Oil Field Engine News
The latest from OFES
As the saying goes “time flies when you’re having fun” and
that’s just my thought as we come into August and September; late
summer but as with each year a busy time in my area for the oil
field engine enthusiast.
In my position as secretary/caretaker or whatever it’s called,
of the Oil Field Engine Society (OFES), I always try as best I can
either via this column or the Internet, to promote shows that want
to feature oil field engines. I am happy to report that there
already have been several this year and more yet to come.
• The Wheels of Yesteryear show in Bluffton,
Ind., is Aug. 8-10, featuring lesser known tractors and of course
oil field engines. For information on this show, contact Dave Park,
• The West Virginia Oil & Gas Festival at
Sistersville, W.Va., will be Sept. 12-13.
• The Northern Indiana Historical Power Association
Antique Equipment Show is Sept. 26-28 and features oil
field engines along with Cockshutt tractors. Visit www.nihpa.org
Also, the directors of “Northern Indiana Power From the Past”
have already contacted us to have an oil field engine feature at
their show, which will be the third weekend of July 2009. For
information on that show contact Robert Smith, (800) 572-3651.
In other communications received here at the OFES desk is a
letter from the Oil Region Alliance of Oil City, Pa., concerning
its 17-month (August 2008 to December 2009) “Oil 150” program
celebrating the sesquicentennial of the first oil well drilled by
“Colonel” Drake in Titusville in 1859. Purposes of the celebration
• Increasing worldwide awareness of the sesquicentennial of
• Increasing national public knowledge and understanding of the
significance of the early oil and natural gas industry developments
• Educating the public on the petroleum industry’s
• Educating the public on the social and economic benefits the
industry has brought to the nation.
• Increasing tourism at oil-related sites.
One of the dates on the “Oil 150” calendar that may be of
interest, is the Drake Well Museum’s “Fall Gas-Up” Sept. 20, 2008,
when the museum invites antique gas engines on the museum grounds,
in cooperation with the Pioneer Steam and Gas Engine Society.
For more information contact the Drake Well Museum, (814)
827-2797 or e-mail email@example.com.
For information on the “Oil 150” program visit
And finally, on the subject of oil, I hope the shows will have
good attendance and participation in spite of the high fuel prices
we have been experiencing. It should be an encouragement to the
modelers in our hobby who have a lot less iron in their displays to
haul around. Unfortunately the reality of the times is that we
might see a decrease in the number of very large engines being
transported to shows. It definitely is a factor now when one
decides, “Am I going to take the 6,000-pound 25 HP engine or the
1,500-pound 5 HP engine?” My consolation as I think on the
situation is that it really doesn’t matter what exhibit I may have
with me, if any; what’s more important is the joy and friendship I
get out of seeing my many friends in the engine hobby. So, the most
important thing we bring is ourselves, even if it’s on an 80-mile
per-gallon motor scooter.
Contact The Oil Field Engine Society: 1231 Banta’s Creek
Road, Eaton, OH 45320-9701 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.oil
fieldengine.com • membership is free
Oil Field Engine News
My recent travels have yielded an abundance of
information that I look forward to being able to share with our
readers. I hope to be able to cover some history of the life of
Samuel Milton Jones, founder of the S.M. Jones company, which built
the ACME and Rathburn gas engines, and also the ACME sucker rod and
Jones and Hammond pump jacks, along with a line of other oil
field-related tools and supplies.
I also hope to be able to offer some history into the “JC” Gas
engines built by the Titusville Iron Co.
Lastly, I have been thinking of doing a compendium of
information in either book or CD form of all the information that
we have available for the Joseph Reid Gas Engine Co.
There is still much work to be done though compiling all the
photocopies and other papers of information, which so many have
been so kind to share with me. If by chance you feel you may have
further information to share, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
I am finding that much of this information is up to us as
collectors and oil field engine enthusiasts to preserve for the
future and save from the ravages of time. Oftentimes the old papers
sitting in the file drawer may be the only one of their kind
On that note, of preserving the oil field history, I recently
had the opportunity to travel with a group to the West Virginia Oil
& Gas Museum in Parkersburg, W.Va. Stored there is an
impressive collection of oil field memorabilia with an interest to
West Virginia’s part in the development of the world’s first oil
fields. The museum has an impressive library that I regret is not
closer to me because I could spend hours there researching it. Also
to be seen there are old photographs of the West Virginia oil
fields, several engines and parts and pieces, and an extensive
collection of yellow dogs with names on them I had not seen before.
There are many other artifacts too numerous to list that relate to
oil field engines and equipment.
The following is from the West Virginia Oil & Gas Museum
Both oil and natural gas were discovered in western Virginia
by the first explorers in the mid-1700s. George Washington acquired
250 acres in what is now West Virginia because it contained an oil
and gas spring. This was in 1771, making the father of our country
the first petroleum industry speculator.
