Petroleum: Cable-Tool Drilling Rigs (OG-04)
Wooden-derrick cable-tool rigs were widely used from about 1870 well into the 20th Century. Steam power was delivered by a belt to a band wheel. A bull wheel on the opposite side of the rig floor, powered by the band wheel, moved the string of tools in and out of the hole by a cable running over pulleys at the derrick top. After 1890, a third (calf) wheel lowered steel casing into the hole.

The band wheel moved the pivoted walking beam to which the string of tools was attached, raising and dropping these tools drilled the hole. Much equipment was left in place and later converted for the pumping operation.

Robert M. Downie of Pennsylvania built a successful portable rig in 1880. After the internal combustion engine was developed, some rigs were driven.

Rotary drilling rigs began replacing cable-tool rigs in the early 1900s. Now more than 85 percent of all wells are drilled with rotary rigs.

Our Hoosier State Beneath Us: Oil and Gas


[Previous Page] [Next Page]
[Home Page]