The Fairbanks Flash Rides Again!

Water tank

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9322 State Route 13 S. E., Route 1, Glouster, Ohio 45732

This is the story of the latest of my brainstorms, The Flash. That The Flash rides again, gives the impression that it rode before, was put out to pasture, and made to run again. That is the case with the Flash.

Several years ago, I put together an ice cream freezer, powered by a 1 HP Economy engine and a right angle gear box. The freezer made one gallon of ice cream, which worked well, but a gallon of ice cream does not go very far on hot days, especially when friends hear the putt-putt and stop by to see what is happening. A freezer twice as big seemed to be about right, so I bought a two gallon size freezer. Being somewhat taller, this would require a rather ungainly setup, so a better system was needed. Thus was the idea of the Flash born. This would not only operate the freezer much more handily, but would also be self-propelled.

Many years ago, I bought an 118 Fairbanks engine, about 7 or 8 HP, intending to pump a well with it. I had it stored in a garage, but the flood of '98 found it and covered it up. I had to tear it down, and completely clean it up, and in the process decided that if I have to do this much work on the engine, it was going to do something for me in return.

Having long admired the Waterloo Boy tractor, and the Mogul on the GEM fly cover, I designed the Flash along these lines, using the Fairbanks for power. I then bought a Dodge 50 pickup with a bad engine, and salvaged the rear axle and springs, five speed transmission, and steering assembly. This size truck is about a foot narrower than a full-size truck, making a handier width machine.

I designed the frame to fit the rear springs, and narrowed it to allow for front axle tilt and wheel turning clearance. The frame is built of four inch channel, but three inch would probably be strong enough. I located a front axle from a commercial lawn mower, such as was used to mow golf courses, and made the front of the frame come to a proper fit for this axle.

The rear springs were fitted to the extreme rear end of the frame, the drive shaft was shortened, the transmission was fitted to the frame, and the engine was located a little to the rear of center, to give weight over the rear tires, for decent traction.

I located a gear box off a manure spreader, which had a shaft coming out the front and back, and one coming out the side. This allowed for power to be put into the sideshaft, and taken out on both ends. There are two V-belts running from the engine pulley to the side shaft. The rear shaft couples to the front of the transmission, and the front shaft is belted up to turn the freezer.

The engine has a hand clutch on the belt pulley, so the truck clutch was not needed. The engine clutch was originally operated with a hand wheel, so a hand clutch was designed, using a series of levers and bell cranks, and works like a John Deere hand clutch.

The 'body' was made of inch a-c-x plywood, and the floor fits to the outside of the frame, and extends from the rear of the frame, just to the rear of the engine base. Side boards were fitted to a proper height for the seat, and this allowed for a small 'truck bed' behind the seat. Since the engine is gas powered, I carry a small propane tank in one corner of the bed, and have room for a spare tank and a cooler. A John Deere tractor umbrella fitted to the front and center of the seat support, makes welcome shade on hot days, and slowly turns when the engine is running, giving a nice effect.

There are steps fitted to each side, for easy entry, as nearly everyone who sees this outfit wants a ride. It was necessary to disconnect the original governor, and in its place link up a hand throttle.

It was also necessary to incorporate some type of safety device for the power shaft turning the freezer. If this was not done, as the ice cream became frozen, there had to be some kind of relief, to avoid breaking something in the freezer, I chose to make a shear pin coupling, using a stub shaft-sleeve assembly, with a 1/8 inch hole drilled crossways to accommodate a shear pin. I tried a piece of soldertoo soft. Two pieces, still too soft. Tried brass rodtoo strong. Two pieces of copper was close, but still a little weak. A friend gave me some soft steel tie wire, which worked well. This wire was once used to tie telephone wire to glass insulators.

The picture shows a water tank mounted on the front of the frame. In this manner, the freezer parts can be washed off in places where water is not available.

The top speed of The Flash is six or seven miles per hour, but it is low on power. It will climb fairly steep hills, but needs first gear to do it. The Flash will turn the freezer while underway, but I don't normally do it, as the weight of the full freezer is too hard to control.

It takes about 25 minutes to crank up a batch of ice cream. As the ice cream hardens, the engine loads up a little, and spectators are making bets as to when the shear pin will let go.

The Flash is a star attraction in parades, and invites a lot of comments and questions. It took most of a winter to build, and is worth all the time and effort involved.