The Superior Engine

By Staff
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Harold R. Keller, Rt. 1, Glouster, Ohio 45732 writes about this 25 HP Superior engine and its manufacturer's history in this issue. Photos by Ruth A. Van Schoor.
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Rt. l Glouster, Ohio 45732

Around 1889, Irish immigrant Patrick Shouvlin started a machine
shop in Springfield, Ohio. He had a good head for mechanics and put
his knowledge to work repairing oil field equipment. With the
increased uses for oil, and its discovery in the area, his business
flourished. In the 1890s his shop adopted the name Superior. The
demand for Superior engines and related equipment made it obvious
that a better marketing plan was necessary. Arrangements were made
with a fledgling business named the National Supply Company to be
distributors of Superior engines, and probably related

By 1914, Superior was building engines from 2 HP to 100 HP, both
stationary and portable, as mine was.

Although building mostly gas engines at this time, Superior was
well aware of the advantages of diesel power. Invented by Rudolf
Diesel several years earlier, Superior was well aware of the
advantages of diesel power. Invented by Rudolf Diesel several years
earlier, Motoren Fabric Deutz, among others, were instrumental in
its early development. among others, were instrumental in its early
development. By 1930, Superior was building diesel engines for oil
field use, of a truly superior design.

The engine on the front cover came home to southeastern Ohio in
1934, brand new from the factory in Springfield. Many years ago, I
knew a man who hauled it home. At the time, I did not have the
foresight to ask him how he hauled the engine home. The engine
proper, mounted on the original iron wheels, weighs close to 9,000
pounds. The clutch assembly is a strongly built and heavy piece,
weighing about 1,200 pounds. The reversing mechanism and outer
bearing are also strong and heavy, so the total weight of this
engine is close to 11,000 or 12,000 pounds. It seems likely that
back in 1934, it took two trucks to haul it home. The trip alone
was probably an interesting experience.

This engine replaced a steam engine, powering an oil field
drilling rig. I imagine this new engine made the owners feel pretty
sassy, no longer having to fire a boiler for power.

The engine is a two-cycle, gasoline starting diesel, having a
10′ bore, and a 12′ stroke. This size figures to 1124 cubic
inches displacement, and 25 HP.

The piston rod is threaded into the crosshead, making the
compression ratio adjustable. As it now stands, the piston clears
the head by about 3/16‘ giving the high
compression necessary for a diesel. Old timers have told me that a
gas conversion head was available, lowering the compression and
allowing the engine to run on natural gas. The use of low cost, or
free fuel was likely a good selling point, considering the hard
times of the 1930s.

The engine is equipped with roller main bearings, two on a side.
These bearings are 2′ wide, 7′ o.d. and 5′ i.d., making
a very sturdy setup.

This engine will run on crude oil, and did most of its working
life. It never saw fuel oil until I started running it for

For such a heavily built engine, it is not difficult to start.
It had to start easily in remote places without battery or air
starting aids.

To start the beast, install a fresh spark plug, pour about a
tablespoon of gasoline into the head and about a half cup in the
air intake. Close the air shutter to about inch, turn on the mag,
and roll the flywheels backward into compression. The mag is timed
‘late,’ as the compression is so high, it is not possible
to kick the piston very far forward. The gas will fire, and
succeeding turns of the wheels will suck more gas into the
cylinder, gaining speed. Let the fuel pump down onto the cam, and
if all goes right, the engine will start running on fuel oil. The
mag can then be turned off, and the engine will run almost
unattended, only needing a few drops of oil on the governor
linkage, and keep the lubricator filled.

The engine has an enclosed crank-case and will run in a hard
rain without missing a lick. It’s quite a nice engine.

I installed leman ‘windows’ in place of the inspection
plates, so it’s possible to see inside the crankcase, and
inside the two gear boxes, making the engine more interesting for

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