Buckeye Ramblings: Big Engine Collector
This fall a day’s trip was made to John Wilcox’s farm
and pumping station, Trail Run. I suppose most of the regular
readers of Gas Engine Magazine are familiar with John’s stories of his
engines. For any readers that are not, John is not content with small horsepower farm engines. He collects big engines–large factory, machine shop, mill, elevator, pumping
station and etc. type engines of up to 100 horse power.
I will not try to describe John’s engines, for he can do
that better than I. But I will give a brief description of our trip
and John’s farm.
It was a beautiful fall day for our trip. Those going were Carl
Heinlein. Bob Suter, Charles Conklin. Howdy Blosser, Dave Thompson,
Glen Sims and myself. All engine collectors. We met at the 37-70
Truck Stop, left from there in two cars, and took three hours to
get to Trail Run.
On the road back to John’s farm there is a producing pumping
station. One engine centered around several oil wells, that engine
pumping each well by means of cables. The engine drives a
horizontal bull wheel having a cam on under side, with cable wheel
running over cam. This gives a back and forth motion to cable, thus
pumping the well. This arrangement saves having a small engine at
each well. Also John gets his crude oil from these wells to run his
heavy oil engines. So after a brief stop there, we went around the
bend up and down a couple of good hills to Trail Run.
Now John’s farm, that’s another story. Hind of a case
of the tail wagging the dog. When he bought the Hornsby-Akroyd and
Ruston-Hornsby pumping station engines, he didn’t have any
place to store them. Yon just don’t set engines that big in
your front yard, or back yard either. Of course engines were in
a building, the oil company was abandoning the station, so he bought the farm
the station was on. Thus he was able to keep engines in their natural
setting. So in short order John became an Engineer and Farmer. He figured with his big engines and his Fordson tractor he should be able to
raise something on his farm–who knows maybe another Green
We arrived about 10:30 and spent the rest of the morning looking
over the engines and grounds. John had help loading several smaller
(8-10 hp) engines on his truck for a trip to Michigan for the
next weekend. He was trading for an old F. & M. 5 hp electric
generating engine 5 1/4 x 12 with 54″
flywheels, with generator. By then it was dinner time. We brought
our dinners, no restaurants for miles, t’was a nice sunny fall
day, so we had a picnic dinner at Trail Run.
I counted 56 engines. Now, I know that some collectors have in
the hundreds of the farm type engines. I expect John has that many
in a couple of his big ones weighing in the 8 to 10 ton class.
Course John has a variety starting with a 1/2 hp “Half-Horse” on up to the 100 hp jobs, plus two 2
cylinder engines, one vertical, one horizontal. All of the large
engines are tank cooled. Most are side shaft engines. John erected a new building to store engines in. Already it is
full, with engines sitting outside, but they are well oiled and
covered with plastic.
After dinner John started running engines in the new building.
Run one engine several minutes, answered any questions we had about
it, then go on to another. Ran all engines that were ready in that
building, then went on to the pumping station. Course John has it
filled with other engines besides the two that belonged there. John
has installed a Parmaco 8 hp diesel engine with generator to
furnish lights. This engine was hand built by the Parkersburgh
Machine Co., Parkersburgh, W. Va. Parts are not interchangable.
Another engine that I really liked was the Callahan. This engine, a
hit and miss; when missing governor locks out side shaft, therefore
making an exceptionally quiet running engine.
Of course the grand finale was the running of the
Hornsby-Akroyd. Water is pumped to make the engine work. So if you
went up on the hill or down the creek a ways, you could really hear
the exhaust a-booming. So all in all it was quite a day to see that
many big engines, hear some of them run, plus the operation of the
pumping station. As those visiting Trail Run today are all
collectors of the smaller farm type engines, we all stand in
awe of John Wilcox as he collects the large engines. So to you
fellow Buckeye, John Wilcox, we say KEEP CRANKING.
Jim Erdle’s Legendary Antique Tractors Sold at Auction
Jim Erdle’s eye for rare and unique tractors has developed quite the reputation over the years, and allowed him to assemble one of the finest tractor collections of all time. But all good things must come to an end.
1902 8 HP Bates & Edmonds Engine
A 1902 8 HP Bates & Edmonds engine with generating set on display at the Coolspring Power Museum.
1918 Blaisdell Air-Compressing Engine
A 1918 65 HP Blaisdell air-compressing engine on display at the Coolspring Power Museum.