25 HP Superior Restoration Wins 4-H Prize

A blue ribbon restoration

| June/July 2004

This story starts back in the mid-1970s, when our good friend and Gas Engine Magazine columnist Glenn Karch offered to sell us a 25 HP Superior oil field engine. Glenn had recently removed the engine from an oil lease in Sullivan County, Ind., about 80 miles from where we live. The engine had pumped oil on that lease for over 50 years. We bought it and a second, identical parts engine.

Glenn partly disassembled the engine so it would be easier to move, and with the aid of a borrowed crane truck he delivered the engine to our house. Mounted on its original 10-by- 10-inch wooden skids, the engine looked to be in good condition, needing mostly a cleanup and reassembly.

After unloading the engine, we covered it with a tarp and tried to determine the best way to tackle an engine of this size - the flywheels are 6 feet in diameter, and it weighs 6,500 pounds. We needed to get it into the workshop so we could work on it, but lacking equipment large enough to move it, it just sat there. It seemed we might have bitten off more than we could chew.

Fast-forward about 20 years. It was killing me seeing the Superior sitting outside. A bulldozer operator once moved it when we built a new barn, but otherwise it was just sitting. Its tarp had long ago disintegrated, and the elements were not doing the engine any good.

It was about this time that my son, Isaac, was looking for a 4-H Americana project, which is where kids display an original antique or something they have restored. Isaac was about 11 or 12 at the time, and his eyes fell upon the Superior sitting out behind the barn. Maybe this was the motivation we needed to get it restored.

Getting Started
We used a couple of old farm tractors and manhandled the block and flywheels onto our flatbed trailer. We then took it to an industrial sandblasting company where they sandblasted it and gave it a coat of industrial metal primer.