Drill: Steel Cased Drilling

You’re at the beach and you decide to dig a hole in the sand with your hands. As you dig, sand falls back into the hole you’re trying to make as fast as you dig. The deeper you dig, the bigger around your hole gets since sand still keeps trying to fall into your hole.

And this is the reason for Steel Cased Drilling.  Pagosa Springs, Bayfield, and Durango all have rivers and the adjoining saturated alluvial ground areas. When the water is deeper than gallery wells can access, this is the drilling method that will get you the good water. In County Road 250 area of Durango, the one huge problem with any style of well is sand.

There is ground material that simply won’t hold together as the drilling takes place. When that happens, a driller must stabilize the bore hole in various ways. Since the majority of our drilling is Low Pressure Foam Drilling, most of our bore holes hang together. The low pressure air doesn’t etch the sides of the bore hole near as much as high pressure air does. And the foam also lessens the etching process. Also, we are able to add polymers to the injection water and help the bore hole sides stay in place.

But there are places where we have to drill inside of steel well casing and pull the well casing down at the same time that the drilling takes place. Then the sides of the bore hole slough against the outside wall of the steel well casing and the drilling with the well casing continues on down to the water.  When the water table is down further in alluvial ground (river rock, gravel, sand) than we can excavate with a track hoe and install a gallery well, we end up having to Steel Case Drill.

Drilling with Steel Well Casing. Cuttings come out diverter.


Our diamond weld-on clip trick.


This is the most expensive form of well drilling per foot. It’s also the least amount of fun for almost any driller. All of us try to use any other method of drilling to hold the bore hole together and not have to Steel Case Drill. A day of shop work goes into preparing to Steel Case Drill. We have to load the steel pipe on a trailer, and then load a 20’ long drill stem inside of each steel pipe. Then we take the first pipe we will drill with and weld on a $900 ring bit that we probably will never see again. Then we load up the miscellaneous tooling, diverter, etc. Then we fabricate enough steel diamond clips. This is a trick that we’ve used for years to make sure that the well casing doesn’t break at our welds. Then we schedule a good night’s sleep for an early start for the next day.

There is an upside to Steel Casing Drilling: When the drilling reaches water, it’s usually pretty clear how much water you have and how good the water is. Also, we often have the option of ‘tripping out’ (removing the drill string) and pump testing the well more even more information.

You can see a fascinating video by the manufacturer of the drilling tooling we use. It also shows why we spent the extra money on this style of tooling instead of the eccentric tooling. Truly, there is nothing we can’t drill through with this style of tooling.


There are more variables to this form of drilling than any other. Like, how do we install the proper cement seal for the annular space? How do we keep an annular space open? Do we install the annular space first? And then drill through the piping to water? Do we leave the steel well casing in the borehole? Can we get it out if we want to? We have to carefully develop a well drilling plan that we explain in your contract and then proceed on that basis.

We have developed a bunch of custom built tooling for this style of drilling. We built an overshot reamer for either drilling or clearing the annular space. We’ve never seen anyone else drill with an overshot reamer like this.

Steel pipe is loaded with drill pipe on trailer.


Ring Bit welded onto steel well casing.


It doesn’t matter if it’s difficult, we’ll do it. Justice will create benefit for you.

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