(go to kickstarter page)
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

basecamp well comedy  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21169
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
no water.

check the cistern.  Cistern is empty.

Reset the pumps, nothing seems to change.

Wait for a day, nothing seems to change.

Bypass the controller and water does pump from the bottom of the well.

When you have a cistern and the cistern is lower than the house, there are two pumps.  One pump that pumps water to the cistern and one pump that pumps water from the cistern to the house. There is a also a pressure tank with a bladder in it - but that's a whole different thing to talk about. 

Jim knows about electronics and he has drilled wells at the lab.  When getting keen on wells, I bought six books on wells and I assumed he read them.  So he is savvy about electronics and wells.   But he is on his way out of town.  He stops by, does some tests and says there is a short on the wires that go to the pump 300 feet down. 

I know that the pump is 300 feet down because I met a guy that used to live here.  He told me it was 300 feet deep. 

Fred calls the local well guy.  He says $100 to come out and diagnose.  If the pump has to come out and it is about 300 feet deep, that will be a bit over $2000.   Fred tells him about the message on the controller and the guy says that it sounds like a short in the well pump.  Sounds like a diagnosis match.

I'm gonna guess that for 80% of the people that live in the country, they fix it themselves.   Coin is pretty tight right now.  $2000+ would be a tough pill to swallow.

Fred watches some youtube videos and reads some web pages.  He thinks he can fix it. 

Fred and cliff open the cap and see  ..... there is supposed to be a rope that you can hold to pull it all out.  There is no rope. Did that already get dropped inside? 

Fred and cliff manage to disconnect the stuff and heave it all up to the point that the top of the pipe is sticking out of the hole.  A climbing rope is attached as the primary and some webbing is attached as the secondary.   I mean, that would be pretty awful of all of that stuff fell down inside the well.  The well is about six inches in diameter and 300 feet deep - that would be pretty much impossible to retrieve if it fell in. 

So, of course .... comedy.

The primary rope breaks and there is a slight drop before the webbing catches it, but now a lot of weight + momentum breaks the webbing. 

Yup.  Comedy.

I have a super bright flashlight.  I will shine it down the hole and we will see how far down it is. 

My super bright flashlight now doesn't seem all that bright. 

Oh, right!  The focus.  My super bright flashlight has a focus - so I can set it to shine in a line.   Of course, I grip it super hard because I don't want to drop my flashlight in there. 

Don't. 

I probably shouldn't think it because something inside of me is then trying really hard to get me to drop my super bright flashlight in there. 

I end up keeping my flashlight.  It doesn't go in.   But no matter how I focus it, I can't see the pipe and stuff.  We try several flashlights.  Fred drops some rope in there to the point that he thinks he can feel change.  He thinks that is about 60 feet down. 

Call the well guy.  He has never had that happen.  He said it should be no more than ten feet down.  He also suggests using a mirror.  Mighty kind of him to trade advice for comedy.

We have several conversations to speculate on how much it would all weigh.  The tractor was able to lift it, and the tractor can lift a ton.  So it has to be less than a ton.  300 feet of 220 volt wire and poly pipe full of water ....   I was thinking about 300 pounds.    The top pipe we saw was steel pipe, but there is most likely poly pipe under that. 

We talk a lot about rope and web stuff and how this stuff is rated for 3000 pounds.  We then talk about how that is often an exaggeration and it did break even though this is less than 2000 pounds. 

Fred gets a hundred feet of quarter inch steel cable, and fashions a steel hook.   I predict that it will take six hours of brain numbing fishing to hook it.  Fred hooks it in about four.  They rig up a series of pulleys through the tractor and connect the other end to cliff's truck.   Cliff drives 75 feet before the pipe and wires pop out to say howdy. 

Lots of stuff is done to keep it from falling back in.  Still no guess in how much it weighs, but cliff felt he was pulling pretty hard and he was going downhill.  Hmmmm....

Lane arrives. 

A day is spent on a collection of inventions to be able to grip the pipe, lift it with the tractor about six feet, grip the pipe again to keep it from falling back in the well, lower the upper grip ....  repeat.

A cam is tried - and it is decided that we would need a much bigger cam.

A steel plate with a hole a little larger than the pipe in one end, some something with a chain/rope/cable holding the other end - using the friction of the angle ...   works for one or two tries, but then the mild steel wears and the edge rounds off and it won't hold anymore.  I suggest a wood thing with wood wedges.   In the end a hybrid wood and steel thing works for lifting and a prybar inserted into the well works to keep it from sliding back. 

Kai arrived to help.  So it was fred, cliff, lane and kai. 

600 feet of steel pipe and very thick wire.   So the pump hangs out at 600 feet down a 675 foot deep well.

We have now been a week without running water.

Fred is building a shopping list of all the stuff we will need to replace.  Lane has some experience with this sort of thing.  He is emphatic that we not try to reuse the three brass check valves in the well.  He says they really need to be new or they will leak. 

That's the news from lake wobegon.  Where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average.

 
Sean Pratt
Lab Ant
Posts: 62
Location: Rensselaer New York
13
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have all the luck on the lab Thanks for the laugh it brought back lot lot of memories of jobs that took longer than expected! Good luck guys!
 
