oil-slick!


| September 2003



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When Paul Flick bought the unrestored Evans engine

High-tech circuitry and complex metal-alloy parts surround Paul Flick every day. As a controls engineer who uses advanced technology to program and maintain electrical schematics for material-handling robots, the Indianapolis collector is firmly in the fast track of technological advancement. Paul also moonlights as an old gasoline engine buff. In fact, Paul's father, Bruce Flick, is vice president of the Tri-state Gas Engine and Tractor Association, which hosts a show each year in Portland, Ind. As an impressionable child, Paul first encountered and fell in love with old power at the Portland show, unaware that he'd learn to fix both gas engines and robots in due time.

'I work on robots now, but I was always very mechanical,' Paul recalls. 'As a kid at the Portland shows, I loved the large engines when I went there with my dad.' His old-iron upbringing and high-tech career converged in October 2002 when Paul decided he needed an engine of his own. A friend had just purchased a 15-hp, four cycle Evans oilfield engine. As luck would have it, Paul's pal soon decided that he needed a home more than an engine. Paul quickly seized the opportunity and purchased the engine from his friend. With a 10-inch bore, 14-inch stroke and 5-foot fly wheels that weigh a total of 4,000 pounds, the Evans wasn't just an armchair-collector's purchase. Never having done a restoration alone, and not knowing anything about the Evans engine company, Paul rolled up his sleeves and started at the beginning.

'My dad delivered it to me in Noblesville (Ind.) where I work at Cim Systems Robotics,' he recalls. Paul asked his boss if he could restore an old engine in the shop. 'My boss asked how big, and I said 15 horsepower. He said, 'sure,' but he just about had a cow when my dad pulled up at the shop with it on the trailer! I don't think he realized the horsepower-to-weight ratio. I couldn't have done it without the generosity of my boss, that's for sure.'

The antiquated engine looked entirely out of place with all the new, hi-tech robots around, he says. It was the first thing people asked about when they came into the shop. Paul felt lucky because the engine was in decent condition. The only thing the previous owner did was install a new set of rings.

The four cycle Evans originally fired with a hot tube ignition, but it was also capable of running on a magneto mounted on a pad next to the timing gears. The ignition was actuated by a rotating cam and a spark plug screwed into the side of the block. 'I run it on the hot tube right now,' Paul says, 'but I am working on being able to run it on a buzz coil in the future so on windy days I won't need to worry about the hot tube blowing out -and it should cut down on propane usage.' Currently, Paul heats the hot tube with a 40-pound propane tank, enough to run the engine for about 14 or 15 hours.

Not much is known about the Evans engine, which was manufactured by the Butler Engine Co. of Pennsylvania, but it was originally powered by natural gas that emanated from the oil well where it worked. Although Paul doesn't know its year of manufacture, he believes it was produced in the early 1900s. Four-cycle oilfield engines, Paul has learned, were used in areas with limited natural gas reserves because four-cycle engines consume less fuel than two-cycle models. He's also been told that the small wheel on top of the engine is called a 'drill wheel.' The operator could remotely control the engine's speed by lassoing a rope around the wheel, pulling back and forth on the rope to adjust the amount of natural gas the engine received. Another valve on the opposite side of the head controls the air flow.