The Top 5 Tips For Selecting A Foundation Drill Rig

Published on

January 24, 2021


Foundation Drill Rigs


Shopping for a new foundation drill rig is no small task. There’s always a lot of factors to consider in terms of what specific aspects you need from a new rig, and of course there’s the whole cost thing as well.

Before you make a large financial commitment to such an important (and expensive) piece of machinery that you’re going to be getting years of use out of, it’s best to have a roadmap on how to get there. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered.

Keep reading to learn five important tips that will help in leading you to the ideal foundation drill rig that’s perfect for your job site needs — and your overall cost budget.

1. Cheaper is Not Always Better

Let’s start with the price of a new drill rig — because that’s where most people begin with large purchases, right? While that’s certainly understandable in most scenarios, but that approach doesn’t really apply in this case.

Yes, it’s always important to stay within a budget, but if you’re restricting your buying choices to a small price range, you’re limiting your options to the point where you may actually end up with a foundation drill rig that’s not up to the jobs you need it for.

To put it simply: When it comes to heavy machinery such as drill rigs, you definitely get what you pay for. It’s often tempting to go with the lower price, but buying a cheaper rig typically sets you up for more repairs and equipment failures down the road.

It’s better to consider the initial price of the rig in relation to anticipated maintenance and repairs throughout its use. This is your total operations cost when all is said and done.

Spending more money upfront can actually save you money in the future, not to mention helping sidestep costly delays to a project due to a rig having mechanical problems.

Rather than going into the buying process with a specific target price, we recommend instead creating two lists of requirements for your future foundation drill rig: primary and secondary needs. Your primary requirements will be the aspects and features you absolutely need in your new rig, while the secondary requirements or more of a “nice-to-have” list that are not essential, but probably still more convenient or helpful.

By prioritizing features, specifications, and quality over pricing, you’ll ensure you end up with a drill rig that needs less maintenance or repair, and offers all the specific things needed to get the job done at every site you’re called to work on.

2. Know the Features and Specifications You Need

Lining up the right features and specs for your foundation drill rig is the most important part of the process. In a perfect world, one could just simply acquire a specific rig for each job in order to have an ideal match for each situation. But unless you have unlimited resources, this just isn’t an achievable reality.

As with most any other heavy machinery, your best option is to find a rig that offers the most in terms of certain features and specs that best match the majority of your anticipated jobs. This is obviously very subjective, so that responsibility ultimately falls on the buyer knowing what their own wheelhouse is.

With that said, you may also be wanting to purchase a rig to add to your fleet that enables you to take on jobs you haven’t been able to do previously. Either way, strongly consider the features and specs of each rig you’re looking at, and consult with your dealer or seller to make sure you’re getting everything you need.

The most important factors to be mindful of when choosing a new foundation drill rig should center on the actual work you plan on doing the most. This ultimately carries over to variables such as the actual location of the construction, the depth and diameter of the holes that need to be drilled, the type of soil or sediment you’ll be dealing with, and the environment of the location, which includes aspects like noise restrictions and drill methods permitted.

Some of the most common specs you’ll need to pay close attention to include:

  • Average working height
  • Average working weight
  • Transport width
  • Transport height
  • Rotary head (max torque)
  • Engine power
  • Kelly max drilling depth and diameter (if applicable)
  • Undercarriage length
  • Undercarriage width

As for added “extra” features, these can include things like climate-controlled cabins, automated technologies that assist with drill positioning, digital screens, etc. Again, many of these are subjective for the buyer.

Some drill operators can make good use of newer and more modern features, while others may not pay attention to them at all. It’s safe to assume that the less added features a drill rig has, the less there is to go wrong. Still, some of the newer features now being offered for drill rigs can be quite beneficial, depending on the operator and the job needs.

3. Consider the Drill Rig’s Mobility

So, you need a foundation drill rig to make some big holes in the ground, but have you thought about the actual transport part, or navigating it around on the job site? This is often something that gets overlooked. We get so wrapped up into what the drill can accomplish on a job, various foundation drilling tools that can be attached to it, and so on. The mobility part? Not so much.

Autonomous “crawler” drill rigs are typically the design of choice. These rigs do not need any auxiliary equipment or machinery to get the job site. This added mobility gives the rig much more versatility and convenience. Crawlers are also much more efficient in regard to time, since you don’t have to go through a huge process just to get the rig in position.

On the other hand, truck-mounted and trailer-mounted foundation drill rigs usually have to be powered by a generator or transported around the job site by either a crane or a truck. These types of rigs can often be cheaper in terms of pricing, but you need other equipment to move them — something that may actually cost you more in the end.

Another thing to keep in mind: Not all crawler rigs are automatically capable of getting around on certain job sites. Location and environment are always factors. Still, mobile foundation drill rigs are generally the best choice for most operators, especially those who want to keep auxiliary equipment and hassle to a minimum. They are also easier to transport, in most cases.

4. Versatility

If you’re wanting to keep your fleet to a minimum, versatility in your foundation drill rig should be a big priority. Truth be told, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all rig that can handle literally every job site or need, but you can find rigs that can handle several different job requirements and conditions.