A thriving commercial oil industry was in process as early
as 1819 with the first major wells drilled at Petroleum, West
Virginia, outside Parkersburg, early in 1859; California, West
Virginia in the summer of 1859; and Burning Springs, West Virginia
a year later in 1860. Natural gas was moved in wooden pipes from
wells to be used as a manufacturing heat source by the Kanawha salt
manufacturers as early as 1831. These events truly mark the
beginnings of the oil and gas industry in the United
With oil selling for $30 a barrel in 1860 and natural
gushers being drilled at only 100 feet, the West Virginia oil field
quickly made local millionaires. The wealth of the first oil barons
was used politically in bringing about statehood for West Virginia
during the Civil War. Many of the founders and early politicians
were oil men – governor, senator and congressman – who had made
their fortunes at Burning Springs in 1860-1861.
On May 9, 1863 the important Burning Springs oil field was
destroyed by Confederate raiders led by General Jones, making it
the first of many oil fields destroyed in war. After the Civil War
the industry was revived, and over the next 50 years, the booms
spread over almost all the counties of the state. Drilling and
producing of both oil and natural gas continues throughout the
state to this day.
This exciting history is portrayed at the West Virginia Oil
& Gas Museum, and documented in a recently published book
Where It All Began by David McKain and Bernard L. Allen,
I would recommend a trip to this museum to any oil field engine
enthusiast or anyone who has an interest in oil field history.
Contact Oil Field Engine Society at: 1231 Banta’s Creek
Road, Eaton, OH 45320-9701;
Excerpted from the Oil and Gas Museum website:
Where it all Began challenges Pennsylvania’s
long-standing claim as the birthplace of the oil industry. It
chronicles the discovery of oil and gas and the development of the
oil and gas industry in West Virginia and Southeastern Ohio from
the mid-Eighteenth Century.
It delves into the powerful political influence that the
industry leaders had on the creation of the state of West Virginia
in the midst of the turmoil of the Civil War. It shows the
importance of the Parkersburg area and West Virginia in the
development of the world’s most powerful and significant
It is fully illustrated with over 270 pictures and maps (many
never before published) and contains much original historical
material with analysis covering political, social and economic
events from the early 1800s to the present. Original material from
newspapers, deeds and personal diaries provide a portrait of the
early days of the area.
This is a particularly important oilfield and local West
Virginia history reference work containing many carefully
researched facts which revise long accepted views of historical,
political, social and economic events. Much of this new information
has national implications.
To order, send $43 to: David L. McKain, 1225 Ann St.,
Parkersburg, WV 26101. (Please write for correct shipping amount on
Oil Field Engine News
Two good friends of mine, Dave and Kent Park of
Bluffton, Ind., recently showed me an engine they were able to
obtain from the oil well lease it was on near Cambridge, Ohio.
Their great engine find is another example of an engine make that
was put into service in the oil fields, but is not normally
associated with the oil industry.
This 5 HP Stover engine was attached to a single well pump jack.
The serial number, TD-273127, on the Stover tag indicates it was
built in 1941, according to the serial numbers listed in the back
of C.H. Wendel’s book, Power of the Past Vol. 3. It is one of the
enclosed-style “CT” model engines.
The engine had been converted from magneto to hot-tube ignition,
a common practice in the oil fields where operators could utilize
the wellhead gas for ignition and engine fuel. The hot-tube and its
chimney were attached directly to the spark plug hole.
The lease operator reportedly pumped it only four hours every
Saturday during the last years of the well’s production. He had
provided it its own little “house” for protection from the elements
when it was not in operation, which consisted simply of a panel of
corrugated steel with a couple of notches cut into it for the pump
jack that was laid directly on top of the engine.
In the photos, you can see that three of the bits possibly used
to drill the well have been put to use as a counterweight for the
Thanks goes to Dave and Kent for sharing their interesting find
with us. I would encourage our readers to share with us their
discoveries in the oil fields.
Please feel free to contact the Oil Field Engine Society
anytime. We will try to help you with oil field queries or
information in any way we possibly can. Also, a lifetime
membership, as always, is free of charge.
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: email@example.com
Pictures From the Past: Mixing it Up
Regular contributor David Babcock has a knack
for coming across period photographs showing the equipment we
collect and love as it was used – literally in its work
It’s easy to forget how important stationary engines were to
rural residents in the early days, mechanical beasts of burden that
could lessen the physical toil of just about any job, on or off the
farm. In this issue David sends in some period shots showing a
variety of old engine-powered cement mixers at work in rural sites
in the Upper Midwest.
Contact engine enthusiast David Babcock at:?3491 E. Deckerville
Road, Cass City, MI?48726; firstname.lastname@example.org
1910 4HP Fairbanks, Morse and Co. Type T
View a 1910 4HP Fairbanks, Morse and Co. Type T located at the Coolspring Power Museum Municipal Works building.
Tracing the Career of Frank M. Underwood Part 3
Read part three of gas engine pioneer Frank M. Underwood’s life covering his post-Lambert patents while living in Sandusky, Ohio.
The Benz Engine
Learn about the intriguing history of the Benz gas engine and its inventor Karl Benz.