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Sat Mar 31, 2012, 03:40 PM

A property we bought has a water well which was abandoned by filling with bricks.

It's about 40 feet deep. The city made people with wells abandon them when they extended water lines out there 40 years ago.

We've removed the bricks about 4' down by hand - they're not mortared in place.

Any ideas for a tool or technique to pull the others out?

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Reply A property we bought has a water well which was abandoned by filling with bricks. (Original post)
mbperrin Mar 2012 OP
Turbineguy Mar 2012 #1
mbperrin Mar 2012 #2
Starboard Tack Mar 2012 #3
applegrove Mar 2012 #4
mbperrin Apr 2012 #5
Kali Apr 2012 #6
mbperrin Apr 2012 #7
Kali Apr 2012 #8
mbperrin Apr 2012 #9
NYC_SKP Apr 2012 #10
mbperrin Apr 2012 #11
NYC_SKP Apr 2012 #12
Kolesar Apr 2012 #16
mbperrin Apr 2012 #19
Kali Apr 2012 #29
NYC_SKP Apr 2012 #31
RKP5637 Apr 2012 #13
mbperrin Apr 2012 #14
uppityperson Apr 2012 #15
Kolesar Apr 2012 #17
mbperrin Apr 2012 #18
dimbear Apr 2012 #20
mbperrin Apr 2012 #23
Fumesucker Apr 2012 #21
mbperrin Apr 2012 #22
kristopher Apr 2012 #24
mbperrin Apr 2012 #25
kristopher Apr 2012 #26
mbperrin Apr 2012 #27
Kali Apr 2012 #28
mbperrin Apr 2012 #30
guardian Apr 2012 #32
Kali May 2012 #33
mbperrin May 2012 #34
NickB79 May 2012 #35
cbrer Jun 2012 #36
cbrer Jun 2012 #37

Response to mbperrin (Original post)

Sat Mar 31, 2012, 04:13 PM

1. Make sure you do not do it this way:

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Response to Turbineguy (Reply #1)

Sat Mar 31, 2012, 04:49 PM

2. Good advice! nt

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Response to Turbineguy (Reply #1)

Sat Mar 31, 2012, 06:05 PM

3. Priceless! Thanks for sharing.

I remember hearing Hoffnung do this on the BBC in the 1950's. A brilliantly funny man who left us at the tragically young age of 34.

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Response to mbperrin (Original post)

Sat Mar 31, 2012, 09:37 PM

4. Good that you are looking after it. We were walking around the garden in the snow when I was 4 when

my grandfather fell into an old well. Fortunately he kept his arms held out so he did not fall all the way in.

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Response to applegrove (Reply #4)

Sun Apr 1, 2012, 12:23 AM

5. I see what you mean. This well is a 5" steel casing

diameter.

That's why I'm trying to devise some sort of grabbing or fishing device - it's as far down as I can reach.

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Response to mbperrin (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 01:54 PM

6. some kind of heavy duty vacuum?

what a mess, why didn't they just seal the top?

it is probably going to be cheaper to drill and set a whole new casing. You might talk to a well driller for other ideas.

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Response to Kali (Reply #6)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 04:46 PM

7. $7500 and a 4 month wait for a new well. This area is in year 3 of a horrific drought

and the city is limiting outdoor watering to just 2 hours per week with a handheld hose only.

But if you have a well, you can do as you please. We have 50 large trees that we don't want to lose. We don't know why they sealed it they way they did - that was back in 1965, two owners ago.

You've got me thinking, though, about a flat round nozzle to catch a brick. I've got a 3 hp electric motor laying around and a 55 gallon drum - shouldn't be too hard to rig up a vac. If only the texture isn't too rough on the brick.

I'll get back to you.

http://www.oaoa.com/articles/water-85025-city-well.html

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #7)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 07:14 PM

8. if you get a vacuum that will do it you might wet them down a bit

that might make a better seal for the suction

My son is going to go do some labor for my well guy tomorrow - I'll pass along a message asking what he thinks about the problem.

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Response to Kali (Reply #8)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 09:39 PM

9. Hey, thanks!

I really do appreciate it.

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Response to mbperrin (Original post)

Tue Apr 3, 2012, 10:27 AM

10. First, there's no such thing as a "brick vacuum", so don't even go there....

...I'm surprised at human's tendency to look for some mechanical fossil-fuel powered solution to this problem, especially in this group!!!

What is to prevent human labor from getting this done?

In my youth we used to pick up corn cobs that chickens were done with, a penny a piece.

Got anybody needing a workout and wanting to be paid for it?

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #10)

Tue Apr 3, 2012, 12:29 PM

11. It's a 5" diameter steel casing in the ground.

We have pulled out all we can reach by hand, about 4' deep. Now we need to bring out about 36-46 feet more of these bricks to remove. Each is 3-1/8"x2-3/4"x11-5/8" and weighs about 7 pounds.

So anyone with an arm long enough to reach 50' down or even 5' down to get the next foot is welcome.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #11)

Tue Apr 3, 2012, 01:14 PM

12. I love challenges... If these bricks are dry and fairly clean...

Something sticky at the end of a stick or end of a weight at the end of a rope might be able to pull up one brick at a time.

