Barnyard Fairbanks

Fairbanks-Morse 3 HP

Content Tools

7821 Dewberry Lane Cedar Hill, MO 63016

Once upon a time on a cold Sunday afternoon in December of 1985, the motor fever struck and the only remedy known to break this dreaded disease is to go engine hunting. So I called another one-lunger fan, Bob, and we hit the back roads checking farms.

The weather changed from just cloudy to rain, but what the heck. We continued the search with hope there just might be a lost beauty down the road or around the corn crib.

Bingo! On the next farm the owner said, 'There is one down behind the barn.' With that reply, how do you casually ask about taking a look and walking slowly down the hill? Anyway the three of us found the fine specimen turned upside down in about twelve inches of what the cows ate yesterday.

The engine was a Fairbanks-Morse 3 HP with one valve completely rusted off on the outside of the head, and the other parts indicating the jewel had been in the cow pow for several years.

When we discussed price, ten dollars made the engine look like it was almost ready for the Miss Missouri Pageant.

Bob asked when the engine had last run and the farmer replied, 'I bought the farm in '46 and the old thing was right there like it is now.' (Forty one years behind a barn would make the best beauty a little less than a three.)

Loading presented another problem but in time the three of us lifted the wet odiferous creature on the truck. We headed home because we were in no condition to look for additional engines with you know what over most of our clothes.

I pulled the head, soaked the piston three months with Liquid Wrench, and after several tries with a ten pound sledge the piston moved. During the three months' wait I rebuilt the head, carb and mag. Also got a few parts from Ed Deis, Ritter's Engine Shed and Otto Engine Works.

Upon completion of restoration the engine was certainly not like most you read about being fired up after a couple turns. Compression was zilch because the rings were not seated. It is remarkable how an electric motor and belt can solve first time crank-up blues. After flooding, adjusting and smiling the old Z is easily started by hand.

I repainted the engine green, but a slightly different shade than when I first saw it behind the barn. I was happy to add it to my collection.