Friday, May 24, 2013

The Divorce

On the first day, he sadly packed his belongings into boxes, crates and suitcases.

On the second day, he had the movers come and collect his things.

On the third day, he sat down for the last time at their beautiful dining-room table, by candle-light; he put on some soft back ground music, and feasted on a pound of shrimp, a jar of caviar, and a bottle of spring-water.

When he'd finished, he went into each and every room and deposited a few half-eaten shrimps dipped in caviar into the hollow center of the curtain rods.

He then cleaned up the kitchen and left.

On the fourth day, the wife came back with her new boyfriend, and at first all was bliss.

Then, slowly, the house began to smell.

They tried everything; cleaning, mopping, and airing-out the place.

Vents were checked for dead rodents, and carpets were steam cleaned.

Air fresheners were hung everywhere. Exterminators were brought in to set off gas canisters, during which time the two had to move out for a few days, and in the end they even paid to replace the expensive wool carpeting.. Nothing worked!

People stopped coming over to visit.

Repairmen refused to work in the house. The maid quit.

Finally, they couldn't take the stench any longer, and decided they had to move, They put Their House on the Market.............but a month later - even though they'd cut their price in half - they couldn't find a buyer for such a stinky house.

Word got out, and eventually even the local realtors refused to return their calls.

Finally, unable to wait any longer for a purchaser, they had to borrow a huge sum of money from the bank to purchase a new place.

Then the ex called the woman and asked how things were going. She told him the saga of the rotting house. He listened politely and said that he missed his old home terribly and would be willing to adjust the divorce settlement in exchange for having the house.

Knowing he could have no idea how bad the smell really was, she agreed on a price that was only 1/10th of what the house had been worth ... but only if he would sign the papers that very day.

He agreed, and within two hours her lawyers delivered the completed paperwork.

A week later the woman and her boyfriend stood smiling as they watched the moving company pack everything to take to their new home ...and to spite the ex-husband, they even took the curtain rods!


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dryland Fishing .... stage 1 the drop

 House wells are a fact of rural life , When you live out in the sticks your local  Nannystate inc. doesn't bring you the benefits  of such modern convinces  water or sewer .
I will try to be comprehensive enough to explain things to someone with no experience with wells , and concise enough not to bore folks who have had some experience  with them  here .    
 A typical house well runs off a submersible electric pump that is located at the bottom of a stand of pipe  some feet below the ground surface .

 This system when installed properly is near bulletproof  for the life of the pump motor or impellers or both which is in my area an average of  7 to 10 years .
The house well I speak to though  was as close as I can remember last pulled out of the hole in 1977 or 1978.  and was still running 1¼ steel pipe . The well had run pretty consistently until the mid 1990s and then sporadicly tapering off till it just set since 2000 or so . It needed some attention.
So occasionally when pulling a well things go wrong ,  bad wrong,  and you wind up with the entire stand of pipe and pump setting on the bottom of the hole .  This to say the least is not  the happy place that you want to go to .
In this case  there was not a " proper "  well cap , and the pipe string was held  up by a couple of 2x6 boards  chiseled with a grove for the pipe   then bolted together sandwiching the pipe  between them while they rested on top of the casing .  The top of the pipe string was a T with a plug in top and a pipe union coming out the side .  Normal practice would be to unscrew the plug , and screw your wench attachment into the top of the t.  Not gonna happen here .. plug was froze solid .  no i mean 24" pipe wrenches with 4 ' cheaters on them solid .  So to plan B.. throw a light chain around the pipe below the wood and suck it down tight to choke the T and bring it up till we could get on it with a pipe vice  to pull from . Every thing worked according to plan right up until we pulled up on the chain , then in rapid order  one of the 2x6s just detonated , rotten wood and splinters went everywhere , and the pump went to the bottom in a rapid and noisy fashion .
 Once you have your pump setting on bottom rather than on top of the ground  there are several possibilities and none of them are real pleasant .
If your well bottom is mud  its likely that the pump and pipe drove themselves into it deeply enough that removal is may be impossible .
 If your well casing doesn't go all the way to the bottom  its likely that between the bending and distortion of the pipe and the cave in you just created  removal is may be impossible .
 If you have a good hard sandy bottom  with casing going all the way to the end of the hole  you stand a good chance of removing the pipe string and pump if you can get ahold of it .
The common thing in all of the above is that you are going " fishing " for a string of pipe .  now understand , this pipe is seldom just standing in the well like someone leaned a stick in a corner .  It may well have been profoundly bent from the force of the drop , and will have some number of feet of electrical cable on the top of it fowling the bore hole . Well fishing is always a hit or miss exercise in frustration and expense for every one concerned .
 As long as the cable is intact and on top of the pipe you cannot get ahold of the pipe  to lift it , and if you sent a tool down the hole to entangle the cable  hoping to pull it off or break it  you stand a chance of getting ahold of more than you really want to  resulting in a tool now stuck in the bore further fowling it .
A large part of the problem is traditionally the " guesswork "  involved .  You just cannot see what you have down there to work with .
Try this .. take a 6" cooking pot to represent typical house well casing ,  wad up an extension cord to fit  inside the it  and place it a mere 50 ft away on its side .  Now imagine how you are going to remove the cord from the pot without scratching it using a wench truck  .  I say without scratching it because if you are hammering on the pipe at this stage  you are driving it deeper , bending it more , and adding to the problems you will face next .

