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The Diamond Drill
Experimental Oil Well
Inventor and History
Descriptions and Improvements
Landmark Dates


Experimental Oil Well, 1865

Some sources written in the 1860's mention the design and presumed results of an oil well coring-drilling tool called the diamond drill (Bone, 1865; Morris, 1865; Eaton, 1866).  In spite of the almost laudatory comments in the early literature, the tool was experimental as far as the oil industry was concerned at that time.  Morris in his 1865 book states that he witnessed "its operation in the experimental well".  Bone, 1865, states that "experiments are in progress for testing the practicability of a new process of boring.  The drill is circular and hollow, being a thin tube, set at its lower edge with Brazilian diamonds ----".  Eaton, 1866, writes that "a new instrument has been introduced, more novel in its principle than any that has preceded it.  It is called the "diamond drill".  It has not been in use a sufficient length of time to test its value and importance."

These sources treated mainly on the early oil region of Northwest Pennsylvania, but the location of the test or experimental well was not given.  It may have been in the environs of Oil Creek Valley since that was the main oil belt in the mid-1860's and was the principal locus in the books by the aforementioned authors.  No other reports have come to the author's attention concerning this first use of the diamond drill in the petroleum field.  However, it can be said from the above references that the diamond core drill's first use in the oilfields was in 1865, albeit experimentally, and took place in the Northwest Pennsylvania oil region, possibly Oil Creek Valley.

Regarding the experimental diamond test well, Bone (1865) says that it had been drilled five feet into rock at which point the operator had to remove the machine for alteration.  The cutting rate was four feet per hour as calculated in the five feet drilled.  A witness, Morris (1865), says that "the well has gone down about ten feet into the first rock".  Bone says that the patentee claims that he "can put down a well five hundred feet in ten days".  Eaton (1866) states that the "patentee expects to put down a well of four hundred feet in two or three weeks".  These conflicting reports suggest that there may have been two test wells in 1865.

All of the above reports agree on the single core barrel and that when it was removed, a vertical core or column of rock was left standing in the hole.  The core was then clipped off by clamps.


© 2004, Samuel T. Pees
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