An Oil Field Workhorse

By Staff
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The catalog image at right shows a combination
gas engine and duplex pump manufactured by Bovaird & Co. of
Bradford, Pa.

The 5 HP engine is 4-stroke hit-and-miss, running off natural
gas. Although this image shows a Wico L1 magneto, they could be
equipped with hot tube ignition. A gasoline mixer could also be

The duplex pump was referred to as “Niagara” in the company’s
sales literature.

Two gear ratios were provided: 5-to-1 and 7-to-1. With the
engine operating at 350 rpm, the 5-to-1 ratio provided 1,400
gallons-per-hour (gph) at 70 rpm pump speed, and the 7-to-1 ratio
provided 1,000 gph at 50 rpm pump speed. According to the sales
literature, “It is capable of delivering the full capacity of a
2-inch line up a mountain of 1,000 feet elevation.” I cannot
exactly determine when they were first manufactured, although I
have some parts drawings that are dated 1911.

The most widely used application for these units was to pump
crude oil from small storage tanks into main trunk pipelines with
their higher operating pressures, or to pump oil over high ridges
from isolated valleys to other storage tanks where it was easier to
transport the crude to the refinery. Of particular note is the fact
that these pumps were cooled by whatever substance they were
pumping. If they were pumping crude oil, that is what they were
cooled by.

My unit was originally owned by Bradford Transit Co., one of
several pipeline companies in the area. It was located about a mile
from my residence on a small oil lease. It transferred oil from a
50-barrel tank into the main line that ran through the valley. It
had been vandalized, but is now restored and on display at the
Coolspring Power Museum in Coolspring, Pa., along with another

The factory photograph and the piece of original sales
literature are from my personal archives. I was employed by Bovaird
& Co. for over 25 years, until the company closed after 104
years in business in May of 1999. I was fortunate to obtain the
remaining linen drawings of most of the equipment they
manufactured. I also obtained many pieces of original sales
literature and new, unstamped name tags.

Last but not least, there has been an ongoing debate from the
readers of Gas Engine Magazine as to what degree of finish was on
some of these engines. If one were to look closely at the photo,
one would notice runs in the paint from the flywheel hub down a
couple of the spokes. Enough said!

Contact engine enthusiast Michael Fuoco at: 656 W. Washington
St., Bradford, PA 16701; (814) 362-0040.

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