| August/September 2001

3 Edna Terrace New Hartford, NY 13413 hitnmiss@juno. com

In the heyday of the Pennsylvania oil industry, the landscape was much different than it is today. In those days, the hills of Northwest Pennsylvania were clear cut, the trees replaced with drilling derricks. In the early days, the natural pressure in the wells was enough to push the crude oil out of the wells in the classic gusher.

Soon, however, the pressure in the wells played out, and pumps were required to extract the valuable good. At first, steam was used until the early 1900s when gas engines were put to use burning the natural gas from the wells they pumped. Many steam engines were converted to 2 cycle 'half-breeds,' brute simple, and designed to last. This required replacing the steam cylinder with a gas cylinder, new piston, and removing the steam valve and links. Governors of the Pickering type were usually employed to regulate the gas supply. Others had simple governors of various types. These engines required no boilers, and could run for extended periods of time. Hot tube ignition was used in the early days.

Even more ingenious than converting a steamer to an IC gas engine was the central power. This was a method of pumping many wells from one central location. The heart of a power, also referred to as a power, was a collection of gears and eccentrics which provided the back and forth motion to run the oil pumps. These pumps were distributed at some distance from the power, and as many as 50 pumps could be operated from a single power. The arrangement of the system was like a giant spider splayed along the lease, with the power as the body, the pumps as the feet, and the pump rods as the legs. These rods were wood or metal rods attached to the eccentrics of the power at one end, and the pump at the other. They ran out from the power to the pumps, and were supported by wood or pipe tripods, chains and other devices to keep the rod off the ground, run it over hill and dale, over roads and under railroad beds, while still allowing them to be moved back and forth by the power eccentric.

Photo 1 shows a power. The building to the left foreground houses the power. The rod lines can be seen running out of the building near the foundation. The building in the background houses the engine and crew area. A low sloping building between the two houses the drive belt. The cooling tank for the engine is in the right background, behind the saplings.

Photo 2 shows the 15 HP Superior engine which ran the power. This is a newer engine, with a WICO mag, probably from the late 20s. A gas stove is to the right of the picture, and the clutch pulley is to the left. Unusually, there is a fence around the engine to keep people out of the belts. Photo 3 is inside the connecting building. This setup decreases the belt speed. Notice the fire extinguisher hanging above the smaller pulley. This originally contained a glass vial of carbon tetrachloride. Photo 4 shows the band wheel type power made by the National Supply Co. This wheel is driven directly by the belt and is about 14 feet in diameter. Of special note are the pump lines attached to the eccentric below the wheel by clevises. It can be seen that these rods exit the building in many directions.


Gas Engine Magazine A_M 16Gas Engine Magazine is your best source for tractor and stationary gas engine information.  Subscribe and connect with more than 23,000 other gas engine collectors and build your knowledge, share your passion and search for parts, in the publication written by and for gas engine enthusiasts! Gas Engine Magazine brings you: restoration stories, company histories, and technical advice. Plus our Flywheel Forum column helps answer your engine inquiries!

Be sure to take advantage of the Square Deal Subscription Program.

  • No Missed Issues.

  • No Renewal Notices.

  • No Additional Cost.

The Square Deal Subscription Program is designed as a paperless transaction with automatic renewals at a preferred low rate.   With advanced electronic notification, a 100% satisfaction guarantee and an easy opt-out plan, the Square Deal Subscription Program is the best value, risk free, eco-friendliest way to subscribe.

Facebook YouTube


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265