How I Tamed A Wild Old Gas Engine

Fairbanks Morse engine

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Box 86-B, Marietta, Minnesota 56257

One day I took this old Fairbanks Morse engine, that I had gotten some years ago at a sale in South Dakota, from the old barn to my shop.

This is a double flywheel engine with open crankshaft. I did all the usual things such as grind the valves, put in new rings, new check valves for the gas line, and take up the bearings and stuff.

The magneto was missing, but no problem. I ran it on a battery and coil. The little devil has a lot compression, it takes both hands to turn it over.

BANG it went, and started jumping all over the floor! Flabbergasted I can't let it run that way, it might fly to pieces. Tried to grab a wire, which I did pull loose, to stop it.

Someone suggested that I bolt it down on a big cement block. You wouldn't bolt a wild horse down, that would be cruelty to animals and maybe to engines too and it would be kind a hard to take the engine to threshing bees.

The engine sat dormant for some time, but I looked at it when I went to the shop, afraid to start it up. Then looking it over one day, I noticed the hollows, or holes, on the inside of the flywheels after talking to an engine friend or engine nut, as we are called, he said the hollows in one side of the wheels were to compensate for the throw of the crankshaft.

That remark was on my mind for three weeks! Don't get in a hurry, when you've got lots of time at age 80.

Then one day out in the shop I drilled some 3/8 inch holes in the hollows in the flywheels, and put in bolts and washers to fill in to balance the flywheels again. Then I started the engine carefully and it ran smoothly. I put the engine on a homemade tractor I built to resemble a Twin City engine with chain steering. See the picture enclosed.