Saving the 'Bessie 7'

Salvation or Salvage In Rural Kansas, Seven 1927 Cooper- Bessemer 1.000 HP Engines Quietly Await Their Fate


| March/April 2002



Cooper-Bessemer Engines

The fate of these 1927 Cooper-Bessemer 1,000 HP engines is still up in the air. The engines are 4-cycle, double acting, tandem horizontal twins. They run at 125 RPM. They're also huge - 52 feet long, 19 feet wide, 12 feet tall, with flywheels 14 feet in diameter. Weight is estimated at 80 tons each.

The fate of these 1927 Cooper-Bessemer 1,000 HP engines is still up in the air. The engines are 4-cycle, double acting, tandem horizontal twins. They run at 125 RPM. They're also huge - 52 feet long, 19 feet wide, 12 feet tall, with flywheels 14 feet in diameter. Weight is estimated at 80 tons each.

Last issue in the Hit-and-Miss column I told you about the seven Cooper-Bessemer engines found by engine collector and GEM reader Tim Christoff of Basehor, Kan.

Built in 1927 and rated at 1,000 HP each (I mistakenly reported them as 1,250 HP units last issue), these 80 ton, four-cycle, double acting, tandem horizontal twin engines were slated for the scrap yard before Tim discovered them and launched a campaign to save them from the crusher. Until just last year these engines had been in continuous operation at the natural gas pumping station owned by Williams Pipeline in Ottawa, Kan., where they currently reside.

When we went to print last issue I was set to have my first look at the engines and snap some photos for GEM. The next Saturday morning, as I was gathering together my equipment in preparation to look at the engines, Tim called and told me our trip had been cancelled. Williams Pipeline, apparently uneasy about any press coverage and unsure what course they were going to take with the engines, decided not to let anyone else in to look at the units.

For a few weeks it was starting to look as if the Bessie 7 were, indeed, headed for the scrap yard, as officials at Williams maintained a closed-mouthed stance on what direction they were going to take with the engines. Initially receptive to the idea of the Bessie 7 being saved for posterity, Williams Pipeline seemed to have new reservations about the idea.