Fifty miles from our office, in an inconspicuous metal building
just off Interstate 35, sit seven 1927 Cooper-Bessemer horizontal,
twin-cylinder compound engines. Fifty-two-feet long, 19-feet wide,
12-feet tall, 14-foot flywheels, 16-inch crankshaft, bore and
stroke of 22 x 36-inches, 80 tons each and rated at 1,250 HP at 125
RPM. Until just last year, these industrial giants had been
anonymously working away pumping natural gas throughout Kansas. Out
of sight, out of mind – until now.
Ever since engine collector and GEM reader Tim Christoff,
Basehor, Kan., found out about these engines, the ‘Bessie
7’ as he’s come to call them, he’s been on a crusade to
retrieve and preserve at least one of these units. And there’s
the rub, because to preserve one, he might have to take all seven.
Williams Pipeline, owner of the engines, wants them all to
disappear at once, whether to collectors or to the scrap yard. For
most of us in the old iron community, the challenge of retrieving
equipment of this scale is seemingly impossible. And yet, engine
collectors around the country have been responding to Tim’s
discovery, searching for every option possible in a quest to save
these engines from the scrap heap. In two days I’ll get my
first look at them, and you can count on finding out more about the
‘Bessie 7’ in the next issue.
Finally, you’ll notice some changes with this issue of GEM.
The cover has been freshened up so we can run larger photos, and
the departments in the magazine have been changed to standardize
them and make them easier to spot. The type size has also been
increased, and we’re sure readers will enjoy the new look.
As ever, I look forward to your comments and questions about Gas
Engine Magazine. Contact me anytime at (785) 274-4379, 1503 S.W.
42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265, or via email at: