Oil Field Engine Wonderland

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

| February/March 2017

Coolsprings Power Museum

Almost finished: The new oil field engine collection building at the Coolspring Power Museum.

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.