The Major Types of Tricone Bit Bearings

The Major Types of Tricone Bit Bearings

What’s makes tricone bits so powerful and effective? A lot of it has to do with their strong materials, but just as important are the way their parts work together. At KBS we know that the more people understand about our products, the better they can put those products to work. Here’s a guide on what makes tricone bits tick.



At the heart of the tricone bit are the bearings, hidden underneath the bits themselves. The bearings are what allow the cones to spin in sync smoothly without losing power. There are a variety of different bearing systems used in tricone bits, and we’ll cover the most common ones here.

Open Roller Bearings

Inexpensive, and ideal for shallow drilling projects, the defining feature of open roller bearings is that they have no seal. The disadvantage there is that debris can get inside the cones and in turn cause blocks in the bearings. Regular cleaning can mitigate this problem, though.

Sealed Roller Bearings

Sealed bearings are very similar to open bearings. The primary differences are that there are seals to keep debris out of the cone and bearings, and there is also often a lubrication system to help keep the bearings clear and moving smoothly. These elements can make them more demanding to clean, but they tend to have longer lifetimes.

Air Cooled Bearings

Also referred to as air blast bearings, these are exclusive to air circulation bits. They use air passages to simultaneously cool and clear the bearings and bits of debris so that they can drill uninhibited. These are more specialized drills and bits, but also very effective.

Sealed Friction Bearings

Highly durable and very resistant to wear, friction bearings (also known as journal bearings) use floating bushing and a ball where most other bits would use a roller bearing. These usually need to be made of special material to have the heat resistance and durability they do, but it makes them very powerful.

Knowing what bearings offer, you can make a more informed decision when you need to purchase the tools. Can’t find what you’re looking for in our inventory? Take advantage of our bit sourcing service! We’re happy to use our industry connections and experience to help you find the bit you need for your project.

What the Digits in the IADC Codes Mean

purple tricone drill bit If you’ve ever ordered a tricone bit before, you had to use a 4-digit IADC (International Association of Drilling Contractors) code to ensure that you purchased the correct drill bit. You may not have given the code much thought, but those four characters actually communicate a lot of information. This coding system was created to simplify the ordering process for tricone bits and cut down on confusion and incorrect orders being placed. Find out below what each digit stands for.

The Hardness of Rock Formations

The first digit is a number between 1 and 8 that indicates the type of rock the tricone is best suited for.

Numbers 1-3 indicate steel teeth:

  • 1: Suited for soft rock formations
  • 2: Suited for medium rock formations
  • 3: Suited for hard rock formations

Numbers 4-8 indicate a tungsten carbide insert. From 4-8, these bits scale from softer formations to the hardest formations.

Further Rock Formation Information

The second digit includes more rock formation factors. On a scale from 1-4, the bits range from begin ideal for soft formations to the hardest.

Bearing Type

The third digit explains which bearing type the drill bit has:

  • 1-3 are for roller bearings:
    • 1: Standard roller bearings
    • 2: Air-cooled bearings
    • 3: Open bearings with gauge protection
  • 4-5 are for sealed roller bearings:
    • 4: Standard sealed roller bearings
    • 5: Sealed roller bearings with gauge protection
  • 6-7 are for sealed journal bearings:
    • 6: Standard sealed journal bearing
    • 7: Sealed journal bearing with gauge protection

Special Properties

The last digit is a letter that communicates special properties of the tricone bit, such as:

  • B: Special bearing
  • D: Deviation control
  • M: Motor application
  • T: Two cone
  • Z: Other inserts
  • And many others!

Now that you know a little more about the codes and what the digits represent, you can make a more informed decision when you need to purchase new drill bits. Can’t find what you’re looking for in our inventory? Take advantage of our bit sourcing service! We’re happy to use our industry connections and experience to help you find the bit you need for your project.

Take Advantage of Our Expertise

Every drilling project is going to be a little bit different from the last. Here at Kanadian Bit Supplies, we carry PDC bits, tricone bits, and blade bits that will be able to tackle just about every job that you can throw at them. But what happens when your job has very specific requirements, and you’re struggling to find the right bit to complete the job on time and under budget?

That’s when you let our bit sourcing experts take the reins for you. Just fill out this short form and we’ll find the bit that will fit your needs.

Benefits of Residential Wells for Homeowners

Picturesque Well

When you’re looking to expand your well-drilling business, one market to break into is residential water well drilling. Compared to many commercial jobs, setting up residential wells is fast and easy. But marketing to homeowners is different from marketing to businesses and contractors. When you’re talking with people thinking of having a water well drilled on their property, here are some of the benefits to them that you’ll want to bring up.

High Water Quality

Most people consider well water to be better tasting. Also, since well water is pumped and filtered on site, a resident has complete control over what is (and more importantly, what isn’t) in it.

Long-term Savings

After the initial cost of installing a well, the water from the well is free. Usually a well pays for itself within a few years.

Reliability of Supply

Well water only has to travel a few feet to reach the residence. It doesn’t spend a long time in pipes, and it doesn’t depend on the municipal infrastructure. Problems with the city’s water main upstream will not interrupt a home’s well water supply.

Increased Property Values

Given all the other benefits of wells, it’s clear why they increase property values. Potential buyers find wells to be attractive additions to a home, which gives them an edge over other homes on the market. Generally speaking, the value added to the property exceeds the cost of the well, too, making it a great investment for homeowners.

Whether you already provide residential services or are just now breaking into that market, you’ll want good drilling equipment, like bits from Kanadian Bit Supplies, to do quality work.

Workover Drilling

Every so often, a production well will need modification and repair – this is known as ’workover drilling’. The term ‘workover’ refers to any kind of well intervention relating to the pulling and replacing of a completion or plug. This may occur in the instance where production tubing is damaged, where downhole safety valves or electronic equipment (such as submersible pumps) need servicing or fail, or when the current well conditions no longer support the production equipment being used.

When production tubing is damaged, it is critically important to repair or replace the offending part(s). Production tubing sits inside the cemented casing (using a series of expandable packing devices) and is used to carry production fluids to the surface. It’s main purpose, aside from carrying production fluid, is to protect the casing string from damaging substances extracted during production. When the integrity of the production tubing is compromised, it must be fixed in order to prevent the leakage of corrosive, damaging compounds, opening up the risk of damaging the casing string.

Tricone Workover

Tricone Workover Bit

In severe cases, it may be necessary to repair or replace the casing string as well. This is an incredibly expensive and difficult operation to perform, as the casing is cemented into the ground through the whole length of the well. Only for the most productive and valuable wells will casing workover be considered – as in most cases it’s economically prohibitive to do in any other case.

Even with the absolute best in engineering and design, machines and devices fail or need repair/servicing. This reigns true in the production drilling industry as well. So when downhole equipment is in need of service or replacement, workover drilling is employed to gain access to the necessary components. With safety being paramount in the industry, ensuring downhole safety valves are in prime working order is essential – these are often only accessible by workover drilling. Further, downhole production pumps occasionally need modification or replacement to ensure optimal operation – another area workover drilling is employed. Clearly, workover drilling is essential to operating a safe, successful production well.

Generally, a production well will be drilled to best exploit the prevailing conditions of the geology. Over time, however, the well’s characteristics can change – leading to the need to change the production tubing or other similar parameters. For instance, suppose a well was producing with 5” tubing. After a period of extracting the resource, well pressures and flow rates change to a point where 5” tubing no longer provides stable flow – in which case a smaller diameter tubing would replace it, to stabilize flow and production.

It’s quite evident that workover drilling is an essential part of the production well process. Whether it be damaged production tubing, downhole equipment needing service, or changing well dynamics, workover drilling is the only solution to many of this industry’s challenges. Here at Kanadian Bit Supplies, we offer a full range of workover drill bits to ensure your well is in prime production condition!

Drill String Theory

Drill String Theory

Drill String Theory – Explained

A ‘drill string’ is the name for the dynamic assembly used in the drilling process – typically consisting of the drill pipe, transition pipe, and bottom hole assembly.  Each component is essential in the drilling process.

Drill pipe is sections of thick steel tubing, threaded at both ends, that delivers drilling fluid, weight, and torque to the drill bit.  It is hollow such that drilling fluid can be pumped (via mud motors) through the string to the drill bit, where it provides lubrication, cooling, and flushing functions.  The drill pipe also offers a conduit in which downhole measuring and logging equipment can be used.  The sheer weight of the drill pipe contributes to the downforce applied to the drill bit, adding to its efficiency.  Rotational torque is generated by the drilling rig and is transmitted via drill pipe to the drill bit.  It’s this combination of torque, weight, and fluid that drive the well into the ground.

Nestled in between the drill pipe and bottom hole assembly, is the transition pipe.  This typically consists of heavyweight drill pipe (a thicker version of drill pipe already discussed).  The primary purpose of the transition pipe is to provide a flexible connection between the drill pipe and BHA.  This is necessary as, in general, the highest point of fatigue in the drill string is located at this point, and most failures occur here.  Another secondary purpose for the transition pipe, is to add extra weight to the BHA and thus drill bit – furthering the efficiency of the drilling process.

The final part of the drill string is the bottom hole assembly.  It usually consists of a drill bit, drill collars, and drilling stabilizers.  The drill bit is used to break up the rock formation and is at the very end of the drill string.  There are several different kinds of drill bits used in the industry, but most common are tricone and PDC.  Next are the drill collars – they are generally thicker sections of heavyweight drill pipe and are used primarily to add weight to the drill bit (in directional drilling, heavyweight drill pipe is often used in lieu of drill collars to allow greater flexibility and thus sharper direction changes).  The last component is the drilling stabilizer.  Used to keep the drill pipe centered in the hole, the drilling stabilizer’s job is to ensure the drill bit is being driven into the ground without sidetracking or deviation, to minimize vibration, and ensure the quality of the hole being drilled.  The bottom hole assembly is the ‘leading edge’ of the drill

Featured Inventory For Novemer



Now in stock at our warehouse 600+ brand new in the box hammer bits 4 1/2″, 4 3/4″, 6 1/8″, 6 1/4″.

We are offering these bits for a promotional price for the month of November. Please send us an email to get more details.



We are pleased to introduce our friction welded pipe to the Canadian market.

Please see the products page to get details on the different specifications available.




Please visit our “new tricones” page to see our newest addition to the KBS stock. We have manufactured our signature KBS brand in sealed bearing milled tooth and tci.




Featured Tricone Inventory for October

We are pleased to announce the six featured items this month:

5 7/8" New Oil and Gas Tricone


5 7/8″ New Oil and Gas Tricone
available in IADC 517,537,617,627




6" New Oil and Gas Tricone


6″ New Oil and Gas Tricone
available in IADC 537,547,637
this diameter is also available in airblast IADC 612



6 1/4" New Oil and Gas Tricone



6 1/4″ New Oil and Gas Tricone
available in IADC 517,537




8 1/2" New Oil and Gas Tricone



8 1/2″ New Oil and Gas Tricone
available in IADC 114,115,126,134,214



9 7/8" New Oil and Gas Tricone


9 7/8″ New Oil and Gas Tricone
available in IADC 545
this diameter is also available in airblast IADC 622




11 5/8" New Oil and Gas Tricone


11 5/8″ New Oil and Gas Tricone
available in IADC 545,625




Please contact us for more information or to inquire after a certain item.

To stay in the loop, you can also sign up for our once-a-month email newsletter announcing our latest stock additions and specials.

To get on the list, click here!

Make the Right Choice: Tricone Bits vs. PDC Bits

tricone-bit-sales-kbs-tricone-vs-pdcIn the oil and gas industry, it’s vital to have the right equipment for every single one of your projects. Using the wrong tools can lead to all kinds of disasters, so it’s important to be sure to have the right information before you start. When it comes to drill bits, two of the most common selections are Tricones and PDC. They have two very different purposes, and should be purchased and used accordingly.

Tricone Bits

The tricone bit was invented by Hughes engineer, Ralph Neuhaus, and was an adaption of Baker Hughes original two-cone drill bit. Tricone bits consist of three roller cones (moving parts), and they require lubricated bearings and a grease reservoir. When tricone bits are used in larger projects, it’s necessary to also have a bearing seal so that drillers can keep debris from causing any stoppage in the rotation.

The roller-cone bits are used to drill all kinds of formations, from soft to hard. The softer formations use steel-tooth bits, and the harder use tungsten carbide.

The biggest advantage the tricone bits have over any other drill bit is the test of time. They have been proven time and time again, and they’re the best at controlling the trickier situations. Tricones’ ability to handle both soft and hard formations gives them the flexibility that other drill bits do not have.


The PDC drill bit, also known as the Polycrystalline Diamond Compact, was developed in the 1970s, and has become one of the most widely used drill bits in the world. The design features fixed heads that do not move, and are made through combining artificial diamonds and tungsten carbide with heat and pressure. PDC bits drill faster than tricone bits, and are very good at shearing rock, though both the tricone bits and PDC bits each have their separate place in the drilling industry. The latest PDC designs include spiraled or asymmetric cutter layouts, gauge rings and hybrid cutter designs.

There are two different designs for the PDC: matric-body and steel-body. Both of these designs have a big advantage – their lifespan. Both drill bits can be used for much longer without the need to replace them. That, along with their higher rate of penetration over tricones, gives them a lower cost per foot.

Althouh PDC bits are becoming increasingly more popular, the tricone bits still hold sway over many different drilling projects. These include gravel, dolomite, and hard limestone. Since the changes to PDC don’t reflect any interest in those areas, tricone bits will be holding those domains for a long time.

Both of the tricone and PDC drill bits have advanced well beyond their original designs; as the industry has moved forward, the tricone and PDC drill bits have had to change. The new designs offer improved durability, and ROP (rate of penetration) of the rock.

Click for a list of available Tricone Bits and PDC Bits.

Tricones the Right Choice When Things Go Wrong

Tricone-bit-sales-KBS-when-all-goes-wrongDrilling projects with tricones are like weddings: You spend countless hours planning every facet of them down to the last detail, just to ensure that nothing goes wrong. And then it does.

Given the price tag of most drilling jobs, even with cost-effective tricones as your bit of choice, it pays to anticipate potential hazards before they strike. Being aware of worst-case scenarios, their causes and possible solutions will set you up for success long before you even begin drilling.

The Hole Truth

To your buddy whose only experience with oil is changing it every 3,000 km, drilling with tricones sounds easy in theory. Figure out where you want to end up, chart a path and then drill in a straight line until you get there. He might be surprised to learn that drilling a well with tricones is a bit more complicated than that.

For one thing, there is the possibility of encountering hole deviation, in which case drill bits such as tricones may depart from the borehole trajectory that was first plotted. This can lead to delays in drilling as well as higher costs.

While the cause is not always clear, it generally results from some significant force acting on drill bits like tricones and driving them from their intended path. This could be anything from the bottom hole assembly encompassing the tricones to the WOB (weight on bit), which is the amount of downward force exerted.

