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Tony Kraut – Slide, Kelly, Slide


Let’s talk about Kelly Bars. Where did the term “Kelly Bar” come from? Everybody asks, What’s that name “Kelly”? Who is this guy? Why do we call that a “Kelly”?

Well, it’s an oil field related term … back in the late 1800s, drilled pipe was always round. There was no Kelly Bar, it was all round drill pipe. And the table drive was a big bowl wheel, that was ran, and there was a cog in the middle of it, and there was a clamp that clamped on the round drill pipe. It was a worm screw, in fact, the hand that works on a driller today, is still called a “worm hand”. They still adopted that name! He has to clamp that screw down, clamp that drill pipe, so that it can vertically travel up and down on rollers and also engage in rotation at the same time. So if the clamp is too loose, it loses its rotation… if it’s too tight, it loses its feet.

It’s interesting, at that time, back in the 1800s, there was no radio. Radio didn’t come about until the 1920s, but in 1880s everybody listened to the phonograph. A lot of people that worked on drill rigs stayed in boarding homes. So there’s always a pot of stew on the stove, and they would have social events out in the front foyer, or out on the porch, and they’d listen to the phonograph. And the phonograph had a very popular song back in the 1880s called, “Slide, Kelly, Slide”.

“Slide, Kelly, Slide” was from a baseball player named Mike King Kelly. Mike King Kelly played for the Chicago White Stockings and several other teams. For the Chicago White Stockings, he took to the pennant 5 times, and in those 5 years he led the organization in stolen bases. At one time, he had 84 stolen bases! But he was always over 50 stolen bases every year because he had a unique slide technique. He was very flamboyant and later got into vaudeville acting in his retirement. But this the song was developed because of Mike King Kelly’s unique slide. In fact, the battle cry of the audience is always, “Slide, Kelly, Slide”!

So as you’re listening to this, and the song is in your head, you hear it repeatedly sometimes, you know! So here are the drillers, out on the rig, and somebody says, “instead of using a round pipe, let’s use a square pipe for The Kelly!” Well, it wasn’t called “The Kelly” then, but if they used a square pipe and the worm gear then won’t slip on rotation. “Wow, why don’t we do that!” “That should work!” So when that happened, and the worm hand didn’t have to be married to that screw clamp all the time, and the driller wasn’t chewing on them anymore, he said, “Slide, Kelly, Slide” and that’s how the Kelly Bar got called the “Kelly Bar” thanks to Mike King Kelly.

This video was made courtesy of Pieresearch, “The Standard of Excellence”! Manufacturer of high-quality alignment and centralizer products for the deep foundation and earth retention industries.

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