DIESEL ENGINES and the Doherty family

Fairbanks-Morse Model Y engine

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GEM Staff

For many, hobbies seem to be a family affair. This seems to be the case with the Ken Doherty family of Geneva, Indiana.

Ken is known for his association with the Tri-State Gas Engine & Tractor Association, Portland, Indiana, and his diesel engine collection. He's been a devoted club member, serving on the board of directors for 20 years. My association with him was through advertising. Ken has placed many ads for the club over the years.

Ken started exhibiting in 1972. The family's love: diesel engines. His wife Marcella became involved when Ken bought a 20 HP Fairbanks-Morse Model 36A diesel engine for her birthday. I'm not sure how many women would get excited about this kind of present. I bet there are some men who might try this creative ploy, but not too successfully. Ken assured me that Marcella was excited about her present, which was the first of many diesel engines.

Nathan Hirschy, Ken's grandson pictured above, was the 'keeper' of the family's diesels at the 2000 Portland show. He proved very knowledgeable about these engines as he gave me an excellent tour of the display. Nathan was sort of 'weaned' on this engine show. He was just two weeks old when his mother brought him to the Tri-State show. Nathan is now nineteen years old and has never missed a show. His grandfather told me he does an excellent job of setting up and maintaining their exhibit of these large engines. I'm sure Ken has been a good mentor over the years. The family exhibited their collection of Fairbanks-Morse Model 36A one cylinder diesels dating between 1934 to 1938. On display was a 10 HP 4 S, running at 1200 rpm; a 20 HP 4 AE, also at 1200 rpm; 20 HP 4 S, 1200 rpm; and a 30 HP 4 S, also at 1200 rpm. The family also showed a 5 HP Fairbanks-Morse Model 45, a 1920 10 HP Fairbanks-Morse Model Y diesel, and a 1946 4 HP Witte diesel electric plant.

Ken's business card is unique to his interest in engines. On the back was the listing of serial numbers for Fairbanks-Morse engines from 1911 through 1948. He also noted that the 4 horsepower was the smallest of the older engines made by Fairbanks-Morse.

I noticed that the exhibitor's card on each engine included many family names. I believe Ken loves to have his family included with every aspect of these diesels. This hobby can be very wholesome, but it takes a family effort. I think the Doherty family has found enjoyment over the years in collecting these diesel engines and it definitely shows!

If you get a chance to attend the Tri-State Gas Engine and Tractor Show on August 22-26, make a point to visit this exhibit of diesel engines. You won't regret it.

The 1920 Fairbanks-Morse Model Y engine shown above. This 10 HP engine runs at 450 rpm and has serial #427068.

1946 4 HP 3 motor Witte diesel electric plant. This engine was used in Jay County, Indiana, on a drag line for lighting.