West Virginia Oil and Gas Festival

12 HP 'Breed' Engine

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1, Box 209, Middlebourne, West Virginia 26149

Once again the end of the show season has caught up with us. 1996 was a wet but still a good show season. My better half and I managed to attend three new shows this year and thoroughly enjoyed them all.

The turnout at the West Virginia Oil and Gas Festival Old Engine Show at Sistersville, West Virginia, was indeed festive. We had a record number of engines, 521 to be exact! Also, we had 68 models, three tractors, and 23 miscellaneous displays. Now with that many engines, half running and half being cranked, there's bound to be a lot of turbulence in the air! Jim Bess and his 6 HP Galloway didn't have a problem with that, since he just happens to be from Tornado, West Virginia. That's just down the road from Hurricane and Windfield, no kidding! Also there's this certain fellow from Valencia, Pennsylvania, who says that after four days at this show his jaws got tired! That's the kind of show it is.

One of the most memorable exhibitors I had the opportunity to meet was Irvin Borland and his family of Bayard, Ohio. Irvin is 92 years old and his wife is 91 with, I believe, two sons and a daughter who proudly displayed their masterpiece six Galloway. This is the engine Irvin himself assisted his dad in making a trip by horse and wagon to the rail station to pick up in 1916. Now, that goes back a ways, folks! Irvin had no trouble relating this story to me. He said that old engine filled many a silo and cut many a cord of wood along with several other chores. He said he used the old Galloway regularly until the late 1940s. One other thing about this conversation intrigues me. It seems that while Irvin was returning a 'local' to this area in 1925, he met and returned home with Ms. Taylor (Mrs. Borland) from Oil Ridge just out of Sistersville. Good luck to the Borland family. We appreciate your attendance.

Also this year we didn't have rain on Saturday, and I'll have to thank the good ole boys from North Carolina, George Niblock and Ron Goodin, for finally cutting the rope they pulled that rain cloud up here with. While Friday was a little rainy, it did end with a magnificent rainbow over the show grounds.

Dale Sonke's Bessemer 12 HP 'Breed' Engine. His display includes the following info: 'This Innis Steam Engine was installed on an oil lease in Clarion Co., N.W. Penn. in 1884 and was converted to hot tube ignition between 1900 and 1907. This conversion consisted of the cylinder, head, piston, clutched pulley, and the straight-spoked flywheel. Dr. Fithian and John Carruthers developed this process and thus founded Bessemer Gas Engine Co. The main reason for the conversion was operating costs. When the engine was steam driven, it required the constant attendance of a steam engineer, and due to the decrease in oil production from the shallow wells in this Northwest Pennsylvania region, this type of operation was becoming unprofitable. The conversion or 'breed' required very little maintenance. The added advantage was this engine could be fueled by on-site casing or well head gasa by product of the oil well. Thousands of these conversions were in operation before various engine companies developed the spark ignited and diesel oil field engines. Only a very few examples of this engine exist today. Restored 1989/1993 by Dale Sonke, Rockford, Michigan.'

We had quite a turnout of large oil field engines as well as others. Richard Scott of Williamstown, West Virginia, had his fine 20 HP Pattin with a displacement readout of 1,021 CI, yes on a single cylinder! Miles Lamm of Ellenboro, West Virginia, had a nice 20 HP Pattin. John Roop of Walkersville, Maryland, clawed his way up several mountains to show one dandy 25 HP Reid. Dale Sonke from Rockford, Michigan, made his first trip to Sistersville and brought with him a very rare 12 HP Innis half-breed with Bessemer cylinder. This engine is listed on the national historical record and will someday be on permanent display at the Cool spring Power Museum in Pennsylvania. It has the most elaborate skids I've ever seen. Jay Clark, of Ohio, brought a very rare and expensive 6 HP Springfield, a beautiful engine. Also I would like to thank John Preston, of Michigan, who unselfishly spent lots of time working on my PR Wico for an 8 HP Ekonomy by Pattin Bros. He furnished parts and expertise getting the old girl running. He has the darn dest way of checking for spark, with his fingertips. His two small Pattins, 5 & 6 HP, are also on their way to the Cool spring Museum.

And guess what! Charlie and Scott Hirshey of Geneva, Indiana, did it again! They pulled from one of these hollows a real 'diamond in the rust,' a 12 HP SM Jones this time; it happens every year!

Many other oil field engines were displayed like Bessemers, South penn half-breeds, Black bear, J.P. Berry, and Evans. There were many, many hit & miss and throttle governed farm engines, some in excellent restoration.

The little Ding A Ling Choo Choo train was very busy snaking its way through the engine rows with its excited 'cargo.' Once again we had some excellent early oil rig models on display, some were for sale. With all the crafts, exhibits, games and on stage entertainment, it was a nice show. We hope to see you next year. Show dates for 1997 are September 11, 12, 13, 14. Featured engine will be Pattin Bros.