HC 30, Box 68 Chiloquin, Oregon 97624
Well, it happened to me sometime in the summer of 1987. I think
about July. I am a deputy sheriff, and work in a rural area of
southeastern Oregon. I was on patrol one warm day in the small town
of Chiloquin. While driving down a street, I observed what I knew
was a gas engine, but little else. It turned out to be a very
common little engine, but it was the first one that I acquired.
After some dickering, I was able to buy the Stover CT2 for $15.00.
My stepfather and I took the engine home, and the fun began, and it
has not stopped.
This, my first literary endeavor, is to try to chronicle the
In the fall of 1989, my wife Margaret and I went to Oklahoma to
visit my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, and to do some
pheasant hunting. My father’s side of the family still lives in
the Cushing and Drumright area of Oklahoma. This area has some of
the oldest oil fields in the state. Getty drilled the wells that
really got him started in this area. My family has been in the oil
business for three generations.
During our trip, I was, of course, looking for old engines.
Having lived in this area from 1980-1986, I was aware that there
was still some old oil field equipment there.
About the first thing I asked my brother at the airport was if
he knew where there might be any old oil field engines. He looked
at me as if I were nuts, and asked if I remembered that old rusty
engine on the Bower lease. The Bower lease was first drilled in the
1920’s. My father bought the lease after the war. I remembered
that the lease did have some old rusty equipment still standing on
it. I asked my brother if we might look at it, and we drove
straight to it from Tulsa.
The lease is now owned by my uncle, Jack Sellers, and there are
still two wells pumping, both by electricity. However, when the
lease was new, there were six oil wells pumping. The wells were
pumped from a power house. The power house contained a large gas
engine. The engine powered a large horizontal bull wheel by a flat
belt. The bull wheel was attached to an eccentric that was located
at the base of the bull wheel. From the eccentric, there radiated
out from the power house numerous lines, running out into the oil
field. The lines were made of steel rods 16 feet long and mostly ?
to 5/8‘ in diameter. The lines sometimes
ran out a half mile to the pump jack.
When we went out to the Bower lease, I spotted the old flywheels
a mile away. There they sat on a concrete base. It was about 80
feet from the old rusty bull wheel. The power house, built out of
wood and tin, had been blown away in 1950 by a tornado. That is
when the lease was converted to electricity.
The engine had not turned in 40 years. It was set up with a
large clutch pulley. There was a brass tag on the cylinder. The tag
read: ‘Manufactured by the Superior Gas Engine Company,
Springfield, Ohio. #7719 25 HP For the National Supply Company,
Sole Agent, Toledo Pittsburgh, Pa.’ Below this tag was another
one, reading: ‘The Eureka Tool Co. Drumright, Okla. 6 month 1
day, 35 year, No. 933.’
So here it was, a 25 HP Superior oil field engine, all 5 750
pounds of it. I took some photos and then went to Nebraska hunting.
We returned to Oklahoma five days later. My brother and I went to
my uncle Jack’s home and I told him of my desire to take the
engine back to Oregon and make it run again. I think he found it
amusing, but he told me I could have the engine.
The next day my brother and I, with the help of friends with a
large broom truck, removed the engine from the lease and took it to
my brother’s yard south of Drumright. I planned to return in
December to get the engine. I had scheduled a minor surgery on the
4th, and I hoped to drive from Oregon to pick up the engine during
my recovery, when I would be away from work anyway.
During the time left in Oklahoma, I met several fine people in
the old engine and tractor hobby. One of the people had bought a
1917 Mack truck from a man in northern California. However, he had
been unable to secure transportation for the truck. I told him that
I would bring the Mack out to Oklahoma in December for $1,000,
thinking that this would pay for my trip. ‘WRONG!’
All went well at first. Margaret and I went home to Oregon and I
had my surgery. My stepfather and I left soon after, I with both
hands bandaged. We went to northern California and picked up the
Mack. The truck was all my little two axle trailer could handle. As
I said, all went well at first. On the third day of our trip we had
just left Albuquerque, New Mexico. The wind was blowing from the
north about 50 MPH. I was getting impatient with the slow going. As
we went down a long grade I let the speed build up too much.
The trailer started to sway and with the crosswind it became
uncontrollable. As I lost control and as I watched the trailer
outrun my pickup, many thoughts went through my head. Many of them
unmentionable. However, luck was with us, some good, some bad. On
the good side, my stepfather and I had not a scratch. On the bad
side, two tires on the trailer had blown and both axles were bent.
We unloaded the truck and using the spare tire, hobbled the trailer
on to Tucumcari, New Mexico.
In Tucumcari we met some really good folks at the Sewell Machine
Shop. We removed the axles and the Sewells, father and son, made
them straight in their nice hydraulic press. I was able to buy
three new tires and two used wheels the next day and then 110 miles
back to where we left the Mack truck on Highway 40. When we got
there, the Mack was still there. We loaded it up and back toward
Oklahoma we went-not exactly lickety-split. After delivering the
Mack and collecting the money, we rested for a day.
On the 18th day of December, 1989, we started to disassemble the
Superior at my brother’s shop. It was necessary to disassemble
the engine so as to be able to lay the flywheel down on the 6? foot
x 16 foot trailer, otherwise the load would have been too top
heavy. During the disassembly, we were able to unstick the 12′
piston by racking the flywheels back and forth using the crankshaft
to hammer the con rod. This was a great welcome surprise.
The hard part was taking the flywheels off the crankshaft. After
getting the engine loaded, the frame, piston, flywheels and crank
shaft on the trailer, and the head and cylinder in the bed of the
pickup, we were ready for a rest. After resting that night we left
for Oregon the next day.
The trip back was uneventful. The weather was beautiful, and we
got back in four days. My stepfather and I have put the old
Superior back together and we get a lot of people stopping by the
house to see it run. I am now building a trailer that will take it
to the shows in this area.
The whole thing is a superior adventure!