Significantly, hole deviation can sometimes be traced to the type and design of the drill bit, which is one reason that tricones are a possible solution to this hazard. Many tricones are sealed roller bits that are shielded by a protective barrier while other tricones are sealed journals with extremely tough faces. As a result, they are extremely durable and, like the cool-headed MC at the nightmare wedding, less likely to crack under pressure.

Tools of the Trade

As in any line of work, you can’t get first class results with second-class tools. When it comes to drilling with tricones, equipment that is inferior or improperly maintained is a leading cause of problems on site. Whether it’s improper rig hydraulics, faulty well control systems or insufficient hoisting power, your drilling project is only as strong as its weakest link.

That’s why it’s crucial to use exceptional drill bits like tricones. Designed with three cone shaped heads that are each equipped with several rows of teeth, tricones are easier to maintain and control than other drill bits. This is especially important when dealing with hard rock formations like shale, granite and limestone that can prove especially challenging in the absence of tricones.

You wouldn’t trust your tone deaf uncle to sing “here comes the bride”, so don’t jeopardize a multi million dollar drilling project by failing to employ tricones and settling for less than the best.

Coming Clean 

Even with the best equipment and intentions, setbacks can occur. It’s well documented that drilling at an angle more than 30 degrees from vertical can lead to difficulties in the removal of cuttings. This in turn can trigger expensive drilling issues such as premature bit wear, slow drilling and formation fracturing. Increasing flow rate while drilling with tricones and using drill string rotation can both enhance hole cleaning and lower your risk from excessive cuttings.

Also, you can further reduce the problem of premature bit wear by choosing tricones for your next project. This is especially true with sealed journal tricones, the strongest and toughest bits on the market. They are well known for their durability and are far less likely than other bits to cause disruptions in the drilling process.

While you can never eliminate problems entirely, you can take steps to minimize them such as selecting tricones for your drilling operation. Not only are they the perfect wedding of reliability and quality, but also unlike the shotgun marriage, they’ll continue to exceed your expectations long after the honeymoon is over.

Browse an outstanding selection of used tricones for sale.

The Tri Cone – #1 Over 2 Centuries…for 3 Reasons

tri-cone-drilling-heads-rocks-bitsThey say there’s strength in numbers, and the tri cone is a perfect example. Its strong performance in project after project can be attributed to a number of factors. But since “good things come in threes”, here are three key reasons for its popularity and success.

3 Heads

They say that two heads are better than one, but why stop there? In 1933, engineers from the Sharp-Hughes Tool Company developed the first tri cone. They wanted to improve the company’s current two-cone design and, in spite of working during the Great Depression, they did so in bold fashion. By adding a third cone, they produced the ultimate drill bit. Sporting three cone shaped heads, each equipped with several rows of teeth, this design became extremely versatile, offering quality and consistency that was unmatched in the industry.

Over time, the tri cone has been enhanced with sharper teeth and better bearings. It can now drill deeper, longer and better than ever before. But the key qualities that separated it from the competition remain the same. Not only is it easier to control and maintain, but it can tackle the most challenging rock formations without missing a beat. Perhaps most importantly, it is cost effective, proving to be more affordable than other bits of lesser quality.

So tri cone buyers don’t get what they pay for. They get more.

3 Rocks

A big factor in the success of the tri cone is its ability to perform at a high level regardless of the rock formation involved. A tri cone is the perfect choice for soft formations such as sand, clay or soft limestone, and works equally well in medium formations including calcites, dolomites, limestone and hard shale.

For hard rock such as granite and mudstone, a sealed bearing tri cone is the drill bit of choice, as it’s extremely durable and less likely to disrupt your drilling process.

3 Bits

Because drilling projects come in all shapes and sizes, there are three types of tri cone bits available to accommodate a variety of jobs.

1. Roller bearing bits utilize three cones spinning independently. They are most often used to drill oil, gas or shallow water wells.

2. Sealer roller bits have a seal that protects each drill bit from damage during the drilling process. Although the seal will eventually be worn away from constant use, this model can still be employed as a roller bearing bit in future projects.

3. Sealed journal bits are the strongest and most durable of the three types. With the proper drilling lubrication, they can thrive in the toughest drilling climates and access even the most difficult to reach resources.

Naturally, as the quality and durability of the bits increase, so does the price. That’s why used tri cone bits are often a great alternative. Also known as “rebuilt” or “rerun”, they are ideal for undertakings that are smaller in scale and budget. If your next project falls into this category, contact a drill bit service and explore your options. As long as you deal with a reputable supplier, you can rest assured that a used tri cone will meet the same high standards as its newer counterpart.

Good things come in threes: 3 heads; 3 rocks; 3 bits. Of course, these are only a few of the many advantages that you’ll enjoy with the tri cone. A complete list would have too many items to count.

Maybe that’s why, in the mining and well drilling business, the tri cone has been #1 over 2 centuries, and why it will continue to post impressive numbers in the years ahead.

Count on it.

The Tricone Geothermal Energy – The Heat is On

tricone-oil-drilling-rig-arrivingIf there was a popularity contest for drill bits, the tricone would win hands down. Geothermal energy, though not as well-known as the tricone, is an increasingly hot topic around the globe. To understand why, you need only look at its advantages, drawbacks and prospects for growth in the years to come.

For years, drilling and the tricone have been focused on the extraction of oil and natural gas. But with the steady depletion of these resources through tricone drilling, alternatives are needed.

What is it?

That’s where geothermal energy comes in. By drilling deep underground with the tricone, we can access a powerful heat source to turn water into steam, run it through a turbine and produce electricity. Once accessed through tricone drilling, geothermal energy provides power for a number of applications.

What’s so great about it?

Anyone who’s been involved with tricone drilling knows first-hand about the advantages of a tricone. In addition to its unparalleled quality, the tricone is durable, reliable and precise.

So why choose geothermal energy to access with the tricone?

1. Running Costs: Like the tricone, geothermal energy is cost effective, with running expenses approximately 80% less than for fossil fuels. Also, since it doesn’t involve fuel like other substances accessed by the tricone, geothermal energy entails a fairly small outlay for transportation, purchasing and plant clean up.

2. Pollution: Unlike some resources accessed with tricone drilling, geothermal energy is relatively friendly to the environment. While there is some pollution involved, it pales next to conventional targets of the tricone like coal and fossil fuels. As well, the carbon footprint generated by geothermal power plants is minimal compared to other tricone drilling projects.

3. Stability: As an alternative to traditional tricone drilled material, geothermal energy is more reliable than other options like solar or wind power that rely heavily on the weather. Consequently, geothermal power plants are ideally suited to meeting the base load energy requirements. They also benefit from a high capacity factor, in that their actual output of power closely matches the total installed capacity.

4. Renewability: Although our supplies of many energy staples extracted with the tricone are massive, they are also finite. This is a major reason that many countries are focusing more of their tricone efforts on geothermal energy. Not only is it renewable in that it’s a resource that is naturally replenished, but it sustains its own consumption rate where fossil fuels reached by tricone drilling do not.

What’s the catch?

While the tricone really has no downside, most things are not that fortunate, and geothermal energy is no exception:

1. Expensive Start up: Traditional tricone drilling projects vary widely in their budgets. It’s one reason that the tricone is the drill bit of choice for so many of them. Not only is the tricone available in different price ranges, but there are excellent used tricone bits available that are equally reliable. On the other hand, most commercial geothermal projects come with a high price tag. Deep drilling with the tricone is required, and the cost of drilling greatly increases with depth.

2. Lack of Widespread Use: Because geothermal energy has yet to be widely accepted, there is a shortage of skilled workers and suitable site locations. It’s a bit of a catch-22 situation, in that the low level of usage is in itself a hindrance to achieving greater acceptance.

Where do we go from here?

In spite of its challenges, geothermal energy is one of the few renewable energy sources that offers continuous baseload power. As such, it can be a key player in moving us towards cleaner, more sustainable energy.

As research reduces drilling costs and enhances plant efficiency, more countries are likely to explore this option. The next chapter has yet to be written, but one thing is for sure. The potential to improve the planet by tapping into its own heat power makes for a heartwarming story.

Working Safer and Smarter With Tricones

kbs-tricone-sales-working-safer-drillingWe’re always told that it’s important to work smarter, not harder, but if you’re not working safely, nothing else really matters. That’s where tricones come in. Regardless of the drilling project supported by tricones, there are a number of hazards to be aware of and corresponding ways of protecting yourself, your co-workers and your employees.

Drilling with tricones provides countless benefits, from access to vital resources to job creation to economic sustainability. Of course, rewards rarely come without risks, and drilling activity involving tricones is no exception. How well you manage those risks that sometimes accompany tricones will go a long way in determining the success and safety of your people, your project and your organization.

Hydrogen Sulphide

As part of drilling work involving tricones, oil and gas wells produced by tricones can release hydrogen sulphide, a colorless gas that is highly flammable and hazardous. At low levels, it can often be detected by smell due to its rotten egg scent. But the real danger arises when higher concentrations of the gas are produced in the course of drilling with tricones. This can actually remove your ability to smell hydrogen sulphide and expose you to the negative effects of the gas.

To ensure a safe working environment with all the advantages of tricones and no ill effects from hydrogen sulphide, focus on active monitoring, proper planning and worker training.

Hazardous Chemicals

Certain types of drilling with tricones, such as hydraulic fracturing, can sometimes expose workers to hazardous chemicals that cause chemical burns when toxic vapors are inhaled during the work with tricones.

If your workplace is such that hazard chemicals may pose a risk in the course of your efforts with tricones, make sure you have proper labels and safety data sheets available. And, as always, there is no substitute for thorough training of all employees who risk exposure to harmful chemicals as part of their work with tricones.

Excessive Noise

Workers drilling with tricones are no strangers to loud noise, but it poses a danger in many lines of work regardless of whether tricones are involved. If employees must shout to be heard by a co-worker in close proximity during their labor with tricones, there could be a noise issue.

As well, if people complain of ringing or humming in their ears following a day filled with drilling and tricones, the next sound you hear should be alarm bells in your head warning of a problem.

To reduce the noise level in your work with tricones, ensure equipment and machinery are properly maintained and lubricated and opt for low-noise tools and machinery where possible. Using tricones on your site will facilitate these efforts, as their reliability and low maintenance make them less likely to contribute to such hazards.

Extreme Temperatures

Depending on the location of your project involving tricones, workers could be exposed to excessive heat or inordinate cold. Those who are impacted by heat stress during their endeavours with tricones could suffer heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps, or heat rashes.

Apart from mandatory first aid training, there are several measures that employers can take to counteract the hazards of heat for employees as they toil with tricones:

  • Acclimatize your staff by gradually exposing them to hot work environments for greater periods of time.
  • Provide cool water or liquids to workers. Avoid sugary drinks or highly caffeinated beverages.
  • Provide rest periods and cool areas for shelter during breaks.

Those who must endure extreme cold as part of their work with tricones face their own dangers, including hypothermia, frostbite and trench foot. Recommended preventative measures include layering, wearing a hat and insulated boots, and spending work breaks in a warm location. It’s also suggested that workers avoid mixing alcohol and drilling with tricones in cold weather, but that’s probably sound advice regardless of the temperature.

Everyone has their own motivation for making it through the work day unscathed, whether it’s a spouse, a child or a parent. Staying aware of the hazards and taking steps to mitigate them may require some time and effort, but when it gets you home safely at night, you’ll agree it was time well spent. And so will your loved ones.

Choose from a wide selection of used tricones for sale.

New Inventory

We’re pleased to announce the arrival of the following new inventory!

New items are added regularly, so please check back often.

3 3/4 NEW 211

3 7/8 NEW 211

3 7/8 NEW 531

4 3/4 NEW 211

4 7/8 NEW 211

6 1/8 NEW 211

5 7/8 NEW 517

5 7/8 NEW 537

6″ NEW 612

6 1/4 NEW 537

9 7/8 NEW 622

9 7/8 NEW 545

9 7/8 NEW 517

13 3/4 NEW 625

Please contact us for more information or to inquire after a certain item.

To stay in the loop, you can also sign up for our once-a-month email newsletter announcing our latest stock additions and specials.

To get on the list, click here!

March Sale

We’re pleased to announce our March Sale features the following item:

10 5/8 211 brand new for US$1000/each 

Please contact us for more information or to inquire after a certain item.

To stay in the loop, you can also sign up for our once-a-month email newsletter announcing our latest stock additions and specials.

To get on the list, click here!

March’s Featured Tricone: Sealed Bearing TCI




Please contact us for more information or to inquire after a certain item.

To stay in the loop, you can also sign up for our once-a-month email newsletter announcing our latest stock additions and specials.

To get on the list, click here!

Geothermal Energy and Tricones Are Heating Up

kbs-geothermal-drilling-tricone-bitsGeothermal drilling brings on a whole new challenge that is unlike any other. Its high temperatures and geological variables mean that companies need to rely on advanced technology and adapted tricone bits to gain any results. It’s expensive and difficult, but since it’s offering an amazing opportunity for renewable energy, this challenge is welcomed with open arms. Drill sites vary in location, but are required to be near active geological formations, such as landmasses situated over tectonic plates.

Companies have come up with a number of different techniques and equipment to help bring geothermal drilling into the spotlight, but one thing has always held strong: tricone bits. Tricone bits have a versatility that enables them to meet all the high demands of geothermal drilling operations.

What is Geothermal Energy?

Geothermal energy is the heat that is stored in the earth. It includes everything from ground water to the magma found deep below the Earth’s crust. Heat is transferred from deep within the Earth’s crust by the movement of hot rock towards the surface caused by intrusions of magma. Although there are some cases where this energy can be used directly, the majority of sites require the use of fluid, and therefore drilling. The drill sites enable fluids to pass through the reservoir below, so that they can be pushed to the surface. These extreme settings are the reason for advancements made to tricone bits, such as seals and tricone bearing systems.

Geothermal drilling is one of the fastest growing demands across the globe, and it’s expected to increase exponentially over the next few decades. With the growing financial and environmental concerns, geothermal energy is considered an ideal alternative to natural gas, coal and diesel. It boasts both a cleaner and cheaper status. This energy can be used for anything from the heating and cooling of buildings through the movement of hot air through heat pumps to the production of electricity through the use of underground reservoirs.

Where does Geothermal Drilling Take Place?

Geothermal drilling has been focused on by countries such as Germany, United States (western states) and Iceland, because they have properties situated over active geological sites. An ideal location will have a swarm of fissures known as a volcanic system.

What Do You Need for Geothermal Drilling?

Obtaining this alternative energy involves much harsher and challenging drilling techniques. Geothermal drilling requires very specific equipment and tricone bits to withstand the abrasive conditions. Locations are over geologically active sites, and the equipment must be able to maneuver through hard rocks and rising temperatures.

Tricone bits and other equipment must take into account the bit carrying capacity, heat, degradation and wear, and high pressures. It will therefore include enhanced seals and bearing systems, improved lubricants, and more advanced pressure systems, so as to ensure better performance. Tricone bits are known to be versatile, durable, and capable of withstanding changing formations. Tricone bits are also inexpensive and can excel in almost all drilling instances. The tricone bits used for geothermal drilling.

