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Eye on the prize

August 12, 2020

Damaged rig becomes an opportunity for this driller to get his dream rig – the Epiroc TH60.
Marshall Eye founded his company in 1958 near Potosi, Missouri. It became his area's largest well-drilling service provider, completing up to 200 residential water wells a year until its founder died in 2008.
Marshall's son Felix had returned home to help his aging father after working for drilling companies around the country. When his father passed on, his mother, Joann, became company president. When market demand plummeted, Felix saw his mother's dedication. "She worked harder than anyone, making ends meet. We depended on her." Joann was able to keep the company running, but then a couple of crucial employees left in 2017.
"Sell, or try and keep going?" she asked Felix, and he didn't hesitate. Felix leaped to run drilling operations. Now a seasoned driller, he jumped right in, streamlining processes, cutting waste, trimming costs, and widening margins. The demand was coming back, and Felix's dreams were coming true until his father's rig burst into flames one afternoon. 
"I'd grouted pipe in and was drilling my 6-inch hole. Our youngest boy, Trevor, who was sitting on the drill truck cab, asked if I wanted a water bottle? I nodded, yes. He left the cab to get some from a nearby cooler. As he approached me on the operator platform, we felt an explosion followed by a fire flash from under the rig. A giant wall of fire burst over it." The fire sent everyone scattering in different directions, with Felix taking the most heat. "My backside was as hot as a stove." Felix rolled on the ground to put the fire out. He later learned there were no flames. His clothes were just that hot.

"Safety was the number one reason I switched to a TH60."

Felix Eye ,Supervisor, Marshall Eye Jr Water Well Drilling & Repair Service
No one was hurt, Eye said. "But the rig was toast and required extensive repair. We had orders scheduled but nothing to drill with." Felix found out two other rigs, same make and model had experienced similar fire-related incidents.
Felix trusted Epiroc. He had been an RD20 operator, and he once tried to convince his father to buy a T3W. "My father was stubborn. I was younger, more practical. Why work so much harder than you have to was my way of thinking." The TH60 proved itself to be the perfect match. He looked for a used rig, but finding a used rig that met his expectations proved too tall an order. So he went for a new rig.
Eye took delivery in August 2017. "Remarkably, every customer on the books waited patiently for our comeback," he said, "and it's been awesome ever since."
TH60 well drilling rig in Missouri.

The company is located in Missouri's Mark Twain National Forest, operating at the edge of the Ozark Highlands 75 miles (121 km) southwest of St. Louis. So Felix had two qualifications for working at these locations. The rig must be small enough to fit on his customer's residential properties. And it had to be robustly built yet versatile for working the varying formation of shale and limestone.

Eye set the TH60 up this day for a residential well on a remote, rural property. He began with a 10-inch (254 mm) bit on a QL 80 DTH hammer, quickly punching through 16 feet of overburden containing thin sandstone bands in clay. He continued to 80 feet (24 m) in limestone and cased this upper section of the well profile with 6 ¼-inch PVC.


After casing was installed, he grouted using 14 bags of bentonite chips and continued to drill the production hole using a COP 64 hammer with a 6 inch concave face bit to a total depth of 180 feet (54.9 m) yielding 40 gpm (151 L/min.). Eye then air-flushed the well as his team cleaned the work area and gave the rig a quick washdown.


By the time they were ready to trip out and pack up, the well produced near-perfect water with no sediment. No longer than 20 minutes had passed until the brightly lit mast quietly descended, and the crew packed up.


Eye climbed into the cab, smiled, and said, "Days like this make me thankful for owning this TH60."



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