Oil Field Engine Wonderland

The oil field engine collection at the Coolspring Power Museum has a proper home.

| February/March 2017

  • Almost finished: The new oil field engine collection building at the Coolspring Power Museum.
    Photo by Paul Harvey
  • Steve Wolbert’s little Lorain shovel clearing the ground in preparation for construction of the new building to house the Coolspring Power Museum’s collection of oil field engines.
    Photo by Paul Harvey
  • The sign on the building dedicating the new site housing the museum’s oil field engines.
    Photo by Paul Harvey
  • The interior of the new building looking in from the north doorway. It currently contains 27 engines.
    Photo by Paul Harvey
  • Engines lining the east wall of the new structure include Steve Tachoir's 30 hp Olin (foreground).
    Photo by Paul Harvey
  • The west wall, lined with yet more oil field engines.
    Photo by Paul Harvey
  • A trio of 2-stroke oil field engines on display.
    Photo by Paul Harvey
  • Pattin Brothers engines along the west wall.
    Photo by Paul Harvey
  • The display of National Transit Co. engines includes the red 4 hp vertical and the interesting “Little Booster” fronting the window. It has two, 2-stroke power cylinders and two opposed compressor cylinders.
    Photo by Paul Harvey
  • A 4-stroke 30 hp Bessemer fronts a 2-stroke 35 hp Bessemer.
    Photo by Paul Harvey
  • The unfinished west side. An 18-foot-wide addition will be added to this side of the building.
    Photo by Paul Harvey

Two years ago, the Coolspring Power Museum recognized the need for another structure to house the many oil field engines that were either scattered outside or in a storage building. These begged to be displayed and operated for all to enjoy, and most could run with a little tinkering. A pavilion seemed logical, but the location was perplexing. Many sites were measured and evaluated, but none were right. Finally, we agreed on a site between Pat’s Place and the Snow building. Estimating the number of engines to be included, we were able to plan a 104 foot by 32 foot pavilion. It would be 20 feet from our east property line, and fortunately the location was acceptable with that land owner. We now had a plan; as well as a huge project ahead. It was an exciting start!

Member Stewart McKinley, a professional contractor, was contacted and we accepted his bid. On Sept. 10, 2015, Stewart submitted his plan. It was approved, and work began! Thanks to the light winter, work progressed well.

Clearing the trees and brush posed no problem for Steve Wolbert’s little Lorain shovel (Photo 2). Those little cable machines are truly amazing, and it is on display at the museum. Next, Stewart hired an excavating contractor to remove and save all the top soil, replacing it with 33 dump truck loads of stone and then laser-leveling it into a firm building pad. With the foundation in place, holes had to be drilled for posts, and by March 2016 the building was taking shape.

The electric service was brought from the Snow Building and a service electrical box installed. It now has 39 LED light bulbs using less than 400 watts total. Receptacles were conveniently placed on the posts. The natural gas, water and compressed air came from Pat’s Place. There is a natural gas line for engine fuel around the building perimeter, about 8 inches above the floor. A compressed air line runs overhead to provide starting air to the bigger engines. It is a complex system that is interconnected to all the other buildings on the hill.

By mid-October 2016 we had a fantastic red and tan structure, as shown above in Photo 1. Whoops! It’s not a pavilion anymore, but has grown into a building. Both end walls as well as the east wall are enclosed. Note the five big windows. This presents a very pleasant appearance from the street. The red tank is a natural gas accumulator, and the green one is compressed air. The building’s destiny has now changed with this great improvement. 

Perhaps a minor problem, but a name had to be chosen. We considered so many, but finally settled on “Paul’s Pavilion” since I have been a major contributor to the project. I just had to add “Engine Wonderland” to the building’s name, as it has certainly been that for me (Photo 3). A quick dictionary check revealed that “pavilion” could either be an open or enclosed display hall, so it really is still a pavilion.

4/19/2018 6:09:52 PM

I would like to see pictures and explanation of an old gas regulator that was used on the powers, running off of well head gas. It was called an “omiter can” hothead spelling may not be correct”


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