The Oil Field Engine Society recently received correspondence
from Paul ‘Dan’ Vollman, Evansville, Ind., sharing
information about his ‘Wind Wheel’ oil field engine built
in Centralia, Ill., by the Holtkamp Electric Service Co.
These were essentially Kohler engines purchased by Holtkamp and
modified at their own machine shop for oil field service. The
modifications included a flywheel with integrated, cast-in spoke
fan (thus the name of the engine, Wind Wheel), a flywheel guard, a
mounting base, a Rockford gearbox, a twin-disc clutch, an
externally mounted Wico impulse magneto, a gas or gasoline
carburetor, and various cylinder bore and piston modifications.
Electric starters were offered as an option. Dan’s engine is a
1958 4 HP K330COF, single-cylinder model, and these engines were
also produced in a two-cylinder version producing 10 HP. The 4 HP
and 10 HP models were priced at $550 and $750, respectively. I had
the good fortune to speak with Clarence Holtkamp on the phone, and
Clarence filled me in on much of the company’s history.
Clarence’s father started in the automobile electric service
business around 1920 (thus the name Holtkamp Electric Service Co.).
He also sold batteries and eventually went into selling Delco light
plants, which used many batteries to operate. The business
eventually grew to include Kohler generator sets. As Clarence
recalls, after World War II Kohler Company introduced their
air-cooled style engine. In February 1957, when the oil fields
began to be developed in the Illinois area, Clarence’s father
got the idea of modifying Kohler engines for oil field use. Between
1957 and 1968, when production of the Holtkamp engines ceased, 516
K660COF two-cylinder 10 HP engines and 783 K330COF single-cylinder
4 HP engines were made. Fifty K385COF models, which were some of
the last engines produced, were constructed from Wisconsin parts
rather than Kohler parts, and seven engines were built using
two-cylinder Lister diesel engines. The ‘COF’ designation
stands for ‘Clutch Oil Field.’ Clarence said that all of
their engines of this type were sold for oil field service. The
best years for Wind Wheel engine production were between 1966 and
1968, with 243 engines built during that time.
A circa 1963 ad for Holtkamp engines shows both the 10 HP
two-cylinder Model K660COF (left) and the 4 HP single-cylinder
Model K330COF (right). The ‘COF’ designation stood for
‘Clutch Oil Field,’ a clear reference for its intended
duty. Holtkamp Electric Service Co., Centralia, III., built these
units from 1957 to 1968.
A Holtkamp ‘Wind Wheel’ engine at work running an oil
pump in the field. Judging by the height of the air cleaner, this
appears to be a two-cylinder Model K660COF.
Dan exhibits his Wind Wheel oil field engine along with a 2 HP
Fairbanks-Morse on the same cart, and I had the pleasure of meeting
him at the White River Valley Antique Association’s annual show
last September in Elnora, Ind. Not many people looking at this
engine realize it did oil field duty, but its large flywheel with
integrated fan blades give it away as an oil field engine. Dan
showed me a demonstration of the torque the flywheel produces as it
coasts through compression cycles once the engine is shut down.
This is a good example of how a smaller engine, by means of the
torque produced by a large flywheel, can power a big job.
As a reminder, the annual OFES dinner meeting for the Midwest
will be Saturday, March 22, 2003, in Hagerstown, Ind. For
reservations or more information, please contact me at (937)
456-9387. There is also talk of having a dinner in the Pennsylvania
area, more info on that will be forthcoming. Contact Bill Tremel at
(724) 484-0311 for the latest information on the Pennsylvania
As always, OFES membership is open and free to anyone who likes
big old greasy, rusty oil field engines.
Contact the Oil Field Engine Society at: 1231 Banta’s
Creek Road, Eaton, OH 45320-9701. Visit us on the Web at
www.oilfieldengine.com or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org