Bob Perry of Spanish Fork Utah, was drilling for us in the San Benito area of Peten Guatemala. He was using the original Stadlei rig donated by Stadlei and Sons of Silverton Oregon. This rig is a Bucyrus Erie 22W of early 1950s vintage. The original engine had been a 6 cylinder Hercules gasoline engine which we had changed to a While diesel engine because of the problems we have with gasoline engines that sit for months between drilling seasons.
The White diesel was old and had previously been installed on a Bureau of Land Management rig. Because it had been sitting for many years, when we received it, we took it to Spokane had it checked from top to bottom. The oil analysis was good, the compression was high and even across all cylinders and the engine sounded very tight when run on a test rig. It had many years of service left in it as far as we could tell.
Bob Perry is experienced. During his career, he has drilled in Madagascar, Central America and Africa. He has forgotten more about cable drilling than many drillers know. He has been drilling with us for several years. He has learned over the years that carefully checking the condition of the rig on a daily basis is the best way to keep a rig in service.
Bob is very aware of the sound the rig makes and although he is usually sitting by reading during most of the daily work of cable drilling, any unusual sound brings him to alert and into action to investigate.
At the end of one of the first few days of drilling, Bob believed the engine seemed to sound a little different. He checked it out carefully when he shut down and noticed that the oil level in the engine was higher than it was when he started. He noticed that the oil appeared to have been diluted by diesel fuel. He changed the oil and started watching carefully. Yes, the oil level was coming up each day.
We obtained some very heavy 20 W 50 diesel oil and put that in the engine to do what we could to lessen the impact of the dilution of the oil from the diesel fuel. He kept on drilling and changing oil. The problem did not seem to improve, so we calling mechanics in the US to get their take on what could be causing this problem. If we lost this engine it would shut down the rig until another engine could be shipped from home. Probably one year.
The best advice was that a seal between the fuel injector pump had failed. There were no replacements to be found in Guatemala. The option was to limp along and try to get through this season and then bring the pump back to the USA to try and get it rebuilt here. Not very good, but it was all we could do. We did not even know if that was the problem.
The other option was to make this problem a subject of prayer. The word went out to all our supporters to pray for Devine intervention to thwart this threat to continued use of the rig. A plan was made to bring the rig back from San Benito when the current hole was finished.
Bob kept watching the oil as he finished the hole. He noticed that the level was not rising. The oil was not being diluted. Somehow the engine had stopped leaking diesel fuel into the oil. Perhaps the seal had somehow swelled; perhaps a leaking injector had stopped: perhaps…. Yes, the engine could have fixed itself, but we believe the Good Lord again showed that he is behind the work that all of our volunteers are doing to bring clean water to these poor folks. Won’t you join us?