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Harold Keller, Glouster, Ohio, wrote in response to the article on bailing rigs in the May issue, and Harold sent an old oil well supply ad for an unusual rig, the likes of which I've never seen. He also sent an interesting description of the manner in which the bailer was used to clean out oil wells, and he wrote a few words about the engines he recalls using and seeing in the oil fields in and around Perry County, Ohio. Mr. Keller writes:

'Enclosed is an illustration of a Wise pulling and bailing rig, dated 1927. We never had a Wise, but when I was a kid I remember a similar rig made on a Fordson tractor. I thought that this rig was pretty modern at the time, as back then most of the moving and pulling was done with a team of horses. The bailer that we used in the oil field was called The Acme Dart Valve Bailer. The ones we used were about 30 feet long, and the outside diameter varied with the hole size.'

Harold also sent a description of the bailer from an ad that appeared in the Oil Well Supply catalog, and the text of the ad is as follows:

'The dart valve bailer is used to remove cuttings as the hole is drilled. Generally four to six feet of hole can be drilled on each rim, but field conditions will determine the best procedure. A clean hole drills better than one filled with thick mud, although in soft formations the mud tends to prevent the hole from caving. It is sometimes better to bail only the thicker, heavier mud or cuttings found at the bottom of the hole. In this way the hole is kept in better drilling condition than if bailed clean.

Harold Keller tends to his 25 HP Superior diesel oil field engine at last year's West Virginia Oil and Gas Festival in Sisterville, W. Va.

'After each run, tools are pulled from the hole and swung aside while the bailer is used. When the bailer is lowered to the bottom of the hole the dart valve opens to permit intake of water and cuttings. The bailer is then surfaced and set down on the ground, forcing the dart valve into the bailer body and releasing water and cuttings. Occasionally, foreign matter may wedge the dart valve in the open position.

Obstructions should be removed so the bailer can retain its load.

'When running, the bailer pickup will be indicated by two snaps on the sand line if the bailer goes directly to the bottom of the hole (the sand line is the line/cable with which the engine is lifting the bailer). The signals which occur approximately one second apart are the results of the pickup of the bailer itself, followed by the dart valve closing. After lifting the bailer four or five feet it should be lowered and raised again several times. This pumping action tends to draw into the bailer any sand or material which may have settled into the bottom of the hole. If the double signal is repeated each time the bailer is lifted, it is safe to assume the hole (well) is in good condition.

'Only one snap indicates the bailer did not reach bottom. In this event the trouble may result from a flat or crooked hole, which prevents the bailer from traveling to the bottom. Other conditions, such as a ball of mud or boulder projecting into the hole, can produce the same result. Any such difficulty should be corrected by reaming before further drilling is attempted. Acme's improved design dart bailer bottom has several advantages. It provides a heavy striking surface on the bottom of the dart, and the reinforced shank assures longer life, less breakage. Specify exact OD and ID bailer tube when ordering.'

Harold also writes a few words on engines:

'On the subject of oil field engines, they cover a wide range, and from my experience and recollection can be categorized into drilling engines, pumping engines, support equipment engines and all others.

'In this area, the drilling engines I remember are as follows: Franklin valueless, of 25 HP and 40 HP; Bessemers, same horsepower; Reid, 25 HP; Buffalo (we had a 90 HP); Superior diesel 25 HP, which I now exhibit; and Ajax, Peerless and oil well supply steam engines, 12 to 70 HP.

'Pumping engines known to me were: Reid (the most common), in 6 HP to 25 HP; Bessemer, mostly 15 HP; Acme (S.M. Jones), the 10 HP geared unit being the most common; Pattin in 15 HP, with a few 8 HP geared units; and Spence, Smith & Koonts - the 7 HP units are all I have seen, and we are still using one of them. There were also a few Fairbanks and Auglaize 15 HP units.

'Support engines included just about anything with a belt pulley that could be used to power a water pump or other equipment. In times long past, we used a Parmaco water pump made by Parkersburg Machine Co. The neighbors used an Economy (which I now own), others used a Novo.

A copy of a catalog print for a Wise 'traction pulling and bailing machine,' basically a small tractor that could be switched from road to winch duty at the throw of a lever.

'Some years ago I worked as an engineer on a local pumping station. There was an 80 HP DeLaVergne diesel or oil engine there, a big single-cylinder, air-start brute that powered an upright 3-cylinder oil pump, which pushed oil from Corning to Joy in Morgan County. We also had a Kline single-cylinder engine, a 12 x 24 kick-start type on a smaller pump. There was an identical engine at Bremen Station, which pumped oil into Corning. This engine and a Hornsby-Ackroid engine, which also pumped oil into Corning, are now on display at the Coolspring Museum in Coolspring, Pa.

'Can you imagine kick starting an engine with an 8-foot flywheel? It actually started fairly easily, in spite of being a very big engine. The Hornsby-Ackroid was a hot head oil engine and looked like it would be a nightmare to start.' Best regards, Harold R. Keller

It is interesting to note from Harold's letter that most any kind of engine, regardless of size or type, can be considered an 'oil field engine' depending on the capacity in which it was used.

Thanks for an interesting letter Harold, and as ever I encourage others to share their oil field experiences with us. Membership in the Oil Field Engine Society is free of charge by writing or sending an e-mail to the address below. And don't forget, you can visit the OFES on-line at www.oilfieldengine.com

Contact the Oil Field Engine Society at: 1231 Banta's Creek Rd., Eaton, OH 45320-9701, or e-mail at: oilengine@voyager.net