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Old 07-17-09, 12:31 PM   #71
AC_Hacker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugh Jim Bissel View Post
Sweet, Looking good! When you backfilled were you able to pack the dirt in any? Hopefully if you water the hole every so often it'll settle around the pipes tightly (besides, thats what you do when you plant something; you water it, right?).
Quite right! I was too busy to photograph it and also failed to mention that I flooded the hole while I was filling it. Every shovel full of dirt landed at the bottom of the hole with a splash.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugh Jim Bissel View Post
(The first 3 pictures in the U-turn fusing post (pics of the jig) aren't showing up for me) (maybe they're still walking through the burning snow?)
HJB, if you're still having problems with the pix, let me know and I'll re-post them. They're coming in fine on my end.

(* I fixed the pix *)

Regards,

AC_Hacker


Last edited by AC_Hacker; 07-17-09 at 01:48 PM..
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Old 07-17-09, 01:32 PM   #72
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Default Minga

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Originally Posted by Daox View Post
Awesome progress. That sure looks like a lot of work digging the holes though!
Although William_Hackerson did the lion's share of the work, we did trade off digging duty, so it really wasn't such a big deal.

I'm getting my electric earth auger back in shape for more drilling, but for shallow holes, and depending on your local soil conditions, hand digging is entirely possible.

I was visiting with my friends, Barbara & Jeff yesterday, telling them of my progress. I happened to mention that it would be great to apply the same kind of community energy to a DIY Ground Source Heat Pump as was displayed in old-time barn raising. Barbara, who has spent a fair amount of time in South America immediately said, "Minga!" I asked her what she was referring to and she told me that it is a Guaraní word for an ancient indigenous custom, by which several men would work in turns in each one’s field, to make the work lighter and quicker and to strengthen friendship. They could also work a field owned in common. The money earned by the minga would be used to buy food in common.




I can see that it would be great fun to invite a couple dozen people over for an early afternoon work party, followed by a barbecue, beer and song circle.

I really think we need to revive the spirit of community cooperation that served our forebears so well.

Best Regards,

-AC_Hacker
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Old 07-17-09, 09:16 PM   #73
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Default Auger Maintainance

Before I can start using my auger again, I needed to repair some damage I incurred during my last drilling efforts.

When I built the auger, I figured I needed some kind of flex-joint to relieve the bearings in the gear-reduction unit of un-needed strain. I wanted a joint that could flex like a u-joint, but without as much freedom to move. After much scheming, I cooked up a flex-joint made of a pot-metal flange with a keyway and set screw to go on the gearmotor and a 3/4 inch pipe flange to go on the drill pipe. The holes in each flange didn't quite line up, so I drilled my own set of holes, based on the existing holes in the pipe flange. Then I used vibration dampers intended for electric motors to connect the two. It turned out by happy accident that the failure point of the vibration dampers was just about the same point of severe electrical overload of the gearmotor, so the flex joint is also a sort of rubber shear pin. This is the third set of vibration dampers I have installed, but their failure has saved my gearmotor, in spite of all the wild abuse I have subjected it to.

Here is my gearmotor, it's made by Bodine. I wanted a permanet magnet motor because it would be reverseable (much more useful than I had estimated), I wanted around 130 volts DC, because I could run line AC through a bridge rectifier of modest amperage and get the DC I required without a transformer to mess with.
  • HP = 1/4
  • volts = 130 DC
  • Motor type = Permanent Magnet
  • Gear Ratio = 20:1
  • Torque = 90 in-lb


I welded the motor bracket out of 3/16 steel. It could use some reinforcement at the corner.

Here it the gearmotor side of the flex-joint flange. I really didn't think that the pot metal would hold up, but I tried it anyway. So far so good.


Here are the vibration dampers I use to tie the two flanges together. I use nyloc nuts to prevent them from backing off during use. Works great.


Here is the drill-pipe end of the flange. Also shown is the plastic & sealed ball bearing mud-swivel unit. I'll go into more detail in a future post.


And here is the repaired and complete flex-joint, ready for more drilling.


Having talked to people who dig wells for a living, my 1/4 HP gearmotor auger is so small as to not warrent consideration. The same goes for 3/4 inch drill pipe. The irritating thing is that given favorable soil conditions (no rocks) and limited drilling depth, it does work.

