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The story of Russell No. 6.

     My Granddad Eb and Uncle Pete are long gone but they are what began my love for engines and the reason I now have Russell No. 6.  I know they are looking down and smiling at the working oil well that was reconstructed as a living memory to my family and to a part of the history throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley.  Four generations of my family pumped the lease, which was once owned and operated by Reno Oil Co., Sisterville, WV.  It is the last one started by my Granddad Eb, my Uncle Pete, and my father.
     This well was drilled and equipment bought by the Reno Oil Company in 1915.  The engine is a 15 horse power Joseph Reid gas engine manufactured about the same era in Oil City, PA.  
     After a lot of thought and discussion with my father, we decided that I should buy and restore this particular standard rig.  Because we knew it had been operated by four generations of my family and had always been sitting on my home place.
     It was still in operation until 1995.  I was able to purchase the engine from the well's owner, which resided in California, shortly after 1995 when the company working the lease retired the engine.
     So then the work began.  I began dismantling the standard rig.  I then took the pieces to my home and started the process of putting two lowboy trailers together by welding an extension in between to have enough length to carry the well.  On the trailer is the 15 HP Reid Gas Engine made in Oil City, PA, and a 10 foot diamter band wheel with a center shaft made by Parkersburg Rig & Reel.  I pull the 56 foot living history with a rig from my dozer business making the total length 70 feet long.
     It took eight months to complete this with help from family and friends - all done in my spare time.  It is 95% original.  All I had to replace were a couple of the boards.  We just took it off the old home place and reassembled it on a trailer.
     The work is in full detail from the original wooden cooling tank to the b.s. on the wellhead.  Those in the industry now exactly what the b.s. is.  For the uninitiated, b.s. is paraffin wax that forms on the wellhead during pumping.
     My Granddad was a well pumper and my Uncle was field foreman and roustabout.  This engine pumped five wells.
     My Great Granddad was a blacksmith.  He lived nearby the lease and did a lot of work for the company.  Many of the metal nuts, bolts and eyelets were hand-forged and fitted just for this well by him.  My Uncle Pete whittled wooden items needed at the well site such as wooden plugs for the engine, cooling tank, and etc.
     I am fortunate to have many of the items that was used on this well.  I have the drilling and production records for this well.  I have the last glass jug of oil that Granddad took to the engine and his lunch bucket sits on the "lazy bench".  A pair of gloves lie on a rack above the chimney for warming and drying just like Granddad did it.  The pair of bib overalls that I am wearing in these pictures were worn by my grandfather.  This is the only time that I wear them because they are getting very frail.
    A gentleman by the name of Creed Cowan was killed with this engine when he became entangled in the clutch during the drepression of 1930.  At the time of his accident, Mr Cowan was living in the house that my mom and dad took up housekeeping in and are still living in today.
     Russell No. 6 is now owned, been restored and is proudly displayed by Johnnie L. Boston.  It is dedicated to the memory of my:
Granddad "Eb" Layfield
Uncle Pete Layfield
My Dad John Boston
Thanks for the Knowledge
Thanks for the Memories

A little personal information:

    When I was a youngster I'd follow my Grandad and Uncle around when they were working on the wells.  They taught me all that I know.  For a time I used that knowledge working heavy machinery in the oil fields.  I eventually moved on to my own business operating those same construction vehicles when the oil business began to falter.  I have been in business for myself now for 20 plus years.  Still at times I get to go back and work in the oil fields especially in the winter months. 

     I currently have a CAT D5M dozer, A CAT D6N dozer and a CAT 312C excavator that I use in my business.  I run the dozer and Kathy runs the excavator.  Having my own business gives me the option to enjoy attending engine shows through out the summer months. 
     In 2014 we are retiring Russell 6 from the show schedule.  It is retiring to our farm in Pennsboro, WV and will be set up permanently for Boston's Antique Engine Show held twice yearly in July and November.  We hope you can stop by and see this living piece of history in operation. 




My dad John, my brother Jim, myself
and my mom Carolyn.


Brother Jim and wife Trina with
their 15 HP Reid engine.