Oil Field Engine News

By Staff
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Harold Keller, Glouster, Ohio, wrote in response to the article
on bailing rigs in the May issue, and Harold sent an old oil well
supply ad for an unusual rig, the likes of which I’ve never
seen. He also sent an interesting description of the manner in
which the bailer was used to clean out oil wells, and he wrote a
few words about the engines he recalls using and seeing in the oil
fields in and around Perry County, Ohio. Mr. Keller writes:

‘Enclosed is an illustration of a Wise pulling and bailing
rig, dated 1927. We never had a Wise, but when I was a kid I
remember a similar rig made on a Fordson tractor. I thought that
this rig was pretty modern at the time, as back then most of the
moving and pulling was done with a team of horses. The bailer that
we used in the oil field was called The Acme Dart Valve Bailer. The
ones we used were about 30 feet long, and the outside diameter
varied with the hole size.’

Harold also sent a description of the bailer from an ad that
appeared in the Oil Well Supply catalog, and the text of
the ad is as follows:

‘The dart valve bailer is used to remove cuttings as the
hole is drilled. Generally four to six feet of hole can be drilled
on each rim, but field conditions will determine the best
procedure. A clean hole drills better than one filled with thick
mud, although in soft formations the mud tends to prevent the hole
from caving. It is sometimes better to bail only the thicker,
heavier mud or cuttings found at the bottom of the hole. In this
way the hole is kept in better drilling condition than if bailed

Harold Keller tends to his 25 HP Superior diesel oil field
engine at last year’s West Virginia Oil and Gas Festival in
Sisterville, W. Va.

‘After each run, tools are pulled from the hole and swung
aside while the bailer is used. When the bailer is lowered to the
bottom of the hole the dart valve opens to permit intake of water
and cuttings. The bailer is then surfaced and set down on the
ground, forcing the dart valve into the bailer body and releasing
water and cuttings. Occasionally, foreign matter may wedge the dart
valve in the open position.

Obstructions should be removed so the bailer can retain its

‘When running, the bailer pickup will be indicated by two
snaps on the sand line if the bailer goes directly to the bottom of
the hole (the sand line is the line/cable with which the engine is
lifting the bailer). The signals which occur approximately one
second apart are the results of the pickup of the bailer itself,
followed by the dart valve closing. After lifting the bailer four
or five feet it should be lowered and raised again several times.
This pumping action tends to draw into the bailer any sand or
material which may have settled into the bottom of the hole. If the
double signal is repeated each time the bailer is lifted, it is
safe to assume the hole (well) is in good condition.

‘Only one snap indicates the bailer did not reach bottom. In
this event the trouble may result from a flat or crooked hole,
which prevents the bailer from traveling to the bottom. Other
conditions, such as a ball of mud or boulder projecting into the
hole, can produce the same result. Any such difficulty should be
corrected by reaming before further drilling is attempted.
Acme’s improved design dart bailer bottom has several
advantages. It provides a heavy striking surface on the bottom of
the dart, and the reinforced shank assures longer life, less
breakage. Specify exact OD and ID bailer tube when

Harold also writes a few words on engines:

‘On the subject of oil field engines, they cover a wide
range, and from my experience and recollection can be categorized
into drilling engines, pumping engines, support equipment engines
and all others.

‘In this area, the drilling engines I remember are as
follows: Franklin valueless, of 25 HP and 40 HP; Bessemers, same
horsepower; Reid, 25 HP; Buffalo (we had a 90 HP); Superior diesel
25 HP, which I now exhibit; and Ajax, Peerless and oil well supply
steam engines, 12 to 70 HP.

‘Pumping engines known to me were: Reid (the most common),
in 6 HP to 25 HP; Bessemer, mostly 15 HP; Acme (S.M. Jones), the 10
HP geared unit being the most common; Pattin in 15 HP, with a few 8
HP geared units; and Spence, Smith & Koonts – the 7 HP units
are all I have seen, and we are still using one of them. There were
also a few Fairbanks and Auglaize 15 HP units.

‘Support engines included just about anything with a belt
pulley that could be used to power a water pump or other equipment.
In times long past, we used a Parmaco water pump made by
Parkersburg Machine Co. The neighbors used an Economy (which I now
own), others used a Novo.

A copy of a catalog print for a Wise ‘traction pulling and
bailing machine,’ basically a small tractor that could be
switched from road to winch duty at the throw of a lever.

‘Some years ago I worked as an engineer on a local pumping
station. There was an 80 HP DeLaVergne diesel or oil engine there,
a big single-cylinder, air-start brute that powered an upright
3-cylinder oil pump, which pushed oil from Corning to Joy in Morgan
County. We also had a Kline single-cylinder engine, a 12 x 24
kick-start type on a smaller pump. There was an identical engine at
Bremen Station, which pumped oil into Corning. This engine and a
Hornsby-Ackroid engine, which also pumped oil into Corning, are now
on display at the Coolspring Museum in Coolspring, Pa.

‘Can you imagine kick starting an engine with an 8-foot
flywheel? It actually started fairly easily, in spite of being a
very big engine. The Hornsby-Ackroid was a hot head oil engine and
looked like it would be a nightmare to start.’ Best
regards, Harold R. Keller

It is interesting to note from Harold’s letter that most any
kind of engine, regardless of size or type, can be considered an
‘oil field engine’ depending on the capacity in which it
was used.

Thanks for an interesting letter Harold, and as ever I encourage
others to share their oil field experiences with us. Membership in
the Oil Field Engine Society is free of charge by writing or
sending an e-mail to the address below. And don’t forget, you
can visit the OFES on-line at www.oilfieldengine.com

Contact the Oil Field Engine Society at: 1231 Banta’s
Creek Rd., Eaton, OH 45320-9701, or e-mail at:

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