Well using a Mud
Pump Many thanks
to George in Fayetteville NC his stories
A mud pump represents a huge
improvement in drilling over just using two hoses. It
improves water flow. A typical mud pump will put out 100 gallons
per minute whereas two hoses are only good for about 12 to 15 gallons per
It saves water. Just as important, a
mud pump allows you to employ a re-circulating system so you can use
bentonite or other gelling material that
will solidify the sandy, crumbly walls of your borehole long enough you
can drill without worrying about your hole collapsing on your drillpipe.
As you can see from the photo
above, a portable mud pit is being used.
Additionally, a six inch PVC
pipe has been inserted into the ground. A tee has been
placed on the top of the six inch PVC pipe.
Water is pumped, using the mud pump, down the drillpipe.
At the bottom of the borehole it turns and goes back up outside
the drillpipe carrying cuttings with it. When it reaches
the top it goes out through the tee over to the portable mud
The portable mud pit is continiously shoveled to get the mud out
of the water. A water/mud mixture is then pumped out of
the pit and back down through the PVC drillpipe.
a much more powerful drilling operation than can be fashioned
with two house water hoses supplying the drilling fluid.
Before we go further please take a look at the drawing below.It
is from an excellent site,
http://www.lifewater.ca/ndexdril.htm, that is
dedicated to helping third world countries drill for water.
The drawing shows their drilling rig, an LS-100 instead of
our PVC apparatus but the mud pit arrangement is excellent.
If you have time, it would be a good idea to go to
http://www.lifewater.ca/ndexdril.htm and browse around as
well. They have many other excellent ideas.
The drilling fluid (water & bentonite) is pumped by the mud
pump down the drilling pipe. At the bottom of the borehole
it picks up cuttings and carries them to the top. At the
top of the borehole the mixture of drilling fluid and cuttings
go into a ditch that leads to a settling pit. The cuttings
fall to the bottom in the settling pit while the drilling fluid
goes over a small ditch into the the mud pit. During the
drilling process, the cuttings are occasionally or continually
shoveled from the bottom of the settling pit. From the mud
pit, the mud pump pumps the fluid back into the drilling pipe
and the process continues.
Note I am saying "drilling
fluid" and not water. That is because bentonite or some
other gelling agent is added to the water to make drilling
fluid. As the hole is bored, this drilling fluid causes
the sides of the borehole to harden. This is extremely
helpful because the driller doesn't have to worry (as much)
about the borehole caving in on his drilling pipe. Any of
you who have had a PVC drillpipe stick in a hole can appreciate
how useful this trait is!!
Now let's move on to George's
arrangement. Rather than dig up his yard to make the
settling and mud pits, he is using a portable mud pit. He
has inserted a six inch diameter piece of PVC into the ground
where he will be drilling. Then he attached a tee with a
four inch pipe coming off the side. This four inch pipe
leads to his portable mud pit.
Quick Jel is added to the
drilling fluid to solidify the walls of the borehole
A two inch hose connects the mud pump to the drillhead
A six inch PVC Tee is placed over a piece of six inch PVC that
is inserted into the ground. This will direct the
returning water through horizontal piece of four inch PVC to the mud pit
Standing up the Drillpipe - Preparing to drill
Below are a series of eMails George sent as he was drilling the
well. As you can see, it took a bit of experimentation to
find the right combination of size, speed, and drilling mud.
He kept at it and his ultimate success is most impressive.
I left off a couple of the first emails. As the story
begins, George has a two inch pipe stuck in the ground from an
effort using two water hoses as drilling fluid.
Using the mud pump method was GREAT ! I set everything up
and had my neighbor over to help. I put the 20 piece of
3" pvc over my stuck 2" pipe . fired up the mud pump and got
the water recirculating into my 110 gallon livestock tub. In
less than 30 minutes, I had washed down to where the 3" pipe was
on top of the 2" pipe. The 3" pipe started wanting to
stick in the soft sand, so I had my helper to add about 15 lbs.
of Aqua Gel" that I picked up at the plumbing store where I buy
my well screens from. Its a combination of bentonite and
a vegetable polymer. Within a few minutes, I was able to
easily slide the 3" pipe up and down/side to side to enlarge my
bore hole it quit caving in and sticking like it had been
Instead of having to take the 2" pipe out, both pipes washed
down together ! At about 19, I hit hardpan so I decided
to stop and pull out the 3" pipe. After doing this, I had
so much room left in the borehole, that I was able to pour 2
bags of pea gravel down the outside of my 2" pipe all the
way to the bottom . without any caving in issues. I think
I could have easily put down a 4" pipe and well screen down that
hole. The Aqua Gel was doing its job nicely.
Total time using the mud pump from starting to when I finished
putting in the gravel pack was only 1 hour ! The guy at
the plumbing shop told me I would have to backwash the well to
remove the Aqua Gel because it would stop up the aquifer.
I did that using my 110 gallon sprayer tank that was standing by
full of clean water. I then hooked up my mud pump to the
well and pumped it for 10 minutes only getting about 9
gallons/minute flow. During this time, I filled my 110
gallon sprayer tank back up with clean water. I back flushed
the well again . after this time, I got a 16 gal/min flow .