Tricone Arctic Drilling: The Cold Facts

kbs-drill-bits-arctic-drillingWhen it comes to accessing new oil and gas supplies with tricone drilling, companies will sometimes get a chilly reception. But ironically, one of the coldest places on earth may be a hotbed of tricone activity in the years ahead.

While tricone drilling seems to offer infinite possibilities for securing vital resources, it cannot escape one simple truth: Resources – even those that are so efficiently gathered through tricone use – are finite. As a result, many oil and gas reserves around the world are declining significantly after decades of tricone drilling.

The Appeal

So it should come as no surprise that a number of countries are warming to the idea of tricone drilling in the Arctic. With 13 percent of the planet’s untapped oil deposits and 30 percent of natural gas reserves located above the Arctic Circle, it’s a tempting target for oil dependent nations and their future tricone projects.  Russia, Canada, the United States, Norway, Iceland and Denmark have all given their energy companies a not so subtle nudge to explore tricone drilling possibilities in the region.

The Pitfalls

If tricone drilling in the Arctic was easy, anyone could do it, and the countries targeting this area would be well on their way to extracting the treasure; but there are reasons that extensive tricone drilling hasn’t happened yet. In winter, much of the area is covered by sea ice and there is the constant threat of severe storms, making tricone work challenging at best and hazardous at the worst of times. Of course, should drilling activity one day proceed on a large scale, tricone bits will prove invaluable, as their durability and quality give them the best chance of withstanding the harsh northern conditions.

This is one instance where global warming could actually be beneficial. In summer and fall, it will often reduce the amount of sea ice and facilitate extensive tricone drilling. What’s the catch? The same phenomenon that minimizes sea ice may also lead to difficult weather conditions and other dangers, inhibiting that same tricone activity.

As is often the case, some of the most imposing obstacles to successful tricone efforts up north may come not from weather or geography, but from people. Fearing threats to wildlife and contamination of local waters, environmentalists and indigenous communities have filed lawsuits to prevent tricone drilling unless and until a satisfactory solution is found.

And in many ways, those who are pushing hardest for tricone projects in the Arctic may be their own worst enemies. A number of the boundary lines in the region have not yet been fully set or identified. As a result, several countries are laying claim to the area and the riches available through tricone drilling, going so far as to threaten military action should one of their rivals impinge on “their” territory.

Shell Shocked

A graphic illustration of the challenges inherent in Arctic tricone work is the experience of Shell, which has yet to drill a productive well with a tricone or anything else, in spite of spending billions of dollars on their efforts. Their experience has raised fears that a major spill following tricone drilling could be highly destructive, due in part to the ice floes and sea ice that might interfere with cleanup efforts.

Of course, nothing worth having comes easily, and the vast reserves of oil and gas that await tricone drilling in the Arctic are no exception. But it’s a tribute to the industry’s high regard for tricone bits that, if and when the puzzle of how to access the Arctic is solved, the tricone will surely be the centerpiece.

Find just what you need in a gallery of tricone bits.

You Name it, the Tricone Tackles it

you-name-it-the-tricone-tackles-itTricones are the modern day “little engines that could”, tackling a variety of tasks in every sort of environment and excelling in two specific areas: their versatility and their ability to prosper everyone involved in the projects they drill for.


What could be better than doing one thing and doing it well? How about doing many things and doing them all well?

The tricone demonstrates the value of versatility on a number of fronts:

i. What it can access: Whether drilling for natural gas, water or crude oil, the tricone is adept at tapping a number of substances with precision. It’s unusual to find something that is a true “jack of all trades” in any industry, making the tricone a highly sought after commodity for all the right reasons.

ii. What it can contend with: If a tricone tore through shale like butter but shattered against any other obstacle, it would be of limited use. Fortunately, it’s anything but one-dimensional. Whether it’s clay, hard shale, limestone, mudstone or calcites standing in the way of tricone drilling, it’s no match for the power and persistence of the tricone. Also, with the right choice of tooth and seals, the tricone can handle soft, medium and hard rock formations with equal efficiency.

iii. What it can cost: Drilling projects come in all shapes and sizes. Each one has its own challenges and rewards and, ultimately, its own budget. Fortunately, the tricone has a number of designs that can accommodate a variety of budgets. You can choose from open roller bearing, sealer roller bearing and journal bearing. With different price points depending on the tricone bearing involved, as well as both new and used tricone offerings, you can easily find the right tricone for the job. Large or small, deep pockets or short leash, chances are there’s a tricone for that.


In many ways, the tricone and prosperity go hand in hand. Sure, there’s the obvious connection between tricone drilling and company revenue, but that’s really just the beginning:

i. Worker Wealth: Collectively, tricone drilling projects provide direct employment to thousands of people. From frontline workers like drillers and derrick hands to office support staff to engineers, tricone activity puts food on the table for employees and their families. And then there’s the vast amount of indirect employment linked to tricone drilling in industries like retail, hospitality and human resources, to name a few. Either way, these projects have a ripple effect, offering immediate benefits to drilling company workers and both short and long term advantages for a host of other groups. People who think they have no connection to the industry may be surprised to learn just how connected they really are.

ii. Community Cash: With large-scale tricone drilling projects like the Athabasca oil sands and the Northern Gateway pipeline, the companies involved in tricone activity contribute millions to affected communities, benefiting schools, social services and a number of related programs. Of course, some would argue that drilling can be both a positive and a negative for certain towns, but the pluses are undeniable.


Plan your next project with tricone bits.


Tri cone Bits Bite the Competition

tri cones-bits-bite-the-competitionJanuary is a time for all things new, and many of the attributes that we strive for in our resolutions are the same ones that make the tri cone such a hot commodity in the drilling business.

Let’s look at some virtues common to the tri cone that make it a significant player in the world of resource attainment.


We already know about the durability of the tri cone bit, but another key aspect is the role it plays in sustainability on a larger scale.

For example, the local economic spin off and community investment flowing from tri cone drilling projects help support programs, neighborhoods and sometimes entire towns. Not only does this benefit the programs and those who make use of them, but it also helps towns and communities stay in it for the long haul where they might otherwise have been unable to due to economic hardship or lack of infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the royalties and tax revenue that tri cone activities generate are a driving force in sustaining municipal, provincial and federal economies, preserving our standard of living and, in the process, our way of life. As resolutions go, that’s not a bad one.


We would do well to emulate the tri cone in this regard, as it facilitates diversity on a couple of levels.

First, tri cone projects draw from every corner of society when it comes to doling out the fruits of their labor. All classes, nationalities and skill levels are represented in the workers and community members touched by tri cone drilling in one way or another.

Tri cones make it possible to develop and make money in every sort of environment, in every country around the globe.

Equally important is the diversity of opinion sparked by tri cone projects. While controversial, projects involving tri cone drilling like the Keystone Pipeline invite healthy debate that can often lead to a re-evaluation of priorities or a renewed commitment to a chosen path.


The caveman proved to be highly resourceful, adapting to challenges in the environment by inventing the wheel and discovering fire. Our modern day equivalent to that wheel may well be the tri cone, evolving in its structure and functionality over time to meet the demands of different rock formations, varying conditions and divergent projects.

It’s a perfect example of how to hit a moving target by experimenting with new methods and approaches while always keeping the bulls-eye in sight. Always there are slight adjustments that might be made to suit the conditions of its work, but the basic form and functionality remains the same.


They say we are only limited by our imaginations, but few of us really take it to heart. The process of opening our minds to far-reaching possibilities has surely made for some of the most memorable years mankind has ever seen.

That concept is equally true of the oilfield. Had it not been for some serious “outside the box” thinking, tri cone undertakings like the Athabasca oil sands and the Northern Gateway Pipeline, and the benefits associated with them, might never have come to fruition.

In these ways, even drill bits are doing their part to make our world a better place. Inspiration can come from many different sources, and this coming year, we could do worse than to strive to develop personally some of the wonderful traits tri cones offer to the world every day.


Browse an array of tri cone bits for sale.


Tricones Top the Drilling Charts

tricones-top-the drilling-chartsAs we raised our glasses on New Year’s Eve, many toasts were made and many resolutions were born in an attempt to better ourselves.

But the lucky tricone just keeps plugging away, its forms and functions already as close to perfect as it gets. Tricones have not changed in their design in a great many years, and that’s because they’ve already got these three most important areas covered.


For us flawed humans, our quality can always be improved upon. It could mean doing better work at your job or reading a book or two to round out your talking points. In the drilling industry where tricones abound, quality is doubly important, and they have to be quality from the word ‘go’. Projects that utilize tricones involve millions of dollars in expense and potential revenue, so it only makes sense to use high calibre bits such as tricones when failure isn’t an options. They’ve already got it covered.

Uniquely designed with three cone-shaped heads, each equipped with several rows of teeth, tricones boast unparalleled precision while supporting maximum levels of production. And while the results generated by tricones make them well worth the cost, high quality used tricones are also readily available for projects with a smaller budget. Whichever route you choose, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your all-important drill bits are top quality and able to perform under pressure.


As tricones go, it’s essential. You can research for months and choose what appear to be the best drill bits on the planet. But if they aren’t tricones, or they lack the staying power that tricones are known for, you’re putting your project at risk.

Substances targeted by drilling with tricones, such as crude oil, are often found deep inside rock formations that are as hard as, well, rock. Because many tricones are sealed roller bits that are shielded by a protective barrier, and some other tricones are sealed journals with extremely tough faces, they are perfectly suited for what they do. The drilling world is no place for the faint of heart, and that applies just as much to your drill bits as to the people that operate them.

It is this durability that supports a thriving market in used tricones as well. The fact that recycled tricones are often used in the construction industry to drill foundation holes is a further testament to the longevity of tricones, and a key reason for their widespread use. And since longevity means you’ll replace them less often, these drill bits are hard on rock but easy on your budget.


Tricones are all about variety, and not just because you can buy them new or used. They also vary in design so you can find the one that best fits your needs.

Open roller bearing tricones are the least expensive type and offer an alternative for budget-conscious jobs. But you must weigh that against the lack of a seal which makes them vulnerable to jamming.

Sealed roller bearing tricones are like the annoying older brother of the open roller tricones, doing everything they do, only better. Thanks to an O-ring and lubricant reservoir, they are less vulnerable to outside material and thus less likely to jam at an inopportune moment.

Journal bearing tricones are the costliest variety of tricones and worth every penny. Their floating brush seal makes them extremely durable and low maintenance, a great combination when time is money.


Pursue a number of used tricones for sale.


Announcing New Coring & Drill Pipe Inventory!

core-and-drill-pipeKBS is currently developing our coring and drill pipe inventory!

We are advertising very little online at this time, but are able to supply a wide variety of both products.

Please contact us for more information or to inquire after a certain item.

To stay in the loop, you can also sign up for our once-a-month email newsletter announcing our latest stock additions and specials. To get on the list, click here!

Find out about our newest stock & specials before anyone else!

kbs newsletterWhether you want to expand your knowledge of the drilling industry or just want to hear about our latest featured items and newest stock, our newsletter list is where you want to be!

Check out our latest newsletter edition here and sign up here if you like what you see.

We’ll never share your email address with anyone else and won’t spam you with any unnecessary emails. Just one little email each month packed with useful information.

See you there!

Changing Lives with Tricone Drilling…Bit by Bit

tricone-drillingWater; we turn on the faucet to wash our hands, and it’s there. But what if it wasn’t?

We crank the shower taps for water to cleanse us, and it flows freely. But what if it didn’t?

Just as the tricone has become synonymous with drilling, clean water equates to health and well being for those who enjoy it. Unfortunately, almost a billion people have no access to tricones and clean water, primarily for one of two reasons:

  • The need for water in a given region exceeds the ability of the land to supply it. This occurs mostly in dry areas of the world, where even if the population had inroads to tricone drilling, there is not enough water in the ground to meet the demand.
  • Sometimes a proper water source exists that could theoretically be accessed with tricone drilling, yet the population lacks the funds needed for tricone drilling due to other issues such as economics or politics.

Water fallout

Where people lack the means for tricone drilling to reach clean, safe water, the consequences are significant:

  • Poor water and sanitation accounts for roughly 80% of illnesses in developing countries in the absence of tricone drilling. Worldwide, without tricone drilling of adequate wells, 25% of deaths under age 5 stem from water-related disease.
  • Deprived of tricone drilling for a proper water supply, it becomes difficult to grow food. This is just one instance where the lack of tricone drilling and sufficient water impacts a certain aspect of life, which in turn affects many others: A dearth of water causes a food shortage, sparking malnutrition that hampers education and prolongs the cycle of poverty.
Water Needed to Produce it (litres)
Glass of milk
Cup of Coffee
Bag of Chips
Slice of Bread
  • Minus tricone drilling and sufficient water, education suffers. Without tricone drilling and an adequate water supply, children are too malnourished to concentrate in class or, thanks to their own water-related disease or that of a family member, miss school altogether.

By negatively affecting health, education and access to food, the lack of tricone drilling and potable water triggers wide-spread poverty that is difficult to escape.

Water works

Fortunately, where the absence of tricone drilling and the resulting water well is due to non-physical factors that are changeable, inadequate water supplies can often be addressed. Tricone drilling is certainly not the only answer.

Desalination of seawater is one substitute for tricone drilling, but the cost makes it impractical for the countries that need it the most.

While recycling of wastewater for irrigation purposes is another alternative to tricone drilling, it requires thorough purification and stringent safeguards to ensure safety for the end user.

Tricone drilling can also involve significant expense. But as awareness grows of clean water shortages and the damage that results, more and more organizations are stepping up to facilitate well creation through tricone drilling or other means. And when they do, the benefits of tricone drilling are significant:

  • Clean water from tricone drilling drastically reduces disease, thereby boosting productivity and enhancing quality of life.
  • Tricone drilling for safe water can greatly improve crop production and nutrition, important steps on the path to sustainability.
  • As children gain access to usable water through tricone drilling, they can return to school, further their education and explore options that were otherwise out of reach.

A safe, accessible water supply from tricone drilling or other means has wide-reaching implications, giving recipients the time, energy and money to better their lives and create opportunity for themselves and their families.

There are no quick fixes for issues like poverty, disease and hunger. But many would say that in our quest for solutions, the first step is clear: Just add water.

Browse a wide variety of tricone bits.

What Are Tricone Drill Bits Normally Used For?

Drill-bitTricone bites were created and utilized for the first time during the Great Depression. At the time, they were considered to be a huge advancement in drilling technology, and are still used to this day.

Tricone bits are the go-to solutions for virtually any kind of well drilling. This can include everything from digging simple water wells to extracting oil from deep underground.

