Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Things You Find in the Field: Old Drill Rig

While wandering around in the Mojave Desert of southern California a couple years back, in an area where I've done some gold exploration, MOH and I came across this old drill rig sitting next to a dilapidated and abandoned trailer. The trailer has what I consider typical Mojave coloring; that is, it has a bit of pink as trim. Of course you can find pink-trimmed trailers anywhere, but because of a bunch of rundown and often deserted, tiny adobe shanties along the Amboy Road near Twentynine Palms, many of which were painted pink at last viewing (like this one), I tend to associate that color with Mojave structures of all kinds. Note the creosote and Joshua trees: yes, it's the Mojave. Also note the volcanic rocks of the Hackberry Mountain mining district in the background. (Location: MSRMaps; Google Maps will only take you this far.)
Many of the old rigs you find out in the field, either in fields, deserts, or along the roadside, are old water well rigs, often cable-tool rigs. I can't really say for sure if that's what this is: none of the pictures I found online match exactly, though the cables hanging from the rig and lack of an apparent top-head drive make me suspicious. If anyone knows for sure, please comment!
The cab of the truck is quite colorful.
I can't make out a phone number, in case you're in need of a rig.

Related Post: Mid-Monthly Art: Mojave Hilton, located in the nearby Vontrigger Hills.


Gaelyn said...

Somebody's dream.

Anonymous said...

From what I can see, I'd say it's a conventional rotary rig. The straight black pipe leaning against the derrick at an angle (far left of your second photo) appears to be a kelly bar (which drives the drillpipe via a rotary table & bushings), attached to a circulating hose (kelly hose), that can be seen hanging in a loop in the top left corner. Unfortunately, photo 2 is cut off at the top, so you can't see a swivel which would connect the kelly and the kelly hose, though that might be a small swivel visible in photo 1 just to the left of the highline boom (white) sticking out halfway up the right side of the derrick. The dark blob above the highline boom is probably the travelling block, slumped over against the derrick. Also in photo 2, the big hose lying on the ground and apparently attached to the derrick at the lower end of a standpipe, is a circulating hose, which you probably wouldn't see on a cable-tool rig. The other end of the circulating hose (hidden behind a shrub, below the truck cab) would be attached to a pumping unit.

Strange (to me) how stuff is just abandoned in the middle of nowhere.


Silver Fox said...

Howard, thanks for the ID. I should have taken more photos!

A friend of mine said that in Honduras many of the rigs used looked a lot like this one, a little worse for wear, but still running. Not sure that this one still has all the parts, though.

Sometimes it seems as though people have just up and left after something happened - like after not finding water? - and this may no longer be private land, either.

Unknown said...

Definitely a rotary rig . Weird how it was abandoned. Maybe the owner died or was abruptly taken away! This would be a dream find for me.

Silver Fox said...

Might still be there...