Story of Lilly/Struthers Wells Halfbreed Oil Field Engine

Before I get into the story of this engine, I thought I would explain what a halfbreed oil field engine is. The early oil industry used steam engines for various jobs in the oil fields during the mid to late 1800’s. It was in the early 1900’s when companies began to convert steam engines into gas engines. This proved to be less time consuming to maintain. The other advantage was that gas engines could be run off well gas (a byproduct of the well) which was free and already at the engine location.

The term halfbreed engine refers to the gas cylinder and associated parts as one half, the steam engine bed (crankshaft, crosshead, engine base and flywheel) as the other half. This was a very popular conversion and many different manufacturers started to produce parts to build gas engine conversions. Many of the companies producing the conversions were in the Bradford, PA area because the oil field industry was booming there at that time.

The engine featured here started out as a Struthers Wells steam engine and was converted with a Lilly cylinder, head, connecting rod, and intake valve. The Lilly Engine Company was located in Rixford, PA, McKean County, near Bradford.

This engine was originally used in the Dallas, PA area near Bradford, on the Devlin Oil Lease. I purchased the engine from Dennis Griesbaum around the year 2012. Denny is an engine collector and oil field mechanic who works on anything oil field related. The engine was in poor condition and was also missing some parts. When purchased, it was disassembled and sand blasted prior to any machine work. The piston was stuck in the cylinder but the bore condition was not too bad after removing the piston and honing the bore. The crankshaft was turned down by Jim Cook. He also machined a newly cast connecting rod bearing cast by Cattail Foundry. New babbitt main bearings were poured and fitted to the crankshaft. There were many hours spent filling deep rust pits, sanding and painting. My sister Carolyn lettered the cylinder for me.

The skid under the engine was built from locally cut rough lumber and the water tank was a sprayer tank that I disassembled and reconfigured to have a metal tank inside. I wanted all the lumber used to look old so I did some research online and found a method used by model railroaders to age wood. This process took some time but it does work. I purchased all the extra small parts (governor, clutch, oiler, chimney, hot tube, petcocks, oil cups, etc.) form various places. The governor was purchased at an auction in Maryland. It was missing one of the beveled gears. I purchased a replacement from Applied and had it machined to fit. I search for period correct “beaded” pipe fittings to complete the piping for the water and fuel systems. These fittings are difficult to find and sometimes have to be fabricated.

Finally after months of work, the engine was assembled. Now the challenge was to make it run. A few things I did learn about early engines is, generally there is no manual to tell you how to adjust anything. It was all trial and error which involves a lot of cranking or kicking over the engine with your foot on the flywheel. You quickly learn to pay attention to what the engine is doing and where your hands and feet are in relation to the engine.

After months of adjusting and fiddling with the fuel mixture and fuel pressure, the engine seems to start fairly easily and runs pretty well. Most shows it runs for hours at a time although sometimes it gets and attitude and quits. I guess that’s just part of the fun of messing with this old iron.

Paul Stratton

CVAEMA 2020 Winter Banquet

Another year’s flown by and it was time again for the CVAEMA’s Winter Banquet. We all gathered at Solomon’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on Saturday, January 25th. Although the sign-up sheet said doors open at 5:30, by that time the gym was already filled with chatting people. Seems like the engine/tractor crowd is always very early for their events. Alex Baker started the evening promptly at 6:00 p.m., thanking everyone for coming. A blessing was given by Joel Nupp and off to the food tables we went.

As always, the ladies and gentlemen from the church provided a delicious meal; chicken, meatballs, potatoes, green beans, creamed lettuce, pies and ice cream. A comment was heard from one member that the reason they come to the banquet is for the chicken! By 6:30 the last of the people were passing through the food lines.

After dinner, President Alex presented club highlights of the past year along with coming attractions which include a new construction project behind the “C. V. Engine House” engine building in the woods. He also put the word out for the upcoming elections in March and made an invitation for nominations to the various board positions including vice president and two board members at large. He recognized Joe and Cindy Pyles for the multitude of jobs they perform for the club. The Bill Swailes “gadget” mentioned in the last newsletter turned out to be a potato peeler, although someone suggested that it was Bill’s school project from 1917.

Entertainment provided by the Chambersburg High School Steel Band was quite a hit! They had the audience members throwing their hands up in the air to the music. The evening ended with giving away the centerpieces. Thanks to everyone for a great evening of fellowship and fun. See you next year! (the ladies are serving that chicken again, right??)

Click here to check out the photo gallery from this year’s Winter Banquet.

29th Annual Fall Farm Fun Fest

The Franklin Fall Farm Fun Fest was held September 26-28, 2019 at the host farm of Wayne and Bradley Beidel of Newburg, PA. CVAEMA once again sponsored the “Grinder Winder”, a learning station on the walking tour which consisted of 15 hand corn shellers provided by Bill Swailes.

Approximately 2,400 fourth graders passed through on Thursday and Friday, each able to hand grind an ear of corn after hearing an informative speech by Dale Happel. Dale interacted with the kids talking about corn and the products made from it.

Saturday it was open to the public and was another busy day. Good weather, help from Vo-Ag students, and help from club members helped to make this 29th annual event a success.

2019 Tractor Ride – Great Turnout!

Twenty one people turned out for the 2019 tractor ride on June 9, 2019. We heard several reports about what a good, relaxed time they had traveling from the showgrounds, out Peckman Drive and around Edenville, stopping for a photo shoot at Mt. Olivet Church. The skies were threatening so the group decided to short cut the ride and head back to the showgrounds a bit sooner than they would have liked but that’s what June in PA is like sometimes!

In total they road for two hours. Thank you to all who participated and to John Bricker for leading the way.

