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High Standards


If you've ever wondered how well servicing occurred back in the 1920's and 30's under all those wooden and steel standard derricks, well, here you go....

Workover, or pulling units, had no derricks; they consisted of truck mounted draw works that could be backed up to the well under the permanent derrick and drill line was spooled over the sheaves in the crown and the traveling block rigged up accordingly.

Lots of standard derricks built back in the day had racking boards built into them, even rod boards for triples, like the wells you see in the background in Wilmington Field in the Los Angles Basin, circ. 1927, above.

Some derricks had temporary racking boards that could be pulled up with the block and wedged in the derrick, like the one seen above; a lot of times just 4 x 16 timbers were pulled up and derrick hands worked off those boards laying tubing and rods over against the derrick and bundles were chained, or tied off with rope.

You could probably look at this photo all day and not figure out what this damn thing is hanging in that grand 'ol mesquite tree in the Central Texas town of Rosanky.

Its actually a "rod basket" for a standard derrick from Humble Oil and Refining's nearby Hilbig Field, discovered in 1933. This basket has been hanging in this tree for, I am told, 70 years and the tree has actually grown around it.

This rod basket is a carousel like thing with a big hook on one end of that that could be hung from the crown of a standard derrick, straight down. Below the round, circular bonnet, seen in the fork of the tree, are 25-35 four foot chains with rod hangers on the end of them. The carousel could be spun, or rotated, the derrick hand would stand on his board and hang triple rods in each hanger in a nice pretty circle. Like a chandelier. The rods could all be chained back to a derrick leg if tubing had to be pulled.

At the risk of sounding like an old bastard, I actually bought a well one time that had a standard derrick over it. I tore it down. So it only took me several hours one afternoon about 40 years ago, and three cold beers from a nearby general store, to figure out what the hell this thing was hanging in the tree. When I was a kid, Hilbig Field still had standard derricks over some of its wells and I finally put two and two together. I've tried to buy it several times but its owner will not part with it.

Besides, its part of the tree now. And it is definitely part of Texas oil history. It belongs right where it is.

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