| March/April 1972

Jr., 523 S. Roberts St., Lima, Ohio 45804.

Here is a little story about a gas engine that had a part in the PLAY 'Lima's First Oil Well In 1885 Was Accident'

To start with here are two pictures, the before and the after. This engine is a 4 H. P. horizontal Famous International No. SA3699 E, 400 RPM, fly wheels 33?' dia. 2?' face, total weight around 1,500 lbs.

Up until about four years ago this engine was used to pump the oil from one of the few remaining oil wells in the once great Lima oil field. This particular oil well was one of hundreds drilled in this area from the time oil was first discovered around noon May 9, 1885, which touched off a boom which lasted 20 years and changed Lima from a small country town to a thriving metropolis. Population of Lima increased from 7,000 to 15,000 by 1890 and swelled to 21,700 by 1900. Within a few years there were 70 wells located in Lima's city limit and by 1900 there were 1,600 producing wells in the 'Lima field.' Getting back to this ole 4 H. P. Famous. Just what year the well, that this engine was on, was drilled is not known, but we do know that it was drilled some time during the boom. According to the owner of the farm where the well is located his father had the well drilled. This Famous engine was the second engine to be used on the well. The first engine, make not known met its fate one cold winter day. As the well was pumped winter and summer not enough salt had been added to the cooling water to keep it from freezing. Yes, salt was used for anti-freeze those days. These engines used on the oil wells were not like the regular farm engine used around the barn yard where water was easy to get. Just to show you, the well that this Famous was on was out in the middle of field about a ? of a mile from the house and barn. So this Famous has had its share of salt in its innards. One look at the inside of the water jacket and you can see what I mean. It is thin in places where the salt has eaten away at the metal.

We located this well and engine last July about 6 miles west of Lima. As stated, this was the second engine used to pump the well. This engine was purchased by the father of the man we got it from after the first engine froze and busted. According to the son this Famous engine was used for about 35 or 40 years on this one well. In fact it was used up until about 4 years ago when the sucker-rod in the well broke. At the time the rod broke, the well was producing about 3 or 4 barrels a week (42 gal. per barrel). At one time this well produced around 40 barrels a day according to its present owner. Not only does this well still produce a small amount of oil but is still producing a small amount of natural gas. In fact this 'Famous' engine was fueled with natural gas from the oil well it was pumping. We now run it on gasoline.

All it took to get this engine running again was a good clean up job. The old oil and grease was about a half inch thick all over it. We had to connect up the fuel pump because it had never been used since they had run it on natural gas. The only change that has been made to this engine is the ignition system. Sometime down through the years someone put on a type E K Wico igniter which gives this engine a block buster spark.


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