A Successful Day at an Auction


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27 Loon Lake Road, Bigfork, Montana 59911

Auction day is here and it's time to head for St. Maries, Idaho, to a tractor and engine sale.

Skip Landis and son Jerry, Al Martinson, and I left home in northwest Montana at 6:00 a.m. so we would be on time at the auction site. We stopped at Paradise, Montana, for breakfast. I 'sprung' for breakfast, as I was anxious to get going and not miss the auction.

At about 9:00 a.m. we got to the sale site. The weather was wet and dreary, but from the size of the crowd at the sale, the weather wasn't a factor. I think the wetter the weather-the bigger the crowd.

Like everyone else, I looked over things quickly. Then I went and got a bid number and waited for things to start. My buyer number was 48.

The auctioneer said his usual speech of how everyone needs a buyer number to get in on the bidding. He also said that at noon, engines and tractors would be sold. That was good, as that would give me a chance to look things over more closely and also see who else was interested in the same items as I was.

Meanwhile, the weather was changing from a drizzle to showers, and still no one left the sale site. Noon came and went. Finally someone got the auctioneer's attention and told him it was past noon and that it was time to sell tractors and engines. Right away he stopped selling the household items and came over to where the tractors and engines were to be sold.

There was a flatbed truck that had just blocks, crankshafts and flywheels, and they were sold first. Quite a few of these pieces were bought by Skip Landis. I wonder if anyone else besides Skip knew there was an F-M carburetor inside one of the engine block water hoppers. It pays to look things over real good.

Now before I go any further, I want to tell you what was broken on the 2 HP Fairbanks-Morse that I was interested in buying. First, someone had tried to turn the engine over to see if it was 'free.' The mag would not turn, but the crankshaft would. You guessed right. The mag was broken off its pot-metal base. Also, two teeth were stripped off of the governor flyweight gear. I wasn't worried about getting those pieces fixed. Al Martinson knew someone who could weld pot-metal and Skip Landis said he would take the mag and fix it.

Now came the time that the 2 HP Z F.B.M. was up for bids. I let a couple of other men start the bidding. When there was only one bidder left, I jumped in on the bidding and we were off and running. By this time I knew that engine was going home with me. Finally the auctioneer said, 'Sold to number 48.' The engine was mine. There was a paper tag tied to the oiler that reads as follows: 1928 Fairbanks-Morse #659666. (It's really a 1925 model.) 'This motor was purchased new and spent many years pumping water for a farm in eastern Washington. R.E.A. retired this faithful little motor. Stored for many years in an old barn.'

The selling goes on. A lone carburetor for an F.M. Z 3 HP came up for bid. Skip told me that I needed it for a 3 HP Z that I bought in September. I guess these carbs are scarce, as it drew a lot of bidders. As usual, I hung back for a while and just as the auctioneer's hammer was to drop, I raised the bid. I was in this for the long haul and I wanted to see just how deep the other bidder's pocket was. Needless to say, that carb came home with me. I also bought a 3-5 LBB mag. A 'free' Maytag 72 D (1947) twin with an aluminum gas tank also was sold to me. It had a bracket bolted to both cylinders so it could hang free under the Maytag washing machine.

By now all the small pieces and parts were sold, so it was time to load up and head home.

As you can see in the photo, Skip and I got our share of the goodies. That's my F.M. 2 HP in the middle and the twin Maytag on the right hand side. We got home about 6:30 p.m. that evening so we left everything in Skip's pickup until the next day.

The next time I went over to visit Skip and to get my 2 HP F.M. engine, Skip had taken my mag all apart, cleaned it up and put it back together. Skip told me that the reason the mag wouldn't turn over was because the tar inside the mag had gotten so hot at one time that the tar had run down onto the armature and locked it in place, therefore preventing it from turning. Digging the tar out from around the armature was enough to free it up. Skip cleaned it up, adjusted things, and soon he had a spark that would jump ? inch. Thanks, Skip!

Al Martinson took the mag base and said he would get it welded back together for me. This proved to be easier said than done. There was no way, no how that those two pieces would ever become one again. Finally Al, who is a machinist, cut out and machined a new base for me. Thanks, Al!

The governor flyweight gear was the next thing to be fixed. A member of our club, Bud Stringfellow, said he would make me a new gear, but this time it would be made out of steel and not pot-metal. Thanks, Bud!

While these parts were being made and fixed, I completely disassembled the engine down to the bare block, which I took to the local car wash and gave a good cleaning, especially inside the water hopper.

All the bearings were good, with lots of shim stock under the caps. The rings were good and useable. Skip told me that old rings are better than new rings, as they are already broken in. The gas tank was full of scale and rust, plus some small pinholes in the tank itself. I gave the tank two applications of gas tank sealant and that took care of those problems. It took about two weeks for the sealer to completely set up and dry.

I primed all the parts with a gray primer. After that was dry came two coats of medium green. I'm color-blind, so the right shade of green wouldn't make any difference to me. The connecting rod and cap and the web of the crankshaft I painted black.

I let all painted parts cure for two weeks before I started to put the engine back together. I had plenty of time to assemble the engine, as I had to wait on the new mag base, and also the governor gear.

Meanwhile, I went ahead and made my skids and engine cart. The cart is of my own design and works well for me. The cast iron wheels were bought from Jim Fiddler of the Madison Cast Iron Wheel Company.

On April 3, 1999, I had the engine on its cart and running. It runs really well and purrs like a kitten.

I am glad I went to Idaho to get it. If anyone reading this ever makes it to Bigfork, Montana, I will be more than willing to show you my engines and to run my 2 HP Z Fairbanks Morse for you.