Coolspring Spotlight: 1930s 30 HP Reid

This 1930s 30 HP Reid, by the Joseph Reid Gas Engine Co., is featured at the Coolspring Power Museum.

| April/May 2015

Manufacturer: Joseph Reid Gas Engine Co., Oil City, PA
Serial Number: 18023
Horse Power: 30 HP @ 180 RPM
Bore: 12-1/4-inch
Stroke: 16-inch
Ignition: Magneto and spark plug
Governing: Throttle
Owner: Mike Murphy

This particular engine is a late 1930s 30 HP Reid that worked in a powerhouse near Oil City, Pennsylvania, which was the home of Joseph Reid Gas Engine Co., where this engine was manufactured.

It is quite a bit different than the typical Type A series Reid, a 2-cycle that uses a charging cylinder. This is a 4-stroke engine and is actually fairly modern by the standards of what you would see on a normal Reid engine.

This Reid has a sideshaft that drives an enclosed governor and enclosed cam in the front that operates the power valves. The air-start mechanism on the front is also operated off of a face cam. The engine is unique in that it has a closed oiling system. A sump very low on the engine collects the drain oil and a pump forces the oil through a Purolator oil filter and up into an oil distribution pipe tree, where oil runs down through roller bearings. This engine is equipped with roller bearings on all the turning surfaces, so it’s unique in that respect, as well. It is equipped with a mixer system that looks very similar to what’s on the 2-cycle Reid engines.

Reid slowed down manufacturing during the Great Depression and ended up going into receivership in 1937, so this engine was probably built very near the end of the Reid line. “Filtration and closed oil systems were becoming popular, but in the same time period that this engine was built, the industry was shifting and everybody was starting to lean toward multi-cylinder, high-speed engines, which were much more efficient, cheaper and smaller, even in the oil fields,” says engine owner Mike Murphy. “That probably doomed these engines.”

This engine is quite rare and it’s one of the only ones known to exist. The 30 HP and 35 HP were of this style. When Reid went to the 45 HP 4-cycle engine, the style of the engine changed slightly. “There are some indications that this engine might have been preproduction, as some of the fasteners have poor access for wrenches,” says Murphy. “Being that this engine was very close to Oil City, it’s possible that this engine was part of field testing.”


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