NOS Joseph Reid Engine

By Staff
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'Before', the Reid engine in Longview, Texas.
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R. H. Smith, left and Bill Judson.

5475 Prue Road #1, San Antonio, Texas 78240.

This all started back in October 1986 at the Speegleville,.
Texas gas engine show where I was watching Darwin ‘Monk’
Ivicic start his big engine, and wondering what it would be like to
own one of these big machines. I was attending the show with my
friend, Reagan Smith, who would later help me get the Reid up and
home to San Antonio, Texas. Monk had a display set up with his
engine, showing pictures he had taken of their Reid, asking
‘what if?’ with a For Sale sign on it. I picked up a card,
not really knowing if I would ever be able to afford the Reid. From
that show in October, up until January 1987, I thought about the
engine. Finally, I decided to write to Monk and inquire about
buying the Reid. To my surprise, Monk didn’t have the engine at
his house. It was in Longview, Texas, about 370 miles from San
Antonio. My wife, Renate, and I were going to take a little
vacation one weekend and go to the First Monday Trade Days in
Canton, Texas, so we scheduled a little 100 mile detour to see if
we could find the Reid in Longview. Monk said the engine was about
six miles out Highway 300 on the left, in an old tin barn next to a
butane tank. He was right on the mark with the directions, because
we had no trouble finding it, surprising us both. I wondered why no
one else had found it before now. I took a few pictures and then
headed back to San Antonio. This old engine was just what I had
been searching for. The original machine, still in the field, in
almost new condition with very little missing.

On another weekend my wife and I drove by Monk’s house in
Holland, Texas to see his engines and to get serious about working
out some sort of deal on the Reid. After settling on the price, we
agreed that the engine would transfer ownership when I got it up
and off of the property and onto Highway 300. Until then, if anyone
should come around asking questions, I was ‘working’ for
him. He had contacted the oil leasing company in Oklahoma and had
the necessary papers, but they were in his name. I didn’t tell
Renate that her ‘egg money’ was gone, but she knows me and
wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of owning the Reid. Something
about two kids in college and things being a little tight. But,
after about a month or so it blew over. I guess she didn’t
really understand what kind of effect this rusty old iron stuff had
on an old Operating Engineer like myself. Also, to our surprise
this engine was four miles from Judson, Texas. We didn’t even
know this town existed until we took a wrong turn while searching
for the Reid. The ‘town’ has one cemetery, one house, one
garage, and one church. The church had a sign in the front stating
that Judson had been established in 1883. We, like typical
tourists, took pictures of ourselves in front of it for the memory
book I intended to keep on this engine’s recovery.

The next month I talked our friends Mr. and Mrs. Reagan Smith
into going to the First Monday’s Trade Days and to drive over
to Longview to see my engine. The gauger who had managed the oil
field told Monk he had helped install the Reid back in 1929 or
1930, he wasn’t sure, and that they had never run the engine.
The oil field shut down during the Depression and when it reopened,
they used electric motors to pump the oil. Electric motors were
cheaper and ran the wells more efficiently. There were two wells
near the Reid that were still operating, both drilled to a depth of
3500 feet.

The old tin barn had protected the engine over the years, but
two pieces of tin had blown off of the roof directly above the
crank case several years earlier. When I pulled the crank case
drain plug about fifty-five gallons of water flowed out. The cover
had a very small rust hole in the top- but I’m getting ahead of
my story.

After a couple of weeks of convincing Renate what a good
addition this engine would make to our collection (which only
consisted of a 1? Monitor and a 2 HP Eclipse vertical), and that we
needed the horizontal engine to round things out, she reluctantly
resigned herself to the idea. We started the necessary planning to
get this baby home.

Several years earlier I had built a three axle trailer out of 6
x 6 I-beams, which I thought would hold the weight of the Reid.
Monk thought the engine was about 8,000 pounds and I guessed about
7,500. But, would you believe the Reid was 10,300 pounds, not to
mention the extra 500 pounds of railroad cross ties, eight feet
long each, which we used to set the engine on so that the 69′
flywheels would be load-free during the ride. On top of this, I
didn’t have enough truck to pull this kind of weight around, so
through friends I found somebody who knew somebody also who could
do the job for me. His name was Mr. Mitch Mitchell from Ingram,
Texas. He and his wife run a mobile home moving company and Mitch
was familiar with the area. He had even worked in the oil fields
years ago. Without his skill and knowledge, we probably would have
never gotten the Reid up and away as quickly as we did.