Tricone drill bits come in a number of different varieties to address a variety of tasks; however, the most common are Mill Tooth bits and TCI (Tungsten Carbide Insert). This type of tricone bit is capable of handling a wide range of different rock formations including soft, hard and everything in between, but you’ll generally want to use a tricone designed and suited for the task at hand, and deciding what kind of tricone bit you will need to use largely depends on what kind of rock formation you are drilling into.

They are used to drill soft rock formations which tend to include clay, sand, limestone, and shale. Typically a Mill Tooth tricone drill bit is used when working with soft rock formations. Tricone drill bits that are ideal for soft rock formations will have long protruding teeth.

They are also used to drill medium rock formations which include dolomites, hard limestone, and calcites. When you are working with medium rock formations you are going to want to use a TCI tricone bit. You will notice tricone bits intended for medium rock formations teeth are closer together than ones used for soft formations.

And finally, they are used to drill hard rock formations, which include anything that is abrasive. Tricone bits created for hard rock formations usually have less protruding teeth that are also very close together. If you are working with a rock formation that is a little difficult to place, you are going to need to pay special attention to the type of teeth, additional seals, and gauges that you may need in order to effectively drill into the formation.

Browse a wide variety of new and used tricone bits.


What Will a Tricone Drill Bit Do?

Having the right equipment for a project can sometimes make or break you, so it’s important to be prepared. Used widely in the well-drilling industry, tricone drill bits can go through shale, clay, and limestone. They will also go through hard shale, mudstone, and calcites. Tricone bits will work for any type of rock formation whether it is hard, medium, or soft, but depending on the material being drilled through, you’ll want to pay special attention to the type of tooth on the bit and seals to make sure you are staying safe during use.


The purpose of a tricone drill bit is to go into the ground and get to things like crude oil deposits, usable water, or natural gas deposits. Crude oil can be deep inside hard formations of rock, so a tough bit is needed to get down to it. When drilling for water, the drill bit makes fast work of the hard rock in the way, and gets to the water below more efficiently than any other tool. They are also used to make holes for foundations, and are often used for this type of job after they bit has been drilling for oil or something else for a while – the construction industry often opts to use recycled bits in order to construct their foundations in a less expensive way.

There are three different types of tricone drill bits. There are roller, sealed roller, and sealed journal. The roller is an open bearing used for shallow water as well as oil and gas wells. It is important to note that the open roller bits are less expensive to manufacture, and therefore less expensive to you. The sealed roller bit is protected a little better with a protective barrier around it making it great for digging wells. The sealed journal is used for drilling oil as it has the hardest face and can stand up to more.

The way the tricone breaks through the rock is by using its multitude of very small chisel shapes, which protrude from a roller. These are pushed into the rock by the rods that connect it to the surface, and the weight is distributed evenly to break through. Like most things, there are some limitations to the use of each tricone bit, which can sometimes be hard to control when hitting extremely hard rock that the tricone isn’t meant for. However, when the correct bit is used it should have no problem breaking through, so make sure to check the IADC codes list before you settle on buying one for your job.

Remember when choosing the right type for your job, you need to take into consideration the type of job you will be doing, and the type of rock you will be going through. Learn everything you can about the job before you choose a type of bit and you will be on the right track.

In short, the right tricone bit helps make the majority of drilling jobs faster and easier, but only if the right bit is in use. Each bit type works best for a different job, but tricones are generally very versatile in what they can handle – as long as you know the parameters of your job and the specs of what you’ll be digging through, it should be easy to select a suitable bit from the list of options. Additionally, if you’re on a budget, used tricone bits are readily available for purchase as well as new tricone bits.


Browse a wide variety of new and used tricone bits.


The History of Tricone Drill Bit Design

A tricone bit is one of many rock drilling tools that would be commonly found in both the mining and the well drilling industries. Designed with three cone shaped heads that are each equipped with several rows of teeth, the tricone is a most versatile bit.

Drill-bitA group of engineers that belonged to the Sharp-Hughes Tool Company first created the tricone bit in 1933 during the Great Depression. Using the two-cone bit design that belonged to the company; the engineers were able to incorporate a third cone to create the tricone bit we are familiar with today. In fact, the only real difference between the tricone and the original drill bit is the fact that the original drill bit only had two heads instead of three – the general mechanics and functioning of the tricone was otherwise perfectly suited to its tasks back then. The heads on the tricone bit inclined at roughly 45 degrees and used a bearing in order to make sure they run smoother and last longer.

Since 1933, the tricone (three-cone) bit has been the top choice in the mining and well drilling industry. There have been some improvements made on original tricone design – better bearings (open roller bearings, air-cooled roller bearings, sealed roller bearings, or sealed journal bearings) and sharper teeth – but the same basic concept still remains. These advances have made the tricone bits dig deeper, last longer and dig through any formation. When compared to other drill bits, tricone drill bits are easier to maintain, switch out and control when working with difficult rock formations. Another reason why tricone bits are favored over other bits is the initial cost. When it comes to a tight budget, tricone drill bits are a great deal more affordable than any other bit on the market.


Browse a wide variety of new and used tricone bits.



When learning about tricone drill bits, it is important to note that when the cones of a tricone turn, the bearings act as a buffer. The bearings allow you to drill for longer and deeper by pushing the tricone drill bit to its full potential. There are four main kinds of bearings that allow the tricone to function. They different types of tricone drill bit bearings we go over are open roller bearings, air-cooled roller bearings, sealed roller bearings, and sealed journal bearings. This article should help shed some light on what tricone bearing to use for your drilling project.










The main difference that open roller bearings have from other tricone bearings is that they don’t have a seal. This open tricone design allows rock and mud particles to enter into the cone. Once the particles have entered and plugged up the tricone, the bit must be pulled up and cleaned. Open roller bearings are mainly used to dig shallow holes; they can be used for deeper holes but the tricone bit will need to be pulled up and cleaned approximately every hundred feet. The cost to manufacture the open roller bearing tricone drill bit is less than other tricone bits because of the simpler design.










When researching air-cooled roller bearings they can only be found on air circulation tricone drill bits. These drill bits employ high pressure air that travels down the air passages into the tricone bearing helping to lubricate, cool and remove pieces of particles from the tricone. The ability to self-clean, lubricate and cool the Tricone bit is a strong competitive advantage for the air-cooled roller bearings. This tricone drill bit gives your drilling project added efficiency because of it’s ability to dig further and faster than ordinary tricone drill bits.









When looking into sealed roller bearings you will notice that they have very similar characteristics as open roller bearings. However, the one main difference is that these tricone bearings are sealed with an o-ring. This seal helps extend the life of the tricone bit and its bearings because of the extra protection an o-ring provides. This tricone bit is equipped with a lubrication and compensator system which gives it the ability to control and stop grease from leaking into the bearing. This system makes it easier for the tricone drill bit to drill deeper into the formation without the need to be pulled up as frequently as other tricone drill bits. This helps improve the efficiency of your drilling project without added man-power.










Sealed journal tricone bearings help by reducing friction and supporting loads, making it durable and wear resistant. These tricone bearings were designed by using two races to hold balls and spread the load throughout them. As the bearing race spins, it causes the bearing balls to rotate and create less friction. A sealed journal tricone is a fully sealed system with a floating bushing. The benefit of a floating bushing is that it keeps particles free from the bearing allowing the cones in the tricone bit to spin. The floating bushing is usually made out of silver plated beryllium copper which acts as a self lubricant helping to reduce friction, and dissipate heat under heavy load conditions. The sealed journal tricone helps to improve drilling performance and will help your drilling project run smoothly.


Browse a selection of new and used tricone bits.



When learning about tricone drill bits it’s important to know what benefit they provide to different industries. In this article we highlight four of the most popular industries that are using for tricone drill bits. A tricone drill bit is one of the most versatile drill bits on the market today. It can be used to bore a hole into a natural gas deposit, drill towards crude oil deposits, provide usable ground water, and make holes for foundations. Tricone bits are able to break through many different types of rock formations, soft, medium and hard. These formations are broken down into some of the following.


-Soft Limestone
-Red Beds


-Hard Shale


-Hard Shale
-Cherry Limestone

Photo credit: SMU Central University Libraries / Foter









A tricone drill bit can also be used to extract deposits of crude oil which can be buried deep in hard rock formations. Another popular use for tricone drill bits is to dig holes for water wells, this is extremely important for many countries that suffer from droughts. The last industry we profile that uses tricone drill bits is the construction industry; they use old tricone bits to drill holes into concrete formations.


In the natural gas industry the use of a tricone drill bit is of extreme importance due to the versatility and efficiency that they provide for the drilling operation. When a tricone drill bit is used in combination with Oil-based drilling mud, this can increase lubricity which increases the efficiency of the drilling operation and helps to prevent the tricone drill bit from wearing out as fast.


When trying to extract crude oil out of varying rock formations there is no better substitute than a tricone drill bit. It’s versatile design helps it transfer from softer rock formations into harder rock formations without damaging the drill bit, which is crucial when you consider the amount of drilling that a large operation is expecting to accomplish every day.


The water well drilling industry uses a variety of drill bits including the tricone drill bit in order to effectively harvest ground water. A tricone drill bit is used when the ground water is buried deep below the surface in a variety of rock formations. The tricone bit is effective at digging through different types of formations; which helps improve efficiency for the drilling operation.


When a tricone drill bit is nearing the end of it’s working life it can be re-purposed for the construction industry. The re-tooled tricone drill bit is an inexpensive option for the construction industry when they need to drill through concrete foundations. The foundation holes the tricone drills are making are extremely shallow. This means that the bit can last much longer than it usually would dig for the oil & gas industry.


A tricone drill bit can provide benefits to many important heavy industries. In our article we highlighted four popular industries that the tricone drill bit is being used in. This information shows the all-around effectiveness of the tricone drill bit. A tricone drill bit can be used to dig a hole into a natural gas deposit, bore a hole into crude oil deposits, uncover new ground water, and make holes for foundations.


Browse a selection of new and used tricone bits.


4 Things You Should Know About Tricone Drill Bits

When researching tricone drill bits there are many factors to consider. In this article we highlight four different facts about tricone drill bits that will help you understand the importance of the different types of tricone drill bits. We go over the key differences between open bearing and sealed bearing tricone drill bits, the benefits of using open roller bearings for shallow drilling, when to use a PDC bit over a tricone bit, and the advantages of using a tungsten carbide insert.

Image courtesy of num_skyman at








Why You Should Consider Open Bearing Tricone Bits Over Sealed Bearing Tricone Bits

Mill Tooth Tricone Drill Bits and Sealed Bearing Tricone Drill Bits are widely used in the well-drilling industry when you have to go through softer rock formations such as limestone, shale and clay. A mill tooth drill bit is an open bearing tricone drill bit; which means it will wear out faster than a sealed bearing drill bit. On the other hand, a mill tooth drill bit is cheaper to manufacture than a sealed bearing drill bit since it doesn’t need the extra protection.

 Open Roller Bearings Save Money For Shallow Drilling

Tricone bearings that rotate without a seal are called open roller bearings. These tricone bits are usually cheaper to manufacture. The only flaw to this type of tricone bit design is that they need to be cleared of debris after every couple hundred feet of drilling, this can prove to be very time-consuming when drilling deep into the earth’s crust. Open roller bearing tricone drill bits are great for shallow drilling and because they are relatively cheaper to manufacture they are commonly used when digging a couple hundred feet below the surface.

When To Use Tricone Bits Over PDC Bits

A polycrystalline diamond compact bit or PDC bit can be used at higher speeds than a traditional tricone bit. It is more efficient to use the PDC bit when drilling through highly consolidated rock formations such as shale, limestone, and sandstone, but they are considered a specialty bit and can be broken easily when used for other rock formations. The tricone drill bit is still the best all-purpose drill bit and can be used for many different types of rock formations, but doesn’t discount the PDC bit when drilling through consolidated rock formations.

The Value Of Tungsten Carbide Inserts For Tricone Drill Bits

When considering a Tungsten Carbide Insert (TCI) for your Tricone Drill bit you must consider the various benefits a TCI can provide and if those benefits are needed for your drilling project. One benefit a TCI can provide is the ability to withstand heat which makes it a suitable option when drilling in harder rock formations. Another benefit a TCI gives is its resiliency; this comes in handy when drilling at high speeds making it a better option than a traditional tricone drill bit.

Final Thoughts

Learning more about tricone drill bits can be a challenge. We hope this article helped teach you four important facts about the different types of tricone drill bits and the various advantages they can provide to your drilling project. In our article we went over the advantages of using an open bearing or a sealed bearing drill bit, the benefit of open roller bearing for shallow drilling, the special circumstances when a PDC bit can be used over a tricone bit and the value using a tungsten carbide insert on your tricone drill bit can provide.


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Three Tricone Bearing Types: A Refresher

When it comes to tricone drill bits, there are three different bearing types to choose from: roller, sealed roller and sealed journal. Each of these is focused on below.

4.75linkRoller Tricone Bearing Bit

The first are called roller or open bearing types of  tricones bits. These types of tricone bearings are used for shallow water, oil or gas wells. These roller bearings let each of the three cones spin independently.

Sealed Roller Tricone Bearing Bits

The second tricone bit is a sealed roller bearing. It derives it name from a seal that protects each tricone drill bit to protect it from being damaged by the earth during the cutting process. Sealed roller bits also aid in oil-well drilling, and other well drilling exploration ventures.

Of course, through the wear and tear, the seal on these bearings will eventually wear away. When that happens, the tricone drill bit is still useable. It should function as a typical tricone roller bearing, and be used as such.

Sealed Journal Tricone Bearing Bits

The last of the three tricone bit bearing types are referred to as friction bearings or sealed journal bearings. Typically, these are used for oil drilling, as they are the toughest in the face of hard drilling climates and circumstances. These friction bearing tricone bits need drilling lubrication in order to cut through the tough terrain. They are the strongest and toughest tricone bearing bits, and are used to access the most difficult to reach resources.

Choosing the Right Option

When choosing the perfect bearing for a tricone drill bit well-drilling operation, each type serves a unique purpose in completing the process. While all tricone bits are extremely versatile and effective for precise drilling ventures, it is important to purchase the correct bearing based on need. Well drilling is a vital service in today’s global economy’s infrastructure, and correctly executing the process is crucial. By choosing the right tricone bearing bits, the drilling results can be astounding.

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Maximize Your Tricone Drill Purchase


Getting Started

The first steps of any tricone drilling project involve extensive research. When examining the potential drilling sites drilling area, begin by looking at nearby wells. These should be analyzed for their soil and rock formation content, their location, and other wells in that area.

Have the Right Tricone Drill Bit

Having the proper tricone drill bit is crucial! The tricone drill is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment that the drilling industry has ever seen. Its three cone design uses its weight on the bit to maximize its drilling performance. In drilling, high performance is crucial, and through the tricone’s innovative design and hard teeth, they unleash unprecedented precision and production.

Tricone drill bits can be used to drill through both soft rock formations and extremely hard rock formations. When drilling through soft rock formations, it is best to use a tricone bit with a moderate weight that rotates at a high speed. For hard rock formations, it is best to use a heavily weighted tricone bit with moderate rotary speeds.

