Finally Open: Coolspring Power Museum Machine Works Exhibit

By Staff
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by Gas Engine Magazine Staff
The “new” Machine Works building was first built in 1974, but wasn’t finished until 2018.

Yes, the Machine Works building is finally open to visitors! It made its grand debut at our Fall Exposition & Swap Meet, and after waiting 44 years, I was exuberant! Chatting with visitors and running engines was delightful, and all went so well. Six engines in the Machine Works were operational at the fall show, and more will be running for the 2019 Exposition & Swap Meet, June 13-15, 2019. It was about time!

I started the building in 1974. As the collection expanded and John Wilcox and I began working together, it became the third building on the grounds. Preceding it was the Founder’s Building, then called the Engine House, and the Power Tech building, known as the Big Barn. From its inception, it was to be a machine shop, hence its name.

Site where building was built before the foundation was poured.

But progress was fraught with problems. We did get a few machine tools assembled inside, and one operational. However, during those early years the collection was rapidly growing. I was spending almost every weekend hauling another goodie home, some engines being quite large and requiring several trips. So it became easy to let the progress of the Machine Works lag – even to the point of using it for storage. And we all know how that goes; it was soon filled with “junk” beyond hope.

During the ensuing years, several attempts were made to resurrect it, but they all seemed to fail. A little progress would be made, then soon lost again. During those years, we continued with the hope of a machine shop. A turning point for the endeavor was discovering that my dad and I designed the trusses too light to support line shafts. So it was back to storage use again.

Fortunately, that all ended four years ago with a complete restoration of the outside sporting bright new paint. A sincere attempt was started to clean the inside, and this gradually and successfully happened. It was insulated and new rough-cut lumber was installed on the inside giving a very pleasant ambience. With the approval of our Board of Directors, I decided to make it a display place for special engines. And so it happened! The Machine Works’ doors opened for admiring visitors on Oct. 18, 2018. A special day.

Red restored engine.

Upon entering, we are attracted to a central display, one that has endured since the early 1980s. Here we see a 6hp Callahan engine belted to a Jarecki steam pipe threader. I acquired the Callahan from the late Nate Lillibridge many years ago. It was my first really “high class” engine and I surely enjoyed watching it run. I guess I was too naive to document its history.

Mostly black engine with two sets of flywheels. Smaller set is red.

The Jarecki threader came from the old brewery in DuBois, Pennsylvania. The brewery was razed in the early 1980s, but I was able to save this machine. Since the brewery was entirely a steam plant, the threader was also. Indeed, it is shown in the Jarecki catalog. Note the small steam engine built into its side, and the drive belt from the Callahan goes over the steam engine’s flywheel. It can thread pipe from 1 inch through 4 inches, and John and I used it frequently. I actually threaded a piece on 1-1/4-inch pipe in October for demonstration. It was satisfying to operate it again.

My very first engine, a 1-1/2hp Hercules, is proudly displayed on a shelf inside the front window. It is exhausted outside just under the window. Visitors strolling down the entrance road, and not entering the building, can still see and hear it run. And it did run well all day! I acquired it in 1958 for $5! Beside it is a small Fairbanks-Morse Eclipse engine that was found locally many years ago. Marilyn surprised me at Christmas with it back in the early 1970s. It will be running in the spring.

Two small restored engines. One on the left is green and red. One on the right is cast iron.

Also making its running debut was my 16hp Jacobson, serial No. 1011. This makes it the 11th Jacobson built and one of the oldest in existence. Finishing touches were put on it, as well as the interior of the building, the week before the show. It is a magnificent machine with its pictorial history shown on the adjacent wall.

Large cast iron engine.

A relatively new addition to the engine corral is this nice Domestic pump rig. The engine powers a Domestic duplex pump and is on the original factory cart. It is exhausted through the wall, which makes its operation pleasant. Near it is a 4hp Jacobson belted to a Flint and Walling pump jack. These units were suitable for pumping shallow wells and it can be “de-clutched” by means of tight and loose pulleys.

Brown medium size restored engine and pump.
Two small engines. The one on the left is all red. The one on the left is cast iron black.

Then, there is a Stover CT engine belted to an air compressor. Interestingly, it is a factory rig, including the cart. The engine pulley is inboard of the engine flywheel, assuring better alignment and giving a nice appearance. The compressor is of relatively low capacity and pressure, so I am not sure of its intended use.

Small cast iron engine on wheels with a handle pbar to push it.

Awaiting some final touches is this neat little Utility light plant. It produces 100 volts direct current and will light some incandescent bulbs as well as operate a DC motor. The diminutive 4-cylinder engine is Utility’s own product, as is the generator.

A Medium sized white engine with a red tank.

The next picture illustrates some of the shelves and various items placed on them. I will easily be able to fill them with small engines, pumps, electric apparatus, dental air compressors, toys and the like. Many operate and are fun to watch.

All sorts of neat restored little engines on the shelf and below it.

Walking toward the rear of the building, one finds the doorway into the office. Note the wall decorations and the period light bulb. The electric clock came from one of United Natural Gas’ compressor stations. Proceeding through the doorway into the office, this portion is actually the office from Starr Station, a crude oil pumping station in Ohio. It was moved to Coolspring and carefully restored. The furnishings represent how a typical pipeline station could have appeared.

The back corner of the building and the door to the office.
Mostly wood room with a built in wooden desk two wood chairs, an old cash register and type writer and some other kind of old machine call are black in color except the wood.

Stepping out of the office and looking back, we see the appearance of the structure. This is the typical appearance of a pipe line station with its office attached. The large white tank provides cooling water for the building, as well as the Founder’s Engine House and McKee Station.

Back side of the building with the back door and a large water cooling tank.

Finally, we have the project for the summer of 2019. This is the 25hp Nash engine, built by the National Meter Co. of New York, New York. It originally powered an air compressor in National Fuel Gas’ Halsey Station. It has waited a long time on its concrete foundation: It will run again!

A very large black engine

If you have enjoyed this tour of the Machine Works, why not visit it in person next summer. I’m sure you will enjoy it!

Paul Harvey is the founder of the Coolspring Power Museum. Contact the museum at P.O. Box 19, Coolspring, PA 15730, (814) 849-6883.

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