In addition to its well-known farm engines and large industrial 2-stroke diesel engines, Fairbanks, Morse & Co. did a brisk trade in hoist engines.
According to C.H. Wendel’s book, Fairbanks Morse: 100 Years of Engine Technology, Fairbanks-Morse was already well established as a manufacturer of railway and mining equipment when it started manufacturing farm engines, making hoist engines a natural extension of the line.
The practical applications were broad, and Fairbanks hoists were employed just about anywhere one was needed, from lifting boats onto shore to pulling ore buckets in mines, and more.
Fairbanks hoist units were built using a variety of engines, starting with Type T verticals in the late 1890s and early 1900s. As its engine line evolved, Fairbanks made hoists powered by everything from hopper-cooled Z's to 2-stroke diesels, typically single-cylinder units.
Fairbanks made highly specialized hoists, including “sectionalized” models. According to Wendel, these were designed such that no single piece of the engine or hoist weighed more than 300 pounds. This was especially useful in mining applications in the West, where such engines could be packed, piece by piece, by mule to a mining site, where they were then assembled and put to work. More than a few engines so constructed have been found over the years and restored.
This factory photograph, found in the old GEM archives, shows a circa-1907 Fairbanks-Morse 9 hp reversible hoist unit. The engine is a screen-cooled Type T vertical, a design that was phased out of production by 1915. It would have been equipped with volume governing. According to Wendel, units like this were ideal for hoisting bricks and mortar and for general building construction.