Check the Tricone Bit Label

The best way accurately assess which tricone bit is best for the job is by checking the four digit tricone bit label. The labels are organized in a way where the first number addresses if the tricone teeth are suitable for soft, medium or hard rock formations (number one being soft, two: medium, three: hard). The next digit refers again to softness or hardness of rock but on a scale of one to four. The third digit is on a scale of one through seven, and aims to identify tricone bit based on its seal and bearing. The fourth digit is a letter symbolizing additional information about the bit. The four digit numeration code on tricone drill bits aim to make the purchasing easy and straightforward in order to maximize drilling efficiency and success.

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Tricone Drills: The Solution to Well Drilling

Whenever you’re readying for a drilling job — or any major task — having the proper tools to achieve your goal is the key to success.

Early drilling methods used hand steeling, which involved manually using chisel and hammer to break through rock formations, soil and other layers of the earth’s crust. Using this method, a miner was able to create a one inch hole and eight inches deep in about five minutes time. Eventually, hand steeling developed into a skilled trade, and was dependent on a miner’s ability to smash the chisel while turning it between hits to crush the rock formation directly underneath, and by its sides.

However, over time, the hand steeling method has been replaced by the much more effective tricone drill. The tricone drill bit uses two methods in tandem with its shape and weight. Tricone drills also use two processes — jetting and whipstock — to create straight, deep and efficient wells.

About Jetting

Jetting is a method in which drilling fluid is expelled from nozzles in the drill. The nozzle pockets, located at the bottom of the drill bit, cause the rock formations to erode — which means that the wells stay straight. When using the immense weight and pressure of a tricone drill, jetting helps wash away the lesser of harsh rock formations, and keeps the well on its charted path.

About Whipstock

The whipstock method changes the direction of the well. Whereas jetting helps stay on its path, the whipstock method changes the route, which is ideal if resources are more plentiful in a slightly different direction. Once back on track, the whipstock is removed, and the pathway can be properly resumed.

Advantage of Tricone Bits

By using tricone bits to do your drilling, many different variables can be turned to your advantage. For example, when there is an overabundance of mud, the teeth of the tricone uses pressure to penetrate deeply into the soil and crust. Plus, during exploration drilling, the tricone drill method is very adept at handling unexpected changes in pore pressure. The design allows it to cut through many different barriers thanks to its effective shape and user methods.

Avoiding Problems with Tricone Bits

In large scale tricone drill ventures, drillers may encounter various problems. However, when these mistakes or unexpected changes arise, the tricone drill provides a myriad of effective solutions. To begin with, the tricone drill bit allows you to control its trajectory. The tricone drill is regarded as the “all purpose” drill bit, as its shape and design lends itself to just about any rock formation it comes in into contact with. Additionally, since the tricone drill comes in versatile sizes, the width of the well is easily customized. Moreover, tricone drills are available with different teeth depending on the prospective drilling area. There is a tricone drill suitable to optimize well creation, and for any formation, regardless of the reason.

Multiple Options for Success

By design, the tricone drill can withstand extreme pressures, depths and geological barriers. Its unyielding precision allows for optimal well drilling. Made from the hardest and strongest materials on earth, the tricone drill bores its way through any obstacles nature may present.

By using a tricone to complete well-drilling, you have multiple options for success. Tricone drills are effective and versatile. They have replaced the hand mining technique, and are the best way to create wells in today’s landscape — either for producing water wells, or in extracting oil to be refined. These tricones continue to deliver solutions for whatever your drilling need.

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Choosing the Best Tricone Bits for Optimal Drilling Results

Tricones are used for numerous drilling jobs around the world, from making and forming water wells, to handling complex oil extraction operations. Depending on the project, different types of tricone bits are needed to complete the job. Regardless of the type of you need, be assured that there are tricones bits for sale that are suitable for the task at hand. The remainder of this article provides you with facts and advice to make the right choice.

Exploring the Different Types of Tricone Bits for Sale

Open Roller Bearings

Open roller bearings tricones are ideal for shallow drilling projects where occasional delays are tolerable to the overall project schedule and duration. All open roller bearing tricone bits for sale are designated with a 1, 2, or 3 as the third digit in their IADC code. 1 is for standard roller bearings, 2 is for air cooled bearings, and 3 is for open bearing with gauge protection.

Keep in mind, however, that open roller bearings have no seal, and as a result outside debris can potentially enter through the cone and interfere with the ability of the cones to rotate. What’s more, significant debris can jam tricones and force a halt in drilling while debris is removed. However, they remain popular due to their lower cost relative to other types.

Sealed Roller Bearing

Sealed roller bearing tricones are similar to open seal bearing tricones, but feature an O-ring that protects any debris from reaching the roller bearings via the cone. These tricones feature a grease or lubricant reservoir, which prevents any blockages caused by debris and keeps the bearings in motion. These factors make sealed roller bearing tricones an obvious choice for deeper drilling projects where time delays are unacceptable.

Keep in mind that, eventually, the O-ring will wear out. However, the tricones can still be used for some time as if they were open roller bearings. Sealed roller bearing tricone bits for sale are designated with a 4 or 5 as the third digit of their IADC code. 4 is for standard sealed roller bearings, and 5 is for a sealed roller bearing with gauge protection.

Journal Bearing

Journal bearing tricones bits for sale are suitable for robust projects, and can withstand a great deal of wear and tear. This is the most expensive option, and best suited to complex drilling projects. Journal bearings discard the roller bearings in favor of a “floating brush” seal, which is combined with lubricant to allow the roller-head to rotate without any exposure to outside debris.

Ideally, journal bearing tricone bits for sale can stand up to extremely prolonged and deep drilling sessions with minimal time spent on maintenance or tending to debris. Gauge protection is the norm with journal bearings, due to the types of projects these tricones are used on. After all, if a project requires the durability of journal bearing tricones, it stands to reason it will also require the durability offered by gage protection. Journal roller bearing tricones are designated with a 6 or 7 as the third digit of their IADC code. 6 is for a standard sealed journal bearing, and 7 is for a sealed journal bearing with gauge protection.

Suitable for Varied Rock Formations

As a final word of advice, keep in mind that, generally speaking, tricone bits are better suited for varied rock formations. The action of the individual rollers on a tricone bit serves to fracture the rock, making it significantly more flexible in terms of the range of formations that one bit can be used upon.

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How to Find Ideal Tricones for Sale

It can be difficult to know how to select the right tricones, especially if you don’t have a wealth of experience with drill wells. Frankly, the IADC code can be very confusing at first, and the terminology is hard to grasp. After all, what do the terms “rebuilt” or “rerun” mean when it comes to finding the right tricones for sale?

In the remainder of this article, we’ll simplify the landscape and explore how to choose the right tricones for sale. This will be very valuable if you’re a new tricone buyer, and need help communicating with sellers and manufacturers.

Start with the Scope of your Projects

The scope of your project is the single most important factor when determining what equipment you should buy. You can’t use the same tricone bits for simple drilling projects that you would with heavy duty jobs, such as deep well drilling. For these sorts of projects, you’ll need to evaluate potential tricones for sale based on particular factors. You can review the IADC codes to determine the criteria for making the right choice, such as the material, the bearing type and your budget.

Also, ensure that you choose a bit that is suitable for whatever rock formations you’ll encounter. If you’re unsure of the density or composition, ask an expert. Otherwise, you could run into extremely costly delays and equipment repairs.

The Best Suppliers of Tricones for Sale

Once you know what kind of bit you need for your specific project, your next step is to choose a high quality manufacturer. Generally, bits cannot be ordered online, so you will need to contact and communicate with a seller about what you need. Remember: investing in high quality bits will affect the total outcome of your entire project, and the overall financial consequences can be severe if you choose the wrong tricone bit. It’s wise to choose the best tricone for sale for your projects every time.

Fortunately, you don’t have to leave your office or home to find suitable manufacturers, because there is an abundance of information about high quality tricones for sale online. Just make sure that you speak directly with the seller and verify that they thoroughly understand your needs. They should help you make the right choice, and not try and aggressively sell you anything.

Used vs. New Tricones for Sale

Used tricones for sale – which are sometimes called “rerun” or “rebuilt” — can be a huge bargain. They’re typically more suitable for projects that are smaller in scale, are at shallower depths, and where cost overruns are less tolerable than delays. Most reputable drill bit services will have some rebuilt tricones on hand, but it’s always best to contact them directly and see what is available. A respectable bit supplier will ensure any rebuilt tricones still meet quality standards.

Getting Started

If you follow the above-noted advice, you should be well on your way to choosing the correct tricone bit for sale. If you’re still confused and find that you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask questions. There’s no such thing as a bad question, and you definitely want to get your facts straight before you start drilling – not after. Equipped with the right information, you’ll put yourself in a position to experience a successful drilling project. What’s more, you’ll be on your way to becoming an expert, yourself!

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Different Kinds of Tricone Bits for Sale

Regardless of whether you’re drilling a complex oil well or simple water well, it’s essential to have the right tools. Fortunately, tricones can be tailored to the drilling scenario, rock formation, or drilling speed that your project requires. What’s more, modern tricones are made with open or sealed roller bearings, and feature different drilling surface materials. With this being said, each have their advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to understand these in order to pick the correct tricone bits for sale. In this article, we’ll explore these issues.

Open Roller Bearing Tricones

Open roller bearings tricone bits for sale allow the bearings to rotate without a seal. This makes them less expensive to produce, and therefore, cheaper to buy relative to other options. These types of tricones are ideal though for shallow drilling, where you only have to clean the tricones once or twice – or maybe not at all depending on depth. Some open roller bearing tricones have the ability to blast air through them to help clear away debris. This makes the cleaning process much easier, but it can add to the cost of tricone bits for sale.

However, keep in mind that they may require more maintenance. This is because debris can enter through the open cone and potentially lock up the bearings, which can lead to costly delays. It’s not unusual for open roller bearing tricones require cleaning every few hundred yards, which, again is why they’re better for shallow drilling.

Sealed Roller Bearing Tricones

Sealed bearing tricone bits for sale are designed to protect the rotating bearings from debris to allow for longer drilling durations. They’re relatively more expensive, but on some projects, the trade-off is well worth it since less time needs to be spent on cleaning and maintenance — especially compared to open roller bearing tricones. The bearings are generally sealed with an O-ring, and provide more lubrication to ensure the bearings keep going longer. This makes sealed bearings an obvious choice for any substantial or deep well drilling project.

TCI Tricones

TCI (Tungsten Carbide Inserts) feature superior hardness and durability, making them some of the longest lasting tricone bits for sale on the market. Furthermore, these tricone bits for sale offer exceptional value due to the quality of the materials used, which makes them ideal for any long term drilling projects. As with all tricone bits, you can opt for sealed or open roller bearings to best suit your project.

PDC Bits – An Alternative to Tricones

A comparatively new innovation, PDC (Polycrystalline Diamond Compact) drill bits can be used at higher speeds to complete projects in short order. The industrial-grade synthetic diamonds have exceptional strength; however, they’re also more brittle, which can lead to drill bit damage in some rock formations. PDC drill bits are best suited to large scale and potentially very expensive drilling projects, where the superior hardness and drilling speed will have time to offset the initial costs.

How to Extend the Use of Your Tricones or PDC Bits

Occasionally while drilling, your bit may shift slightly off center and risk making contact with the borehole wall with significant force. This can result in increased instability, drilling at an undesired angle, or damage to the drill bit itself. Fortunately, gauge protection may be able to prevent these adverse consequences.

Gauge protection is an insert that prevents the cutting elements from coming into contact with the borehole walls. Essentially, it controls the first point of impact for the tricones (or other bit) in the event that the drill begins to go off center. This can increase the life span of your tricone bits for sale, which is always a welcome benefit no matter what kind you are using.

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Finding the Right Bit for Projects of Any Depth

Tricones-at-DepthTricones have historically been used for a wide range of drilling projects from simple water wells to complex oil extraction operations. We’ll look over a wide range of common well drilling projects and which of the readily available tricones for sale are likely to be used for each. As tricones and other drill bits have advanced over the past 100 years many projects formally considered impossible may be seriously considered. Hard rock formations that would have once been prohibitively expensive have become viable not just for industrial scale projects but even for small scale water well drilling. Regardless of the type of project or the overall scope, there are tricones for sale that are perfect for the task at hand. Generally, for this article we’re assuming the scope of the project is significant enough to warrant drilling as opposed to a driven well, or any other very small scale wells.

Tricones for Sale Today that are Suited for Water Well Drilling

Water well drilling generally occurs at shallower depths than any other kind of drilling, and for shallow projects you are most likely to be concerned about the cost of drill bits. When selecting among the various tricones for sale, shallow drilling operation can usually be completed with open roller bearing tricones, as the loss of durability is counteracted by the lower cost. Open roller bearing tricones can jam more frequently as well, but the smaller scope of the project means that jams are less time consuming to fix, and far less expensive as fewer workers will be sitting idle. Unless the formation is particularly hard you will likely be able to use steel tooth tricones without issue. Furthermore, consider buying one of the many used, refurbished, or “rerun” tricones for sale. For particularly shallow water wells, those less than 100 meters, purchasing a specific drill bit is likely not required as the bit will be included with the equipment rental. Exceptionally shallow projects will most likely use a very basic fixed cutter bit.

Oil Well Drilling at Shallow to Medium Depths

Shallow depths for oil wells can be well under 100 meters, but even going a kilometer or more underground is not an exceptional feat thanks to modern advances in drilling technologies and the kinds of tricones for sale. At the most shallow depths again open bearing tricones may be considered due to the cost savings offered. In soft or some medium formations you may be able to use steel toothed bits for further cost savings. However, such easily accessible shallow oil in soft formations is relatively uncommon in the modern world, so chances are the project will be looking at a depth of several hundred if not several thousand meters. At these depths sealed bearings tricones are a necessity, and you will almost always be using Tungsten Carbide Insert buttons simply for the superior durability and the less frequent drilling halts.

Exceptionally Deep Wells Require the Very Best Tricones for Sale Today

For truly record setting wells no expense can be spared when selecting among the very best that modern well drilling has to offer. Only the best tricones for sale will suffice. The average crude well drilled in 2008 ran 1.8 kilometers below the surface. True record settings like the Kola borehole can reach depths of over 12 kilometers underground, or 40,000 feet. For wells even approaching that depth journal bearing tricones made out of the best composite materials are a must. No expense can be spared on projects of that scope because of the extraordinary cost of any delays.

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The Deepest Wells in the World: How Advances in Drilling Technology Changed What We Thought Possible


It’s amazing to think that many of the deepest wells in the world were created without many of the advances we associated with the state of modern well drilling, or without the advanced composite tricones for sale today. Remarkably, many of these impressive projects were created over decades of sustained drilling, with numerous bore paths and diverging directions.

