T e a c h e r  C r e a t e d  L e s s o n

The Canadian Jerker Line System

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Lambton County Museums, GRAND BEND, Ontario


Learning Objectives

Use scientific inquiry/experimentation skills to investigate change in force, distance, speed, and direction in pulley and gear systems.

Use technological problem-solving skills to design, build, and test a pulley, lever or gear system that can be used to pump oil from the ground.

Explain the advantages and disadvantages of different types of mechanical systems.

John Henry Fairbank invented the Jerker Line system in Oil Springs, ON, in 1863.

Investigate the information card with his photograph,
The Jerker Line System: Simple Solutions Applied to Oil

Investigate the diagram of his system at
Diagram of a Jerker Line system

Prior to Fairbank's invention, one steam engine was required to pump each oil well.
His Jerker Line invention allowed the transfer of power from one large steam engine to over 100 oil wells. His system powers the 1890s oil field depicted at



What would be the advantage of such equipment for the owner of an oil field? What might the new system require, that was not needed before?



Investigate the diagram of the Canadian Drill Rig

After examining it, discuss the various pulleys and levers used in the drilling rig.
How is energy transferred from the steam engine to the rig?

Working in groups -or individually- create a model of your own drilling system. Be prepared to explain any pulleys, levers and gears used, as well as their force, distance, speed and direction.

Brainstorm how you could modify either the jerker line system, or the Canadian drill rig, to improve it. Use all of your knowledge about pulleys, levers and gears to help you.



Read the information card, "Millions of Years Later..."

How is oil an organic resource?
Should oil be considered a renewable resource? Why or why not?