Wayne Nash tells how "intense negotiations" eventually resulted in a used rig transaction.

I've written before about buying or selling a used rig, covering a lot of the things to look for in the mechanics of the rig, but there is one very important part that I left out -- the human dynamic between the buyer and the seller. I'm not talking so much about dealers here -- just one driller selling a rig to another driller.

Drillers being the type of people that they are, it's difficult to get two people who know everything to agree on much of anything, let alone the price of a rig. This reminds me of a story. You figured that's where this was going, didn't you?

Some years ago, I had a rig that was getting pretty old. It needed some work, but still drilled and had some life left in it. I decided to sell it, so I called Doc Faison and put an ad in the paper. After I had about given up, I started getting a few calls. We would talk about the rig, and then get to the price. I left a little wiggle room to come down some, and one driller called back several times. He'd ask more detailed questions about the condition of the rig, and it looked like he might really be interested. He knew he was going to have to do some work to the rig, and was just trying to get an idea of how much. He'd ask things like, "How old are the swabs and liners?"

"About a year, I guess," I told him.

He'd call back the next week to talk more about the rig and asked the very same question, "How old are the swabs and liners?"

"About a year and a week," I updated him.

This went on for a while until he figured that he probably ought to drive over here and have a look at it. He was about 500 miles away, so we agreed on a day. I made sure to charge the battery and be around the yard. On the appointed day, he showed up around noon, so, having our priorities in order, we went to lunch. We had a good conversation; it turned out we had both worked in some of the same places around the world and had a lot in common. After lunch, we went to the yard and got down to business -- checked the oil, cranked it up, and proceeded to make everything that would move, turn, pull, go up and down, or whatever, would do what it was supposed to do. The rig was pretty much as I had told him: the stuff that needed work still needed work, and the parts that worked were fine.

He pretty much figured out that he wanted the rig, and all that remained to make the deal was the final price. We both had a figure in mind, but weren't quite on the same page. We pulled up a couple 5-gallon buckets outside the shed and started swapping lies and working on an ice chest full of beer I had strategically positioned for the occasion.

The problem with this type of negotiation is the first liar ain't got a chance. No matter what kind of record-breaking, spectacular well one of us had drilled, the other said, "That?s nothing. Why, back in '72 I was on a job that, blah, blah, blah ..." You know where that goes!

It was starting to get dark, and lunch was a long way behind us. I was starting to consider the sardines and crackers on the dash of the truck, when we were saved by the appearance of my wife, Lottie. She had just gotten off work not too far down the road, and knew we were at the yard going over the rig. Since she smelled the possibility of money coming in, she came by "just to check." When I told her that we were done and just talking price, she said, "I?ve got a big pot of beans and ham on; I'll go get the cornbread started and some deviled eggs. Y'all c'mon and wash up." She told my friend, "You'll stay the night with us; you don't need to be driving home this late."

What you've got to understand about my bride is that she can go from Mother Theresa to Osama bin-Lottie in 4.3 seconds, so we figured it would be good to take her up on the offer before it was retracted. By the time we got there and cleaned up, a fine country dinner was on the table.

After dinner we retired to my office to resume "negotiations." I produced a bottle of 10-year-old Canadian "tonsil-polish" to grease the wheels of progress. We worked on that a while, and, as time went on, I got to thinking about all the wells I had drilled with that rig, and how it never (well, seldom) let me down. It seemed like as we talked, the value kept going up. Funny thing is, as he thought about the rig, the older and more worn out it got. I finally figured that if it was that old, it was worth some sort of premium as an antique. Somewhere along in here, that fine beans and ham and deviled egg supper started to kick in pretty good, and the air in the office was getting a mite "close." We moved to the living room and turned on the ceiling fan and the television news. Eventually, the "intense negotiations" we had been engaged in took their toll and Lottie came in and threw a blanket over each of us, doubtless rolling her eyes and clucking like an old hen.

At a rather foggy breakfast in the morning, he wrote a figure on a napkin and inquired, "You reckon you'll take this much?"

"Yup," I replied.

He wrote a check and the deal was done. When he got in his truck to leave, he said, "You know, I might have given more for that rig."

I told him, "Don't worry about it; I might have taken less."