Witness a 106-year old oil engine come back to life. From priming the engine for use, starting it, and then watching it run. The process is straight forward, and the machine is amazingly beautiful. This antique pump was originally used to deliver water from a creek to a garden and that simple process is now handled by commercial water systems or immersible pumps, such as a Polypropylene pump, both of which do not have the beauty that this old engine pump has.
The Story of the Engine’s Past
Historically, this piece of equipment is interesting, but it has a history that might surprise you. According to the bio, someone damaged the pump’s cylinder by planting an explosive device in the pump. This occurred in the 1920’s, which was a time of great violence in many parts of the United States. We don’t hear much about the 1920’s, but that was the rise of the mafia and legendary criminals such as Al Capone, Tony Accardo, Lucky Luciano, Vito Genovese, Jack Diamond, Frank Nitti, and many others.
These are all leaders of organized crime and many ran families. This was a time of great struggle between workers and business owners. It was a time before unions and really a last pulse of what was the developing nation shedding its skin to become a highly developed nation. The industrial revolution, the invention of the assembly line, and the widespread use of automobiles all played a part in this leg of American history. The pump you see was touched by many of these aspects of history. Today, if someone used an explosive device to disable a pump it would be considered an act of terrorism. Back then, it was almost a way of life. The great personal freedoms that we have today did not exist back then. Interestingly enough, women could not even vote then.
When you look at this pump, that is the story that it tells to us. This is a piece of equipment that is a link to the past. It is an icon of the American Industrial Revolution. Its seemingly simple parts create a repetition that produce a measured and an exact action. In its original condition, we know that:
- It produced about ten horsepower
- It ran off of Kerosene
- It works off of combustion
- It features a single cylinder
What is important to realize about this pump is not just that it is 106 years old, but also that it has gone through some major events that would have destroyed most anything we make today. Here is a look at what it has suffered:
- It’s piston unit was blown up.
- It was submerged due to flooding on several occasions.
- It was left buried in river silt for several decades.
The Place for Such Machines Today
During the 1990’s the oil pump was painstakingly restored. It offers something for this generation as more people become interested in off-grid living, these iconic pumps may one day again be useful. Personally, I find these kinds of machines beautiful. They have a hypnotic cycle that ebbs a slow dance and a rhythm that is not only heard, but felt. The external cams swirl, the wheels, spin, the levers tap and move and somehow through this process, water is moved across distances, up hill — against gravity as the laws of nature are bent to the will of man. This is a piece of amazing equipment. I give the people who restored this century-old oil pump props for taking the time to take it apart, clean it, and then reassemble it into a working machine. Would that our cars lasted this long.