Oil Field Engine News

By Staff
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Scale models seem to be all the rage, and the Burns & Homer Co. of New Carlisle, Ohio, has turned out some beautiful specimens. Pictured here is a full-size 25 HP Reid and a 6 HP Burns & Horner scale.
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This diminutive engine is a 1/8-scale of a Reid 6 HP engine. The charging cylinder's location on the left side of the engine makes this a 'Left Hand' Reid.

 When an engine is popular because of its rarity, age or
historical significance, someone inevitably produces a replica or
scale model of the original. The oil field engine hobby is no
exception. To my knowledge, the largest – and only – company to
produce a scale model oil field engine is Burns & Homer Engine
Co. of New Carlisle, Ohio. For more than a quarter century this
firm has produced 1/4- and 1/8-scale Reid engines, and a 1/4-scale
Bessemer engine.

In 1985 Robert Burns, his son, John, and Harry Horner made plans
to build three fully operational Reid model engines -one for each
of the three men. Harry had already carved some Reid models out of
wood, and John soon started cutting steel to fabricate the
engines.

Scale dimensions were tallied by averaging the sizes of several
different Reid engines, and using the cumulative averages, the men
fabricated a stubby-looking little engine, which none of them
liked. After some discussion, the three agreed the dimensions of a
6 HP Reid would result in a good-looking model.

All subsequent models produced thereafter have been scaled from
the 6 HP Reid.

Virgin Territory

As the project progressed, John asked Harry if he was happy with
what he saw. Harry was puzzled by the question until John explained
the steel they were using didn’t resemble the cast iron on the
full-size engines. So, the men invested several thousand dollars in
patterns for casting the various parts of the engine in iron.

The first two cast iron models were made without cleanout plates
on the top and bottom of the cylinder. This created flaws in the
castings, but adding cleanout plates remedied the casting problem,
and they subsequently repaired the first two models.

In 1987 Burns & Homer Engine Co. was incorporated.
Unfortunately, Harry Homer and Robert Burns passed away several
years ago, but Robert’s son, John, continues to produce the
scale engines, also offering a -scale Bessemer oil field engine kit
to model enthusiasts.

Kits & Caboodle

Burns & Horner engine kits are sold as castings and require
machinist’s skills to put them together. As such, I
wouldn’t recommend one for a beginner machinist. It’s
possible, however, to have one built by a professional, and I’m
sure John would help a person locate a suitable service. To date,
about 150 -scale Reid engines have been built, as well as just
under 50 1/8-scale Reids. About 100 1/4-scale Bessemers have also
been built.

John s been a great help to the scale model community. He’s
also popularized ‘yellow dog’ derrick lamps among oil field
engine enthusiasts by manufacturing full-size reproduction
‘yellow dog’ lamps. His future plans include a scale model
of a Superior oil field engine, and at some point he may cast
hard-to-find Reid parts. Specifically, he may cast a full-size 4 HP
Reid engine kit.

I’m pleased with the growth the oil field engine hobby has
seen, and I’m glad to see the enjoyment people have found in
scale models. The many wonderful people in our hobby who help
fellow friends and collectors is a big part of why the hobby has
grown, and I consider John Burns to be one of those people.

As always, please call, write or e-mail if you would like a free
membership in the Oil Field Engine Society (OFES).

Contact the Oil Field Engine Society at: 1231 Banta’s Creek
Road, Eaton, OH 45320-9701, online at: www.oilfieldengine.com, or
e-mail at: oilengine@voyager.net

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