I fear, however, that at some point down there a couple bricks will be inextricably wedged in, so that even if you had 30 foot long arms, or a "brick vacuum", it wouldn't work.

Sad that they decided to toss bricks in there.

Good luck with it!

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #12)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 03:01 PM

16. Make up a gob of five minute epoxy for each brick that has to be pulled up

Repeat forty times

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Response to Kolesar (Reply #16)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 07:34 PM

19. There were 17 bricks in the top 4 feet.

We're estimating 170-192 more in the remaining depth, but thanks.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #10)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 11:36 AM

29. actually there is, but that isn't what I was talking about

I was thinking of something like a heavy duty household/shop vac that would have enough suction to just lift one brick at a time.

but I know even hobbyist gold hunters can get dredge equipment that would suck up bricks. unfortunately they take a lot of water in the first place to function

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Response to Kali (Reply #29)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 07:37 PM

31. It could work, but....

the end of the hose or tube would have to be able to make a near airtight seal with the bricks, which would be hard.

And two or more bricks might easily be wedged in beyond the ability of a vacuum or even a strong hand and arm to extract them.

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Response to mbperrin (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2012, 12:01 PM

13. I think what you need maybe is something like this but with

the jaws reversed. Something you could lower down with a rope and its jaws would grasp the bricks. I can't seem to locate the ideal thing, but passing this along as an idea for something like this.

http://www.apexxsales.com/products/338-grabber-collapsible-grappling-hook.aspx

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Response to RKP5637 (Reply #13)

Wed Apr 4, 2012, 12:24 PM

14. Looks good. I believe I can fabricate one and I'll test it this weekend.

Thanks!

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #14)

Wed Apr 4, 2012, 03:04 PM

15. How about some sort of tool grabber thing? It won't get you down 40 ft, but

maybe you can make/modify some sort of thing like that. I've seen ones a couple ft long that have a 3 pronged grabber thing come out the far side.

They are probably too light for bricks, but just thinking here. It would be like the thing posted above your reply, just musing here. Good luck

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Response to mbperrin (Original post)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 03:03 PM

17. Put rain barrels under every downspout and hope for lots of rain

Bail the water and dump it on each tree.

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Response to Kolesar (Reply #17)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 07:22 PM

18. We've gotten 2.6" inches of rain in the last 37 months.

That's the city's plan - let it all die.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #20)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 10:49 AM

23. Thank you!

This and the tongs below are along the same lines, and I think it looks like they'll work. Thanks again!

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Response to mbperrin (Original post)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 12:41 AM

21. It's probably going to take making a custom tool to do it..

Something like a set of logger's skidding tongs but a good deal smaller and with far less pronounced spikes on the ends. The upward slope on the bottom of the spikes is important, gravity wants to hold the tongs closed when they are dangling from the chain and they have to be forced apart by the bevel on the bottom riding over the log (brick in your case of course).

Try and find a small welding shop, they could probably make you something out of scrapbinium they have laying around in an hour or so.

Another way to go would be to get some 1/4" by 1" steel at the hardware store, cut a couple of pieces with a hacksaw, drill holes and make your own set.




Your vacuum idea also has some merit but you'd be better off buying a shop vac and making an adapter to attach the hose to PVC pipe, I've made a vacuum before and it's definitely a non-trivial thing to do. Consider that the larger the diameter of your pipe the greater the lifting power for a given vacuum unit unless your pipe become larger than the brick surface at which point you'll start losing vacuum to leakage.

One problem with the vac idea is how do you pull up 40 plus feet of pipe with a brick on the end and still maintain continuous vacuum? You'd need that length or more of flexible hose attached to the end of the pipe and running to the vacuum unit.

The bricks at and near the bottom of the well may be broken up since they were almost certainly dropped in and a brick falling 40 feet onto other bricks is very likely to splinter. Getting that rubble out of the well is going to be another and somewhat different challenge.

Any decent vacuum is likely to suck a 55 gal drum flat or to an approximation of flat, they have a lot of surface area and even at relatively low pressures that's going to create a considerable amount of crushing force.

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #21)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 10:48 AM

22. This looks promising. My neighbor is a welder, so

I'll go see him later today.

A local friend who used to cable tool drill showed me how to make a bailer on a rope when I get down to chunks at the end. Thanks for the vac advice, too.

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Response to mbperrin (Original post)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 10:34 PM

24. 2 people, a rope, 5 gal bucket, and ladders.

What is stopping you from going down into the well to work?

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Response to kristopher (Reply #24)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 10:53 PM

25. It's 5" in diameter.

Steel casing is only 5" in diameter.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #25)

Sun Apr 8, 2012, 12:07 AM

26. Tired eyes, I read it as 5'.

Could you manufacture a tip that folds back to the shaft when pushed forward but then opens? Perhaps by adapting a sheetrock wall anchor to a 1/2 pvc pipe fitting?

It takes a lot to kill a well established tree. Are you sure the trees are going to suffer or are you also doing it to save your lawn?

