My recent trip to the Ohio Water Well Exposition was most enjoyable. On the way, Bess and I encountered a snowstorm in the mountains in West Virginia. The snow in the trees was beautiful. Being in Virginia Beach for so many years and not seeing much snow, Bess wanted me to stop so she could make a snowball! I didn't want to get into a snowball fight, so I didn't stop.
We met a lot of new and old friends at our booth. The exposition was well-attended with great supplier displays and support. Many of the drillers who I called on after the exposition told me they didn't attend because it was at their busy time of year.
Of course, many of the people I called on weren't home - they were out working. I met some of the wives and neighbors, though.
Many of the clients in West Virginia work out of their homes. Most of their homes would not be easily accessible for their drilling machines - some were not easily accessible for my new Pontiac Vibe. Most keep their drilling machines going from job to job.
Six drillers in West Virginia had passed away in the last year or were in ill health. Only a few had sons or relatives that were continuing the business. Two sons of one deceased driller were going to truck-driving school - not for the drilling business, but for driving trucks. Truck driving is much easier and pays a lot more.
I was able to photograph a lot of nice late-model drilling equipment as well as cable-tool drills in various states of condition. Some of the cable-tool drills looked great and were in daily operation. Others were in various states of repair, and some were just junk. Some were for sale or probably could be bought for a reasonable price.
I looked in the swing on the porch and there he sat, smiling. What a relief; for a moment, I thought I might have to have Bess talk to the driller on a higher plane!
In my conversation with the 60-plus-year-old driller, he advised me that he had a not-to-scale working model of a cable tool drill. He also is building (to scale) a model of the old wooden standard cable-tool drill from original blueprints that he has. The completed drill model will be 84 inches tall as the original design was 84 feet high. I encouraged him to complete it.
We enjoyed the trip and plan to return to call on the clients we missed and perhaps hear more new - and old - drilling stories. ND