Between each of these impressive projects, significant improvements in the kinds of tricones for sale and drilling technology advancements dramatically changed what was possible. What initially took the Soviets 15 years took the modern Russians a little over a month.

This article will showcase some of these amazing drilling projects, and highlight how the modern tricones for sale today made it all possible.

The Kola “Superdeep” Borehole – 12,262 meters, more than 40,00 feet.


Courtesy of Wikipedia

Perhaps the most fascinating of all boreholes, the Kola Borehole was drilled by the Soviets just to see how deep into the Earth’s crust they could drill. A research endeavor rather than a commercial enterprise, the Kola Superdeep Borehole ran for 35 consecutive years! The tricones for sale in 1970 when drilling started had many of the same design principals we use now, but lacked the wealth of composite materials that have come to dominate the high-end drill bit market.

However, such delays never stopped the Soviets, and this project went full speed ahead for decades before budget cuts finally forced a closure. In 1983, 13 years after drilling started, the Kola Borehole hit 12,000 meters depth, clinching the world record for the deepest borehole. They took a year off to celebrate, but unfortunately for them, disaster struck when part of the drill broke off in the hole after they came back to resume, and future drilling had to be started over from 7,000 meters. Below 12,000 meters drilling is almost impossible, even with the advanced tricones for sale by high-end manufacturers today.

Al Shaheen Oil Field – 12, 190 meters

Courtesy of EcoMENA

Courtesy of EcoMENA

In 2008 the Kola depth record was challenged by the Al Shaheen Oil field. Using the best tricone bits for sale anywhere in the world along with some of the most experienced drillers, and the most advanced rigs, this project was remarkable for several reasons. Besides the record setting depth of 12,290 meters, it set another record for horizontal distance at the same time, stretching 10,900 meters. If that hasn’t convinced you of the power available with the kind of modern tricones for sale now, the project is also famous for reaching completion in a mere 36 days of drilling. This made the Al Shaheen the fastest drilling projects ever undertaken in terms of raw distance covered.

Sakhalin-1, the Z-44, and the Many Holes of Sakhalin – 12,376 meters

The Sakhalin oil fields never fail to impress when you consider just how often they have set and broken world records in drilling. Found in far Eastern Russian, The Sakhalin drilling project is remarkable for the sheer number of super-deep boreholes it required. A full 6 of the world’s 10 deepest boreholes are here, and over 50% of the top 30 deepest boreholes are found on this one oil field.

The first world record was set in 2006, making the Sakhalin boreholes some of the most dramatic examples of what modern drilling technology can accomplish, and just how good the tricones for sale today really are. Later drilling projects were able to build upon the progress of earlier drilling attempts, leading to the impressive feat of drilling to a record setting 12,289 meters with a 10,902 meter reach in only 38 days. This depth record would go on to be broken in 2011, and broken once more in 2012. To this day the Sakhalin field remains the foremost location for cutting edge drilling equipment, and the final destination for many of the world’s best tricones for sale.

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3 Essential Tips When Searching for Tricones for Sale

how-to-buy-triconesLet’s face it: if you don’t have plenty of prior experience drilling wells, it’s tough to know how to search for tricones. Not only is the IADC code confusing, but some of the terminology is hard to grasp. For example, you may be unsure if “rebuilt” or “rerun” tricones for sale is a bargain – or a mistake. What’s more, you might be unclear about what your project requires.

If you’re a little confused or even very frustrated, then this article is for you! That’s because you’ll quickly learn the 3 essential tips for buying tricones. This is especially valuable if you’re a first-time buyer and aren’t sure how to communicate with potential sellers.

Tip #1: Determine the Scope of Your Project

The scope of your project is the single most important factor when determining what equipment you need. For many simple drilling projects under 50 meters, you might not even need a rotary drill. For other projects, you may want to look at a PDC or Fixed Tooth bit.

However, for projects of sufficient depth, you’ll need to evaluate potential tricones for sale based on your scope. Start by checking out the IADC codes to get an idea of different criteria for making the right choice, such as the material, the bearing type and your budget.

Also, be very sure that you choose a bit that is suitable for the rock formations. Indeed, you must have a clear understanding of the rock formation you’re planning to drill before you start. If you’re unsure of the density or composition, consult with an expert.

Tip #2: Find a Suitable Manufacturer High Quality Tricones for Sale

Once you know what bit you need for your project, be sure that you find a high quality manufacturer. Generally, these bits cannot simply be ordered on eBay. Rather, you’ll need to communicate with a seller about what you need. Remember that high quality bits are an investment in the entire project. You don’t want to cut corners here, because the financial consequences can be severe.

Fortunately, you don’t have to leave your office or home to find worthy and suitable manufacturers. There are many high quality tricones for sale online. Just make sure that, at some point, you speak directly with the seller, and verify that he or she thoroughly understands your needs, and is able to help you make the right choice.

Tip #3: Used Tricones for Sale Could be a Smart Option

Used tricones for sale – which are sometimes called “rerun” or “rebuilt” — can be a great bargain, and more suitable for projects that are smaller in scale, are at shallower depths, and where cost overruns are less tolerable than delays.

Most reputable drill bit services will have some rebuilt tricones on hand, but it’s always best to contact them directly and see what is available. A respectable bit supplier will ensure any rebuilt tricones still meet quality standards.

Getting Started

Again, while you may be confused or overwhelmed with the challenge ahead, don’t worry: if you ask the right questions, are realistic about the scope of your project, and “do your homework,” then you’ll make the right choice and you’ll put your drilling project on track for success.

Get started now by clicking for a list of Used Tricones for sale.

IADC Classifications Examined

photo (71)IADC classifications are how tricone bits are sorted to allow drillers to easily identify what type of bit they will need, and what any bits they have are designed for. For a brief overview of the IADC codes you will find on tricones for sale, please click here. This article aims to tie the codes back to your well drilling project by outlining what kind of codes are best for what kind of projects. As each digit in an IADC code represents a different factor, we’ll be going digit by digit, or factor by factor, to help you identify the right bit from among all the different tricones for sale.

Tooth Type: First digit

The first digit in the code designates steel tooth or Tungsten Carbide Insert (TCI), and the type of formation the bit’s teeth are designed for. All tricones for sale can be divided into steel or TCI. TCI is superior for most uses and particularly excels in harder formations. Generally you would only go with steel tricones if the project is designed for a limited depth or a short duration, and wear of the bit is not a major concern. Steel bits are rated from 1 to 3, ranging from soft to hard formations. Tungsten Carbide Inserts are ideal for larger scale projects and harder formations. Due to the superior qualities of tungsten carbide it has a wider range than steel bits, as it can take on a far wider range of formations and projects. 4 through 8 all represent button bits with TCI, with 4 representing buttons designed for softer formations, ranging to 8 for very hard formations. TCI bits are some of the best tricones for sale currently.

Hardness of Formations: Second digit

The second digit of the code is fairly straightforward, and is used to rate tricones for sale in order of the overall formation hardness they are designed for. 1 represents soft formations such as sands, clays, limestones, and shale. 2 represents medium formations such as calcites, dolomites, tougher limestones, and hard shale. 3 and 4 represent hard formations which include hard shale, calcites, mudstones, cherty lime stones, and other difficult or varied hard formations. As you can see there is some overlap between the categories. Different minerals can have different properties within a family. Not all limestone is the same density, nor is all shale uniformly tough. It is important to be familiar with the exact formations you will be drilling in.

Bearing Type and Gauge Protection: Third digit

Gauge protection is an important consideration for any deep boreholes or extended drilling operations that require protection of the bit. Modern tricones for sale can be expensive, so gauge protection makes sense to extend their life and increase the efficiency of the overall drilling operation. All tricones for sale can be improved with gauge protection. That said some projects may be in favourable formations, or of limited scope where gauge protection is not required. The other factor indicated by the third digit is the type of bearing, 1 through 3 represent unsealed roller bearings, 4 and 5 represent sealed roller bearings, while 6 and 7 represent sealed journal bearings. 3, 5, and 7 represent gauge protection. Open roller bearing bits are the most vulnerable to damage from debris; this is significantly improved with sealed roller bearings, and almost eliminated completely with sealed journal bearings. Again this factor depends on the duration, depth, and overall scope of your project. The longer a project is the more sense superior bearings make.

Special Properties: Fourth digit

Lastly, modern tricones for sale can be tailored to many specific functions. These are too numerous to expand on individually, but chances are if you need a special feature for your Tricone, it will be indicated by a letter for the fourth digit. Please click here for more detailed description of the fourth digit.


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An Overview of Drilling Fluids

mud_in_tank (1)

The Function of Drilling Mud

Essentially all tricones for sale these days assume use of drilling mud for lubrication, but past that drilling mud has several other crucial purposes. Removing the cuttings from the well is the most important aspect quality. Like a stream can carry flotsam downstream, drilling mud carries cuttings and debris away from the tricone or other drill bits in use. Additionally drilling mud acts to maintain a controlled of pressure in a borehole. As tricone go deeper through formations the levels of pressure may increase, which requires increased mud density. This has the added effect of improving wellbore stability, allowing a borehole of consistent size and shape. Drilling mud also has the important task of suspending debris if the tricone comes to a stop or drilling has to be halted for any reason. Although most modern tricones for sale today rarely jam or need replacement when used correctly, you may still need to halt drilling several times over the course of an extensive project.

The Properties of Drilling Mud

The makeup of drilling mud can be altered to meet the various functions outlined above, as well as catering to the different drill bits or tricones for sale on the open market. The viscosity of the fluid can be tailored to match the size and density of cuttings expected. Related to this, the thixotropy of a drilling mud is crucial. On a technical level, thixotropy refers to a property of gel or fluid to become more or less viscous depending on the amount of energy being transferred to that fluid via sheer stress. Essentially, the kinds of tricones for sale today can rotate with enough force that sufficiently thixotropic mud becomes liquid and is able to flow and move more easily, when the force stops (when drilling is halted) the mud becomes more solid and is able to suspend cuttings and debris. Modern tricones for sale to drilling companies tend to employ some level of bearing protection which dramatically reduces the potential damage from debris in this situation, but any potential slowdown in a large scale project is a risk that ought to be avoided.

Finding the Best Drilling Mud for Your Project

As with many questions in well drilling, there is no easy. In fact, firms responsible for drilling employ mud engineers specifically because of the complexity of creating the perfect mud that balances viscosity, density, thixotropy, and pressure of the mud. Drilling mud can be expensive in its own right, and can have a large impact on the rate of drilling and therefore the overall cost of the project. Selecting the right mud available is almost as important as selecting the bit from among all the tricones for sale. Do not cut corners when it comes to drilling mud.


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Tricones: Sealed or Open Bearing, what does the job require?

tri-cone-bitThere are a wide range of different tricones available and it can be confusing to select the correct one for the task ahead. Tricones care available in a range of different makes and styles; each one is designed for a specific kind of rock formation and estimated drilling depth. This article will be focusing on the different bearing systems commonly used in tricones, with the aim of helping you make better decisions about which tricones you’ll need for any upcoming project. Tricones will generally have Open Roller Bearings, Sealed Roller Bearings, or Journal Bearings. You can distinguish the type of bearing based on the 3rd digit of their IADC classification number. The type of bearing determines how often bits will jam, how much lubrication is applied, and the speed at which you can reasonably drill.

Open Roller Bearings: Starting with the basics of tricones

To function properly, tricones require each one of the “cones” to be able to rotate freely using ball bearings and roller bearings. Open roller bearings means that the roller bearings have no seal and outside debris can potentially enter through the cone and interfere with the ability of the cones to rotate. Significant debris can jam tricones and force a halt in drilling while debris is removed. The main advantage to Open Roller Bearings Tricones is the lower cost. This makes them ideal for shallow drilling projects where occasional delays are not time consuming and do not have a significant impact on the total duration of the project. For any more serious project you should strongly consider a sealed or journal bearing. Open Roller Bearing tricones are designated with a 1, 2, or 3 as the third digit in their IADC code . 1 is for standard roller bearings, 2 is for air cooled bearings, and 3 is for open bearing with gauge protection.

Sealed Roller Bearings: Protecting your investment

Sealed Roller Bearing tricones are largely similar to the open seal bearing tricones, but feature an O’ ring that protects any debris from reaching the roller bearings via the cone. These tricones almost always feature a grease or lubricant reservoir that prevents any blockages caused by debris and keep the bearings in motion. These factors make Sealed Roller Bearing tricones an obvious choice for deeper drilling projects where the cost in time to stop and clear debris is unacceptable. Eventually the O’ ring will wear out, however the tricones can still be used for some time as if they were Open Roller Bearings. Sealed Roller bearing tricones are designated with a 4 or 5 as the third digit of their IADC code . 4 is for standard sealed roller bearings, and 5 is for a sealed roller bearing with gauge protection. standard sealed roller bearings, and 5 is for a sealed roller bearing with gauge protection.


Journal Bearing Tricones: Standing up to the most difficult drilling

Journal Bearing tricones are designed for truly important projects and can withstand vast amounts of wear and tear. The most expensive option, but best suited to serious drilling projects. Journal bearings discard the roller bearings in favour of a “floating brush” seal which is combined with lubricant to allow the roller-head to rotate without any exposure to outside debris. This means journal bearing tricones can stand up to extremely prolonged and deep drilling sessions with minimal time spent on maintenance or tending to debris. Gauge protection is the norm with Journal Bearings due to the types of projects these tricones are used on; if a project requires the durability of Journal Bearing Tricones, it stands to reason it will also require the durability offered by gage protection. Journal Roller Bearing Tricones are designated with a 6 or 7 as the third digit of their IADC code . 6 is for a standard sealed journal bearing, and 7 is for a sealed journal bearing with gauge protection.


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Tricone Bits or PDC Bits: Which does your project require?


The differences between Tricone Bits and PDC Fixed Cutter Bits

The most straightforward difference between Tricone bits and PDC bits is the moving parts used in tricones bits. Tricone bits consist of three “cones” which must all rotate on lubricated bearings. This lubrication in turn requires a grease reservoir and for any medium or large scale project some sort of bearing seal to prevent debris from entering the tricone and stopping rotation. Conversely, PDC fixed cutter bits are solid and consist of no moving parts. PDC bits are made by combining fine grained artificial diamonds and tungsten carbide under extremely high heat and pressure, as the metal cools the tungsten carbide shrinks more quickly, keeping the diamonds suspended in a matrix within the tungsten carbide. The specifics of this process are carefully guarded trade secrets.

Advantages of Tricone Bits

One of the largest advantages enjoyed by tricone bits is the length of time they have been around. This longer stretch of time has allowed the design and manufacture of tricone bits to advance significantly, incorporating advances in material technology such as Tungsten Carbide Inserts, or advances in engineering like sealed journal bearings. Tricone bits are also easier to control in tricky situations, providing more options in regards to torque and Weight On Bit. Tricone bits are also better for varied rock formations, especially for hard formations. The action of the individual rollers on a tricone bit serves to fracture the rock, making it significantly more flexible in terms of the range of formations one bit can be used on. One of the most important considerations on any drilling project is always cost, where all things being equal tricones tend to come out ahead. However, depending on the specifics of the drilling project there may be circumstances that let PDC bits pull ahead.