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Response to kristopher (Reply #26)

Sun Apr 8, 2012, 03:13 PM

27. We have received less than 3" of rain in the last 3 years. Statewide, 500 million trees have died.

We don't have a lawn. We have 50 well-established trees with vinca and portulaca between them.

http://www.enn.com/climate/article/43758

Texas loses half a billion trees to epic drought

A punishing drought in Texas has not only damaged crops, killed cattle, and led to widespread fires, but has also killed off a significant portion of the state's trees: between 100 and 500 million trees have perished to drought stress according to preliminary analysis. The estimate does not include tree mortality caused by fires. The drought has been linked to La Niña conditions, which causes drying in the Southern U.S., and has likely been exacerbated by global climate change. In all around 10 percent of Texas' forests may have been lost to the drought—so far. Trees are expected to continue suffering and dying in Texas even if rain comes, however forecasters predict dry conditions will remain in Texas for another six months at least.


On our block, 6 50'+ pines are dead, along with a huge sycamore tree, and more than two dozen fruitless mulberry trees, as well as the only weeping willow on the street. We have lost none, but we are using our shower and washing machine water as well as the maximum allowed by the city each month. They're about to cut that maximum in half.

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Response to mbperrin (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 11:33 AM

28. sorry to take so long getting back to you, not that I have anything good to offer

my well guy said the same thing as my first inclination - drill a new well

his comments were, who knows what is in the bottom, you might get down there and find concrete, no water, or bad water

he said one of the main reasons a lot of Texas is on reservior water is because of the high gypsum content of ground water...I don't know if that is a problem with trees/plants but you might look into it before spending too much on this old well

can you locate a source of water that you could haul in barrels or a trailer? I hate to suggest that to anybody, but as a matter of fact we are going to be doing that ourselves for a few more days since we are waiting on some pump repair.

I know livestock drink about 5 times as much as normal when you are hauling for them, but maybe you can save a few trees that way???

or maybe you have got the bricks coming out by some method now? let us know how it is going

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Response to Kali (Reply #28)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 05:50 PM

30. Yes, we are down to 15' so far using a paintpole extension kindly suggested by a poster here

and a pair of tongs suggested by another. Slow going - about 10 minutes a brick or about an hour a foot. Once everything loose is out, if there is concrete, we will break it using a pointed weight on a rope (like a cable tool rig) and then bail it with a homemade bailer.

We would like to not haul water, but it's available for 25 cents a gallon with your own trailer and tank. It takes about 6000 gallons a month for the trees, so that would be $1500 per month (there goes pizza night!). We're on a list for a well at another property, but the wait list has us until September.

I'll report back when I have more.

Thanks to everybody for their suggestions and concerns!

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Response to mbperrin (Original post)

Wed Apr 11, 2012, 05:31 PM

32. Be sure to check zoning/water rights

 

Your comment, "The city made people with wells abandon them" raises a red flag with me.

Different locales and states have varying laws and regulations regarding water rights and water use. I've seen some situations where even though a property may have an old viable well it is illegal to actually draw water from it, or how they use the water is tightly controlled (for example okay for lawn watering but not for in-house use or vice versa). Admittedly this is the exception and not the norm. But it wouldn't hurt to do some CYA just so you know. An ounce of prevention and all that.

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Response to mbperrin (Original post)

Wed May 2, 2012, 12:04 PM

33. hey there,

how did this project work out?

somebody is asking about your area: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018107800

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Response to Kali (Reply #33)

Thu May 3, 2012, 02:14 AM

34. We got to 20' and ran out of room to operate.

As soon as school is out, we are going to attempt to use a shaped weight on the end of a rope to break the bricks into small pieces, fill the bore with water and use a bailer to remove the chips.

Thanks for asking!

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Response to mbperrin (Original post)

Fri May 11, 2012, 04:13 PM

35. How about this: a post-hole digger with PVC pipes to extend the arms?

http://www.google.com/products/catalog?client=ubuntu&channel=fs&q=post+hole+digger&oe=utf-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=15128106783632503850&sa=X&ei=d3KtT_OSKur50gHmpOC3DA&ved=0CN4BEPMCMAI

It will probably take a LONG time to complete the job one brick at a time, but that might work. I don't know if you can get 40 ft down with that set-up, though.

Oh, but on second thought, I don't know if it would be narrow enough to fit in your well pipe. Crap, back to the drawing board.

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Response to mbperrin (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 07:39 AM

36. *Solution*

 

It will take a little engineering, and fabrication, but how about this:

Use paint poles that you can thread together to reach desired depth, as required.

Make a tool on the end that is spring loaded to the closed position, consisting of a fixed serrated jaw, and a "cockable" serrated jaw. It has to be designed to open no more than 5" right? May I suggest a sacrificial pair of cheap channel lock pliers to cut for the project. An adapter must be welded on the contraption to thread onto the poles. And a string must be attached to the spring loaded jaw to "pull the trigger".

<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

Measure twice...

So whattaya think huh?

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Response to mbperrin (Original post)

Sat Jun 16, 2012, 08:17 AM

37. Or simply

 

A loop of string run through a small hole in the bottom of the pole(s)? Maneuver the brick to get a loop around it. Cinch it up, and remove.

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