It wasn't really how fast you could get the job done, it was how long you could live before blowing yourself to hell and back.


To exhibit the evolution of torpedo shooing over the years in the early oilfield we've found a photograph of yet another bunch of hands "pouring soup" into a torpedo, right. Part of the cable tools' bottom hole assembly is being used as a stanchion to tie a pully to that will lower the torpedo to desired depth. It is now being loaded with very unstable liquid nitro glycerin.


A very similar photograph is described here on OSB, including some criticism of why there were so many hands standing around that procedure, gawking. Same here; these guys are nuts.


If I absolutely had to have been there during this operation I would have screamed to the fella doing the pouring... forget the damn photograph, watch what the fuck your doing there, worm!!!


In liquid form this nitro glycerin stuff was very dangerous to be around and about one out of ten shooting jobs ended up in disaster in transporting of materials and/or dumb stuff during the loading process. Smart torpedo shooters lived past their late 30's; most didn't.

The photo on the left is dated 1913-1915 and shows another means of lowering torpedo's in the hole other than a power driven winch. This might be a free spooling devise that could be attached to the bull wheel on a cable tool rig. It has a brake handle on it and then, once the g0-devil, drop ring is let lose to slid down the cable, or rope, what's left of the line could simply be re-spooled by hand, or by engaging a clutch on the steam driven gear transfer.


The intense looking man with the hand on the brake is carefully, CAREFULLY, lowering the torpedo without jabbing it into a bridge, mud ball or wad of paraffin. He's dialed in, the other two hands don't need to be there.


As time went on manufacturers of nitro glycerin were able to gel the product into a slightly more stable form that produced fewer widows and fatherless children in America's early oilfields.


Using cotton and wood pulp to solidify nitro glycerin into "torpedo gelatin" became common and was much easier and safer to handle. If you slammed into something screaming downhole you were slightly, but not entirely, less susceptible to being blown to Kingdom Come.






Gelatin was a precursor to dynamite sticks. and eventually got even more solid and safer to handle. On the left are boxed, fairly large diameter tubes of caked glycerin like the stuff seen in the terrific video below.


Nitro glycerin jelly and cake made Myron Kinley's life a little easier; it was safer and more stable to used in blowing out large oil well fires.







Once the more stable jelly was used in well shooting, torpedoes were set off with "time bombs," so to speak, not dynamite caps and go-devils that slid down the rope, or cable, to the top of the torpedo. Detonators set by a clock were some safer, as shown in the photo below where the famous torpedo shooter, Tex Thornton, spare timer in hand, is well clear of the well when the down hole charge was set off.

Shot in the mid to late 1940's in West Texas this is a little film of the famous, Rock Glycerin Company doing what they do best...without getting blown up. This was treasure of a find for anybody interested in the oil field and I am personally pleased to share it.


My next post mid week will evidence why it was actually important to keep onlookers and gawkers as far away from all this stuff as possible.