Ice Plant Fairbanks Mores

Fairbanks-Morse engine

David Smith, Carl Smith, Everett Hudson, and John Smith working on Fairbanks-Morse.

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Rt.1 Shelbyville, MO 63469

As readers of Gas Engine Magazine, we have enjoyed many hours of pleasure. At times, it becomes divorce grounds when my husband reads his magazine. He starts looking for the magazine was before its time to arrive. Then, when he gets it, he will not put it down until he's looked at every single page in it! I mean, the house could burn down around him and there he'd be.

I enjoy tractor hunting, restoring antique tractors, and many hours at the shows. My father, Carl Smith, owns a shop in Emden, Missouri, and that is where many hours are spent by my husband, Everett Hudson, my brother David Smith, my uncle John Smith, and on occasion cousins Ronnie Smith and Roy Smith pop in to work on some antique machinery or tractor. Also, many people stop by to see what they're working on now. One of our neighbors and good friend, Dick Powell, stops in and helps them work on things.

Sometimes you wonder if you're still married, but it's good therapy for all gas engine and antique tractor people that have it in their blood.

It really ruins my day when I have been out and around the countryside (on my job) and I see an antique tractor sitting somewhere. I rush home to tell my husband about it and he says, 'Oh, yah, I know where that place is and exactly where it is at.' Just makes me furious!

Well anyway, I would like to tell you about an antique engine our old threshers organization was able to get a hold of and move.

We are involved with Northeast Old Threshers Organization. Recently, a 100 horsepower Fairbanks-Morse engine was donated to our organization by the city of Shelbina. During one of our first shows, coordinator of old threshers Carl Smith became acquainted with Dwain Snider. Dwain used to stop along the road nearly three decades ago and listen to the chug-chug of the twin cylinder engine which used to produce ice at the old ice plant in Shelbina, Missouri. Dwain's interest in the engine to this day has led to the saving of it.

Over a year ago, the city of Shelbina, which had earlier purchased the structure which used to be the old ice plant, took bids for the building to be town down. The engine seemed doomed for the scrap pile, until Dwain approached the city about leaving it with hopes of later building shelter over it. The city approved the request and the old ice plant became a memory while the rusty engine with its tall smoke stack was saved.

Then during our show in the fall, Dwain and Carl Smith talked many times about their interest in and admiration for the antique engine and many other types of antique machinery from days gone by. That is where all the real work began.

The men in my family (mentioned above) took over the project of moving the big engine. I needed to name their names because they've done so much work over the years for our organization. My dad is a great person to learn from about getting any difficult task done. He has taught me to keep on trying to do it, even if you know nothing about it, until you get it right or get the job done. He's a very handy guy to have around.

Our local newspaper article said Carl Smith took on the task of moving the engine (with the help of others named), and made what seemed like a monumental task a simple one. Carl, working with hand tools, cutting torch and a backhoe, removed the outer accessories and the main portion was winched onto a trailer and moved to the fairgrounds.

Later in the week the foundation was poured for the engine.

My brother, David Smith, wrote Fairbanks Morse Company and they sent a copy of the original operating manual and the original shipping order. The 100 horsepower engine was shipped February 25, 1943 at a cost of $3,812.00, including accessories. It was delivered by the CB&Q Railroad to the Missouri Ice Company, owned by Shelbina entrepreneur O.L. Wright. The engine's main purpose was to pressurize ammonia which was used to freeze ice in the plant.

Wright also used it to generate electricity to Lentner, Mo., and people along the way. They served about 40-50 customers. It seems the electrical system was dropped in 1944 or 1945 when REA took over.

The engine was operated continuously when used for electric, but dropped to partial use when used solely for ice production. It fired its last glorious puff of diesel exhaust about 1965, according to Bill Heathman, who helped operate the city's three generators at that time. A cooling tower was originally used to cool the engine, as it turned 300 revolutions per minute for its work.

After the engine was finally mounted upon the foundation, many, many hours of work went into the restoration of the insides of the engine. Several weekends were spent overhauling the engine so that we might hear it chug-chug again.

Our organization just put up a new building in which this engine is sheltered. Many of our members helped construct this building, and we are very thankful to them for spending the only days they had off to help. We really have had a wonderful reception in Shelbina. The Chamber of Commerce, Fair Board, the Young Men's Organization, and many other people have been very helpful, as has been the City of Shelbina itself.

I would like to dedicate this story Cecil L. Smith from Hunnewell, Mo., and Ellis Smith, also from Hunnewell, who both are passed away. Cecil was my grandfather, and Ellis my uncle. In these men our organization has lost two valuable people. I would also like to dedicate this story to, or at least say please remember, our men and women who served and are still serving in the Middle East, for they have fought for what we are all about.