Oil City Boiler Works/South Penn cross-breed engine

A gas engine adventure


| September 2009



mack2

Some of the 20-plus engines that Tom Schoolcraft has scattered on his property in western Pennsylvania.

Andrew Mackey

Editor’s note: The following is Part 1 of a multi-part series about the purchase, retrieval and restoration of an Oil City Boiler Works/South Penn cross-breed engine purchased by the North Jersey Antique Engine and Machinery Club in 2006. This article was edited for length in the September 2009 issue of Gas Engine Magazine. Below is the unedited version:

The North Jersey Antique Engine and Machinery club celebrated its 26th anniversary in 2006, and the club officers wanted to kick off our 27th in a big way. Off and on, we had been looking for a BIG engine to display at our meeting place, the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show Grounds, in Augusta, N.J. Up to that point, the biggest engine on display was an 8 HP Lister diesel generator which the club purchased several years ago. I had always wanted to attend the Coolspring Power Museum show, in Coolspring Pa., and that year, the opportunity presented itself, with an added bonus. This is the story as it unfolded.

I have been reading and working with Harry Matthews’ SmokStak website for several years. The site has an abundance of followers, and is an excellent reference guide for engine enthusiasts who are looking for information as well as parts and engines themselves. In my particular case, I was cruising thru the Engineads section when I ran across an ad by Tom Schoolcraft. It read as follows:  “FOR SALE: One half-breed engine, 15 HP, must go, best offer!” I e-mailed Tom, requesting details about the engine, and asking roughly what it weighed.

The next evening I had my answers. The engine was an Oil City Boiler Works/ South Penn half-breed engine. He wanted best offer over scrap value, and it had to be removed within three weeks, or it was going to be cut up, and be scrapped along with a junk car he had on the property. No cracks, breaks, or welds to be seen, guesstimate weight of about 3,000 pounds, and the engine was possibly lightly stuck. It was sitting on its flywheels, and there was no way to try and turn it over. I then asked if he would send me some pictures, which he did right away. He told me the oiler and hot tube were missing, as well as the intake check/gas valve disc, but otherwise, the engine was complete and original.

I then called Blace Flatt, our club president, and told him of my find. He advised me to bring the engine up before the membership to see if we wanted to proceed with obtaining it. In the mean time, I contacted Tom, and asked if he was going to the Coolspring show in June. He told me he wasn’t going to make it this year, but that he lived only six hours from the show grounds. We finalized a price, and I then brought it up before the club. The club members voted to buy the engine, and our club secretary, Joe Cook, offered to reimburse the club and purchase the engine from them to use as a lawn ornament in case we couldn’t get it running. This brought a lot of guffaws and remarks of, “We’ll take you up on that!” from the membership.

The next question to answer was how we were going to transport the engine. I had told Blace that since I was already going to Coolspring, it was only logical I go the rest of the way and retrieve the engine. My only problem was what to bring it back with, but Blace told me that I could use his trailer. I figured that couldn’t be too hard as my truck, a 1996 Dodge Ram 1500, was already equipped to tow a small trailer that I already own. I was in for a rude awakening when I went to Blace’s home to pick up his trailer.