Another Fairbanks-Morse Story

Superior engine

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2844 E. 12th Avenue, Apache Junction, Arizona 85219.

When I lived in Oklahoma, there was an oil rig close to my house. I was amazed to watch this one-lung Superior engine pop and wheeze unerringly, no matter the weather. I wanted an engine like that; rustis first attack.

Much later I moved to Apache Junction, Arizona. There, I came across a second-hand store where the owner sold artifacts from our many mining sites.

Having been raised in the rural life, I mused over the implements of yesteryear. THERE IT WAS! Two big cast iron wheels showing through a pile of stable tack and chains. I dug through this pile, and found a well rusted 6 HP Fairbanks Morse 'Z', the brass nameplate still attached.

The piston was gone, as were the main bearings and magneto. The carburetor and head hung loosely from the head bolts. Despite the rusted exterior, the cylinder walls and journals were clean. The carburetor was rusted inside and outside; the linkage was missing.

This engine had been used to pump water out of our mine shafts-being underground would account for the rusted exterior.

The next move was a real trick! With a forklift and two eight foot 4x4's chained to the forks, we dragged this 750 pound engine ten feet. We had to raise it high enough to clear an eight foot fence and miss the overhead power lines.

We just missed the power lines with the forklift's mast. Several hours later, the engine was sitting in the bed of my truck.

When I got the engine home, the cutting torch went to work! Soon the engine was completely dismantled. I left the flywheels attached to the crankshaft for easier moving. While I restored the carburetor, the rusted parts were sandblasted clean. Each part was then primed and painted.

With the help of the local Arizona engine club, GEM'S articles, and ads, I have put this engine together completely. It's well that we could all speak the same language: Enginese.

I converted the carburetor to propane and built a cart to move this eight hundred pound beast around. The time came and I tried to start this engine-NOTHING, JUST NOTHING! It would fire and run backwards and stop.

I moved the spark plug to 15 degrees BTC. Propane doesn't require a very long burn time. Now it would start and I had a carburetor throttle linkage out of sync with the governor, and therefore defeating its function.

After I reset the timing and resyncronized the carburetor, I tried again. On July the 4th, 1990 I cranked the flywheels over and the first impulse fired-the second. The engine accelerated quickly and the governor took over.

It was a surge of accomplishment to watch this 70 year old engine chug along, relentlessly on its syncopated beat, which we know so well.