BIG ONES Still Running

Content Tools

Box 57-C School St. Sullivan, OH 44880

Most of the large old horizontal pumping engines have been retired, but at York compressor station owned by Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation, five of these old five hundred HP engineering masterpieces are still in continuous operation. York station is located on State Street at the outskirts of Medina, Ohio. I have the pleasure of helping to maintain and overhaul these smooth running old units.

These units were manufactured in 1922 by Cooper-Bessemer Corp. in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. The bore is twenty one and a half inches and the stroke is thirty six inches. The cylinders are mounted in tandem and the piston and rod units are screwed together through a center distance piece, then the entire assembly is screwed into the crosshead, which is attached to the crankshaft by a large connecting rod. The piston fires on both sides (the design is similar to a steam engine with power strokes in both directions). Piston cooling is accomplished by water being pumped through the hollow piston rods. Natural gas is used for fuel, and ignition is by magneto and spark plugs. A seven ton fourteen foot diameter flywheel slowly revolves on a fifteen inch diameter crankshaft which turns in poured babbitt bearings. Length from the flywheel end to the tail end measures fifty six feet. About ninety-eight cubic yards of concrete was used in each engine base.

On a layshaft, which runs full length of the engine, each cylinder has a single eccentric which operates both the intake and exhaust valves. Water is pumped into the exhaust pipe below the exhaust valve to cool the exhaust pipe. When the engines are running steam puffs out of outdoor exhaust pipes just like a steam engine. Governor settings from 69 RPM to 125 RPM are used depending upon the amount of natural gas being pumped. These quiet, smooth running engines with their steady chuff-chuff-chuff are a sight to behold. It is sad to see these old units being retired in most locations, but parts are hard to find and expensive. Some parts are still available, and some are made at the station, but sad to say, the end is near.