On the third time I back flushed the well, I surged the mud pump
from slow to fast back and forth as it back flushed.
Hooked everything back up and started pumping from the well ..
now getting 30 gal/min !! I decided to quit while I was
ahead . plus the temperature was pushing 100 degrees !!
Next weekend, Im moving over about 14 and putting down a
second well so that I can eventually combine the two for my
irrigation. Ill take pictures and email them to you.
I used a 6" tee that had a 4" side port to recirculate back to
my 110 gallon stock tub. I only put 3 of 6" pvc in the
ground and packed around the pipe to prevent leakage.
Everything worked great just like in the PVC video you sent me
where the guy was using two dug pits to recirculate from.
I know this email is lengthy, but I just wanted to say THANKS
for all your effort and help !
We jetted down the second well this past Saturday
morning. It took only one hour from the time we started
the pump until I finished with the gravel pack !! I used a
3" pipe to jet with . dropped in my 2" pipe with 5 well screen
. then pulled out the 3" casing. At this point, there is
enough room to pour 2.5 bags of pea gravel down the hole beside
the well pipe. By using the Quick Gel, the hole does not cave in
on the well pipe. The big difference this time was that I
immediately back flushed the well with 110 gallons of fresh
water to clear out the Quick Gel . instead of trying to pump
from it at the beginning like I did with my first well.
This second well pumps a huge 60 gpm !!! I was amazed to
say the least. Tied together, both wells produce 90+ gpm
with the pump slightly above idle speed
Ive included some photos in this email and will send you some
short videos in a follow up email. I hope it does not clog
up your Inbox.
Thanks so much for your help and inspiration from your
website which got me started on this project !
Here are the short video clips. One thing I forgot to
mention earlier was that you really have to mound up and pack
the dirt around the bottom of your 6" tee. We had a couple
of times when the circulating water tried to come up around the
2.5 foot piece of 6" pipe we had in the ground below the tee.
It would be better if you could drive that pipe in the ground
maybe another foot, but I did not have anything to do that with.
Using the Quick Gel gives you enough time to stop and fix your
leaks as you go without risking a cave in on your pipe
Here, George is setup to use the mud pump to test pump the well
Looks like it worked - 60 GPM!!
60 GPM VIDEO!
Gene in Waller, Texas previously posted a video but for reasons
unknown to me it has been pulled. Gene's video
is the one George was referring to. Gene uses five foot
lengths of three inch PVC for his drillpipe. He has
attached threaded PVC couplings to his PVC for easy assembly and
disassembly during the drilling process. He uses set
screws, going in from the side to keep the pieces of of three
inch PVC from
unscrewing during the drilling process. Pretty crafty
The main mechanical seal went out on the pump right after we
made the video and they are shipping me a new pump. I was only
down about 9 ft. when the pump quit sucking. I pulled the
pipe out and am waiting for the pump. I was into some real hard
clay when I quit. Could only make about a couple of inches an
hour. I used a 3" steel nipple to make my cutter.
Seems to be doing a good job except for this hard clay. A
well driller told me that I should have a nice course sand at 30
to 40 ft with some gravel in it. He thinks the water table
should be about 20 ft. He is a pro well driller and
he told me they use coarse sand instead of gravel for the pack.
He said the play sand" at the box stores will work fine.
I bought 2 sacks of sand and 2 sacks of pea gravel and If I get
to 40 ft I will put it all in for the gravel/sand pack as high
up as it will go.
a million for your videos. I learned a lot. I went to the
recirculating method because my water pressure is low and I
wanted to do the 3" pipe to make the gravel pack easier.
Youmhay try the play sand with the 2" drill. the sand should go
between the 1 1/4 and the two inch if you use internal
Another thing I have done is install screw couplings in the 3"
in order to facilitate removal of 40 ft. To keep
them from unscrewing I run a couple of drywall screws into the
side of the couplings as I go down. Coming out I just back out
the DW screws and unscrew the 3 in.
The 2" trash pump is working great. Since I am using 3" PVC I
found out that cutting the 10 sections in half and using the
threaded couplings makes the whole thing easier to handle. I
told you about using screws in the coupling. I took two strap
wrenches and tried to unscrew one and could not.
My well is going pretty slow as I seem to be in clay laced with
some kind of sea shells. Im now @ 25. Probably an old oyster
bed. I got some bentonite to use when I get in sand. I
usually only work in the late afternoon when I am in the shade.
A couple of things I have learned:
1. When you use a metal cutter on the bottom it will make your
hole a little larger if you bend every other tooth out a little
and therefore less prone to sticking the pipe in hard clay. You
might also bend the balance of the teeth in a little thereby
increasing your cutting area.( Sorta like setting a saw blade.)
2. If you use the play sand instead of pea gravel with 2 it
works well if you wash it down with water while pouring it. A
large funnel would help.
3. Well driller buddy said if you use water w/out Bentonite the
sand will pack a lot tighter around the pipe if it sticks.
Sometimes, due to the wrong PH of the water the Bentonite will
not mix properly. If that happens you need to add a very small
amount of soda ash. If you stop drilling say
overnight and your pit settles out and is clear on top then you
know you need to add the soda ash. That will keep the bentonite
from settling out.