Oil Field Engine News

Oil Field Memories


| September/October 2003



25 HP 1912 Reid

Tony Suykerbuyk's 25 HP 1912 Reid at last year's Buckley Old Engine Show in Buckley, Mich.

Greetings, oil field engine enthusiasts. This month I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you just some of the correspondence we have received here at the Oil Field Engine Society (OFES) desk. One of my favorite jobs as caretaker of the OFES is corresponding with all our great engine friends out there, either via post office, e-mail or by telephone. I encourage everyone to share their oil field engine experiences with us.

To begin, we have a letter from Tony Suykerbuyk of Hesperia, Mich. Tony enclosed a photo of his 25 HP 1912 Reid oil field engine on display at the Buckley Old Engine Show in Buckley, Mich. Sharing trailer space with the Reid are his 5 HP 1921 Hercules, 1-1/2 HP 1923 Hercules and a 3 HP 1917 Fairbanks-Morse Z.

Tony wrote in to tell us about the oil field display at the Buckley show, which has been set up with a 50 HP two-cycle Superior belted to a 24-foot band-wheel, which in its day pumped 12 to 15 wells in Oil City, Mich. Tony invites anyone with an oil field engine exhibit to join him at this year's Buckley show. Tony hopes to have as many oil field engines as possible for the show, Aug. 14-17. If interested in attending, please contact Tony at (231) 854-0955 or (231) 349-0033.

Our next letter is from Mr. Jim Patterson of Laramie, Wyo., who writes to share his memories of drilling oil and water wells in the 1930s. Mr. Patterson writes:

'It was the late 1930s and jobs were hard to find - I hired out on a small rotary rig as a back up tong man. This rig had a telescoping tower, and when the driller raised it my friend was on the tower to set the pins. The cable broke and I jumped off the deck and ran. Luckily, no one was hurt very bad. The rig had two good-sized propane fueled engines. One day the propane man came to refill our tanks. He could have gone to the backside of the tanks to fill them, but he did not. Our supply lines were lying on top of the ground and he drove over them. The driller, a big one-eyed Texan reprimanded him, but the person was a smart aleck and back talked him. In an instant the driller knocked the beans out of him, and when he stopped pounding on him the guy made a run for his truck and screamed away to town. As we did not have enough fuel to drill, we pulled four joints of drill pipe and set the drill and mud pump engines on idle for several hours waiting for another fuel truck to fill us.'

I had the pleasure to talk to Mr. Patterson on the phone, and he related many more of his experiences in the well drilling business. Mr. Patterson said a good driller 'knows the sound of his machine, and even if he is sitting nearby sleeping any change in the sound of the engine will instantly awake him to something not right with the rig.'