20 HP Pattin Bros. engine converted to diesel

Oil Field Engine Society News

| December/January 2010

As God said to John in the book of Revelation, “What thou seest, write in a book.”

I have thought several times these past months upon seeing the clever idea or the mechanical beauty we all love so, “I need to write an article on that.” So, one says to self, get to it or you’ll lose the scrap of paper you have it saved on. Alas, Rome was not built in a day.

One of those moments when I was struck by someone’s clever idea came awhile back at the Hillbilly Flywheelers show in Irvine, Ky., where I met Russell Burbage and his son, Dave, of Georgetown, Ohio, and their 20 HP Pattin Bros. Co. engine.

As I approached the running engine I really did not know what I was seeing upon first inspection – it ran somewhat fast but not too much so. A fuel tank was suspended from the upper cooling water pipe, its line leading down into some strange pump mounted at the front of the cross-slide. Then, my eye was drawn to something that really got the gears spinning in my brain:  With each stroke of the cross-slide, a special plate mounted to it would strike the pump’s plunger swiftly with each stroke. “What the heck is going on here?” I thought. 

Upon further investigation I could see the outlet of the strange pump with its thin steel line running along the cylinder into the side of the cylinder head. I did not know what to make of the blackish gray smoke from the exhaust which seemed more like what you would see from a diesel engine. And then it struck me like a revelation: Diesel – aha!

Upon my inquiry of Mr. Burbage, I learned that the mysterious pump is out of a hydraulic jack, the fitting at the cylinder head fed by the steel line is a 6.5-liter Chevrolet diesel injector, and for convenience of starting, a 12-volt powered glow plug is in the front of the head.