The Buck Stops Here

By Staff

1615 Brick Kiln lane, Louisville, Kentucky 40216

During his presidency, Harry Truman displayed a sign on his desk
that declared: ‘The Buck Stops Here.’ Whatever happened on
his ‘watch’ was his responsibility, and he would take care
of it himself. A very commendable attitude, to be sure.

However, as you will see, the buck in this story falls in an
entirely different category. He certainly didn’t stop.

It’s about 11 a.m. and Harry and I are hard at work this
very pleasant morning, and our efforts seem to be progressing as
they should. Our task at hand is one of connecting the new cooling
tank to the ‘Little Sister’ well’s 15 HP Reid engine.
This well is a fully operational oil field rig in the proud
possession of the West Virginia Oil and Gas Festival, and is
operated during the festival each year.

Harry and I have been maintaining and operating this very
popular exhibit for several years now and are, this day, in the
process of installing new piping from the engine to the tank. We
had, earlier in the morning, made a trip to the local hardware
store and picked up everything we thought we would need.

The original wooden tank, used for cooling, had long ago
deteriorated to the point where it would no longer hold water. The
plastic tank which had replaced it was then installed inside the
original, to make everything look authentic, but the plastic
didn’t last long, and called for a replacement this year.

Harry had found a likely candidate back amongst the hills and
had it delivered to the well site sometime before. With the help of
Fred Anderson’s Wrecker Service, the new tank had been quickly
installed the previous day and we were now finishing the job.

I should tell you that ‘Harry’ is none other than the
very likable and very knowledgeable Harry Homer, whom many of you
know. He lives in Dayton, Ohio, but also maintains a residence in
his native West Virginia at Harrisville.

We were almost finished connecting the last pipe when a sudden
commotion caused us to quickly turn around-we could hardly believe
our eyes. Bearing down on us was a huge buck deer, and although we
were a little concerned at first, he passed us within a few feet
and headed down river toward the ‘City of Sistersville’
ferry landing. The stern wheeler was just coming in and apparently
the splashing of the paddlewheel didn’t sit too well with the
animal and, wheeling around, he reversed direction and came right
past us again. This time he didn’t retrace the path through
downtown that he took the first time, but made a sharp left turn,
and bounding down the bank, plunged into the river and set his
sights on the other side some 3000 feet away!

By the way he was panting and puffing as he passed us, we never
thought he would make it, but he knew what he could do.
Compensating for the considerable current, and with only his
antlers and nose out of the water, he made it across, and as we
watched, he clambered up the bank and disappeared into a cornfield
for a well deserved rest. Although we never determined the cause of
such bizarre behavior-it was now back to work.

Soon finished and admiring our handiwork, We now called the
local fire ‘ department for a supply of water. It wasn’t
long before they had pumped the necessary 600 gallons and we were
looking for leaks. Must have done a good’ job-no leaks.

Although we were not scheduled to run ’til tomorrow, Harry
questioned whether maybe we could try it out. Sure! Why not!

We both jumped to the task. Harry lit the hot tube, and while
waiting on that, we started filling and adjusting the oilers. The
tube was getting pretty hot and now it was time to give the old
Reid her shot of ‘special potion.’ Not many people know
what Harry has concocted to start the Sistersville engine, but it
seems to do the trick.

The gas valve has been set and Harry says, ‘She ought to
go!’ We roll back against compression and ‘POW’-
she’s running. This engine hasn’t run since last year, but
Harry has a knack with Reids and he knows them like the back of his
hand.

After running a few minutes, we shut her down, satisfied that we
are ready for the show tomorrow.

And indeed, we did have a fine show, one of the best ever. Join
us this September 17-20 and we guarantee you will enjoy your
visit.

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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines