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Drilling Rig Repair

Nothing special about this... just a very fun little project.

The California Oil Museum is housed in an 1890 Victorian-Queen Anne office building in downtown Santa Paula, CA. The building once served as the headquarters for Union Oil; now it features several exhibits explaining what oil is and how it is extracted.

One of these exhibits is a working model of a rotary drilling rig. It had stopped working and we were called in to troubleshoot...


  • When the 'Start' button for the exhibit is pressed, nothing happens.


  • Read available documentation to figure out what the heck the thing was supposed to do...
  • Replaced the 12 VDC 'draw works' motor.
  • Repaired the 'lower' limit photo-electric switch.
    • Required a magnet be glued to the bottom of the drill bit!
  • Adjusted the 'upper' limit proximity switch.
  • Soldered several wires connecting the 12 VDC light fixtures.
  • Replaced part of the circuit board with an external relay to control the Up/Down motor change-of-direction.
  • Replaced part of the circuit board with a potentiometer to control the Down speed.
  • Provided detailed electrical drawings including:
    • Interconnection drawings
    • Motor control drawings


Client: California Oil Museum
Location: Santa Paula, CA
Sponsored by: Seneca Resources


When the 'Start' button is pressed...

  • The rig lights and subterranean lights come on.
  • The drill bit starts rotating.
  • The drill bit lowers into the hole.

When the drill bit reaches the bottom...

  • The drill bit stops rotating.
  • The rig lights go off, but the subterranean lights stay on.
  • The drill bit rises out of the hole.

When the drill bit reaches the top...

  • The drill bit stops moving.
  • The subterranean lights go off.