Oil Field Engine News

A Day in the Field

| April/May 2002

Martin Zirger, 150 Martha St., Tiffin, OH 44883, writes of his experience upon visiting an old oil field power. I'm sure all of us who enjoy oil field engines and equipment can relate to his story.

Although the area where I live has many oil wells scattered around, I never really paid them much attention since I assumed most of them had been abandoned years ago. Driving along one day one of those 'rusty iron things' caught my eye, so I turned around to investigate. As I approached, I could make out some gears and pulleys, along with a leather flatbelt and an engine. It was a portable pump jack with the wheels removed, and the engine was a John Deere two-cylinder. The well showed recent signs of being pumped, and looking around I saw there were three more wells in this same field.

Moving on I spotted an unusual pump jack and again pulled off the road for a closer look. This arrangement was quite different from the single wells, having portable jacks and a long, narrow building centrally located to four wells. Each of the pump jacks had a steel rod maybe -inch in diameter fastened to them, the rods running inside the building through small holes in the walls.

I knelt to the ground to peek inside to see just what this arrangement was. Looking inside I saw a huge, beautiful hit-and-miss belted to a 'contraption' that was connected to the other end of the steel rods. I later learned that this engine, an S.M. Jones 12 HP, s/n 1707, was made at the turn of the century and has been pumping the same wells since 1910.

After seeing all of this, and still curious about the equipment, I was introduced to Mike Coyer of the Wood County Historical Society in Tiffin, Ohio. Mike runs a lease, and he invited me along to see operations at his lease firsthand.

Rod Lines

While Mike readied his pumping engine, a hot tube 20 HP Acme Model 390, he told me that the long rods running from the pump jacks to the 'contraption' are called 'rod lines,' and the 'contraption,' which is actually a very large eccentric, is called a 'power.'