What you can locate is a bit of history about the company. Gas Engine Magazine published a couple of articles, The Superior Engine by Harold R. Keller in the Dec. / Jan. 1998 issue and A History of the Superior Gas Engine Company by Russell Farmer in June / July 2004. Throw in a couple of Youtube videos showing an engine running and an article at herculesengines.com and that’s it. Enwikipedia.org has all of four paragraphs about the subject.
What I learned was that by the late 1800’s Ohio was enjoying an economic boom due to oil production. After learning his trade working as an apprentice machinist for several railroads, Patrick Shouvlin opened his own machine shop in Springfield Ohio to serve the nearby oil fields. At this time steam engines powered most oil drilling and pumping, but Shouvlin had a better idea. Why not develop an internal combustion engine that would run on the natural gas that was a nuisance by product of oil wells? He set to work designing one and the result was the Superior Engine Company. He sold the first engine to the Ohio Oil Co. , better known today as Marathon Oil, and his company prospered.
The usual sales, mergers and acquisitions followed as the Superior Engine Plant turned out its products, all the way up to 2001 when the operations in Springfield were shut down. That’s a long run to be sure so there ought to be a major paper trail left behind; but where is it?
When a company goes to that big receivership in the sky, somebody has to sort through all those documents. Fortunately, that task often falls on some longtime employee or other person with ties to the firm who just can’t make themselves send everything to the landfill. A local museum or historical society is a logical choice to preserve them, so that's where I direct my next search.
And Bingo! The Clark County Historical Society is where they went. A visit to their website, www.heritagecenter.us reveals that the museum received a donation of forty-three boxes of documents when the plant closed. According to a volunteer who processed the collection in 2009 the contents included; company newsletters and employee handbooks, sales literature, operators instructions for various engines and an assortment of technical documents.
At this point you’re probably thinking,” Wow!, that’s great!”, but don’t get too excited just yet. After duly recording a brief inventory, said volunteer repacked the boxes and carried them back to the vault and that’s as far as it went. The collection has never been digitized so you can’t access them online. Unless you live within a reasonable distance you will probably never have the opportunity to examine the content of those boxes.
The Clark County Historical Society Heritage Center is located at 117 South Fountain Ave. in Springfield Ohio. Maybe someday a collector or other interested individual will copy some of those documents and make them available on the web.