A look back at rig-buying considerations from decades past.

Today’s drilling rigs are complicated pieces of hydraulic, air, electrical and computerized equipment that are almost impossible for the average driller-mechanic to repair without the proper knowledge and equipment. These drills cost upwards of $850,000 equipped. However, these drills, given the proper care and maintenance, will last for years.

Even today’s small drills are expensive. Today’s professionally designed drills of this type cost upwards of $60,000 with – and sometimes without – tooling. Many of these drills are fast and designed to drill with mud or air using downhole hammers.

In 1956, while I was working for the Army Corps of Engineers in Arkansas, I requested a quote for a new small drill from Harold Holden at George E. Failing Co. My dad, Porky Sr., worked for Failing at the time.

The rig was mounted on an S-144 International 4-by-4 truck. The rig was a Failing CFD-2 chain-feed drill, rated to drill with mud to 250 feet. The drill quote totaled $11,273.70 FOB Enid, Okla.

The summary was listed as follows:

Drill rig $6,370.83

Operating equipment 818.15

100 feet drill stem 252.00

Truck 3,832.72

Total $11,273.70

I wasn’t able to purchase a new CFD-2 at the time, however, in about 1976, I did purchase the same drill model, mounted on a Dodge Power Wagon, in Texas for $3,600. It was in very poor condition, and took a lot of work and money to get it operable. In 1973, I mounted this drill on a new F-350 Ford truck. I drilled wells in South Georgia with this drill until 1981, when George E. Failing sold it for me to a person in Garland, Texas, for $26,000. I wish I had this drill today.

Due to my recent travels, having been away from home so long and with my being at a loss for words, I am keeping this story short. A rare occurrence – my wife Bess says I’m almost never at a loss for words!