Unknown engine

Roger L. Eshelman

Content Tools

 3904 - 47th Ave. S., Seattle, Washington 98118 CHAPTER XXXIII

Looking back at the history of the many gasoline engines appearing in the articles of this story, little has been said about the small engine that was first marketed by Fairbanks Morse.

Possibly, one of the reasons why the engine was not mentioned was due to the fact so little information about this machine reached the present day public. There were not many of this model in service. Not until recently, and to the writer's knowledge, no existing machine has been found.

When John Charter, the inventor of some of the gasoline engines, moved to join the Fairbanks Morse engineering staff at the Beloit plant, the first engine to be shipped in 1892 was known as Fairbanks-Charter engine. They were built in ratings of 2-1/2 to 75 HP and the engine resembled the Type 'N'.

Shortly after, in 1895 there were a number of changes made on the #3 engine and the rating included the 2 HP vertical engine, and up to 75 HP. All except the small vertical engine was of the horizontal design. The newest feature was the addition of the electrical ignition on all sizes except the 2 HP. This engine still used the torch.

In 1898 the ratings were changed on the Type 'N' listing and would include the 5 HP up to 60 HP. At this time the Type 'T' was introduced and the small vertical 2 HP engine was taken off the market. The dates show that the 2 HP vertical engine was marketed for three years, which accounts for the small number of engines now available.

With this bit of history leading up to the origin of the 2 HP vertical Fairbanks Morse farm engine, which was all brought about when the writer received a letter from one of the more successful collectors in the western territory. I do not know whether he was more excited than the writer or not, having word that such an engine had been found.

Mr. Gilbert Merry of Lowden, Washington is the proud owner. This engine was used in a machine shop where Gilbert purchased it, and the engine is in excellent condition, still having the original paint. Mr. Merry can be remembered by the cover picture of the Coey engine on the September-October 1973 Gas Engine Magazine.

This engine, together with many more make up his collection, such as the 8 HP 'King Bee', Atlas, 9 HP Alamo, International 'Tom Thumb', 6 HP Mogul, 2-15 HP Fairbanks Morse, Type 'N' and 2 HP Type 'I' and the largest one is a 37-1/2 HP Fairbanks Morse 'Y' and many more.

It is this small 2 HP vertical engine in which we are interested. The nameplate shows a patent date of 1897. The outline of it is very simple. The cast iron crankcase is rectangular in shape. The main bearings are mounted on the narrow sides and the timing gear and exhaust valve are on the same side, which is opposite the crank side. The cylinder is attached to the top of the crankcase by studs.

Here are two pictures of an unknown engine make. It did, at one time, have a name plate. At least there are 2 small holes on the split and removable water jacket that would indicate a place for a plater. The trucks and gas tank are not original and I doubt the water tank is original. The governor weight is in the flywheel rim. The bore is 7' and the stroke is 7'. This is a very good running engine. Any help on size and make would be appreciated.

The crankcase has a hand hole to get any adjustment of the connecting rod in the front of the machine. The starting torch burner is mounted on the engine cylinder in the front side, or above the crankcase hand hole. The exhaust valve is attached at 45 degrees from the starting torch. The ignition is inside of the cylinder with a short rod in the piston on one side. The blow torch is mounted on the cylinder which is fed from an auxiliary tank, and ignition tube provides the heat for the explosion. A mixing valve was also mounted on the cylinder which was fed from a pump on the crankcase.

Having never seen one of these engines, I trust this information is somewhat like the actual machine, as I stand corrected if any owners can set the record straight.

This story was conceived by the circumstances as they exist and an endeavor to seek out another unknown gasoline engine in the history of this industry. Anyone who knows about one of these little 2 HP Fairbanks Morse machines is asked to write to the author.