Dryland Fishing 2 The redneck well cam

Last post I left us with  a dropped pump , fowled by cable  and somewhat explained the issues this created .  Now Traditionally the experienced well guy at this point gets drunk because it saves time to start early .  Really what happens is that you hook up whatever tool you have dreamed up and made  to run down the bore and attempt to entangle the cable on top of  the pipe enough that you can either pull it in two  or lift the pipe string ( hopefully ) to the top with it .   Normally what happens is that  the cable breaks off at some unknown point , a wad comes to the top on your tool , and you are not really sure if there is more fowling the top of your pipe string or not .
Modern Technology has been on top of this for some years ,  they make down bore cameras . Really nice almost indestructible  down bore cameras  that will give many years of service under the harshest conditions and stream live video  to the surface to be viewed then or recorded and studied at leisure  from the comfort of the front seat of an air conditioned / heated  pickup .  Dammed things  cost about as much as that fancy pickup too .  No problem ..  we will just call the guy who has one , have him come over and shoot the hole right ?    Yea ..   possibly in your world since * that * guy  wants about $100 an hour that seems to start the instant he answers his phone , mileage both ways , and oh yea .. he can get to you sometime next week . Or if not possibly the week after .  You see he has a well rig too and is kinda pissed that you had your guy pull it rather than help him pay for his fancy toys , not that we are going to discuss what he charges  LOL .
This not being my first " fishing trip "  and since I have had some experience with the issues involved I really wanted a good look at just what was down hole on my well .  I put a bit of thought into it  and decided to experiment a bit with gross mis-use of off the shelf technology  .

Enter the Redneck Well Cam ... some assembly required ..

The local Alco store had a little Vivitar  camcorder priced at $19 and change , hmm takes standard sd card , and AA batterys ... Perfect !!   Dammed if it didn't ring up for $12 at checkout .. Bonus !  I am sure you can see where this is going .

Now here for a cost of roughly $20 we have the seeds of revolution LOL .
Upon assembly  it became apparent  that there was going to be a learning curve involved here .  The camera wasn't at all stable , and the light  seemed weak  but possibly this was more about the camera and light not being stable  when i think about it .  None the less  after a few trips down the hole we wound up with v2

I put on a streamlight pt2aa flashlight that is rated at 150 lumins  and it worked great , stuffing the entire assembly into the plastic juce jug  seemed to do a lot to stabilize it side to side  though it still " twirls "  this isn't really a big problem for my usage .

This pretty much shows it as i sent it down hole .

It took amazing video considering the investment involved .  The lack of real time video and steer-ability of view could well be a drawback but for what I needed  it was no big thing .
The first video  is more or less a proof of concept video  that also shows some of the trash that winds up on top of things ,  note that this isnt the first video i took  but was about 3 times into the process of have a look , run a light tool down on paracord to knock loose trash obstructing the bore , and look again .

 The second video is after we had snagged the cable and brought it to the top ( in this case it pulled the wires out of the pump )  to get a look at just what we had to deal with ontop of the pipe string .

By tying a knot in the string with the camera resting on " bottom " I established a rough depth  to " fish " for both the cable and pipe .

It was apparent that the union had not broken off and then fell down the bore  so we knew that a typical " flapper " fishing bit  ( a piece of pipe or casing smaller than the well case  with a flap pointing up that wont pivot  past center so it grabs pipe or a coupler when the bit slips over it. )  wasn't going to work well in this instance so something was going to have to be made for the job  .


Dryland fishing 3 .. The Fish

So how to get ahold  of  the mess we have down bore ?  I remembered from my oil patch days a tool called a " wall hook "  that they would run into the hole to pull broken drill stem to the center of the bore so they could get ahold of it .  This basic tool idea is what i modified  to not only pull my string to the center but * hopefully* to grab it at the same time .  I wanted the tool to be fairly rugged so I designed it to go onto 2" steel pipe for both rigidity and strength.

 I also beveled the inside of the bottom nearly to an axe edge level of sharp  so that the tool wouldn't " hang " on the shoulder of the T .

From running the cam down the bore we knew that the top of the T was right at 42' below the top of the casing . Steel pipe is supposed to be ( but this can vary ) 21' per joint  and we were working about 5' above the top of the well case ( it sets in a well pit ) .   So we started down the bore  and assembled 3 joints of pipe .  right where we should we made contact with the top of the dropped string , and a bit of slack in the wench line  coupled with a turn of the 2" via pipe wrench  locked us on .  I gotta say it worked like a charm .

We started putting pull on the pipe .. and it just sat there .. a bit more pull .. same result , by this time the 1/2 inch steel cable was starting to sing , and putting your hand on the 2" pipe you could feel it vibrate or quiver  under the strain . A bit more pull and slowly the pipe began to rise , it was apparent from the weight that we had most if not all of the dropped string attached .
All went well until the last joint , it started looking like spaghetti  as it came up
Not hard to spot the " problem "  joint is it ?

A bit closer look at the tears we made as we pulled it through the " die "  of the bottom of the casing straighting it out enough to come up

The other problem is shown here ..  That end is what is left of the check valve ( that keeps water from just draining back into the well )  that is on the top of the pump .. notice there is no pump in evidence .

Here is a pic of what * should * have been attached there , about 4' and 40 lbs  of  pump . Ahh well when we ran back in with new pvc pipe and a new pump everything is working fine so  that damned thing can just lay where we pulled it off the string i guess .

Anyway , thats dryland fishing  and I count it as a successful catch because a bit of time and thinking  got a " bad drop "  out  that likely would not have came with conventional fishing techniques  and that saved about $30,000 for a new well .