Walt Chase
Posts: 63
Location: ALASKA
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sounds about like something that would happen to me, only I would have dropped the flashlight in too

How far from the surface is the water?  You may not have to put the pump back in all the way down to 600 feet depending on maximum water use and well recovery time.  You possibly could go shallower with the pump etc and save a bit of pocket change.  Just a thought.
 
Julia Winter
steward
Posts: 1907
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
164
bee bike chicken food preservation hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow, that's a deep pump! 

I'm so glad you guys were able to figure it out, and I hope you get it all put back together and functioning well.  (Nothing like a well functioning well, I suppose.)

We are buying a little farm in Beaver Creek, and found out the well was kaput.  Luckily, the sellers have agreed to lower the price the amount it will cost to put in a new well.  We are much wetter here, so we don't need to go so very deep.
 
Glenn Herbert
gardener
Posts: 2105
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
72
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I put in my own well 30-some years ago (in a 6" casing 165' deep by a well driller), and after ten years or so it shorted out. I pulled it, which was doable by hand at that depth, and found that I didn't have enough (if any) centering discs on the pipe (1" black poly). The wires had rubbed on the casing as the pump and pipe had twisted slightly when starting and stopping. Put it back with new wires and regularly spaced rubber spacers, and it has worked for twenty years now.

It might be moot if you have steel piping, but measures to positively prevent the wires from contacting the wall of the casing would be worthwhile.
 
R Ranson
master steward
Posts: 4935
Location: Left Coast Canada
570
books chicken tiny house
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Feeling your pain.

600 foot well, turned out to be 840.  3 weeks no water.  Massive cast iron pipes instead of the nice, modern flexible pipes meant a massive crane truck had to come (and almost toppled over because of the weight pulling the well).  Did I mention three weeks with no running water?  This is during the summer, height of the drought, when the animals and plants needed the water the most and when I first discovered hugelkultur could mean less water need if any.  Three horrible weeks of zero water (plus the two months prior trying to see if we could fix the well without pulling it).

I have a firm conviction that I never want to live without easy access to potable water ever again.  I can live without electricity, and even without the internet.  But I sure do love having easy access to water.  Even a handpump would do, so long as it's in my kitchen.

As for flashlights, we still have all ours.  Same can't be said for the well-fix-it-guy.  I'm thinking a wrist lanyard for flashlights might be a useful invention. 
 
Maureen Atsali
Posts: 296
Location: Western Kenya
22
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Oh man, do I relate.  Our well has been out of service for months.  Can't afford to fix it, and also don't think i should have to pay it all, since several families also use this well.  And a few weeks ago, I made a midnight run to the toilet (pit latrine) and used my phone as a flashlight.  I did have that freaky, "what if I drop it?" Thought on the way out the door... And the, I should look for the regular flashlight... But. I didn't.  And while fumbling with my clothes, it jumped out of my hand and did a perfect bounce right down the hole.  And it landed so nicely, with the light facing up, so there was this eerie glow emanating from the toilet hole all night long.  It was a Chinese knock-off smart phone... Cheap compared to something like an iPhone, but a helluva lot of money for a person who lives off 400 USD a month and supports a family of 6 on the same.  I laughed... And then I cried.
 
wayne fajkus
Posts: 656
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Because my well pump didn't work, I rigged up an IBC tote to a pump to feed water to the house. Then another IBC tote on a trailer, with a 12 volt pump and battery to fill the first tote.

At some point I called someone out to fix the well. It turned out the electrical box has contacts. If the lid is not shut, the pump don't work.

It cost to close the lid was $60. The cost for my rigging was $600.

The only good part is I have a mobile water supply for the new trees.
 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 938
87
books cat chicken duck rabbit transportation trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
No matter my lot in life, I always figured I had it good. A good case in point is water. I have a regular well that has served me well these last 25 years with no complaints. But when the power goes out, my backup generator is too small to run the well pump. That is okay, I have an old farmhouse next door that has a hand dug well with cap on it. I just drop down a 5 gallon bucket with rope, hoist it back up, put 3 pails on a sled (it is always winter when the power goes out) and haul it back to the house.

As much as that is work, here is where I feel very blessed. In 1800 when that hand dug well was made, some poor kid (they always used kids) had to be lowered down that well and placed the rocks that lined that well. I figured as long as I did not have to do that, then I was was very fortunate.

Best wishes with your water though.
 
Tracy Wandling
steward
Posts: 1433
Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
240
bee books chicken forest garden fungi hugelkultur trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This story, while amusing because it happened to someone else, is rather terrifying to me. Our all is 650 feet deep! I can't even . . .
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21169
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Update:   the pump motor was shot.  Nearly seized (i before e except ....).

Fred got a new pump and a tool to help with getting all the pipe back in.   A "pipe dog".  I think in two days we will have a "hardly used pipe dog" for sale.


 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21169
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The water is on again.  A little cloudy at first, but it will be back to being excellent water soon.

15 days without water.  Many lessons.

Fortunately, we had a lot of melt and a lot of rain, so we had a source for water just outside the house. 
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!