Two experienced water well drillers on opposite coasts recently faced important decisions about their drill rigs.

In California, Nick Rumsey of Rumsey-Lang Well Drilling & Pumps had a 20-year-old rig and a pressing need to meet tighter California Air Resources Board (CARB) diesel exhaust emissions standards. Should he repower his rig or invest in a new machine?

Meanwhile, across the U.S. in Massachusetts, Tom Leonard with American Well & Pump was running the latest in a series of used drills and wanted one that would make his one-person jobs easier. Should he go the pre-owned route again, or take the leap and acquire a brand-new rig with advanced technology for superior ease of operation?

Their stories highlight two powerful drill rig choices — the Epiroc TH60 and Diamondback DB40 — available from one manufacturer committed to the well drilling business.

Carrying on the Family Legacy

Nick Rumsey proudly serves residential customers in the Sierra Nevada foothills outside of Sacramento, running a family-owned company that he and his father Nick Rumsey Sr. have been involved with since its beginning in the 1950s. He hopes someday to pass on the business to his son, Jordan.

But their long family tradition is being challenged by more-stringent CARB emissions regulations.

“At the end of 2020, water well drillers will be unable to run any rigs older than 2010,” Rumsey says. “We’re starting a new era of drilling in this state where it’s going to be a very specialized industry due to the CARB regulations. A lot of drillers are not going to be drilling anymore. To keep our family business going, we really had to stick our necks out.”

Drill & Consumable Sales Specialist Sonne Fleming and Epiroc helped Rumsey work through the decision of repowering his existing rig versus buying new. They were with him through the complex process of securing state funding for a rig purchase through the Carl Moyer Memorial Air Quality Standards Attainment Program.

“You can spend a significant amount on getting a new truck or dropping a new engine into it,” Fleming says. “You’re probably looking at spending $200,000 to $300,000 and you still have a 15-, 20-, 25-year drill rig. When you buy new in this scenario, you stand to get tremendous performance increases and a lot less breakdown time.”

In the summer of 2019, Rumsey and partner Tom Lang traded in their 1998 Ingersoll-Rand T3W for a new 2019 Epiroc TH60 truck engine/PTO water well drill rig with 40,000 pounds of pullback capacity. Not only did the TH60 help Rumsey-Lang prepare for stricter CARB emissions requirements, it also offered the company huge productivity gains.

“The drill speed is about twice as fast. With the previous rig we could do one or two jobs per week, but now we can do three or four,” says Jordan Rumsey, a 23-year-old who operates the drill. “Plus, having the one engine instead of two, it’s a lot quieter. And it’s brand new so there’s a lot less downtime. Now I have a big smile on my face every time I’m drilling.”

Nick Rumsey has only owned drill rigs from the Ingersoll-Rand/Atlas Copco/Epiroc lineage throughout his career, and he feels confident the TH60 can propel his business in this “new era.” His is one of nearly 1,000 Epiroc water well drill rigs sold in the U.S. over the years. The company calls the TH60 a “trusted classic that has been field-proven for more than 40 years.” It is built in Garland, Texas, and Epiroc says it has continually invested in research and development — an investment reflected in the TH60 model. Rumsey-Lang and other Epiroc customers benefit from the rig options and dependability, the company says, making the rig a popular choice for various size businesses.

“It’s a pretty big deal that we’re able to continue on what my grandfather started,” Nick Rumsey says. “We opted to buy new instead of repower, so we’re not just kicking the can farther down the road. The TH60 is known for its reliability, and it’s going to give us a lot of good years.”

Making Solo Drilling Jobs Easier

After growing up in the welding and fabrication business, Leonard started American Well & Pump on a whim.

In 2004, a family friend came through town driving a 1976 Ingersoll-Rand T3 water well drill rig. The two soon found themselves in serious conversation about Leonard buying “the rig.”

“When my wife came home from work that day, I took her around the block to see the rig,” Leonard says. “She said, ‘Why are we looking at a drill rig right now?’ I said, ‘Because I’m thinking about starting a drilling company.’ We talked to the owner for about 45 minutes and figured we’d give it a shot. The first well I ever saw being drilled was after I’d bought a rig.”

Fast forward to the present day and Leonard is an experienced driller serving residential, irrigation and commercial customers in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The same can-do mentality that sparked a career change also defines his approach to drilling. American Well & Pump’s company motto is, “No water is no joke,” and Leonard drills six days a week, often solo, as long as weather permits. That ambition and work ethic led him to a Diamondback.

After drilling for a few years with his original T3, Leonard upgraded to a used 1999 T3 and a pre-owned 2008 T3W before going looking for something different in 2019. The drill that caught his interest was the Diamondback, a rig added to the Epiroc water well lineup in 2018 that the company calls “flexible and technologically advanced.” The Diamondback, Epiroc adds, was built on core features from trusted legacy products like the TH60.

“I’ve told other drillers, you’re drilling with the same power and same air, but you’re letting the computer do the work. After a week, you’re used to the controls. Drilling a hole is still drilling a hole.”

– Tom Leonard

“A lot of the time I’m drilling by myself, so I was looking at ease of operation as I weighed my new and used options,” Leonard says. “I liked the Diamondback’s wireless remote for winch control and the ability to slide the rotary head out of the way completely when setting casing. And the electronic controls added to the ease of operation.”

An ergonomically designed console is mounted off the right rear of the rig. Controls are grouped by function for easy access. Above the controllers, analog gauges are at eye level for easy viewing. Digital gauges are also displayed on the Powerview monitor screen, which provides key information, including system pressures, speeds, and temperatures of hydraulic oil, engine oil and engine coolant. In addition, the Powerview screen shows fuel level, engine load and fuel rate, as well as low-level hydraulic warning and other diagnostic information.

Epiroc says it introduced the Diamondback in response to customer needs, and it offers an extended option package to drive down total cost of operation. Leonard says the advanced technology, like on-board rig diagnostics, is nothing to be wary of. “Not at all,” he emphasizes. “I’ve told other drillers, you’re drilling with the same power and same air, but you’re letting the computer do the work. After a week, you’re used to the controls. Drilling a hole is still drilling a hole.”

Leonard says the Diamondback’s ease of operation is like nothing he experienced with previous drill rigs. He says he’s not just more productive with the new rig, but he’s also not as tired, and can work by himself eight or nine hours per day and still feel good driving home at night. He says Epiroc’s sales and service support teams also make his job easier.

“When you drive away, you don’t want the people you’re buying from to say, ‘Good luck,’ ” Leonard says. “They’ve been right there with me. Another driller in my area bought a rig manufactured by somebody else; it broke on the way to the first job and didn’t run for two years, and they didn’t help him at all. When it came time for me to look for a new rig, I knew that Epiroc is all about supporting their customers, so I went with the Diamondback.”