Reagan, my son Ken and I had never been involved in a project as
big as this before, so we spent a lot of time trying to develop
emergency plans in case things didn’t go as intended. One word
of advice. Never, ever go after one of these monsters with just
four people. It’s a lot more work than you think. Believe me.
Monk said he had spent four days trying to get an engine home like
that, and that maybe the memory of the ordeal had a lot to do with
his decision to sell this one.

Mitch and his wife picked up my trailer on Wednesday night and
returned to Ingram. He was to meet us at a coffee shop in Longview
at 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning to get this job going. Sure enough
that morning he, his wife, and his 454 Chevy one-ton were sitting
outside the door of the coffee shop waiting to go to work. He
worked all day with us although the deal was just to haul it home.
The extra hands definitely helped. I think Mrs. Mitchell enjoyed
watching us work and also kept an eye on Mitch so he wouldn’t
overwork himself.

This just happened to be the week end that the last cold front
was to come roaring down from the Panhandle. The day was a sunny,
mild 80 degrees, but the news forecast from Dallas was sleet and
snow heading our way. Later on that day it clouded up and looked
like it was going to get miserable. The gauger stopped by to see
what we were up to but I couldn’t convince him to grab a sledge
hammer or wrench. They didn’t mix with his young 74 years, or
something like that. He said he had jumped up and down on the
flywheels on the Reid every year to keep it loosened up, and had
poured oil down one of the inspection plates on top of the cylinder
to keep it free, but over the last several years it was getting
harder to turn over.

On the trip up a month before, I had poured some oil into the
cylinder and sprayed a can of WD-40 on the base bolts to soak them
a while. To start, we removed the pinion bearing cap to expose the
thrust ring. Then we all climbed aboard the flywheels to roll it
over, but no luck. A little chain and Chevy power freed up the
engine so we could begin removing the crank case pinion shaft and
pulley (18 inch face by 24 inches). Problem number two was how to
get the 1,000 pounds of shaft out far enough to get it to the
ground. We only had one inch of clearance from the flywheel to the
hub base bolts and could not clear the side of the cement support
column. Luckily, I had brought an old flaming wrench which worked
fine as we sort-of jacked up the shaft and let it bounce its way
out the door. The pallet under the shaft ended up as kindling, but
no other damage was done. Except for two, all of the 1? inch base
bolts were easily removed. The bolts were not even run down all the
way to the base of the engine, one step short of grouting the
engine. The fuel line was not hooked up, and neither was the water
line. The water pump had a double full face red rubber gasket
sealing off the suction side. The exhaust pipe was missing, so was
the air cleaner, but that was all.

Hobos had lived in this barn for many years judging by the three
feet of trash around the Reid. We had brought a small A-frame, but
decided not to risk it. We opted instead to use ten-ton jacks to
pick up the engine. We would block up the Reid every two or three
inches of lift. We jacked under the two six inch flywheel shafts
and under the cylinder base at the front. We were able to lift it
about six inches by the noon lunch break. The floor in front of the
Reid (six inch concrete gave way while jacking and we had to
reblock more than we expected.

The next couple of hours were spent removing the grout under the
engine in order to slide two ?’ x 2′ x 8′ plywood
boards, each with four 1′ pipes to roll on as we moved the
engine out of the barn and onto the trailer. Mitch had to block up
the rear wheels of the truck to get the bed of the trailer low
enough to match up with the Reid as it came off of its pedestal
foundation. This ended up bending the rear axle, which wasn’t
noticed until we got the engine home so no harm was done. The wall
and ceiling rafters of the barn were giving way as we pulled out
the Reid, and everybody thought the old barn would collapse since
it was leaning about fifteen degrees out. The gauger had told us
not to worry about the building because the guy down the street was
coming to get the lumber and. tin when we had finished. The
flywheels on the Reid were about two inches short of clearing the
door, but the barn didn’t collapse and we were lucky all
through the job.

