Streamlined design clears up muddied waters

Streamlined design clears up muddied waters

Streamlining and simplifying the hydraulic system design of the MudPuppy pick-up pump reduced costs and made for a more powerful underwater drilling machine.

Underwater drilling requires a simple, powerful system for tunneling through and removing sand and mud. This is why MudPuppy International, Apple Valley, Calif., uses Eaton products supplied by Spencer Fluid Power of Ontario, Calif., to provide the hydraulics muscle for its Sand Guzzler submersible, hydraulic-driven, pick-up pump and MudPuppy mud systems. These auxiliary drilling machines work in tandem.

In the drilling process, mud acts as a lubricant for a drill bit as it tunnels down a well passageway. As the drill bit rotates, the drilling mud and earth removed are fluted back to the surface. The Sand Guzzler recovers “new” or “regurgitated” mud and pumps it into a recovery system. 

Equipped with an Eaton 3333 Series motor, the high-performing MudPuppy 255-100 mud system “cleans” mud, resulting in a clean drilling hole and clean job site.

Next the MudPuppy “recycles the mud and dumps the crud.” The system picks up and cleans up to 500 gallons of mud per minute, enabling approximately 98% of a mud payload to be reused. The process results in a clean job site and significant raw material cost savings and enables spoiled earth to be removed so clean mud can be reused.

System design overkill
MudPuppy previously relied on competitive hydraulic components supplied by a local distributor for its drilling machinery. However, when poor design, high costs, and on-time delivery of a bent-axis motor for the Sand Guzzler became issues, Tony Tibban, owner of MudPuppy, looked for another source. He called on Sandy Barnes, Spencer Fluid Power territory manager, for a complete design recommendation. 

Sizing up the power requirements of the Sand Guzzler, Barnes realized that the rugged design of an axial piston motor would be better suited for the application. 

“The unit was equipped with a heavy-duty, high-pressure bent-axis motor that was overkill for the application, not to mention the fact that it was expensive, too,” Barnes says. “I recommended that Tony use Eaton’s 74318 Series axial piston motor that offers high-pressure capacity beyond the actual requirement, yet can be used with a variety of pumping systems for customers requiring only the Sand Guzzler pump.”

Impressed with Barnes’ cost-saving candor and different approach, Tibban listened up when Barnes commented on a MudPuppy that was ready for customer delivery. 

“I simply mentioned that there might be a better, more efficient way to produce the torque the machine needed,” Barnes says. That’s when Tibban asked for a new system design.”

An Eaton 420 Series pump is an important part of the hydraulic circuitry on the MudPuppy 170-2SC mud system.

Barnes and Eaton’s Bill Potterf, area sales manager, powered up the MudPuppy to hear it hum. They realized that not only was the gas engine not powerful enough to do the job, it also caused the accompanying pump, an Eaton 420 Series load-sensing pressure-compensated design, to act erratically.

Packing more punch
Barnes’ system design sense immediately went into action. “Using Bill’s product recommendations, I converted the previous plumbing nightmare into a streamlined Eaton custom manifold, using two MRV-16 Series two-position rotary valves, FAR1-16 Series threaded cartridge valves for the system’s load-sending circuit and flow controls, and Aeroquip hose assemblies.”  

They worked to declutter the company’s most powerful MudPuppy that offers an additional 100 hp.

“The previous supplier had designed a hydraulic system that was complicated, confusing, and impossible to service in the field, costing MudPuppy $40,000 in hydraulic components. We added an Eaton 6422 Series hydrostatic pump and Eaton 3333 Series motor to our newly designed circuitry for the basic model, resulting in a net cost to the customer of under $9000 for the total system.”

The new system uses one component design that fits all four models of the MudPuppy, making assembly and parts inventory easy. 

The redesigned MudPuppy is a far cry from the former design, Tibban says. “Our previous mud system worked well, but it was highly complicated and expensive,” he says. “As a result, we weren’t competitive in the marketplace. Spencer and Eaton were instrumental in helping develop a streamlined system that is user friendly.”

Oil and water well drillers need equipment that is easy to set up and adjust in order to get the job done on time and on budget. MudPuppy machinery fits the requirements to a tee. In addition to a neat appearance, the Eaton product-equipped hydraulic system is almost fully automated, Tibban says.

“The original MudPuppy required up to 40 adjustments. With the assistance of Eaton products, the operator only needs to turn it on, and the mud system is ready to go,” Tibban says. “Overall, Eaton products are very reliable, and Eaton is very good about providing application assistance.”

Visit for more on MudPuppy or for more on Eaton’s products.


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