Friday Flashback: December 18th

December 18, 2015
My favorites from the American Oil and Gas Historical Society‘s This week in Oil and Gas History:  The Wright Brothers ahead of their time in more ways than one (1903) and Civil war Tech used to fight oilfield fires (1884).

December 17, 1884 – Fighting Oilfield Fires with Civil War Tech

“Oil fires, like battles, are fought by artillery” is the reporter’s catchy phrase in a New England magazine article in 1884.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology publishes “A Thunder-Storm in the Oil Country” – a firsthand account of the problem of lightning strikes in America’s oilfields.  MIT not only reports on the fiery results of an lightning strike, but also the practice of using Civil War cannons to fight such conflagrations.
The MIT article explains that “it is usually desirable to let (oil) out of the tank to burn on the ground in thin layers; so small cannon throwing a three inch solid shot are kept at various stations throughout the region for this purpose.” Read more in Oilfield Artillery fights Fires.
petroleum history december
Especially in the Great Plains, frequent lightening strikes caused oil tank fires. This rare photograph is from the collection of the Kansas Oil Museum in El Dorado.

December 17, 1903 – Natural gas fuels Wright Workshop

Wilbur and Orville Wright’s historic 59-second flight into aviation history at Kittyhawk, North Carolina, in 1903 was powered a homemade engine burning 50 octane gasoline.  The brothers’ “mechanician” Charlie Taylor fabricated a 150-pound, 13-horsepower engine in their Dayton, Ohio, workshop. “We didn’t make any drawings,” Taylor later recalled.

What is little known, however, is that the Wright brothers used Ohio natural gas to power their workshop – way ahead of their time in many ways. A “one lunger” (single cylinder) three-horsepower natural gas engine drove the overhead shaft and belts that turned a lathe, drill press – and a rudimentary wind tunnel.

Petroleum history December

Powered by natural gas, a three-horsepower engine drives belts in the Wright workshop.

For more moments from this week in Oil and Gas history, check out the American Oil and Gas Historical Society’s weekly post here.

Or click here to join the Crude Conversations VIP list.
No spam, ever.  Just great stuff about the Oil and Gas Industry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© Crude Conversations