So the methods and tools I have come up with should be considered a 'first pass' effort. I don't know of anyone else who is doing this sort of thing, and I'm really guessing my way as I go along.

If any readers come up with a solution to these problems that have proven themselves to work better, please chime in. That's the way progress happens, in small steps.

Best Regards,

-AC_Hacker
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Old 07-18-09, 08:09 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by AC_Hacker View Post
HJB, if you're still having problems with the pix, let me know and I'll re-post them. They're coming in fine on my end.

(* I fixed the pix *)
Working now and looking good, Thanks!

You're very blessed to be in a rock-free area; Hardly anybody has basements around here (DFW TX) because the rock layer is so close to the surface. Hand or diy drilling wouldn't even be an option.
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Old 07-20-09, 11:38 AM   #75
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Default ...the very idea!

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Originally Posted by Hugh Jim Bissel View Post
You're very blessed to be in a rock-free area; Hardly anybody has basements around here (DFW TX) because the rock layer is so close to the surface.
You are quite right, in that I am using any favorable aspect of local conditions to my advantage.

However, my initial plan was to drill one to four holes to get the low-grade heat I need to heat my house. I soon learned that well drillers in the Portland area must contend with soil that largely consists of very hard cobbles (bigger than gravel, smaller than bricks) and stones (bigger than cobbles, smaller than automobiles) and boulders (bigger than automobiles). These things are very hard and withstood the horrendous abrasive forces of glacial advance and then the grinding action of debris in the bottom of a river that was far larger and incredibly more turbulent than anything that exists on the earth today. So believe me when I tell you these things are tough, really tough. The well drillers I have talked to tell me that drilling through solid rock is actually easier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugh Jim Bissel View Post
Hand or diy drilling wouldn't even be an option.
Beings as how my mother's family is from East Texas, and since they were able to survive Indian attacks, biblical floods, drought, lightning strikes, tornadoes, federal agents, rattle snakes, copperheads, water moccasins, scorpions, stingarees, vinagroles, ticks, chiggers and ill-tempered neighbors. And also, since I spent part of my formative years (more correctly de-formative years) in Texas, and since Texas is really like a tattoo, in that no matter where you go or what you do, it will never really go away, I think I know a thing or two about Texans.

To tell a Texan that something is "not even an option" is to throw down the most formidable possible challenge...

Even from up here in Oregon, I can hear the pounding of hammers, the whine of metal saws and the hiss of arc welders in garage shops all over the Dallas / Fort Worth area, as enraged Texans are planning their revenge to prove you wrong.

Here's 4880 hits fromthe Fort worth area:
DIY well drilling fort worth texas - Google Search

Here's 15,300 hits from the Dallas area:
DIY well drilling dallas texas - Google Search

And if you really want to know, here is the very URL that started my galactic quest to build a homemade heat pump:
http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/52899

Don't ever tell a Texan that something isn't even an option...the very idea!

Best Regards,

-AC_Hacker

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Old 07-20-09, 01:45 PM   #76
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Default Pressure Testing...

My good friend and distant-relative Ken dropped by the house yesterday and helped me out with welding up the U-Turns to pipe that would go down the holes as they are drilled. I had worked out a procedure to weld by myself but it was much easier and more fun to have someone there to help.

Then, per HJB's suggestion, I pressure tested all of the welds, and I'm glad I did.

Here is the pressure tester I made up for the job:


Left side shows the tester. Something to note is that I brazed the tire-fill stem on. It's important to remember to remove the valve core BEFORE you braze, and only reinstall it after everything cools down.

Right side shows distant-relative Ken holding the pressure tester attached to the loop to be tested. Please note that the force of the barb is not enough to withstand pressurized air. We found out the hard way. Ken was worried that he might have a swollen nose from the incident, but everything held up fine once we tightened hose clamps on the pipe over the barbs.

Then we pressurized the system.


I give more credence to the orbit gauge.

Then Ken put the U-Turn into the water to look for leaks. As can be seen from the right-side pic, this one tested good.


