St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Well, Well, Well!

Having finally decided to upgrade our old water well system on the farm from an historic pumpjack to a modern submersible pump, we called the local well man, Brad. 

He arrived with his truck and pipe pulling equipment and as I watched the pull begin, the pipe broke off about 90 feet deep in the well.  He pulled up the broken part and we realized the rest of the old system, a cylinder and driven point below were still stuck.  

"We can get them out," he told me,  "but as you see, there is not very much water depth on the pipe.  That means that we may spend the day getting the broken stuff out and still not have enough water to have a decent flow of water.  Remember, I told you that we may be better off drilling a new well, one with a 6 inch casing rather than this 4 inch one, and one that is deeper so you have enough water."

Well, Margo and I had understood that, and knew that instead of $3000 or so for fixing the well, we might have to pay up to 3 times that much for a new well.  We had calculated, consolidated and decided we could swing the full cost if we had to, and of course, a plentiful water supply on a farm is necessary. 

So, since last Wednesday through today, a well driller came, drilled a well, the pump man installed the pump and as of today we are back in water again (although not quite usable as the chlorination has to continue until tomorrow noon).   Here is the whole process in pictures. 

The old well system with tank and pumpjack in a double walled shed insulated for winter with shavings.  Installed in 1970 using the 1939s pumpjack on the 1880s hand dug well.   

The outside walls tipped off, the shavings being loaded and the inside wall to be removed.  I did this early in the morning before the well man arrived.

A cement foundation around the well pump strapped to a 4 inch casing installed sometime after the old 90 foot hole began to cave in.  Later a windmill stood over it. 

Brad arrives to pull the pipes up.  Complication-- on the bottom of 90 feet of pipe is a well cylinder and below that a pipe and sand point driven 10 feet deeper into the ground, a very difficult pull.  In the old days we put two screw jacks, on on each side of a device that slipped over the pipe and turned the screws to get it up the first 10 feet.  

Pump removed, and the pipe pulled, but broken off 90 feet below.  It had rusted almost off where the steel pipe met the brass or bronze cylinder-- under water it eats away with dissimilar metals. 

Having decided to go for a new well closer to the house, Brian brings in the well drilling equipment on Friday.  

99 feet deep, the new well is dug through 25 feet of clay, then coarse gravel, finer gravel and then wet gravel at 80 feet, clay layer at 90 feet and on through to finer sand full of water at 99 feet!

6 inch steel well casing welded in 20 foot sections -- old fashioned but very long lasting

A $1000 drilling bit (3 grinding wheels)

The rig sat for a few days and a robin built a nest

Water begins at 80 feet and gushes at 99

Temporary water through the top of the casing but not good for winter as it will freeze, so a trench to the house comes Monday

A tank, pressure switch and gauge in the basement.  The final line will come underground through the basement floor. 

Monday a trench dug and filled by noon and now some landscaping and fresh clean water again.