Oil Field Engine News

Clark Engine-Compressor

A 1929 advertisement showing the Clark Super 2 engine-compressors built by Clark Bros., Olean, N.Y

Photo 1: A 1929 advertisement showing the Clark Super 2 engine-compressors built by Clark Bros., Olean, N.Y.

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August and September are busy months for oil field engine exhibitors as we make our annual pilgrimages to the many shows we all love to attend. Seeing old friends and making new ones while we enjoy our mutual interest in big old greasy oil field engines is what makes the hobby so great.

Two shows that come to mind I always include in my plans to attend are the Tri-State Gas Engine and Tractor Assn. Anniversary Reunion at Portland, Ind. (Aug. 24-28), and the West Virginia Oil & Gas Festival in Sistersville (Sept. 15-18). Maybe we will be able to meet at one of these or another show this season.

Clark Super 2s

Looking through some old literature recently, I noticed an advertisement (Photo 1) for the big Clark Super 2 engine-compressors built by Clark Bros. of Olean, N.Y. Claiming a perfected 2-cycle design and superior construction due to 50 years of engine building experience, the 1929 advertisment would suggest the company had been in business since at least 1879. Clark Bros. made engines in sizes from 95 HP singles to 400 HP double-acting types.

The company named their engines "Super 2s" because of their distinctive 2-cycle design that was said to create better air/fuel atomization from higher turbulence and also the elimination of loss of gas into the exhaust. Clark claimed a savings of 1/3 less gas than an "ordinary" 2-cycle engine.

Clark built engine-compressor units for oil well repressuring stations, which served to force oil by means of high-pressure gas back into slowly producing oil wells.

Field Trip

I had an opportunity to visit a compressor station equipped with two such Clark engines of 100 HP each (Photo 2). These are massive engines and are very impressive. I was struck by the fact that the arrangement of the equipment and appearance of the building and its contents were very similar to the photos from Clark advertisements. This led me to believe that these were likely standard installations by Clark-employed erection and set up crews.

Another impressive feature of the engine was the manner in which power is transmitted from the engine to the direct-connected compressor. It is by means of pushrods attached from the compressor piston to the engine crosshead (Photo 3). This, I thought, was a clever and efficient approach not often seen in other designs.

We can be richly rewarded by going out of our way to visit such sites and seeing these big machines. Unless a group of enthusiasts or a club takes on the monumental project of moving and preserving engines of such size (100 HP-plus), many of these sites will continue to deteriorate as time takes its toll. We should encourage and support any effort to preserve these engines or move them to sites more accessible to future generations of engine enthusiasts so they might be able to enjoy them as much as we have.

As always, please visit the Oil Field Engine Society online at www.oilfieldengine.com for a free membership.

Contact the Oil Field Engine Society at: 1231 Banta's Creek Road, Eaton, OH 45320-9701;