Restoring an Oil City Boiler Works/South Penn cross-breed engine, Part 6

Labor of Love

| August/September 2010

oil city 3

Andrew Mackey holding the two copper bearing covers he made.

Photo by Andrew Mackey

Editor’s note: The following is the final part of a six-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.  Read part 5 . 

Keeping the engine running
After the first start-up, the upper water piping was bearly warm. The way guides and the cross head were cool and well oiled. The main crank bearings were tight and cool to the touch, and the crosshead bearing, as well as the crank pin, were cool and well greased.

The piston oiler was another story. The drip sight was completely filled with oil and oil was seeping out the swing point on the drip setting needle valve. It turns out that I overfilled the oiler and the excess oil was blowing out. I had to take out the oil regulator needle valve and the sight glass drain in order to drain out the excess oil. Once drained to the point that the oiler upper oil level was seen in the oiler sight glass, the oil stopped dripping into the lower passages.

I lit the acetylene torch, and after a few minutes, turned on the propane supply valve on the tank. I pulled the engine up on its compression stroke with the decompression valve opened. Rocking the engine back to bottom dead center (BDC), I closed the valve. After a hard yank on the flywheel and a boom, the engine fired and kept going!

I quickly went to the piston oiler and set the drip rate to approximately 10 drops per minute. This may sound like a lot, but with a 10-1/2-inch bore and 17-inch stroke, there is a lot of swept cylinder area to cover besides the piston and rings! So far, the engine has not smoked or chucked liquid oil out of the exhaust, so the drip rate must be pretty close to the engines requirements.

A regular runner once again
The next day, another 20 pound propane tank was donated for firing the hot tube torch nozzle and the engine was ready to run on a regular basis. The engine was run daily for about 45 minutes several times a day for the rest of the 2007 New Jersey State Fair with only a few problems. While original resistance to turning the flywheels has lessened, compression has increased. Still, the starting procedure has been worked out so the engine can be started by one person fairly easily.