Oil Field Engine News

By Staff
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Photo #1: An old catalog cut showing wet gas-o-meters.
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Photo #2: An old Oil Well Supply catalog cut from the early 1900s. Note the Yellow Dog listed for $1.50!
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Dave Hay den and his 10 HP S.M. Jones. The gas-o-meter is visible at lower right.
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A reproduction Oil Well Supply Yellow Dog by John Neagley.

The oil field engine hobby encompasses not only oil field
engines, but also the tools and equipment of an entire industry.
This is why we see people collecting not only engines, but also the
geared powers which they drove, the pump-jacks and fittings, and
the rod-lines and tools related to the oil industry in the early
1900s. I have noticed, to my delight, that this aspect of the hobby
has gained in popularity in the last few years, with more and more
exhibitors showing this type of equipment.

Displays of this type pose a challenge when it comes to
transporting, as an oil field engine complete with a clutch makes
for a wide load. I know of a 15 HP Reid a gentleman mounted on a
trailer with the clutch attached, but I’d think an engine any
larger would be too wide to haul down the highway. And the
eccentric geared powers are often nearly as heavy as an engine.

At the Portland show this year Dave Hayden exhibited his 10 HP
S.M. Jones. Built in Toledo, Ohio, Dave’s engine has the
distinctive Jones dual exhaust system, one half being valve
actuated and the other ported. He had his engine powering a Reid
geared-eccentric pumping power with a cutoff clutch on the engine.
Dave’s engine also has a wet ‘gas-o-meter,’ as was used
in the old days to regulate the flow of natural gas fuel to the
engine (seen in the lower right of the photo as a round tank).

The gas-o-meter performed the same job that is now handled with
the little round regulator (about the size of your hand) we
commonly see today. The gas-o-meter is basically a float, and it
can be described as two buckets. The top bucket, which is slightly
smaller than the lower bucket, is turned over and fits into the
lower bucket. The lower bucket has either water or oil in it, which
forms a seal or trap for the gas, and the top bucket floats on
this. The lower bucket is plumbed into the gas system such that gas
enters and exits above the water/oil level in the lower bucket. As
gas enters and fills the upper chamber the pressure lifts the top
bucket, and by means of a linkage to a valve on this it shuts the
gas off. As gas is consumed and the pressure drops the bucket, or
float, lowers and in turn (by means of the same linkage) opens the
gas valve to admit the necessary gas

The Oil Well Supply Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., sold gas-o-meters
and many different tools, engines and general supplies to the oil
and gas industry in the early 1900s. Their catalog makes for very
interesting reading for today’s collectors. One item they sold,
described as a ‘Derrick Lamp,’ sold for $1.50. Derrick
lamps are commonly referred to today as a ‘Yellow Dog,’
presumably because at a distance at night it resembles two yellow
dog eyes looking at you. The Oil Well Supply Co. wasn’t the
only company to produce Yellow Dog lamps. Manufacturers and
suppliers known to me are National Supply, Frick & Lindsay
Supply Co., Jarecki Manufacturing Co., Boviard & Sefayng
Manufacturing, Cyclone Drilling Machine Co. and Alten’s Foundry
& Machine Works.

I’m sure there were other makes, but many yellow dogs have
no name cast into them, and such may have been the case with the
Star Drilling Machine Co. I haven’t found anyone who can
confirm that Star made a yellow dog, but I’m told their
drilling machines could be ordered with the recommended five
derrick lamps needed for 24-hour drilling operations to illuminate
the drilling rig at night. I know of one Jarecki yellow dog with
the spouts threaded into the casting. Apparently this was done so
the spouts could be removed to make installation of wicks

A friend of mine tells me he believes yellow dogs were sometimes
used as a makeshift babbitt ladle for pouring bearings, as he has
seen several that had babbitt left in the bottom of them. This
would be typical of old time oil field men – improvising and making
use of the resources at hand.

Yellow Dogs have become a very popular oil field collectible,
and original ones generally demand premium prices. And as with
anything that’s popular, supply and demand ends up motivating
someone to make reproductions.

There are two sources for full-size reproduction Yellow Dogs
that I know of. John Burns manufactures reproduction Yellow Dogs
with the Reid, Bessemer or Superior name cast into them. To my
knowledge none of these companies ever made a Yellow Dog. John also
make an Oil Field Engine Society Yellow Dog with the O.F.E.S. name
cast into it. Burns is at 510 West Jefferson St., New Carlisle, OH
45344 (937)-845-3412, or e-mail him at: jobec_2001

The other source is John Neagley, who makes reproduction Oil
Well Supply Yellow Dogs such as the one shown in the photo above.
Neagley is at P.O. Box 356, Grand Rapids, OH 43522, or e-mail at:

If anyone has any interesting information concerning Yellow Dogs
or oil field equipment, I’d appreciate hearing from them.
I’d like to thank Phillip Sparks, Don Wharton and Arnold
Beverly for their assistance in researching this article. As
always, anyone interested in a free membership in the Oil Field
Engine Society please call, e-mail or write to the address

Contact the Oil Field Engine Society at: 1231 Banta’s Creek
Road, Eaton, OH 45320-9701, or e-mail at: oilengine@voyager.net

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