I met Floyd Sensenig while attending the annual Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association Exposition (www.roughandtumble.org) near Kinzers, Pa., in 2006. Floyd, his son and his employees were drilling a water well, and demonstrating drilling with an old steam-operated rope drill. I only knew Floyd for a short time, but in that time, I realized his life was in the well drilling industry. The following is a condensed story of Floyd’s life in drilling, which was sent to me by his family.
Floyd Sensenig, along with his brother Eugene, began well drilling as young boys for their father, Titus Sensenig. Titus had three cable machines, one for each of them. As Floyd grew up, he had different occupations, but always maintained his love for well drilling. It was no surprise when Floyd and his new bride, Mary (Martin) Sensenig, decided to buy the well drilling business from Titus. The business came with the best cable rig and all the drilling and fishing tools a young entrepreneur would need.
When Floyd and Mary’s firstborn, Brian, was 5 years old, Floyd bought his first rotary rig. The rig had a table drive with a kelly and a high-pressure Davey piston air compressor, to which Floyd added a blower to produce more air. The air compressor was mounted on a 1960 International truck, along with a low-pressure hammer. Later on, a hammer salesman came to the shop. He asked Floyd, “What hammer are you drilling with? Why are you using a low-pressure hammer on a high-pressure rig?”
The salesman allowed Floyd to test-run a high-pressure hammer on a job. The high-pressure hammer drilled so fast that Floyd bought it. He realized it wasn’t just the air compressor that made the drilling faster – it was the hammer, too.
Floyd put a top-drive on the rig – one he made from a Dodge transmission. He also added a screw compressor and a bigger diesel. Floyd put a newer truck under it – which added more rod capacity – as well as a breakout wrench, water pump, splash pan, bigger jacks and more hydraulics.
In 1977, the rig’s clutch needed to be adjusted. In a tragic accident, the drive shaft caught his pant leg, and as Floyd grabbed the cable to free himself, the cable wrapped around the drive shaft and his leg, tearing off his foot. The doctor amputated Floyd’s leg to stop infection and to improve circulation to the non-damaged part. Even with a prosthetic leg, Floyd continued to drill, never allowing his amputation to handicap him.
While Floyd was in the hospital, still recovering from the accident, his brother-in-law helped him out with the business. Drilling got into Ron’s blood, too, so Ron bought a rig, and went into partnership with Floyd. Ron’s rig was a Joy rig, and literally was in the weeds. They made the same modifications to this rig that Floyd had done with his first one.
Thirty years later, Floyd and Mary bought out their business partner. The business now consists of five rigs and two pump crews. Floyd continued to thrive on giving the customer a good, honest job. Sometimes, that meant not making much money on the job, but if it was done right, Floyd was happy.
Floyd’s specialty in the drilling business was improving drilling methods, inventing tools and trying new ideas – even if Floyd was told that it couldn’t be done. Well drilling was Floyd’s passion; his upbeat and positive personality affected everyone he met.
Floyd, a member of the National Ground Water Association, died doing the very job he was so passionate about. His life ended on December 28, 2007, but his strength and character live on in the lives of his beloved family: his wife Mary, his sons – Brian and Shawn, married to Jodi (Martin), and daughter, Amy – wife of Adam Wentling. His gregarious personality also is evident in his five – soon to be six – grandchildren: Brandon, Brittany, Jeremy, Emily and Trevor Sensenig, and Baby Wentling.