out the well, sank casing and cleaned up the area. The mud is thick and gritty. Our original plan to dump it in the ditch in front of the school was discarded after the pump did not work. Instead it was scooped out by shovel and bucket down the ditch by the soccer field. The owner of the very nice house next door came out and took a look; obviously not pleased and headed down to the center of town—probably to talk to the mayor.


Blowing out a well means cleaning out the mud that is in the hole; it is like a small geyser with everyone getting drips of mud on them. Then a foaming agent is used and everyone is wading ankle deep in mud and bubbles. The mud pits were filled in with dirt while PVC casing was placed in the hole. Gravel was dumped around the casing to hold it in place.


Surprisingly we were done with all of this by a little after noon. And so we headed back to Centro Kellogg to clean up and rest a bit before evening service and supper.


A bilingual service is interesting; some Spanish phrases take longer to say than the English and vice versa.


Tomorrow we go home. It has been a long week and I will be happy to be home again.

More photos are on smugmug at


Praying for water

Assembling the rig

Assembling the rig

Our day began as usual with devotions and breakfast. The coffee here is so wonderful I could linger forever at the breakfast table just drinking coffee and watching the day begin over the mountains.




Everyone was eager to begin the day; the rig was ready to run and we want to find water.


A chill wind blew and I regretted not wearing a long-sleeve T-shirt. Drilling was already in progress when I arrived. My role as log-keeper is not hard but I’m not sure all the notes I write are as helpful mechanically as they could be. I learned how to get samples; this involves squatting down by the mud outflow tract with a strainer basket, letting the mud flow through and then rinsing out the mud in a barrel of semi-clean water. The sample is then placed in a sandwich bag and shown to the head driller.


Sampling the mud outflow with dips of fingers in the stream, smelling it, and rubbing it between the fingers is part of the expertise or ritual of the job. I can’t see much difference in some of the samples but then I suppose there are things that I see in my job that seem subtle to others.


Around noon I was instructed to get my working gloves on; it was my time to run the drill. The drill is a huge auger that rotates with a significant amount of power—something I highly respect as I value my fingers. The lead driller was patient as he shouted into my ear—although it seemed as though he were whispering with earplugs in place and the drill running as well as the mud pump.


It took over two hours to drill ten feet—that is the length of one pipe stem. Changing out the stem was the next project—not easily accomplished as I didn’t quite grasp what I was supposed to do. But Ed was quite patient and we managed to add another stem and I stepped down for lunch.


We quit around three. The stem has to be hauled back up and unscrewed one by one. Tomorrow we begin drilling again and pray that we hit a good source of water.


Again more photos and a few video clips are at smugmug at

Touring El Centro Kellogg campus

dismantled saw mill

dismantled saw mill

Today was another long day.




Since the rig was down and waiting for parts, several of us walked over to the church. Mahogany panels are in the ceiling; stained glass windows represent the different forms of agriculture at the school.


A John Deere tractor is mounted on a pedestal near the laundry but the saw mill I remembered from two years ago was dismantled with only the saw blade and the tracks for moving the logs remaining.


Around noon we headed out to Galpon. The parts arrived and a valiant attempt was made to put the rig back together. After nearly an hour of effort, the part was loaded up and taken to Danli to a machine shop. It didn’t seem to take long for the part to be reconstructed there. Then the part had to be mounted back on the rig. It took much longer than the estimated 45 minutes and so we ended up closing up shop with the rig reassembled but no drilling.



bell tower of church
bell tower of church

More photos are on smugmug are here along with the entire trip photos on

Praying for water for Jacaleapa

Red Jacks and Green Balls

Red Jacks and Green Balls

Day Four





Sunrise this morning was spectacular. Clouds hovered over the tops of the mountains and glimmered pink and orange. Some of the trees have lacy frond branches that were tipped with pink and orange. The upside down trees lining the pathway glistened with mist and I was sorry I had left my camera behind in the room.


After breakfast of hard-fried egg, beans, fried plantains, squeaky cheese, tortillas, kiwi juice and wonderful coffee we met for devotions and to plan our day. Tools needed to be cleaned and put away, the part removed cleaned and polished with emory paper and an inventory of the tools taken. The hygiene team went about their business; Glen and I volunteered to clean tools and do an inventory while the rest of the team planned to go to Yuscaran.


Glen and I were left with David, a very personable young Honduran who spoke almost no English at Galpon. Glen worked on cleaning up the tools while I began the inventory. Some of the tools were in the wrong spots and I relocated them properly; set them out drawer by drawer, sorting them into like groups.


The morning passed quickly but then Terry returned saying that there were protests in Danli, four of our team were caught in the traffic congestion of the protests and he felt uncomfortable with the team not being at Zamarano. And so we packed up and came back to centro Kellogg.


Perhaps it is a good thing. I’ll have time to edit my photos but everyone feels anxious. It is one thing to not get a well while trying and another to sit on our hands waiting for parts, trying to figure out how to wreak repairs. Continuing to use that rig though might have created significant safety problems and so learning what needs to be done to keep it in good repair is good for the future.


 More photos are on smugmug at:


Of note is the absolutely spectacular church with lovely wooden ceilings, benches and accents. In June last year I captured hummingbirds busily collecting nectar from the flowers just outside the church ‘walls’.


A Day of frustation


Paco the rooster rules at Gaalpon

Paco the rooster rules at Gaalpon

Dark clouds and mist seemed to promise rain as we began our day.





First stop was in Gaalpon where Glen assembled a muffler for one of the pumps. Then off to the drill site where the mud was remixed and more water obtained. Drilling began around ten. At 40 feet the bit began to bump and the pipestem to flex. Mud was dripping out of the top of the drilling rig and the mud had large streaks of oil.


So we shut down and investigated. Two bolts were not in place. One was snapped off, the other totally missing. The mechanism was disassembled and taken back to Galpon where it was further taken apart. Everyone was covered with grease splatters from top of head to feet. The seals needed to be replaced and the bearings were bad.


I take lots of photos of the part as it is disassembled; instruction manuals are not easily located, certainly none with diagrams and photos. We are also making a list of needed tools as most of the work is being done with makeshift equipment.


Tomorrow, Hector will go to Tegucigalpa and find new rings and seals and bearings. It seems the missing parts are tractor parts and Hector is confident that they are readily available.


It is disappointing but tomorrow is another day.

A few more photos are on smugmug at:

Drilling a Well in Jacaleapa

Outflow of drill

Outflow of drill



Adventures are somehow always unplanned and unexpected. Despite months of planning, we arrived to find a festival in full swing on the town square. We were supposed to drill there but there were festive tents set up, food booths, paper streamers across the streets, and a band playing. After much discussion and a lot of waiting, an alternative site near the school was identified.


Streets here are quite narrow and it was a challenge just watching the machinery traverse the streets, negogiate the corners and maneuver into place. Fortunately there is not a lot of motorized traffic and ox carts don’t seem to have a problem waiting.


Drilling is noisy and there was a great deal of activity in getting everything organized. Of course, the difference in language plus the inexperience of the majority of the workers hampered the speed. We were all eager to get started.


Pipe stems were unloaded, a yellow umbrella set up at the end of the DR20, mud was mixed in barrels, more water was retrieved from the river, pumps were primed and run after much tinkering, and a trench was dug for the outflow of the drill. At the end of the day, we had gone drilled 80 feet with water found at 50 feet.


 More photos are on smugmug at