Would you believe only a two-ton chain hoist put this much
weight on the trailer? Our biggest risk was that we had no backup.
The four cross ties we had nailed together worked fine as a base to
keep stress off of the flywheels while loading and traveling. But
these ties weighed an extra 500 pounds on an already overloaded
trailer. At just about dark we had the Reid up and on the trailer
and we were ready to head back to the motel for some much needed
rest.

The weather had started getting worse as the cold front hit
town. We decided to get as early a start as possible Sunday
morning. It dropped to 40 degrees that night and the first fifteen
miles out of Longview sleet was hitting Mitch’s windshield.
Luckily, he stayed ahead of the worst part of the storm all the way
back to San Antonio. Mitch dropped the Reid off at my house around
5:00 p.m.

It took two more trips to Longview to get the rest of the
pieces, including the clutch, which was sitting about ten feet
behind the pinion shaft and pulley. My brother John went along on
one of these trips but said it was definitely his last. Good help
is such a job to find these days! The last time I drove by there,
in August, even the foundations had been dug up and buried.

I had Mr. Earl Ihorn from Southwest Wheel and Brake Company
build me a new set of wheels to support the weight of the Reid. I
began restoring the engine in June 1987. After two days of sand
blasting, the 57-plus years of dirt and rust came off. I started
taking the engine apart to see how much damage the water had done
to the inside. To my surprise the entire inside of the crank case
had been coated with red lead paint to preserve the cast iron. The
water had done very little damage. The piston rod and crank shaft
were stopped in the 12 o’clock high position with only the
crank weights in the water. After cleaning up the Reid, I gave it a
coat of Rust-O-Leum gray primer and finished it in the original
Machine Tool Gray color. The manzel lubricator was also full of
water and sludge after the 57-plus years, but it was all there and
ready to go again. In a separate compartment driven by a two inch
side shaft were the magneto and governor, which remained watertight
during the long sleep. The Wico mag, type OG, No. 34276, was like
new. The Reid had patent numbers with dates of June 24, 1919, March
30, 1920, and September 29, 1925 stamped on the top nameplate along
with the slogan ‘Warranteed for all time.’ The Stitt
‘778’ sparkplug was still in the head.

July and August seemed to drag on as I made progress with the
restoration. On August 20, 1987, Reagan came by and talked me into
starting it up a week ahead of schedule. We did not have a cooling
system hooked up yet, but I thought a couple of minutes warm-up was
not too bad. I had hooked up a one inch air hose to the oil
charging inlet port to help start rotation, since we could not move
those huge flywheels against the compression stroke. This was a two
cycle engine and we weren’t too sure how to do it, anyway.
After various experiments which produced a lot of loud bangs and
backfires, we got the engine close to running by pouring some
gasoline down the air intake instead of the hot tube ignitor port
or sparkplug hole. I had run a butane line to the top fuel port
above the four discs valves and then turned on the 1? air valve at
165 pounds of pressure to start rotation of the fly wheel.
Suddenly, a loud bang blew up behind me. This turned out to be the
air hose, but I hung on and had it running while everyone else was
heading south in a big hurry.

It seemed to overspeed to about 375 RPM as we were experimenting
with the right combinations of fuel to air mixtures, but the engine
settled down to a good 115 RPM right away. Overspeed of these giant
flywheels is something we all should try to avoid, or it could turn
into an unhappy event. That is if you can catch up to them as they
go down the road.

All during August I had been rushing to get it ready for the
Speegleville show, but the passing away of my mother in late August
threw all of my hard work and plans out. My brother John had
brought her out to see what I was up to the morning we started the
Reid up, and like all mothers she worried about me and this big old
engine I was fooling around with. If this engine could wait 57-plus
years to be ‘born again’, it could wait another few days
until I got it right-the way it should be.

The good folks at Kendell County Fair called the other day and
asked to see and hear my big engine run when it’s ready to go
on-the-road. I believe the general public should see and hear all
these old rusty wheels run some day, and maybe they will inspire
the younger ones to come on out and find one for themselves. I hope
to see everybody at the Fredricksburg, Texas show next June, at the
Hope, Arkansas show in August, and at the Speegleville show in
October.

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