Oil Field Engine Society News

By Staff
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Blaire Grube helping tear open building.
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Flywheels for Ball engine, painting March 1992.
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Ballachino pump

Farmer 1231 Banta’s Creek Road, Eaton, Ohio 45320-9701

We are all aware that many people enjoy collecting the old oil
field engines; but not so common are the ones who collect and take
an interest in the old pump jacks and related equipment and rigging
which came with this work of getting oil out of the ground. The
society received a letter recently from Mr. Mark V. Ballachino, who
has always been ‘marveled,’ in his own words at the old oil
well pump jacks ever since his childhood, and he always felt he
would like to have one of his own. So last summer he was able to
obtain one and now requests that if anyone has information on this
subject, such as history or manufacturers or if someone can help
him to more specifically identify his own pump jack (see photo), he
would very much like to hear from them. He can be contacted at: Mr.
Mark V. Ballachino, 172 N. Cascade Drive, Springville, N. Y. 14141
or on the web at MBallachino@Yahoo.com.

In response to the article a while back on half-breed engines,
we received a request for help in finding a flywheel for a 12 HP
Farrar & Trefts steam engine. As many of these became
half-breed gas engines, the owner feels as though there must be one
out there in a rough and cannibalized state with the correct
flywheel. It would have curved spokes, a 3′ crankshaft bore,
and be approximately 54′ in diameter. If anyone can help,
please contact Mr. Carlton Ekdahl, 55 Portsmouth Ave., Manchester,
NH 03109-4434.

Our story this month with accompanying photos was written and
sent in for the OilField Engine News by Mr. Luis A. Miller Jr.,
R.D. #1, Box 304A, Worthington, Pa. 16262.

As always, if you would like a free membership in the OilField
Engine Society, please send a self-addressed envelope to my address
at the start of this column.

Mr. Miller’s story follows. This is a photo of one of my two
15 HP Ball engines. I accidentally found these two engines in
August 1991. I drive truck, and at the time, was driving for a road
and bridge construction firm. We were working on replacing an old
bridge on Route 58 near St. Petersburg, Pennsylvania, in a little
burg called Alum Rock. I was sent with a load of concrete forms
from west side to east side of the bridge, and was sent on the
wrong road. This road was hardly passable and led to me finding and
seeing one of the engines sticking out of the brush. With only one
house on this road, I stopped after work and talked to a Mr. Shorty
Shoop. I was excited to find out through conversation that there
was not one but two engines; the one pictured that I restored was
found further up in the woods in a powerhouse. Mr. Shoop told me
all about this engine and that he ran and serviced it for many
years pumping four oil wells for Mr. Ray Dunkle, the owner. He
owned these until his death, when his wife sold the property and
wells to a coal-stripping company. The property was stripped,
backfilled and seeded, then was sold to Mr. Jamie Clawson, from
whom I purchased the two engines. In conversation with Mr. Shoop, I
found out the engine had been sitting idle for 31 years. I figured
the worst, sitting that long, but there are a few surprises in old
engines sometimes. With the help of my good friends, Ray Whietling,
Blaire Grube, Glenn Johnston and LeRoy Gibble, we were able to bump
the piston loose from the cylinder with no trouble. We completely
disassembled the engines on site for transport to my house fifty
miles away. It was a big job getting both engines out of there
because of being in such a remote spot and the property being
stripped. We found the cylinder bore in pretty good shape, with
little work being done to it. The water jacket outside cylinder
area and head were in pretty sad shape. The head was cracked in
several places and a piece of casting from outside of the cylinder
was broken free. I was able to have repairs made on these parts
without much difficulty and at a good price. I was really
surprised, after thirty-one years of sitting, that only the
cylinder oiler was missing. All other parts were still there
intact. I also purchased many extra parts from inside the building
for the engines. I found the rings on the eight-inch piston frozen
tight. I tried diesel fuel and penetrating oil with no success. I
used pure vinegar in a five gallon bucket with the piston turned
upside down in vinegar. It really cleaned up the piston and
loosened up the rings in about four to five days. I took the main
parts of the engine to the company shop where I picked up my truck
when working for that company, and degreased and steamed the
flywheels, bed plate and cylinder three times each. There was at
least one and one-half inches of old grease and dirt built up in
some places. I started restoration in December 1991, and worked
pretty much all winter into spring of ’92, cleaning and
painting. By Memorial Day 1992, I started reassembling. With the
help, of my neighbors, Lester Smith and Kenny Walters, and
Lester’s back hoe, we proceeded in getting the engine back
together. By late June or early July 1992, I was ready to start the
engine for the first time. We ran into a few problems with starting
due to air and fuel settings being different on propane than on
natural gas. With the help of my neighbor Tom Miller and his son,
Charlie, we were able to start the engine using his Farmall tractor
back wheel as a drive wheel turning the engine over for easy
starting. It worked out real good and made it possible to make
adjustments needed for running smoothly.

It ran great, and oh, the music to my ears from the exhaust.
Being a two-cycle engine, it fires about every stroke. This was my
first big restoration project, and I was really proud of the way
things turned out.

I have a total of just over 600 hours in the project. The
original 18′ x 18′ x 7′ oak timer that the engine was
mounted on was done away with, because of being too narrow and the
danger of upsetting and injury to somebody, or death. Mr. Ray
Whitling used 4′ gas well casing and angle iron to make a new
sled-type stand.

I had a very enjoyable and educational time during the whole
project. I have a total of 25 engines, plus four old tractors, and
over-400 oil cans and old antique tools in my collection. This
engine restoration project is my favorite and most enjoyable to
date. I have just over $900.00 in the complete project, not
counting my time, but who counts time when one is having fun?

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