Most of the time, in fact, 99 percent of the time, when someone speaks to me about a Reid engine, they are referring to what the Joseph Reid Gas Engine Co. called the Type A. The Reid Type A features a charging cylinder and a main or drive cylinder, and operates on the 2-cycle system developed by Englishman Dugald Clerk.
The Type A must have been the most popular engine produced by Reid; the numbers of them produced are a testament to the popularity and respect it must have demanded in the oil fields as a reliable and well-built oil field power plant. Today, oil field engine enthusiasts refer to the Type A simply as a Reid engine. Most people, probably because the overwhelming majority of Reid engines in the hands of collectors are Type A, are entirely unaware that Reid sold other types and styles of engines.
A sales brochure on Reid diesel and gas engines (the brochure lists other Reid products for the oil field industry, but for our purposes we’ll focus on the engines) lists Reid products as follows:
• Type A 2-cycle gas engines
• Type B 4-cycle gas engines
• Type CO-G 2-cycle medium- compression oil and gas engines
• Type CK 2-cycle gas and medium-compression oil engines; single- and twin- cylinder
• Type DC-M 2-cycle medium-compression oil and gas engines
• Type DC 2-cycle twin- cylinder diesel and gas engines
Other type Reid engines known to me are: Type DR “Reid Terrier” and Type V2 2-cycle vertical gas engine.
Types and Styles
In reality, there seem to have been many different types and styles of Reid engines. I have not been able to understand the differences in all of them yet, but here is a brief synopsis of what I do know:
The Type B was the designation for the Reid 4-cycle gas engine, and these were big boys, offered in four sizes, starting with the smallest at 30 HP and moving to 35, 40 and 45 HP. These were beautiful engines, just as nice as any “mill engine” on the market, with mechanically-actuated intake valves, force-feed oil system and totally enclosed crankcase among many other modern features.
Type C and D engines are a bit more confusing. Both were of 2-cycle crosshead design, with totally enclosed crankcases, featuring a “control box” that aided in a quick and easy conversion of the engine from gas to oil or diesel operation. Removing the magneto and substituting an injector pump, along with removing the gas combustion head and installing a hot-spot oil head (along with fuel lines and an oil heater) accomplished this change. Reid claimed, “With the parts necessary at hand, this conversion can be accomplished in the field by two men in approximately one and one-half hour’s time.”
The Type C engines all had a 14- or 16-inch stroke and were offered in the following sizes as medium-compression oil or gas engines:
• 11-1/2-by-14-inch, rated 35 HP at 180 RPM to 55 HP at 300 RPM
• 12-1/4-by-14-inch, rated 40 HP at 180 RPM to 65 HP at 300 RPM
• 12-1/2-by-16-inch, rated 50 HP at 180 RPM to 80 HP at 300 RPM
• 13-1/4-by-16-inch, rated 55 HP at 180 RPM to 85 HP at 300 RPM
The Type DC engines were 13-1/4-by-18-inch bore and stroke and were offered as gas or diesel engines, diesels being rated from 60 HP at 200 RPM to 90 HP at 300 RPM, and gas rated from 62 HP at 180 RPM to 100 HP at 300 RPM.
Some designations referred to special units, such as Type CK-D being a Type CK engine with reverse clutch on a common skid, sold as a drilling unit. The Type DR “Reid Terrier” was a 2-cycle gas engine with a 7-1/2-by-9-inch bore and stroke, and was rated at 14 HP at 250 RPM and 30 HP at 550 RPM. Following the direction engine design was heading at the time, this engine ran at a much higher RPM than earlier Reid engines had. The Terrier featured Timken roller bearings on the mains, a cut-off clutch and fully enclosed working parts. The engine was short-coupled and compact, and therefore easily moved. It was also dust-proof and oil-tight, keeping lubricating costs to a minimum. This construction also permitted outdoor installation. The Reid Terrier is an example of a company trying to remain competitive in a changing market, as “form follows function.”
The Type V2, like the Terrier, is an example of engine design following the changing needs of an industry. It was a twin-cylinder, upright, 2-cycle, crosshead-type gas engine rated at 26 HP at 250 RPM and 55 HP at 550 RPM. Reid described the V2: “In industries and throughout the oil fields, there are sometimes encountered conditions of service which make advantageous the use of vertical engines. To meet the demand thus created, we have developed the Type V2.”
In future issues, and as space allows, I hope to take a more in-depth look at each of these lesser-known Reid engines.
Contact the Oil Field Engine Society at: 1231 Banta’s Creek Road, Eaton, OH 45320-9701;