But not all of them tested good as can be seen from this photo:


And here's another leaker:


There was nothing subtle about the leakers, they were very easy to spot with the air-pressure/water test.

So I had two failures out of 18 units tested. Each unit had 5 welds per unit so that was 2 failures per 90 welds, or 1 failure in 45 welds.

Since it only takes ONE FAILURE to kill the whole system, testing all welds is mandatory.

So I need to repair and re-test to two bad loops, then start planting plastic in earnest.

Best Regards,

-AC_Hacker
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Old 07-21-09, 05:21 AM   #77
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awesome thread! google brought me here while searching for info on heating/cooling a house efficiently. i'll be watching to see how this plays out.

i also stumbled onto a site that sells a kit for drilling a well via an air powered drill. i have no idea how effective this method might be, but i thought i'd leave a link for the site any way. any opinions on this? Drill A Water Well In Your Backyard!
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Old 07-22-09, 12:27 AM   #78
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Default Guess I haven't lived in Texas long enough...

Quote:
Originally Posted by AC_Hacker View Post
Even from up here in Oregon, I can hear the pounding of hammers, the whine of metal saws and the hiss of arc welders in garage shops all over the Dallas / Fort Worth area, as enraged Texans are planning their revenge to prove you wrong.

Don't ever tell a Texan that something isn't even an option...the very idea!
So thats where all that noise was coming from that kept me up last night!

You're quite right, I should have known better! I'm sure you've seen (or heard of) the bumper sticker "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could"; I guess I didn't get here soon enough and missed that memo.

I should have remembered there are exceptions to every rule, so please, allow me to try and dig myself out of the hole I'm in (or is that dig myself into a hole, since I said the hole can't be dug...) What I meant to say, of course, was it wouldn't be practical in that it would take a loooong time for little progress. Therefore, unless one wasn't able to find work (or really wanted the experience, aka is a masochist ), one would be time and money ahead by paying a professional to drill and working a job during the time it would have taken to diy drill through the rock.

While I am a big proponent of diy and learning new things, I also know professionals have their place as well. I suppose it's the old "do it Fast, do it Cheap, do it Good: pick 2" conundrum. I'll usually pick cheap and good, but when contemplating drilling through rock, fast looks pretty appealing.


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Originally Posted by AC_Hacker View Post
Please note that the force of the barb is not enough to withstand pressurized air. We found out the hard way. Ken was worried that he might have a swollen nose from the incident...
Oooh, projectiles!

I assume you're pressurizing from an air compressor? We filled the pipe with water first to speed up the pressurizing: less air to compress. Probably not a problem for you since you won't have as much air volume inside your pipe. Also, since we pressure tested a zone at a time we couldn't leak test in water, but having water exiting the pipe through the holes helped identify the problem areas: and like you were saying, when they leaked they weren't just dripping!

The engineer wanted us to pressurize to about 100psi and make sure after 30min there wasn't a loss of more than 2-3psi. Some pressure change is likely, due to changing temperatures. Apparently the pipe expands more than the water will for a given temperature change, so the pressure inside goes down as the pipe heats up.

On trusting gauges, we had some dial gauges that look very similar. On one of them the card with the pressure markings had warped on one side: therefore from perhaps 60-140psi the needle dragged against the card and gave inaccurate readings. That threw us off for a while: we would hook up the compressor, and it would eventually shut off when it got to 110 or so (it's max pressure), but the gauge only said 90ish. We couldn't figure out why the compressor was shutting off well before its maximum pressure .

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Old 08-01-09, 10:57 AM   #79
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Default This Really Sucks...

I've been slowed down in my 'plastic planting' activities because of the need to prepare for my daughter's wedding and an arm injury brought on by too-exuberant tomato planting.

But I have been thinking about what Daox said about how much work it is to dig holes for the loop-field tubing. There's no getting around it, it is a lot of work.

I've come to recognize that debris removal from the hole is a huge part of the task. So I have developed another technique that is working very well for me...

Here is a photo of a really robust shop-vac I picked up in a thrift store for $15:


This has turned out to be a wonderful tool. If you are considering a similar approach to drilling, I totally recommend the Rigid shop vac. It is very robust and has loads of suck.

My top level (0 ft. to 4 ft.) digging method consists of loosening up the dirt the hole with a pointed iron tool, and sucking out the debris with the shop-vac.

