Oil City Boiler Works/South Penn cross-breed engine, Part 2

Labor of Love, Part 2


| December/January 2010



oil city 1

When Andrew Mackey finally arrived home from Pennsylvania with a newly purchased Oil City Boiler Works/South Penn cross-breed engine he had quite a few exciting stories to share with his friends at the  North Jersey Antique Engine and Machinery Club. Mackey helped arrange the purchase and retrieval of the engine for the club.

Photo by Andrew Mackey

Editor’s note: The following is the unedited version of Part 2 of a multi-part series about the purchase, retrieval and restoration of an Oil City Boiler Works/South Penn cross-breed engine purchased by the North Jersey Antique Engine and Machinery Club in 2006.  The edited version of this article ran in the December/January 2010 issue of Gas Engine Magazine; Part 1 can be found here.

I was back up again, at 7 AM , to attend the Coolspring show. This was my first time there, and I cannot say enough about it! It was FANTASTIC! The theme was ‘ODD and UNUSUAL’ and it was! There were all kinds of engines there, and the show operators were great! I saw quite a few people there, whom I knew, and met a few I didn’t as well. One of the people I met was Dusty Erickson, who wrote the book on the Mietz and Weiss Engine Company. There was a 2 HP Mietz and Weiss engine there as well!

While at the show, I saw 5 other Oil City Half Breed engines, and one South Penn gas oilfield engine, that was mounted on a trailer, similar to the one I was hauling the engines on. I attended the show all day Friday, and Saturday, and enjoyed every minute! I had quite a few queries about the Oil City engine (See Picture 9), and the Charter - Mietz that I had brought to the show.

hile I was there, on Saturday, I found a gentleman who had cylinder oilers for the South Penn and Bessemer engines for sale.(See Picture 10) Some were highly polished, and a few were rough but complete. I figured I could save about ½ the cost if I bought one of the rough ones, so I bought the cleanest of the rough versions and brought it to my truck. It would take another entire article to describe everything there was to see there. About 3 PM Saturday afternoon, most of the exhibiters had left. I now took the time to look around the show grounds proper. What an amazing place! I finally left, about 5 PM, and drove back to the hotel. I had figured, with the load, and the trailer, I wanted to be rested up, and get a jump on local traffic, by leaving early. I had a nice dinner across the street, and headed to bed at 9 PM.

Another close call
I woke up at 4 AM, Sunday morning, got dressed, checked out at the front desk, and soon , and after a safety check, was on my way. For the entire trip home, I worried about running out of gas again, but it didn’t happen. The trip home was relatively un-eventful, with one exception. This exception presented one of the most harrowing experiences I have ever had behind the wheel, and I have had quite a few! Approximately half way back home, I was traveling up a long upgrade, nearing the top. This slope was one of many I encountered that day, and there were many signs stating ‘No vehicles more than 9’6” wide’. As the trailer was 8’10“, I figured that there should be plenty of room for me. At the top of the long hill, there were 3 signs. First, ‘Maintain safe braking distance, steep downgrade, next 7.2 miles‘. OK, that’s why the trailer has it’s own brakes! Next was, ‘Road Side Information‘: “This is the highest point on Interstate 80, east of the Mississippi - 2280’ above sea level!”. The view of the surrounding valleys and foothills was fantastic. OK, nice view, now what? The next sign was reflective orange, and had PA Road Department Warning, in big 10” lettering. Under it in small print were the details. How you were expected to see this small print at 60 MPH is beyond me. The only way I saw it was that traffic had slowed because some poor kid had hit a deer with his car, and pretty well destroyed his front end. The fine print stated as follows: On or about July 1, 2004, this highway will undergo maintenance, and widening, and there will be various lane closures. Be prepared to stop. Maintain 60 MPH. There will be 2 run-off stops, if you have difficulty, coast to one of these stops, and wait for assistance. OK, I thought, that’s not so bad. Little did I know what was in store for me!

Shortly after cresting the hill, and passing the signs, I could see the right lane ahead, with many cones, and signs, stating “right lane closed ahead 1500 feet.”. At the noted 1500 foot mark, a Jersey Barrier (a concrete barrier named after the first state to use them; New Jersey) 4 feet high had been erected at the shoulder, that eventually blocked off the right lane entirely. Still good, I thought, traffic was still doing 70 MPH. A ¼ mile up the road, the scenario repeated. First, the signs repeated, “Right lane closed, 1500’ “ Sure enough, the center lane was now running out.