In most cases, the average foundation drill rig can offer numerous drilling methods and applications, typically with the swapping out of certain foundation drilling equipment such as foundation drilling teeth and carbide auger teeth.

5. Don’t Overlook the Customer Service Aspect

Customer service and ongoing support is absolutely essential when purchasing any large machinery, and this is especially true with foundation drill rigs. When you’re in the market for a new rig, you’re reliant on the expertise and advice from the seller or dealer to help guide you and assist in determining the ideal rig to purchase. You can do as much research as you want beforehand — and you certainly should. Still, these sellers know their rigs better than anyone, so they should be able to ensure you end up with a drill rig that enables you to do your job seamlessly. The seller should be able to consider your typical job site needs, your overall price bracket, and any added features that may be able to benefit you.

The best foundation drill rig sellers also provide training to you and your team on how to use the rig. Although you likely know how to operate most any drill rig, sellers know these machines inside and out, and will be able to point out all the little caveats, tips, and tricks so you get the most out of the rig, and with the most accuracy and efficiency. This definitely carries over to the safety and maintenance aspects as well.

It doesn’t stop there. Ideally, your seller should also offer parts and maintenance for drill rigs, as this provides ongoing support for as long as you own the rig. They should be able to provide regular service, repairs, and even custom-manufactured tools or parts if needed. All of these factors give you a reliable and established ally for your business that will always be able to support your needs as they arise. Foundation drill rigs are expensive to purchase and maintain, so having quality customer service and care after the purchase should always be a part of the deal.

What About Buying Used Foundation Drill Rigs?

For those who are trying to save on their bottom line while still adding a quality foundation drill to their fleet, going the used route and buying from a reputable dealer can be a perfectly good option.

Here are some tips for inspecting a drill rig before buying. Most of these should also be applied  prior to using any foundation drill rig on the job.

Is the Rig Clean?

If for some reason the rig is not clean, make it happen. This not only makes it easier to inspect, it keeps the rig in prime condition and makes maintenance easier in the long run.

Brake Check

In case you didn’t know, brakes are crucial! You should always check for any wear and tear on the braking system and make sure the brake fluid levels are where they need to be. Most crawler rigs will have three distinct braking systems — typically service, secondary, and parking. The parking brake must be able to keep the rig securely in place when it’s parked on the steepest slope it’s intended to be used on.

Kelly Bars

If your rig includes Kelly bars, they need to be inspected on the outside of the housing. Check for any significant damage or wearing, and inspect all the stops, torque lugs, adapters, and flanges. You’ll also want to give a close look to the torque of the Kelly retainer clamp bolts.

Hydraulic Systems

Don’t skip the hydraulic systems. While wearing gloves, you can use a small chuck of cardboard or wood to locate any leaks. You’ll also want to take a look at the level indicators.


Lubrication is critical to a properly-functioning drill rig. Check for any lubrication issues, and always clean off any dirt or old grease before adding more to the lube points.

Inspect Any Wire Ropes

This process can be extensive at times, but it’s still important. Look for kinks or loose strands on the wire ropes, and also inspect them for any heat damage or corrosion. These ropes should be reeved on the sheave in a proper manner.

Double-Check the Warning Devices

Safety first! Don’t overlook the warning systems. Place the rig in reverse (if applicable) and check for audible and visual warning signals as it moves. While most job sites will have spotters in most cases, you still need to have a functional warning system at all times.

Don’t Toss Out the Manufacturer’s Manuals

Manuals provided by the manufacturer are always an important resource that should be kept within the rig at all times. You just never know when you may need to look something up on the spot to solve an issue in the middle of a job.

Inspection Records

You should always ensure inspection records are accurate and up-to-date, and your potential seller should do the same. Always ask to see them when inspecting a potential rig purchase.

Future Parts and Service Needs

One of the only real drawbacks to buying a used foundation drill rig is the challenge in securing spare parts or upgrades down the road. If the dealer also provides service, maintenance, and repair, you’re in good shape. This is especially true if they are located close to your area.

Closing Thoughts

The prospect of buying a new foundation drill should not be taken lightly. Doing your due diligence on a new purchase does go a long way, but having a reputable and reliable seller on your side is the key to ensuring not only a smooth buying process, but also a rig that will perform exactly as you need it to—on a high level—for years to come.

If you’re in the market for a new or used foundation drill rig in and around the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Blaze Equipment can see to it that you end up with the precise rig that fits your needs. Our team possesses years of direct experience within the drilling industry, so we know what’s needed to pair you with the perfect rig for your unique job site requirements. Located outside of Texas? Don’t worry, Blaze Equipment is a trusted provider of sales and service for foundation drill rigs throughout the United States.

After the sale, a member of our team can come to your site to provide teaching and instruction on how to safely operate your new rig. We also offer drill rig service, repair, maintenance, and heavy equipment transport. Contact us today to see for yourself why Blaze Equipment sets the standard not only for foundation drilling sales and service in Texas, but all across the nation.

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