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  #1  
Old 07/16/07, 04:40 PM
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Hand Digging a well

The water table around here is between 60, and 100 feet. Im always asking my dad, who is 64ish, how people did things 100 years ago. He grew up on a very poor farm and did a lot of things the old way.

I asked him one time how people hand dug wells. It wass pretty obvious to him....and to me after he told me,lol. They dug a hole big enough for the digging person to fit in it. WHen the digger got down 4 feet or so they build a wood or brick support to hold the dirt from caving in...and they just kept doing that...sending th edirt up in a bucket...for however many days it took until they got water.


I met this young couple who want to live as old fashioned as they can once they get some land. I was thinking today that I would like to help them hand dig a well. As I ran it through my mind, I got into a day dream...I saw myself in the bottom of the hole, looking up as my full bucket was being pulled up. I got to thinking....do these things ever cave in while being dug?

I tell ya what, that thought will snap a guy out of a daydream! lol

So does anyone recall any grand parent or great grand parent stories about digging wells?

Id like to hear them

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  #2  
Old 07/16/07, 04:49 PM
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Unfortunately, many a well digger met an untimely end by exactly as you imagined. I'd strongly suggest against it.

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  #3  
Old 07/16/07, 04:54 PM
 
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I don’t have any stories, but the idea of digging and being lowered into a well that deep does spark the imagination. Some scary images! Lol

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  #4  
Old 07/16/07, 05:03 PM
 
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michiganfarmer.I've done this in sandy soil.The method is to get cement well tiles.These tiles are about 5 foot round.DIG Hole about 5 feet deep. Set first tile.Under mine first tile by digging deeper. Set 2nd tile.Continue to dept you need.I only had to go about 25 feet.The weight of the tile pushed the casing down as I went.At 60 feet I would think the hole at the top would look very small.

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  #5  
Old 07/16/07, 05:17 PM
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I'd rather chew glass than climb into a hole even 10 feet deep. LOL That would be a LOT of work. I'm certainly not opposed to physical labor, but when you factor in the risk and the options.... AND you gotta figure out what to do with 2000+/- cubic feet of clay, rocks and God knows what else you might dig up... Then you still have to get the water out - hand crank a 3 gal bucket? That's 25 lbs plus the weight of the bucket how many times a day? I'm gettin' tired just thinking about this... Wouldn't need a health club membership though...

Take pics if you decide to do it!

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  #6  
Old 07/16/07, 05:34 PM
 
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Max, yeah it can cave in. It also is none too sanitary if it is left uncased. I was never so glad as I was the day we got off our 25-foot, 70-year-old hand dug well and got on a cased drilled well. The difference in the water is unbelievable. This is a good time to "go modern," as it will affect your friends' health and well-being if they use an uncased hand-dug well. I mean, I know some folks just have to do it the hard way, but this is the hardest way. This is when I ask myself, "Would the old timers have done it this way if they had this modern stuff?"

That question gets asked a lot around my place. The answer is almost always NO.

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  #7  
Old 07/16/07, 05:36 PM
 
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bill in oh, if you decide to chew glass...please take some pix, also!!! LOL.

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  #8  
Old 07/16/07, 05:59 PM
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MichiganFarmer, I really don't think that anyone would of hand dug a well 100, or even 60 feet, deep in the old days. I am willing to bet that the well drillers in your area drill down 60 to 100 feet or more for wells. That doesn't mean that the ground is not saturated above that depth. It is likely that the watertable is well above the 60 to 100 foot depth in your area.

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  #9  
Old 07/16/07, 06:07 PM
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.
Here is a good read on how to dig a hand dug well.

It has some drawings, and some time frame,
for how long it might take to do the job.


http://www.minifarmhomestead.com/homestead/wells.htm

.

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  #10  
Old 07/16/07, 06:28 PM
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Hand dug water well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabin Fever
MichiganFarmer, I really don't think that anyone would of hand dug a well 100, or even 60 feet, deep in the old days. I am willing to bet that the well drillers in your area drill down 60 to 100 feet or more for wells. That doesn't mean that the ground is not saturated above that depth. It is likely that the watertable is well above the 60 to 100 foot depth in your area.
In much of central and western Kansas the water table is just short of 100 feet deep. My parents eventually owned 6 quarters of land with a total of 4 hand dug wells on them. The two on the home quarter were 75 feet and 85 feet deep.
They were both capped with old grain drill wheels that had been filled with concrete with the center cut out for the pipe to enter the well. That means they were about 5 feet in diameter at the surface.

Check this hand dug well out in the Kansas town that was destroyed by tornado this spring.
http://www.bigwell.org/bigwell.html
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  #11  
Old 07/16/07, 07:41 PM
 
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Remember. Native Americans use to live in teepees 150 years ago. They have since wised up.

You should too. Digging a well by hand claimed many a life. Saving a few dollars isn't worth a life.

They dug wells by hand years ago, because it was the ONLY AVAILIBLE OPTION.

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  #12  
Old 07/16/07, 08:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim S.
bill in oh, if you decide to chew glass...please take some pix, also!!! LOL.
If it gets down to either I dig a 60 foot well or chew glass, I will take the pics as you requested...
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  #13  
Old 07/16/07, 08:48 PM
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I think it would be kinda fun. If the bricks were stacked carefully and the hole wasn't over dug to much, it seem it would be impossible for the brickwork to collapse, as it would form a continuous arch around the hole.

Pete

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  #14  
Old 07/16/07, 09:24 PM
 
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Back in the mid to late 1800's my great-greatgrandfather was drilling wells with a horse drawn rig. I don't know how it worked but I do have a picture of it somewhere. It's just finding the picture. Anyway, tell your friends that they did drill wells before the 1900's so they would be doing it the old fashioned way.

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  #15  
Old 07/16/07, 09:49 PM
 
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How about digging a well as a 1:1 side-slope cone? Reduces the danger of cave-ins. Increases the volume of earth to be moved.

When a depth sufficient for water is reached a vertical casement can be constructed and backfilled.

When I was a kid, I imagined that is how it was done.

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  #16  
Old 07/16/07, 10:09 PM
 
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Isn't this why drivepoints were developed?

http://www.fdungan.com/well.htm

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  #17  
Old 07/16/07, 10:27 PM
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Our well is hand dug, about 30 feet deep. I have never opened it up so have no idea what it looks like. A nice benefit of the hand dug well is that we are about the only people in the area that don't have arsenic in their water. Drilled wells here that exceed 40 feet have arsenic it seems in non-ending supply.

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  #18  
Old 07/16/07, 11:15 PM
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My homestead has a 2 hand dug wells. One of them has been filled in, the other is still in use. In my area the water table is about 25 feet, but the well was dug 55 feet deep. I wonder how they did that?

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  #19  
Old 07/16/07, 11:37 PM
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That makes sense, also, they might have dug it during a drought year when the water table was low.

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  #20  
Old 07/16/07, 11:40 PM
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There were 4 hand dug wells on our place. One we filled in. One we covered with a slab of cement. One we use out by the barn to water livestock. The other is the well used by the house. It is not worth a darn & we have to have water hauled when it is dry. (most of the year it doesn't keep up) I can't wait until we can get a well dug. I don't think we will have a problem hitting water. The hand dug wells have no storage. I am guessing they are about 30 feet deep. I want one about 60 feet deep so we have plenty of storage. It really is not fun to be worrying about how much water you have. Do I have enough to shower, to flush the toilet, to do the laundry?? Not fun at all! I am amazed looking in them & seeing how they laid up rock all around it. What a lot of work!

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