 

2019 Case Quilt

Each year the club commissions a quilt of the feature tractor and auctions it off at the August Steam and Gas show.  This year’s quilt beautifully displays Case tractors, the iconic Case eagle emblem and this year’s show dates embroidered at the top.  The quilt will be auctioned off immediately after the 1:00 tractor parade on Saturday, August 10th, 2019 on the Midway.

So come on out and bid!  Proceeds from the quilt helps CVAEMA continue to bring you two great shows a year admission free!  Show dates are August 9, 10, & 11, 2019.

Click here to view a full size photo of the quilt.

CVAEMA 2019 Winter Banquet

CVAEMA’s annual Winter Banquet was held Saturday, January 26th at Solomon’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Chambersburg. The gymnasium was noisy as everyone was socializing while waiting for the program to begin. At 6:00 pm President Jack Horner got the banquet underway and after the blessing by Pastor Joel Nupp, a delicious meal of chicken, meatballs, potato casserole, peas, carrots, creamed lettuce, pie and ice cream was served by the church.

After everyone had eaten their fill (someone was seen eating three bowls of creamed lettuce…you know who you are!), President Horner reviewed this past year’s projects at the club grounds. Vice President Alex Baker recognized the leadership, board of directors and the many other people who make the shows run smoothly. Treasurer Cindy Stratton spoke on the financial highlights of this past year. She noted that Doc Stratton was the clubs treasurer from 1995 until this past year. Much appreciation for all the work and time he gives to the club.

Carl and Lily Fahnestock providing entertainment for the evening

A group from the Chambersburg FFA gave a nice presentation of their tractor rebuild of a MF65. Historian Stephen Piper encouraged everyone to check out the Agricultural and Industrial Museum in York, PA. He also presented anniversary walking sticks to two more founding members that hadn’t received one last year.

Carl and Lily Fahnestock provided the entertainment for the evening. A very nice evening was had by all and it was great to see so many members attending.

Click here to check out the photo gallery from this year’s Winter Banquet.

Check Out These Cool Pictures

Randy and Edie Quinby, owners of Twin Bridge Campgrounds, graciously shared these aerial shots of the CVAEMA showgrounds taken during an August show. Quite a birds-eye view!

Click here to check out the gallery!

There’s lots of things going on in this neighborhood. CVAEMA continues to spruce up the showgrounds and we saw a post recently that Twin Bridge Campground is adding some awesome kids playground equipment!

Contact them now to rent your camping spaces for the 2019 show weekends: April 27-28 and August 9-11. www.twinbridgecampground.com.

28th Franklin Fall Farm Fun Fest

The 28th Franklin Fall Farm Fun Fest hosted by Robert Musser and his daughter Faith at the Musser Farm on Pinola Road, Shippensburg in September 2018.

The Cumberland Valley Antique Engine and Machinery Association had a learning station “Grinder Winder”. Dale Happel gave a presentation to each group explaining corn must be removed from the cob for the grain to be used for human food and products made with corn.

Bill Swailes brought his hand corn shellers which provided the children a hands-on demonstration, as each child and adult got to shell their own ear of corn under the watchful eye of volunteers from the club.

The corn was furnished by Franklin Feed.

CVAEMA Annual Winter Banquet

124 people attended CVAEMA’s annual banquet on January 27, 2018. Solomons Church prepared an excellent meal, as always, followed by homemade pie and ice cream for dessert. President Randy Geist emceed the evening welcoming everyone and cracking a couple jokes.

After dinner, Randy & Edie Gimby, new owners of Twin Bridge Campground, shared a bit about the future of our neighboring campground. They have exciting plans for the property and invite everyone to a meet and greet on March 3, 2018 at Crider’s Church. For years families attending our shows have camped at Twin Bridge’s. It’s great to know the Gimby’s will continue the tradition.

Doc Stratton, treasurer, shared a bit about our year financially. More building improvements were made. Equipment purchases include a new French fryer and new ice cream storage freezer.

Stephen Piper, “The Old Historian”, shared stories about how the club came to be. Each founding member was presented with hand carved walking sticks carved by Stephen himself. The club’s celebrated its 35th year. Each stick read “CVAEMA 1983-2017” in honor of this anniversary.

Bill and Anna Swailes brought a feed bag display and shared stories of Anna and her sister running to meet the feed man. Each wanted to be the first to pick out the patterns they liked best. Farm ladies of those times used the feed bag fabric to make things like dresses, bonnets and aprons. Bill talked too about club members helping club members and this is one of the things that knit us together as a family. By the way, if you happen to see Randy Geist or Clarence Dice, ask them about the day the barrel of sand rolled off the truck!

We enjoyed some great county music by Shayne Carmack after which Perry Tressler wrapped up the evening with a story about growing up on their farm with a crazy rooster.

Check out the photo gallery to see pictures from this year’s banquet.

Founding members present for this evening:

LeErin Plasterer
Stephen Piper
John Bricker
Al Good
Stan “Doc” Stratton
Bill Storms
Denny Piper

Bringing Back Some Memories

Recently I’ve been on a quest to reorganize and display goodies in my barn. While moving things around I ran into an item that brought back some great memories. This thing-a-magig belonged to Edgar Hoffeditz. Edgar & Betty and my family attended many engine shows together.

Usually, Edgar would display this bicycle, ride on, plow thing. Back then shows were smaller and you spoke to almost everyone who came by your display. People would be lined up to ask Edgar about this red thing with the seat. I remember laughing as he would tell an elderly lady some crazy story of what it was and how it was used for farming. She would walk away with her eyes spinning around like flying saucers. Usually it’s the craziest things that spark the greatest fun!

Sometimes I forget what this hobby is really about. It’s about having fun. Thanks to Edgar and Betty for the wonderful memories.

Written by Stephen, the old Historian for The Bridge