Rusty Old Oilfield Equipment, Part 1

I love rusty old equipment, especially oilfield equipment such as tanks and pumpjacks. Perhaps the rusty equipment is a metaphor for the oil industry itself, as the oil industry wanes and the world attempts to move to cleaner, renewable fuels. One of my favorite hobbies is taking photos of rusty old oilfield equipment such as tanks and pump jacks as I travel. The following photos were taken in West Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma and New Mexico. I took most of these oilfield photos as I worked on oil rigs over the past twenty – odd years. You can find the full collection of my oilfield photos at Please give it a visit and see what you think. Below are some photos of rusty oil and gas equipment.

old rusty pump jack in Big Lake.

The rusty old pumpjack above sits near the small town of Big Lake, Texas. There was once a lake nearby, but use of water for farming quickly dried it up. The propane tank you see in the foreground is used to supply fuel for the oil pumpjack’s one cylinder gas motor.

Rusty pump jack in Permian Basin Petroleum Museum

The pump jack in the photo above uses a series of reduction gears for greater efficiency. Below is the plate posted beside it, detailing how it works.

A plaque in the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum about the Big O pumpjack

oilfield pump jack or pumpjack with unusual design.

The pumpjack above was designed in the 1930’s and a few, like this one near Eldorado Texas, are still in operation. It lacks the classic “horses head” appearance of modern oil pumping units. This one features a single cylinder natural gas powered engine, which runs off gas from the wellhead.

Below, a Reed Air Balance pumpjack in the Petroleum Museum near Midland Texas.

An old pumpjack in West Texas.

Reed Air Balance pumpjacks use a single high pressure air cylinder located under the walking beam. This provides counterbalance to offset the heavy downhole string of sucker rod, or pump rods. Pumpjacks pull these sucker rods, (which can reach thousands of feet down the well) up and down, operating the downhole pump. Most people aren’t aware of how this works.  Though not a “rusty thing” I wanted to include the illustration below to show how an oil pumpjack works underground.

Illustration of oil pumpjack and downhole pump.

That’s it for this first series of rusty oilfield equipment. See page 2 for more photos or visit my main blog at for tons more photos of oil and gas drilling related subjects.