Restoring the Reid

Bringing an 1899 Oil Field Engine Back to Life


| May/June 2002



12 HP Reid Engine

Howard Weaver's circa 1899 12 HP Reid, serial number 903, on the occasion of its first public showing at the Allegheny Mountain Engine and Implement Association Show in Port Allegany, Pa.

I had been wanting an oil field engine, and spying an ad in GEM for a 12 HP Reid in West Virginia I called the owner and made arrangements to stop and see it. I live in western Mew York, but since we were planning a vacation to Florida with our two sons we figured we could deviate our route to check out the Reid.

After studying road maps we altered our route home to accommodate a stop in New Martinsville, W. Va. From my first glance of the Reid I knew this engine would eventually be mine. Making a deal to buy the engine didn't take long, and before we knew it plans were made to get her home to Franklinville, N.Y.

The following Saturday my young son and 1 left home, well before dawn, with plans to make the trip to West Virginia and back in one day. After a five-hour drive it only took about 45 minutes to get the Reid loaded and secured. About halfway through Pennsylvania we pulled into a rest stop to take a break. A few minutes later when we went to leave the truck wouldn't even groan. For some reason the battery had shorted out. We finally got a jump for $10, and as long as I kept the engine revved up it wouldn't stall. I made minor changes to our route to avoid as many stoplights as possible, and as 1 pulled into the driveway my truck quit - but it didn't matter because we had made it home.

Never having had a hot tube, two-cycle engine before there was much to learn. Fortunately, even though it appeared the Reid had not run in many years, she hadn't sat outside for long, having last been used on a farm in Ohio to pump water off a natural gas well. She wasn't too rusty, wasn't stuck, but there was a freeze crack in the side of the water jacket.

The restoration process wasn't extremely difficult, just time consuming. First, she was degreased, then the 'stitching method' was used to repair the crack. The water jacket was drilled and tapped, followed by brass screws Loctited in to make a solid brass line where the crack had been. A little smoothing and a little JB Weld and the crack disappeared. I left two existing water jacket repairs 'as is,' because I think they give the Reid added character.