Oil field engines tend to have a certain . Looking at a Bessemer or a Reid, most collectors will know right away, 'that's an oil field engine.' But looking at a smaller Economy or Hercules engine, those same collectors will think otherwise, assuming from its and size that it's a farm engine once used in a non-oil field application. But application is the key word here, for what makes an engine an oil field engine is not only the type or size of the engine, but the application in which it was used.
Most oil field engine enthusiasts entered the hobby because of a love for the large engines commonly needed in oil field service. But the big names in oil field engines were not the only type that pumped black gold from the ground. As I have seen time and time again, the oil field man makes do with the resources he has at hand. To quote one of my favorite historical personalities, President Theodore Roosevelt; 'Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.'
Associated Oil Field Engine?
Such was the case with a 6 HP Associated I located recently. The engine was located at a site where there were three wells, all rather close together. A power was set up with an S.M. Jones eccentric turntable and rod lines connected to the three wells with Jones pump jacks. But to power the turntable someone had mounted two Reid flywheels (of about 15 HP size) where the belt pulley should have been. I knew they were Reid flywheels because one of them had the hole at the hub for the charge cylinder journal.
These flywheels were driven by means of a friction drive made up from an automotive wheel and tire mounted on the Associated where its belt pulley would normally be. The clutch for the drive was a brake drum from a car. A lever acting on a conical-shaped part had been fabricated to apply the brakes in the drum, thereby transferring drive force to the wheel. I suppose when it came time to pump, an operator would start the engine and get it going (it ran rather fast from the looks of the governor springs), then engage the lever to transfer drive to the tire, which in turn started burning rubber on the edge of those Reid flywheels! It must have been a sight to see. Once the flywheels were spinning I'm guessing there was enough momentum to hook up the wells and pump and get them rolling.
I suppose you could call the whole system a torque amplifier. The 6 HP Associated would probably not have had the power to run that equipment, but with the momentum of the large Reid flywheels mounted on the power it could be done. All the Associated had to do was keep those big wheels turning.
I would imagine this engine has had a rather hard working life. People in the area say it has been eight or nine years since it last ran, and that the wells were probably no longer producing. It was definitely an interesting site, the powerhouse littered with junk and relics of the past, including a cider jug with a four-digit phone number on it and numerous cans of 'Rocket Motor Oil' strewn about.
The gentleman who owns the oil lease wanted to tear down the building housing the engine and sell off the equipment. I made arrangements to purchase the engine and equipment, but before the building was taken down I took a number of pictures to document the site. Then it was all loaded on a trailer and taken to it's new home - and a much easier life in retirement.
As always, let us know if you'd like a free membership in the Oil Field Engine Society by writing or sending an e-mail to me at the address below.
Contact the Oil Field Engine Society at: 1231 Banta's Creek Road, Eaton, OH 45320-9701, on the Web at: www.oilfieldengine.com or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org