Advantages of PDC Fixed Cutter bits

The solidity and strength of PDC bits lends them many advantages that a tricone bit can’t match. Most significantly, PDC bits have a longer lifespan which means they don’t need to be replaced as often as tricone bits. That reason alone explains much of the shift towards PDC bits for large scale projects. Additionally PDC bits can achieve a higher Rate Of Penetration than tricone bits under optimal circumstances. These factors combined mean that in formations where the rock type is established and the correct PDC bit is selected you can drill faster and further with a single PDC bit, bringing the cost per foot down below that of a tricone. Even though tricone bits may be cheaper up front, in the right kind of project that can take full advantage of the features of a PDC bit, you will wind up saving money in the long run by going with PDC bits. Lastly as tricone bits consist of several different moving parts, it is possible to lose part of the tricone in the borehole, a danger that does not exist with PDC bits.


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Directional Drilling and the Evolution of Tri Cone and PDC Bits to Meet the Challenge

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The Directional Drilling Process

By definition, directional drilling involves any attempt to intentionally divert the path of the wellbore. This is almost always done to access otherwise difficult to reach deposits, such as under a lake or mountain. Using a tri cone or PDC bit the wellbore first goes straight down to a predefined depth. This functions as the so-called “kick off point” from which the path of the wellbore will divert. At this point the bit will usually be changed to a specially engineered tri cone that can run on an independent motor. The idea behind this is to have a bit that can rotate to drill under its own power, without any rotation required from the drill string. Thus, when the drill is pointed at the desired angle the force needed to progress through the rock formation comes from the rotation of the tri cone or PDC bit and the Weight On Bit provided by the drill string. In addition to the special motorized tri cone, directional drilling also requires special equipment to measure the progress while drilling. A professional directional driller is essential, and they will require exact knowledge about the progress of the drill bit when determining course.

Rotary Steerable System Drilling and Advances in Tri Cone and PDC Bits

A Rotary Steerable System (RSS) is the newest development in directional drilling. It allows for further steering of the bit while the drill sting is still rotating and providing force. This negates the need for a motor powering the drill bit itself, and reduces the potential areas of failure or mishap. Traditionally tri cone bits have been the go to choice for directional drilling because they are more easily steerable, although this capacity has recently expanded to PDC bits as well. Rotary Steerable Systems use detailed data on the position of the bit, collected while drilling, to send commands to the bit from the surface. Generally they will either send carefully controlled variations in the mud column, or variations in the drill string rotation, to send a message to the tool powering the tri cone or PDC bit. This process, while more complicated than conventional directional drilling, offers significant advantages. The rotation of the drill string helps the transport of cuttings or debris to the surface, resulting in less debris and smoother drilling. Additionally, as the steering can be carefully controlled from the surface it allows for more controlled wellbores with smoother surfaces and greater complexity. The tri cone or PDC bit required for RSS drilling are specifically created for that function and can be very expensive as a result. This is not the sort of drilling process undertaken lightly, and your choice of tri cone or PDC bit should only be made after careful consultation with the directional drilling team for your project.

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From tricone bits to diamond tips: the evolution of industrial drill bits in the 20th century

tri-cone-drill-bitThe pursuit of oil has driven innovation for hundreds of years, and was a major industrial challenge for the entirety of the 20th century. Countless innovations from rotary drills, to tricone bits, to offshore drilling have made oil exploration one of the most agile and persistent industries of the past 100 years. The 20th century saw a technological jump from methods that had been used for water well drilling for hundreds of years, to advanced specialization and bespoke parts like tricone bits and horizontal drilling in the span of a single generation. This article will outline the advancements in industrial drilling made over the last 100 years with the aim of highlighting crucial developments such as the tricone.


From Drake’s cable-tool to Hughes tricone bits: increased demand demands increased production

Up until the 1880s oil drilling was a slow and often labour intensive process. Tricone bits weren’t even a possibility at the time, as drilling used a “cable-tool” system, in which drill bits were carried high in the air by a cable, and then dropped into the well. Gravity provided the energy and the drill bit impact of the drill bit shatters the rock, a far cry from the sophisticated engineering of modern tricone bits. The downfall of this method was the immense amount of energy required to raise the drill to be dropped again, and the time required to manually clear the well of debris. This method in the 1880s with the introduction of rotary drilling, opening the door for future advancements in tricone drill bits and drill strings. Once the rotary drill bit was invented the door was open for new bits designs, such as the tricone, to take advantage of the spin provided by the rotation for more efficient drilling. Additionally it would eventually lead to more efficient ways to pump debris from the bore hole, eventually leading to advanced tricone bits with compressed air and lubricants supplied directly to the drill bit down the length of the drill string. The earliest tricone bits were developed by the Hughes Tool company in 1933, giving them a virtual lock on the market until the patent on tricone bits ended in the 1950s. The design of tricone bits allows the rotary force of the drill to propel three interlocked drill “buttons” (imagine three smaller drill bits working together to make up one tricone), providing both an increased drilling surface and a better rate of drilling.

Tricones get advanced: how material sciences allowed the ubiquitous tricone bits to become even more effective

The discovery of methods to produce both tungsten carbide inserts (TCI) for tricone bits, and cheap industrial diamonds for fixed cutter bits, opened up a range of new drilling options. These new tricone bits could drill much more quickly, last much longer, and more reliably drill through heavy rock formations. Tungsten Carbide Inserts replace the surfaces on the buttons with a far harder and more durable material, meaning the tricone bits need to be replaced less frequently and fewer interruptions in drilling are required. In addition to advances on the tricone bits themselves, material advances also allowed the drill strings to perform more complex tasks. Such as carrying down lubricants or compressed air that can blast debris away through special channels in the tricone bit and help carry it back to the surface.

Progress marches on: the future of tricones and drill bits

It’s unlikely tricones will ever cease seeing heavy use in industrial well drilling, however the rise of polycrystalline diamond compound fixed tooth bits mean there are more options than ever when going under the ground. Who knows what material the tricone bits of the future will be made from?


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Buying the right drill bits: from tricones to fixed tooth, getting the right bit for the job matters

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If you’re a tricone drill bit user, you probably know a little bit about the history and development of tricones as well as the strengths and weaknesses of various types of drilling and drill bits. This articl

e aims to combine that knowledge for a pragmatic assessment of what bits you should use and what methods might be best for various kinds of projects. We’ll be skipping over truly large scale operations as those have so many possible variables that offering generalized advice is rarely possible. Do you need tricones of fixed tooth bits? Is a rotary drill with tricones called for, or can a direct push or cable-tool drill enough for your needs? Hopefully you’ll soon know the answer to those questions.

Inexpensive drilling for small scale wells or making the most of inexpensive labour

The price of labour may seem far removed from tricones and drilling rigs, but it’s a crucial factor to consider. Slower methods of drilling, notably cable-tool drilling, are far less expensive than rotary drilling options, but also far slower. In North America the wages for skilled drill hands tend to be fairly high, making a slow drilling method impractical regardless of how cheap it is, driving companies to use rotary drills and tricones. However, in developing economies with depressed wages the rotary drills and tricones become large expenses and cable-tool drilling becomes practical once again. It may take longer than using tricones, but overall project costs can be significantly lower. Small scale wells (a couple hundred meters or less) can also be tackled through use of cable-tool drilling as opposed to rotary drilling with tricones. The labour costs may be higher but the comparatively small scale means you’ll still come out ahead compared to buying expensive drilling rigs and tricones.

Drilling in soft or medium rock formations: tricones get their time to shine

For soft or medium rock formations tricones are ideal. The scope of the project will most likely justify any costs associated with rotary drilling. Sealed bearing tricones are usually the best bet as they will last much longer and require fewer halts in the drilling process. Tricones for soft formations generally have the largest teeth, with shorter and more blunted teeth used for medium formations. Tungsten Carbide Inserts (or TCI tricones) provide greater strength and superior heat absorption, again increasing the effectiveness of the tricones. In addition to all that, TCI inserts for the buttons allow for higher drilling speeds, resulting in faster projects and lower costs.

Hard formations: TCI tricones highly recommended

Hard rock formations including shale, granite, and limestone can pose a significant level of difficulty for any project. The extra strength and other beneficial properties of TCI highlighted above really come to shine here. Sealed bearing tricones are recommended as well simply to reduce the amount of delays. Drilling in hard rock is always much slower going, so any advantage you can gain is often well worth the reduced labour costs when averaged out. Expect to use tricones with less protruding and smaller teeth. Additionally support vehicles will likely be needed for compressed air and the drilling mud that will be piped down to the tricones. This is a complicated process and should not be undertaken lightly.

The most important advice of all: consult a professional if you’re not sure!

Reading about tricones is no substitute for hands on experience. All of the advice above is strictly guidelines designed to give you a broad overview of factors to consider when planning a project. Tricones are amazing inventions, but they don’t work magic on their own. If you find yourself out of your depth, don’t hesitate to bring in professional assistance before you put those tricones underground.


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Tri cone Drill Bits & Advances in Material Sciences: What will the tri cone bits of the future be like?

KBS ImageWell drilling technology is a constantly advancing and emergent field. Increasingly new territories are become viable as scientific advancements in several fields allow drilling deeper, at extreme angles, and under immense amounts of pressure in almost any environment on land or water. Some of the most interesting developments have come in the area of Materials Science; the rice of Tungsten Carbide Inserts (TCI) and Polycrystalline Diamond Compact (PDC) have resulted in significant improvements to modern drill bits, but tri cone and fixed cutter. This article aims to cover both materials in some depth and explain why they’re so commonly used for tri cone and fixed cutter bits.

Tungsten Carbide Inserts: a hard Tungsten Carbide shell with a harder steel center

Tungsten Carbide is the most commonly used material in the Cemented Carbide family, which is a type of “metal matrix composites”. While that sounds fancy, it’s essentially a mixture of tough carbide particles suspended in another material, in this case tungsten. The tungsten has a comparatively low melting point, allowing it to turn liquid while tiny carbide particles stay solid and float around in the liquid metal. When it becomes a solid again there is a matrix of carbide particles which form a composite of the two materials. Coating the button bits of the tri cone in this material dramatically increases the lifespan of the bit. The Tri cones themselves are not made out of Tungsten Carbide, as large volumes of the material are actually rather brittle. Where it gains the most strength is coating a very sturdy and resilient metal, providing the surface with exceptional hardness and resilience, as well as keeping any cutting surfaces on the tri cone sharper longer. In addition to durability, tungsten carbide offers greatly improved resistance to heat which allows tri cone bits with TCI to drill faster without suffering heat damage from the friction. For all these reasons tungsten carbide button tri cone bits are the most used in the world.

Polycrystalline Diamond Compact: perfect for mining tools, not so much for engagements

Among the hardest of all commonly used tool materials, Polycrystalline Diamond Compact (PDC) is not suitable for tri cone bits, but has come to be one of the most popular materials for drilling in sandstone, hale, and limestone. PDC builds on the earlier discovery of Tungsten carbide, and often functions as almost an additional layer of particles within an existing matrix. First, industrial grade diamonds are sorted by grain size, with “nanocrystalline” diamonds measured in nanometers, and “microcrystalline” diamonds measured in micrometers. These particles are then bonded to a metal matrix to create a super hard material about 0.5mm thick. This can coat the drilling surface of a fixed cutter bit. These bits can then be operated at very high speeds in highly consolidated rock formations.

Materials of the future: what will we be making tri cone bits with a decade from now?

We may not be fortune tellers, but perhaps the most interesting material currently on the market is Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC). A somewhat experimental material that currently exists in 7 distinct forms, it recreates all the material properties present in diamond by using hybridized carbon atoms. This essentially allows materials to be bonded on an atomic level. The most astounding form of this material is known as “tetrahedral amorphous carbon” and research suggests it could make a stainless steel tool so resistant to wear that the lifespan would increase 4000%. If this material can be properly adapted for mining drill bits a tri cone that traditionally lasted a week would last eighty-five years!


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The Basics of Oil Well Drilling: From testing for oil to tricone drill bits


The world consumes more than 90 million barrels of oil every day , says the CIA World Factbook, and odds are no matter where you live, you’re dependent on systems that burn oil for energy, heating, transportation, or some other mundane facet of daily life. Everyone knows oil is drilled out of the ground—some even know about extraction details like tricone bits—but how does the whole drilling process actually work? This article aims to outline the basic steps that go into drilling for oil, everything from preparing a site to choosing materials for tricone drill bits.

Selecting A Well Site: Luck be a lady… and science be a lady too!

Before you can start polishing the tricone bits and getting ready to drill, you need to locate a site and prepare it for drilling. Geologists are in charge of finding a site, using tools like a Thumper Truck, a large truck that slams the ground with heavy weights, causing shock waves that can be measured. And of course a geologist’s best friend, explosives. Detonated after using a tricone bit to drill a set distance into the ground, the shock waves are again measured.

Preparation: All about selecting the right tricone drill bit for the job

After any legal issues surrounding rights to drill on the land are sorted out, the area is prepared for drilling by clearing away and leveling the surrounding land. Water is essential to the drilling process, so depending on the terrain, a tricone or fixed cutter bit is used to drill a water well. After that, the crew must dig several holes for the rig, including a large “cellar” where they can work around the actual drilling location. This space can be used for fitting drill bits, working with the drill string, or any gauge protection needed for the drill bits. The exact type of bit depends on the rock formations at the site. Soft rock formations call for mill-tooth tricone bits. Medium rock formations can be drilled with a mill-toothed tricone bit as well, but on many occasions it’s better to go with a TCI tricone bit (Tugsten Carbide Insert). Lastly hard rock formations certainly call for a TCI tricone drill bit. Tricone bits can be used with either sealed or open bearings depending on the intended depth.

Drill baby drill!

Once the site has been found and prepared and all the equipment is ready to go it’s time to start drilling. The tricone drill bit, the collar and the pipe are placed in the hole, and drilling begins. When the tricone bit hits a preset depth, it is taken out and a hole casing is cemented into place to protect the structural integrity of the hole. Once the cement has hardened, the tricone bit is inserted to the prior depth once again, and drilling resumes. This process of removing the tricone bit, extending the casing may need to be repeated several times. Once the desired depth is reached the tricone bit’s job is done and it’s time to test for oil in the well. Usually a small carefully controlled explosive is lowered and the well casing is intentionally breached at the target depth to allow oil to fill the well. A small tube is lowered down to test if oil had been found—if oil is found the crew will set up extraction, if not the tricone bit comes out again and drilling resumes. Tricone bits can drill at extraordinary speeds compared to conventional drill bits so it’s always critical to ensure safety when drilling with tricone bits. From the tip of the tricone to the top of the well everything is inspected for safety. And that’s how oil is extracted to be used in everything from cars to plastics to residential heating! Learn anything that surprised you? We sure did.

