Minneapolis Company

Courtesy of Earlene Ritzman, 808 Wertzville Road, Enola, Pennsylvania 17025.

Earlene Ritzman

Content Tools

Box 254, Brewster, Kansas 67732.

In the Nov-Dec. issue of G.E.M. there is a picture of my Fair banks Morse Type 'T' engine sent in by Lyle Knerr of Chapel, Nebraska. These engines were sold under the trade name of Jack-of-all-Trades and were available from 2 HP to 12 HP. I do not know the first or last dates of manufacture. Mine was shipped from the factory on March 19, 1910 according to company records.

There is quite a story goes with this engine. It is sort of long-winded, but I'll tell the whole story.

The story starts in the hospital in Goodland, Kansas early in 1969. My mother-in-law had just undergone surgery and her outlook for the future was not too bright. Now, she has a sister and a brother-in-law, Russel, who I will refer to as Uncle Russel, living on Lake of the Ozarks near Osage Beach, Missouri. She decided that as soon as she was able she would like to spend a few weeks with her relatives there, so in April, my wife, Kay and I, drove her down in her car. She had bought a new Delta 88 Olds just before going into the hospital and had less than 100 miles on it. We left her there and returned home with the understanding that we would go back after her whenever she was ready to come home, but not before Uncle Russel and I had got to talking about old engines.

Along in May my mother-in-law decided she wanted to come home, so Kay and I, and oh yes, I forgot to mention Pete, our Cairn Terrier,--we now have seven; hopped into the Olds and took off. The car was broken in by then to where we could make a little better time, but it is still a big day's drive. We stayed overnight and the next morning Uncle Russel wanted to show me some of the lake and interesting points while the women folks did whatever women do in places of that nature. Anyway the women took our car and Russel and I took off in his.

We rambled around for quite a while and saw lots of interesting things. As we were nearing his place, Uncle Russel said, 'Oh yes, there is one other thing I want to show you.' We made a turn up over the crest of a hill and there about fifty yards down the hill set an old Jack-of-all-Trades engine. This kid lost no time getting out of the car and down that hill only to meet the sorriest disappointment imaginable.

Somebody had torn the old engine partly down and just scattered it around. The head and everything attached to it was gone and the cylinder half full of water. All the governor mechanism was gone, as was the igniter. I just shook my head and said, 'She ain't worth fooling with.' On down the hill always there was an old bath tub and an old service station gas pump lying, so for want of something better to do we poked around to see what they were all about. While we were shuffling around them I stumbled over something and--lo and be hold!--there lay the missing head! I grabbed a stick and started digging in the pile of ashes and found every part except the igniter tripper. Someone had torn that engine apart because they had let it freeze up and bust the head. They had laid all the parts up on a shelf in the shed and then the shed had burned down.

1928 Minneapolis 30-50 powered by 4 cylinder EU Sterns engine-the only information known by the owners is that it was built in Canada for the Minneapolis Company when they entered the tractor field. Anyone with more information please contact the owners: E. M. Forrest, Box 54, McLean, Virginia 22101 or Eddie Horn baker, 12535 Lawyer Road, Herndon, Virginia 22070. Photo by Dave Egan, R. D. 5, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania17055.

An August I940 scene taken on my farm five miles west of Wibaux, Montana with two new Baldwin combines and two new John Deere tractors owned by a custom combining crew from Kansas. Harvesting Serris Spring Wheat running 32 bushels per acre.

1914 at the Power Farming Demonstration, August 17 to 22 held at Fremont, Nebraska. The world's record was broken by gasoline tractor. Caterpillar made by Holt Mfg. Co., Peoria, Illinois. The illustration shows Caterpillar pulling 24-14' Oliver plows cutting 28 ft. wide 7? to 8' deep in dry gumbo soil. The estimated draft is 21,600 lbs., working weight of the engine is 27,000 lbs., 80 percent of weight in drawbar pull. One record biggest plow ever pulled by one engine, second record estimated drawbar HP 115.8 third world's record for traction engines.

Uncle Russel knew the man who owned the property--in fact, they were almost next door neighbors. I have long since forgotten his name, (I'd forget mine if I didn't have it tattooed on my hand). We went over and asked him about the old Fairbanks and if it could be repaired. He said it had set there as long as he had owned the property and it was just junk to him--if we could use it, we could have it. He said some fellow years ago had a sort of service station and a dock where he sold gas to boaters, etc. and used the old engine on a 32 volt generator for lights and power.

Now, my Uncle Russel's hobby is woodworking so he is not very well equipped to work on old engines. I looked his tools over and the best I could come up with was a hammer, a cold chisel and a wrecking bar. That is more than enough with a little determination. We took Russel's pontoon boat, went back around to where the engine was and just started splitting nuts. In almost no time we had the old girl broken down into sections small enough to load onto the boat. We rolled and carried the parts all aboard and shoved off. The engine was not heavy enough to sink the boat--quite. When we got back to Uncle Russel's we finished dismantling it and stowed that whole cotton-picking engine in the trunk of my mother-in-law's new Olds--all 700 pounds of engine and much to her consternation. We made her a little happier by telling her it was no worse than two big people in the back seat. Need I add that the darn car didn't drive very good on the way home?

In about six weeks or two months I had the old Fairbanks ready to build fire in, all prettied up in original color, lettered and striped, ready for the show. Another collector and good friend, Ed Wendelburg, was at our place that evening and we decided to fire her up. Now I am not by nature real even-tempered. I keep an old plastic bucket around so when things don't go right and I get cross I can just kick the devil out of the bucket and not hurt anything. I used to bust things till the bucket came along.

1910 10 ft. Deering hay rake and a 1925, 10-20 McCormick-Deering tractor. That is R. F. Somerville driving. Photo was taken August of 1970 by my wife. The tractor had not run for ten years and started right off.

Well, anyway we worked quite a-while cranking the old girl,--she'd fire but wouldn't carry on over to fire again, so we got down a big electric motor and belted up to her. The motor was too big and we couldn't get the belt right enough, so when we'd hit the switch the motor would just spin the belt off. After five or six times, this kid was getting pretty vexed. There sat my plastic bucket, I aimed a good healthy kick at it and instead of a good satisfying 'Whap', it give forth with a soggy 'Splash'. Kay had filled it with water and set it there for us to put in the engine. When I got the water off my glasses and some dry clothes on, we tried it again. You know that darn engine took off and ran as pretty as anything you ever saw the first time over.

My bucket has a big hole out in the bottom now.

(And I hope your temper has sub sided somewhat too-or sometime you 'reliable to have a broken foot--Anna Mae).