The T4, "a drilling culture classic", turns 50
In 2018, one of the world’s most successful truck-mounted rig celebrated its 50th anniversary.
The first T4 manufactured in Clarksburg, West Virginia, USA., 1968
No other rig even comes close to matching the longevity and success of the T4. The T4 was introduced in 1968 as and its design was the first of that company’s hydraulic drilling rig line.
The first T4 was sold in Plattsburgh, New York. The initial success of the T4 was largely due to the company developing its down-hole drills, compressors and the rig itself to complement each other. No other manufacturer offered such compatibility at that time.
The rig’s innovative rod-handling system enabled the T4 to work with down-the-hole hammers better than competing rigs based on a kelly bar design. Additional drill pipe was tripped out of the hole and added to its carousel much easier and more safely than other tophead rigs on the market due to its patented keylock design.
The drill became quickly popular with contractors and water well drillers and was adapted over the years for use drilling blast holes, elevator shafts, mine rescue boreholes and a variety of other specialized drilling applications.
Since 1968, even governments around the globe have purchased T4 units for applications such as air or mud drilling for water, gas, blast holes, mining, exploration, mine rescue, de-watering, angle drilling and more.
Frank Chickey, Epiroc technical product support manager – water well drill units, started his career in 1973 when the T4 had been in production for just five years. He now has 45 years of experience with the T4 as a field service technician, service manager, driller, trainer, factory representative and technical writer and has assisted with sales. His own explanation for the T4 model’s longevity is that the T4 “is an industrial production type of drill, with a minimal amount of necessary parts. It is relatively easy to repair and is extremely robust.” The rig has a reputation for offering owners the best value, Chickey said. “The T4 has the lowest total cost of ownership, lowest depreciation and highest resale value per model year by unit, lowest downtime and greatest ease of repair of any high-production water well rig of any make. Period.” The rig’s performance records are impressive. “So many of those rigs are still today working in the field. I saw a 1979 T4 recently that gave me a stunning realization.” Chickey said like any consumer product that is preferred by a distinguished customer base, “The T4 is a ‘drilling culture classic.’ Fans of the T4 prefer no other drill to a T4 drill unit.”
Subtle updates have been designed into the T4 during the 50 years to take advantage of advances in technology, but the basic overall design remains unchanged. “Fads and trends come and go. But the T4 design is timeless. Parts interchangeability for units manufactured, say, between the 1985 model units and 2018 model units, is endless.” As for anyone who claims the design is outdated or needs an upgrade, Chickey said the validity of those words is solely determined by the customer. Any change to a component or feature is only an upgrade if customers see an advantage to the change. “A T4 drill unit is a highly capable, highly reliable rig,” Chickey said, “and when experienced business owners consider a long term investment, such as a drilling machine, a T4 is usually among their top choices.”
“The T4W rigs are built to take anything you can throw at it and keeps on running. While visiting Nashville area recently, I was told there were over 40 T4Ws still working in the area, and most were built in the ‘70s and ‘80s. A testament to the T4W design and build quality” - Kevin Moran, product engineer – deep hole drilling rigs.