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The Wide World of Drilling Rigs: From tiny tricones to massive drill pipes


tri-cone-bitsThe wide variety of minerals, fuels, and rare resources found under the ground has long inspired humans to come up with new and ingenious ways to explore below the Earth’s surface. Just as different drill bits such as tricones are used depending according to the extraction requirements, different kinds of drilling rigs are used depending on the job at hand as well. Although there have been impressive drilling achievements in the days before combustion engines or tricones (the ancient Chinese could drill almost 5000 feet with bamboo drills and hard labor), we’ll be focusing on contemporary methods of drilling here.

How Various Rigs Power the Tricone Drill Bit

Every rig obviously requires power; tricones don’t drill on their own and oxen keep trying to unionize. Drill rigs are often classified by the type of power used to run the drill and keep the tricones spinning.

Mechanical Drilling: Good old fashioned mechanical drilling uses its own engines (generally diesel) to create power to send to the tricones or other bits in a way similar to many large trucks. It will generate torque, and use clutches and transmissions to control the amount of power being sent to the drill and the speed of the tricones or other drill bits.

Electric Drilling: This method uses electric motors to power major items of machinery on the rig, such as tricones or other drill bits. Electric motors have advantages in that they don’t need clutch or transmissions systems, making it easier to deliver a specific RPM (rotations per minute) to the tricones. Power still must still be generated somehow, and in the vast majority of cases this will be with internal combustion engine generators

Hydraulic Drilling: Hydraulic rotary drilling is the natural home of tricones and oil drilling. Hydraulic drills allow for much more complicated or intricate drill bits, like tricones, to reach greater depths. This is due to the ability to use liquids to clean, lubricate and cool the tricones or other drill bits. Using hollow drill pipes allows special “drilling muds” to be blasted down the length of the hole all the way to the tricones at the tip of the drill pipe. This also allows for debris to be blasted away from the tricones and back towards the surface, keeping the bore hole clear. The combination of ingenious inventions from barite infused drilling muds, to TCI (tungsten carbide inserts) for the tricones, to hollow drill pipes allow this to be one of the most efficient drilling methods around; it is regularly used to go thousands of meters below the Earth’s surface.

Pneumatic Drilling: This is the air-based cousin of Hydraulic drilling. Pneumatic drills use air to create a zone of differential pressure which draws debris away from the tricones or drill bits and up a long hollow tube inside the drill pipe. Water or available drilling mud is still used to clean the tricones and prevent wear. Air compressors are usually part of the rig itself, but additional compressors can be hooked up from support vehicles if required.


What’s Next for Drill Rigs and Tricone Technology?

Modern rigs are a curious mix between technologies that have existed for over a hundred years (tricones and drill pipes) and new innovations that make those technologies work better (lubricating drilling mud for the tricones, or air vortexes for the drill pipes). The old steam rigs are what allowed new technologies like tricones to be developed at all, but now steam rigs are bygone relics of a more dangerous time.

The growing industrial diamond industry is leading to new drill bits and new innovations for existing tricones, and it’s only a matter of time until the rig technologies themselves evolve to take advantage of the newest drill bits being developed. Can’t wait to see what they come up with next? Neither can we.


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A History of Canadian Oil Exploration: From tri-cornered hats to tri cone drill bits


tri-cone-bitsCanada’s history has more ties to the oil industry than many Canadians realize. Oil was first discovered in Canada far before modern drilling practices like tri cone bits or gauge protection, even before confederation or the constitution act of 1791 that created “Upper and Lower Canada.” A Cree Indian named “Wa-Pa-Sun” brought the first sample to a representative of the Hundson’s Bay Company in 1719. Further reports of oil from the Athabasca region came in from explorers in the 1770s–the Chipewyan Indians had been using this surface oil to caulk canoes for an untold number of years. The remoteness of this area prevented much commercial interest for more than a century. The Oil Fields of Alberta would not be drilled for almost another 100 years, where Canadian drilling embraced technologies such as using fixed rods for the well “string” and eventually tri cone drill bits to exploit this remote resource.

A race for North America’s first oil well

Long before tri cone bits and other technological innovations opened up Alberta’s oil reserves, the first oil well in North America was established near Sarnia, Ontario, in 1856. The discovery of this well was certainly amateur—not only did they lack modern tools like tri cone drill bits, they lacked drills all together! The well was dug (not drilled) by hand down the hill from a Kerosene plant. At the depth of a mere 15 and a half meters oil was struck and Canada’s first commercial oil reserve was under development by an American: James Miller Williams. The wild and unregulated nature of oil discovery and exploitation in North America during these early days leaves us with some confusion surrounding if this was the first or second well in North America. Either way, oil drilling in those pre-tri cone days was a comparatively simple matter, and Williams quickly expanded his business until he incorporated as the Canadian Oil Company—the world’s first integrated oil company – handling oil production, refining, and sale of refined products.

Alberta’s oil reserves: technology catches up to exploration

Innovations in oil extraction such as tri cone drill bits, improved pole-tool drilling, and better rail access to take the oil to market lead to an explosion in Alberta’s oil exploration. Turner Valley had oil and natural gas discovered in 1914 and oil fever swept Calgary. Reports indicate that in one day over 500 “oil companies” were registered on the newly incorporated Calgary Stock Exchange. The new tri cone drill bits (discovered in 1909) were hard at work; however many thought the rush of 1914 was unfounded as more wells in Turner Valley continued to run dry. That all changed when the Royalite Oil company discovered a massive reserve in 1924. They encountered a massive blow out as countless cubic meters of oil came out of the well over 21 days, destroying the drilling rig right down to the tri cone bit along with almost a kilometer of drill casing, and igniting a fire that blazed for weeks. However, thanks to the drilling prowess of the newly discovered tri cone bit, several more years of oil exploration paid off for Royalite when they discovered the largest oil reserves in the British Commonwealth in 1936. This created a wave of oil exploration across Alberta, made possible by the tri cone bits. It took 133 dry wells before the tri cone bits struck black gold again 50 kilometers south of Edmonton. The tri cone bits drilled through the bitterly cold winter of ’46 and ’47 before striking oil and uncovering Alberta’s largest oil field. The field is under development that continues to this very day.


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The development and history of tri-cone drill bits


The history of tri-cone drill bit development stretches back over 100 years. It may seem strange to think that such a precision piece of equipment from the present has roots dating back to 1908, but the road to the level of innovation in modern tri-cone bits is a long one.

Howard Hughes and the beginning of a business empire

Before there was the tri-cone drill with its 3 interlocking rollers Howard R. Hughes Sr. invented a dual-cone rotary drill which revolutionized the oil drilling rigs of the time. When he founded the Hughes Tool Company in 1908 (then the Sharp-Hughes tool company until 1912) he had a patent for the first roller cutter drill bit ever made and had founded of one of America’s most notable corporate dynasties. When he died in 1924, 9 years before the tri-cone drill bit would be invented, ownership of the company passed to his famous son, Howard Hughes Jr. who had himself declared legally an adult so he could fend off relatives squabbling over his father’s will and take full control of the company that would soon create the tri-cone drill bit.

The young Mr. Hughes and his tri-cone powered stranglehold on the drilling industry take off!

In addition to a high-flying life of Hollywood glamor, gorgeous actresses, death defying aviation, and producing the original 1932 film “Scarface” (50 years before Al Pacino made it famous in the better known remake) Howard Hughes Jr. was also a business magnet who saw the tri-cone drill bit invented by a Hughes Tool Company researcher, and reinvented the oil drilling industry a second time. Five years before the invention of this tri-cone bit, Cemented Carbide, an early Tungsten Carbide alloy was developed and brought over to America. Although not always combined at first, the Hughes company tri-cone patent along with the new synthetic metals allowed the Hughes Tool Company to become the only way for Western drilling companies to use tri-cone drill bits. The speed and competitive advantage of these early tri-cone drill bits was massive compared to the technology previously available, and every serious drilling company had no choice but to use Hughes brand tri-cone bits… or move to Russia for Soviet knock-offs.

The patent expires and tri-cone drill bit race is on

In 1951 the Hughes company patent on the tri-cone drill bit ran out, and competitors around the world began to start manufacturing drill bits with the superior tri-cone design. Although the Hughes company initially maintained a huge market share thanks to the initial tri-cone patent, the number of competitors reduced this dramatically over time. As of 2000 they no longer had tri-cone market dominance, and as of 2011 the company was acquired by a conglomerate.

Contemporary tri-cone drill bits

Luckily, Tri-Cone drill bit innovations didn’t stop with the expiry of the Hughes patent. Additional improvements in manufacturing allowed TCI (Tungsten Carbide Insert) drill bits to become much more commonly used. Tungsten carbide inserts allow the tri-cone drill bits to have remarkable hardness, endurance, and strength, while making the shaft out of more conventional alloys means the drilling rig does not have to worry about the material’s brittleness under extreme pressures. Tri-cone bits have also seen significant innovation the design of the drill bits themselves: Open roller bearings are the conventional standard, but sealed roller bearings improve the life span of the tri-cone bit dramatically. Sealed roller bears can also incorporate journal bearings for excellent durability and resistance to wear and tear. Innovation is a constant process and further refinement continues to improve tri-cone drilling capacity around the world.

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What are tricone drill bits used for?


Tricone bits, first created during the Great Depression, represented a significant leap forward in drilling technology. Tricone drill bits are the go-to solution for almost any well digging, from everything to simple water wells to industrial scale oil extraction. Tricone bits come in several different varieties, and can deal with a wide range of different rock formations. Most tricone bits are either Mill Tooth bits, or TCI bits (TCI stands for Tugnsten Carbide Insert), and there is an ideal tricone bit for soft, medium, or hard rock formations. It is important to know the type of formation you are drilling in when selecting a drill bit.

Tricone drill bits for soft rock formations

Soft rock formations consist mainly of sand, clay, limestone or shale and are ideal for drilling with Mill Tooth Tricone bits. When working with soft formations you can use either sealed bearing or open bearing mill tooth tricone bits, depending on the scope and duration of your project. Sealed bearing tricone bits are longer lasting, but generally more expensive due to the precision work required to protect the bearings. Open bearing bits, on the other hand, are not as well protected and will wear out more quickly, however they are cheaper to manufacture. Tricone bits designed for soft rock generally have longer protruding teeth, “A” shaped teeth, or chisel shaped buttons. In all cases the teeth will be more widely spaced for tricone bits that are designed with soft formations in mind.

Tricone bits for medium rock formations

If you’re drilling in calcites, dolomites, hard limestones, and some hard shale you’ll need a tricone bit designed for medium rock formations. You may want a TCI Tricone bit. To better understand why tungsten carbide is ideal it’s useful to know about its properties. First discovered in 1927, Tungsten carbide is an exceptionally strong and hard material, this allows it to withstand higher speeds for more rapid drilling. Additionally tricone TCI bits are much more capable at absorbing the significant amounts of heat generated without damaging the tricone drill bit. Medium formation bits have teeth that are far closer together than what you see with soft formation drill bits. Additionally the teeth are less protruding, although they may still come in a similar range of shapes.

Tricone bits for hard rock formations

Hard rock formations are hard and abrasive formations usually made up of hard shale, calcites, mudstones, chert, pyrite, granite, quartzite, and cherty lime stones. The difficulties of drilling in this material make a TCI tricone bit all but mandatory. The exceptional hardness and strength of TCI “buttons” for the drill bits allow them to endure very difficult drilling conditions. As with all tricone bits there is an option between sealed bearing and open bearing. Sealed bearing bits are considerably more protected from wear and tear and therefore suitable for much more use before being replaced. Gauge protection can also significantly increase the lifespan of a tricone drill bit. Bits designed for hard formations continue the trend of less protruding teeth placed closer together. The teeth will be very short and placed very closely together. This results in a much slower drilling speed than you would get with medium or soft formation drill bits, however if you are drilling through hard rock strata you don’t have much choice.

Tricone bits are ideal for soft, medium, and hard formations.

Hopefully the above information has given you an idea of which tricone bit is ideal for the various rock formations you may have to contend with. For particularly advanced or ambitious projects you will want to carefully consider the type of tooth, additional kinds of seals, the importance of gauge protection, and estimated duration of the project in addition to the rock formation.

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The strengths and weaknesses of different tricones


It’s always important to have the right tool for the job at hand. Luckily, tricones can be tailored to the drilling scenario, rock formation, or drilling speed that your project requires. Modern tricones are made with either open or sealed roller bearings, and there are different materials for the drilling surfaces of the tricones. All types of tricones have their own advantages and disadvantages, so picking the correct tricones for your project is critical.

Open roller bearing tricones for shallow drilling and cost savings

Open roller bearings, as the name suggests, are tricones that allow the bearings to rotate without a seal. This makes them cheaper to produce and results in less expensive tricones for the consumer, but may require more maintenance. Debris can enter through the open cone and potentially lock up the bearings. This means you will have to clean the tricones every several hundred yards. This makes them ideal for shallow drilling where you only have to clean the tricones once or twice, or maybe not at all depending on depth. Some Open roller bearing tricones have the ability to blast air through them to help clear away debris. This makes the cleaning process much easier, but can add to the cost of the tricones.

Sealed roller bearing tricones for more efficient drilling

Sealed bearing tricones are designed to protect the rotating bearings from debris to allow for longer drilling durations. Although they are more expensive this cost is offset by the comparative lack of time that needs to be spend on cleaning and maintenance, especially compared to open roller bearing tricones. The bearings are generally sealed with an O-ring and have additional lubrication to ensure the bearings keep going longer. This makes sealed bearings an obvious choice for any substantial or deep well drilling.

TCI Tricones for drilling in hard formations or for exceptional durability

TCI (Tungsten Carbide Inserts ) allows for superior hardness and durability, making these some of the longest lasting drill bits on the market. These tricones have exceptional value due to the quality of the materials used, making them ideal for any long term drilling projects. As with all tricone bits you can opt for sealed or open roller bearings to best suit your project.

PDC bits – An alternative to tricones for large scale projects

A comparatively new innovation, PDC (Polycrystalline Diamond Compact) drill bits can be used at higher speeds to complete projects in short order. The industrial grade synthetic diamonds have exceptional strength; however, they also have greater brittleness, which can lead to drill bit damage in some rock formations. PDC bits are best suited to large scale and potentially very expensive drilling projects where the superior hardness and drilling speed will have time to offset the initial costs. While they may not be superior to tricones for every project, they provide great efficiency gains for the right projects.

Gauge protection to further extend the life of your tricones or PDC bits

Occasionally when drilling the bit may shift slightly off center and risk contacting the borehole wall with significant force. This can cause increased instability, drilling at an undesired angle, or damage to the drill bit itself. Gauge Protection refers to an insert that prevents the cutting elements from coming into contact with the borehole walls. It essentially a controlled first point of impact for the tricones or other bit in the event the drill begins to go off center. This increase the life span of your drill bits no matter what kind you are using, tricones or otherwise.

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