I've calculated that the weight of the dirt coming out of the hole has been running well over half a ton per hole.

I've made up a set of digging tools with various digging tips, one is the 3 inch cold chisel and the other is the sharp end of a demolition bar welded to short lengths of 3/4 inch pipe segments that can also be used for drilling rods with my electric auger tool, previously pictured. I have 4 foot and 6 foot lengths of water pipe that I mix & match to get a proper length digger.


Additionally, I've made up a set of vacuum extention tubes from various pieces of PVC and ABS pipe. I've made two sets, one is 1.5" PVC, The other is 2" ABS.

The velocity in the 1.5" pipe is very high, and the dirt and gravel come sailing through with considerable speed. If there are any stones that are around 1.5", they will get lodged in the pipe but are easily rammed out with a 1.5" ram rod I keep at hand for such a purpose.

I made up a vacuum hose out of 3" flexi drain plastic pipe to use on the 2" ABS tool. The velocity in the 2" pipe is lower, but still adequate for the job. I haven't measured the volume of air, but I'm sure that it is higher, and debris removal is faster. The stones that got caught in the 1.5" pipe pass right through the 2" pipe, so more time is spent removing debris and less time spent removing lodged stones. The down side is that because the velocity is lower, debris doesn't move so well through the 3" flexi pipe and has to be lifted higher than the shop vac periodically to clear the line.

I've also tried 3" plastic pipe, but the velocity in the tube was too low to lift rocks.

For each of the shop vac extention tools, I followed this scheme:
  • The first 10 foot length I left whole, and glued a coupling to it.
  • The second pipe I cut in half, so I had a 5 foot piece, with coupling.
  • The remaining 5 foot piece I cut to 2/3 length, with coupling.
  • This left a piece that was in the neighborhood of 1.5 feet with coupling. I cut the free end of this pipe at a 45 degree angle and attached an illumination module to it (cheap Chinese LED flashlight, fastened on with duct tape) so I could see what was happening down the hole.


I spray-painted black paint over the coupling-and-pipe glued area, to make it easier to identify which pipe the coupling was glued to to make disassembly easier amidst all the roaring, digging and sweat (it's been upwards of 105 degrees the last few days).

On the PVC set, I also made one thin cut with a hack saw through the coupling and used a pipe clamp to hold the joint on strong. There's been a fair amount of swapping of pipe pieces as I dig down and all this has helped out.

On the ABS tool, I found screw-together pipe ends which worked out great.


At the upper levels, the iron digger is required, but deeper, the vacuum and just the 45 degree end of the illuminator-module pipe does it all.

The sound of the vacuum will tell you what is going on... when it has a low, even sound, everything is fine. When the vacuum starts revving up faster, it means that there is a clog. Sometimes there is a wad of damp dirt plugging things up, sometimes a rock has become lodges somewhere in the pipe, and it become necessary to remove the pipe string, disassemble the pipes and ram out the lodged stone.

Be careful to not have your face over the end of the pipe string while the vacuum is on, because an accidental separation of the pipe will make you the target of high velocity sand and gravel. It happened to me... not fun.

Wear safety glasses.

I went on a google expedition to see what was available in the way of industrial vacuums. It would be great to have a larger diameter extention tube and hose, and also a larger sized container. I was able to find 55 gallon shop vacs, but the power & volume wasn't greater than the Rigid. However, the prices sure were! Prices from $750 to $3000, way out of my league. So here's an idea that should be cheap, buildable and enable the possessor of such a device to rule the world:


Two-Headed Suck Monster

This would:
  • Hold about 4 Rigid vacs worth of debris
  • Enable 3" hose & Extentions
  • Have enough volume to clear large diameter lines
  • Use a commonly available tank
  • Be cheap to reasonable to build

...and of course, allow the posessor of such a 2-Headed Suck Monster to rule the world.

Best Regards,

-AC_Hacker
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Last edited by AC_Hacker; 08-22-09 at 11:57 AM.. Reason: Include pics, fill in details
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Old 08-19-09, 09:23 PM   #80
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WOW!
Subscribed!
I SO wanted to do something similar this summer :-(

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