A good friend of mine, Larry Massey from Canton, Mich., recently completed a restoration project of a 10 HP Spang and Co. engine that had served its working life on a bailing rig in the oil fields of West Virginia.
The company’s namesake (who’s complete name has eluded my finding) was reputed to have been a traveling blacksmith who invented the Weldless Jar, a shock absorbing tool used in all cable tool well drilling.
Spang and Co. was one of the oldest companies in the United States, having been in business since 1828, and was a leading producer of well casing, tubing, drill pipe, still tubes and various other varieties of steel pipe. These products were produced at three mill locations. The seamless pipe mills were located in Ambridge, Pa., and the welded pipe mills were in Sharpsburg and Etna, Pa. The Butler, Pa., plant seems to have been in the business of producing the Spang oil field equipment. There seems to have been a line of engines produced under the name of Etna, along with the Spang engines. It is possible these were named for the town of Etna, at which Spang operated one of its welded pipe mills. The 1907 Oil Region Reminiscences magazine shows an advertisement for “Etna Mfg. Co., Butler, Pa., builders of gas and gasoline engines.” The 1909 Oil and Gas Man’s Magazine, lists an ad for “Spang and Co., builders of the Etna, Portable bailing machine.”
The Etna seems to have had a slightly different style to it in comparison to the engines that bear the Spang name, but were possibly built by the same company. I’m not certain if the Etna Co. and engines were a concern absorbed by the Spang Co. between 1907 and 1909, or otherwise what the situation was with the two lines of engines.
Another ad in the 1907 Oil Region Reminiscences magazine indicates that Spang was also in the business of building gasoline-powered rock-drilling rigs. “We are now manufacturing gasoline rock drills for quarry and prospecting work in all classes of stone and ore. No compressor or electric equipment necessary.”
Larry Massey’s Spang engine is a 10 HP 2-cycle type. He has fitted it with hot tube as well as magneto ignition. The magneto is a Berling that has the same bolt pattern as the Wico Type OC and R magneto’s commonly seen used on oil field engines.
I would like to thank Larry Massey, Jake Faith, Ed Wal-ker and Lee Howell for help with this article.
If interested in being a part of our society, contact:
The Oil Field Engine Society (OFES),
1231 Banta’s Creek Road, Eaton,
Contact Larry Massey at: Larry’s Engine Room, 5775 Lotz Road, Canton, MI 48187.