OUR 15 HP HOT TUBE DIESEL

By Staff
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Courtesy of Charles Bryan, Box 262, Springfield, South Dakota 57062.
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Courtesy of Charles Bryan, Box 262, Springfield, South Dakota 57062.
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Courtesy of Charles Bryan, Box 262, Springfield, South Dakota 57062.
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Courtesy of Charles Bryan, Box 262, Springfield, South Dakota 57062.
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Courtesy of Charles Bryan, Box 262, Springfield, South Dakota 57062.
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Courtesy of Charles Bryan, Box 262, Springfield, South Dakota 57062.

Box 262, Springfield, South Dakota 57062.

It was a pleasant summer afternoon and the family was out for a
drive and a visit to Flintstone Village at Custer, South Dakota. We
were there on a short visit to my folks who live just outside
Pringle, South Dakota, where we first saw the 15 hp hot-tube diesel
setting in an old pumphouse. Not being sure what we had seen, we
stopped on our way home that evening for a first-hand look and to
our excitement we found a 15 hp, two-cycle hot-tube Fairbanks-Morse
diesel engine.

After some inquiry in the small town, it was found that the
engine was a rail road pumping engine that had been turned over to
the town when the steam locomotives were discontinued. The town
then used the well and pumping unit for some five years at which
time an electric motor was installed on a new well. Alter almost a
year the town finally placed the engine up for bid and I was the
successful bidder and proud owner of the entire pumping unit. This
was only the beginning of many experiences with the hot-tube
engine. The first problem was the weight of the engine and the lack
of something to haul it home with.

As soon as it was found that I had been the successful bidder on
the engine, work started on the construction of a trailer to carry
it home and to be used for axles with brakes was secured and I
built a flat bed suitable for the job at hand. Needless to say the
first load found all the weak spots on the way home, but no major
problems were encountered.

Much effort and several backaches were spared when a friend of
my folks volunteered to help load the engine with his large sky
hook. An arduous task of winching and jacking the engine onto the
trailer had been planned, but the use of the log loader made the
job much easier. When everything was on board, including the large
cast iron pumpjack, I estimated the load at approximately 3? tons
and I was glad to have had the trailer brakes to get out of the
Black Hills and for any emergencies which never came on the 400
mile trip.

Work really started after arriving home as the diesel engine had
been shedded and collected soot and grease for all those years and
which had to be removed. After many hours of cleaning, the engine
was ready for painting and for a cart which I was lucky to locate
with in ten miles of home. The engine was cooled by circulating
city water through it and to drain it, so a Hart Parr radiator had
to be installed for a cooling system. After more cleaning and
painting the engine was finally ready for one show late last summer
at the Bill Mayberry Show at Niobrara, Nebraska.

I selected two more Fairbanks engines to make a gasoline,
kerosene, and diesel display. Due to the complications of having
busy teenagers, only Brad and I took the ferry ‘Sally Ann,’
which runs between South Dakota and Nebraska on the Missouri, the
afternoon before the show. This gave me time to set up the display
at leisure before show time. That night we had a downpour of rain
which did more than settle the dust. Needless to say the first day
attendance was poor as the weather continued to look threatening
all that day. Sunday turned out nice and attendance was record high
for one day and all three engines performed to perfection under the
direction of my ‘second engineer-operator’ and wife,
Joanne, and my Brad, when he wasn’t somewhere else checking out
the show which seemed like most of the time.

Old pump house at the edge of Pringle, South Dakota, with the
Fairbanks diesel engine still inside waiting to be claimed.

In the center is the sky-hook setting the 15 hp
diesel onto the trailer as my Dad steadied and I directed for
position.

 we are all loaded except the pump. The large pulley in the
foreground is the drive wheel from a Ferguson tractor which was
used to speed up the pump jack. I also obtained the original cast
iron pulley which is about five feet in diameter.

The big engine is started by first heating an external hollow
hot tube with an upright blow torch which I have not located yet. I
improvised with a homemade propane burner which did the job fine,
but is obviously not original. When the tube is red hot, just pull
the wheel backwards against compression and it is off and running
the other way which is forward.

I still have to mount the large cast iron ‘smoke bomb’
muffler for next summer shows, but the large engine proved to be a
fine show piece. I hope to be able to attend more shows next summer
if the days fall when we can get away.

At we are crossing the Missouri River on the ‘Sally
Ann.’ The truck stuck out over the opposite side, but Captain
Hendrickson carried us both ways without incident.

Left to right: my father, D. C. Bryan; my wife, Joanne; and my
son. Brad.

Picture is my second engineer, Joanne, and I as we started up
for the Sunday 1971 Mayberry Show.

At  are our three engines portraying gas, kerosene, and
diesel power still running smoothly at the end of the Sunday show.
The propane tank was used to preheat the hot tube for starting.

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