Drill String Theory

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 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

In 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

Drilling 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 Tricone Geothermal Energy – The Heat is On

If 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.

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

Geothermal 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.

You Name it, the Tricone Tackles it

Tricones 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

January 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.


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?

Tricone 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.

A 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.

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.


Browse a selection of new and used tricone bits.


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.

Roller 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.

Browse a selection of new and used tricone bits.