HC 30, Box 68 Chiloquin, Oregon 97624
Well, it happened to me sometime in the summer of 1987. I think about July. I am a deputy sheriff, and work in a rural area of southeastern Oregon. I was on patrol one warm day in the small town of Chiloquin. While driving down a street, I observed what I knew was a gas engine, but little else. It turned out to be a very common little engine, but it was the first one that I acquired. After some dickering, I was able to buy the Stover CT2 for $15.00. My stepfather and I took the engine home, and the fun began, and it has not stopped.
This, my first literary endeavor, is to try to chronicle the 'Superior Adventure.'
In the fall of 1989, my wife Margaret and I went to Oklahoma to visit my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, and to do some pheasant hunting. My father's side of the family still lives in the Cushing and Drumright area of Oklahoma. This area has some of the oldest oil fields in the state. Getty drilled the wells that really got him started in this area. My family has been in the oil business for three generations.
During our trip, I was, of course, looking for old engines. Having lived in this area from 1980-1986, I was aware that there was still some old oil field equipment there.
About the first thing I asked my brother at the airport was if he knew where there might be any old oil field engines. He looked at me as if I were nuts, and asked if I remembered that old rusty engine on the Bower lease. The Bower lease was first drilled in the 1920's. My father bought the lease after the war. I remembered that the lease did have some old rusty equipment still standing on it. I asked my brother if we might look at it, and we drove straight to it from Tulsa.
The lease is now owned by my uncle, Jack Sellers, and there are still two wells pumping, both by electricity. However, when the lease was new, there were six oil wells pumping. The wells were pumped from a power house. The power house contained a large gas engine. The engine powered a large horizontal bull wheel by a flat belt. The bull wheel was attached to an eccentric that was located at the base of the bull wheel. From the eccentric, there radiated out from the power house numerous lines, running out into the oil field. The lines were made of steel rods 16 feet long and mostly ? to 5/8' in diameter. The lines sometimes ran out a half mile to the pump jack.
When we went out to the Bower lease, I spotted the old flywheels a mile away. There they sat on a concrete base. It was about 80 feet from the old rusty bull wheel. The power house, built out of wood and tin, had been blown away in 1950 by a tornado. That is when the lease was converted to electricity.
The engine had not turned in 40 years. It was set up with a large clutch pulley. There was a brass tag on the cylinder. The tag read: 'Manufactured by the Superior Gas Engine Company, Springfield, Ohio. #7719 25 HP For the National Supply Company, Sole Agent, Toledo Pittsburgh, Pa.' Below this tag was another one, reading: 'The Eureka Tool Co. Drumright, Okla. 6 month 1 day, 35 year, No. 933.'
So here it was, a 25 HP Superior oil field engine, all 5 750 pounds of it. I took some photos and then went to Nebraska hunting. We returned to Oklahoma five days later. My brother and I went to my uncle Jack's home and I told him of my desire to take the engine back to Oregon and make it run again. I think he found it amusing, but he told me I could have the engine.
The next day my brother and I, with the help of friends with a large broom truck, removed the engine from the lease and took it to my brother's yard south of Drumright. I planned to return in December to get the engine. I had scheduled a minor surgery on the 4th, and I hoped to drive from Oregon to pick up the engine during my recovery, when I would be away from work anyway.
During the time left in Oklahoma, I met several fine people in the old engine and tractor hobby. One of the people had bought a 1917 Mack truck from a man in northern California. However, he had been unable to secure transportation for the truck. I told him that I would bring the Mack out to Oklahoma in December for $1,000, thinking that this would pay for my trip. 'WRONG!'
All went well at first. Margaret and I went home to Oregon and I had my surgery. My stepfather and I left soon after, I with both hands bandaged. We went to northern California and picked up the Mack. The truck was all my little two axle trailer could handle. As I said, all went well at first. On the third day of our trip we had just left Albuquerque, New Mexico. The wind was blowing from the north about 50 MPH. I was getting impatient with the slow going. As we went down a long grade I let the speed build up too much.
The trailer started to sway and with the crosswind it became uncontrollable. As I lost control and as I watched the trailer outrun my pickup, many thoughts went through my head. Many of them unmentionable. However, luck was with us, some good, some bad. On the good side, my stepfather and I had not a scratch. On the bad side, two tires on the trailer had blown and both axles were bent. We unloaded the truck and using the spare tire, hobbled the trailer on to Tucumcari, New Mexico.
In Tucumcari we met some really good folks at the Sewell Machine Shop. We removed the axles and the Sewells, father and son, made them straight in their nice hydraulic press. I was able to buy three new tires and two used wheels the next day and then 110 miles back to where we left the Mack truck on Highway 40. When we got there, the Mack was still there. We loaded it up and back toward Oklahoma we went-not exactly lickety-split. After delivering the Mack and collecting the money, we rested for a day.
On the 18th day of December, 1989, we started to disassemble the Superior at my brother's shop. It was necessary to disassemble the engine so as to be able to lay the flywheel down on the 6? foot x 16 foot trailer, otherwise the load would have been too top heavy. During the disassembly, we were able to unstick the 12' piston by racking the flywheels back and forth using the crankshaft to hammer the con rod. This was a great welcome surprise.
The hard part was taking the flywheels off the crankshaft. After getting the engine loaded, the frame, piston, flywheels and crank shaft on the trailer, and the head and cylinder in the bed of the pickup, we were ready for a rest. After resting that night we left for Oregon the next day.
The trip back was uneventful. The weather was beautiful, and we got back in four days. My stepfather and I have put the old Superior back together and we get a lot of people stopping by the house to see it run. I am now building a trailer that will take it to the shows in this area.
The whole thing is a superior adventure!