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  1. #1
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    Question Underwater drill

    I have a friend who is a geologist who has a grant to do some karst studies. She needs to do some drilling into limestone in a cave. It would be modest drilling and done with a collecting permit. Her Principal Investigator thinks the drilling will be done with a pneumatic drill using scuba tanks for power. My friend and I think that's crazy because it would require too many tanks. In the days of lithium batteries, I think an electric drill would be much better. But there probably isn't a big call for waterproof drills. So I'm posting to the CDF for suggestions. Apparently there's something like one seal that should be not too hard to waterproof, but the drills are air cooled, and that could be an issue.

    Does anyone who actually knows anything useful have any suggestions?

    TIA,
    SG

    On my way to the Land of Enchantment!

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    Any air tools can be used underwater. If it isn't to far back in the cave airhose could be run from an air compressor on the surface. If the hole doesn't need to be to deep it can be done with a hammer and a hand drill. Before power tools this is how all holes were drilled in rock. They even make some fancy masonry bit holders that you hit with a hammer. What size hole and how deep are you looking at going. Limestone is generally very soft and I would think it could be done by hand. From my experience buy the biggest sledge hammer you can find and cut the handle down because you need the mass not the speed developed from a long handle.


  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by bamafan View Post
    Any air tools can be used underwater. If it isn't to far back in the cave airhose could be run from an air compressor on the surface. If the hole doesn't need to be to deep it can be done with a hammer and a hand drill. Before power tools this is how all holes were drilled in rock. They even make some fancy masonry bit holders that you hit with a hammer. What size hole and how deep are you looking at going. Limestone is generally very soft and I would think it could be done by hand. From my experience buy the biggest sledge hammer you can find and cut the handle down because you need the mass not the speed developed from a long handle.
    How long of a surface supplied hose can one use effectively? I don't know the size and depth of holes they need.

    On my way to the Land of Enchantment!

  4. #4
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    A pneumatic drill works. We used one installing a deco habitat last Dec. With the cheap Harbor Freight drill an AL80 would last ~7 minutes at 20' if i remember correctly.


    Krzysztof Starnawski has a slick rig that uses and electric drill

    Matt Vinzant

  5. #5
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    http://trowandholden.com/store/agora.cgi?product=cat5
    check out the hand plug drill at the bottom of the page

    How ever much you want to buy. I have set up air compressors outside of a building then run the air hose 400 - 500 ' inside to power a jack hammer. I would think the holes would be fairly small and not deep. If so I would try a hand drill. If you need a larger hole such as over an inch in diameter and several feet deep a rock drill is the way to go.


  6. #6
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    http://toolmonger.com/2009/02/26/roc...rs-hand-drill/

    This is a modern version of the same thing. Just buy whatever size sds plus masonry bit you need.


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cavermatt View Post
    A pneumatic drill works. We used one installing a deco habitat last Dec. With the cheap Harbor Freight drill an AL80 would last ~7 minutes at 20' if i remember correctly.


    They are planning on sampling downwards of 250', I think. Their calculations were to use 50 AL80s, I think. I don't know the specifics.

    Krzysztof Starnawski has a slick rig that uses and electric drill
    Now *THAT* is what my friend was thinking of. I don't know the specifics of her taking cores, and how the diameter of the core compares with a simple expansion bolt hole, but that's just the sort of thing they need. Thanks!

    On my way to the Land of Enchantment!

  8. #8
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    Barbara, last year, the NFSA used a pneumatic drill and tank to attach the handi-treads at Madison which worked fine. I will check with someone on Saturday to see how long the tank lasted. Do you know how deep your friend needs to drill?

    Safe diving,

    Sandy Robinson

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    Quote Originally Posted by sandy View Post
    Barbara, last year, the NFSA used a pneumatic drill and tank to attach the handi-treads at Madison which worked fine. I will check with someone on Saturday to see how long the tank lasted. Do you know how deep your friend needs to drill?
    I don't know how deep into the rock she needs to drill, but they are planning to take samples >250' water depth.

    On my way to the Land of Enchantment!

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squirrel Girl View Post
    Does anyone who actually knows anything useful have any suggestions?
    Hi Barbara,

    Limestone can probably be drilled with a regular drill if you can put enough pressure on the bit, which could be hard to get it you don't have anything to push against. If you can get enough force on the bit, a pneumatic drill would probably be fine up to 5/16 (8mm) bits, but at 250' a 5CFM drill would only last a couple minutes on a cave filled 100 and the regulator will have trouble flowing that much gas.

    If the rock is harder than limestone, you can't get much force on the bit or you need a bigger hole, then you would need a hammer drill. If you are taking core samples, then a standard drill and diamond grit hole saw is want you want, since hammerdrills are not used on hole saws, but you can turn off the hammer function of most hammerdrills if you need to drill both holes and cores. To get enough pressure on the bit, you could mount the drill on the end of a scooter.

    The nice thing about fresh water, is that it is not very conductive and you can probably get away just using a cheap battery powered drill or hammerdrill. If you get one with a brushless motor and pot or conformal coat the electronics, it would probably be just fine for a few days worth of drilling. NiMH batteries will not have circuit boards in them like Li-ion pack will, so they would be the better choice. Just pack each battery in its own water proof bag and install it in the drill, underwater, when needed and then remove it after drilling the holes, to minimize any corrosion of the electronics in the drill. If you can open up the lithium batteries and conformal coat the circuit board, they would likely be fine as well. Soak everything in 99% IPA for few minutes at the end of the day to get the water out and let it dry in a warm place for a few hours before trying to recharge the batteries.

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