27 Loon Lake Road, Bigfork, Montana 59911
Auction day is here and it’s time to head for St. Maries,
Idaho, to a tractor and engine sale.
Skip Landis and son Jerry, Al Martinson, and I left home in
northwest Montana at 6:00 a.m. so we would be on time at the
auction site. We stopped at Paradise, Montana, for breakfast. I
‘sprung’ for breakfast, as I was anxious to get going and
not miss the auction.
At about 9:00 a.m. we got to the sale site. The weather was wet
and dreary, but from the size of the crowd at the sale, the weather
wasn’t a factor. I think the wetter the weather-the bigger the
Like everyone else, I looked over things quickly. Then I went
and got a bid number and waited for things to start. My buyer
number was 48.
The auctioneer said his usual speech of how everyone needs a
buyer number to get in on the bidding. He also said that at noon,
engines and tractors would be sold. That was good, as that would
give me a chance to look things over more closely and also see who
else was interested in the same items as I was.
Meanwhile, the weather was changing from a drizzle to showers,
and still no one left the sale site. Noon came and went. Finally
someone got the auctioneer’s attention and told him it was past
noon and that it was time to sell tractors and engines. Right away
he stopped selling the household items and came over to where the
tractors and engines were to be sold.
There was a flatbed truck that had just blocks, crankshafts and
flywheels, and they were sold first. Quite a few of these pieces
were bought by Skip Landis. I wonder if anyone else besides Skip
knew there was an F-M carburetor inside one of the engine block
water hoppers. It pays to look things over real good.
Now before I go any further, I want to tell you what was broken
on the 2 HP Fairbanks-Morse that I was interested in buying. First,
someone had tried to turn the engine over to see if it was
‘free.’ The mag would not turn, but the crankshaft would.
You guessed right. The mag was broken off its pot-metal base. Also,
two teeth were stripped off of the governor flyweight gear. I
wasn’t worried about getting those pieces fixed. Al Martinson
knew someone who could weld pot-metal and Skip Landis said he would
take the mag and fix it.
Now came the time that the 2 HP Z F.B.M. was up for bids. I let
a couple of other men start the bidding. When there was only one
bidder left, I jumped in on the bidding and we were off and
running. By this time I knew that engine was going home with me.
Finally the auctioneer said, ‘Sold to number 48.’ The
engine was mine. There was a paper tag tied to the oiler that reads
as follows: 1928 Fairbanks-Morse #659666. (It’s really a 1925
model.) ‘This motor was purchased new and spent many years
pumping water for a farm in eastern Washington. R.E.A. retired this
faithful little motor. Stored for many years in an old
The selling goes on. A lone carburetor for an F.M. Z 3 HP came
up for bid. Skip told me that I needed it for a 3 HP Z that I
bought in September. I guess these carbs are scarce, as it drew a
lot of bidders. As usual, I hung back for a while and just as the
auctioneer’s hammer was to drop, I raised the bid. I was in
this for the long haul and I wanted to see just how deep the other
bidder’s pocket was. Needless to say, that carb came home with
me. I also bought a 3-5 LBB mag. A ‘free’ Maytag 72 D
(1947) twin with an aluminum gas tank also was sold to me. It had a
bracket bolted to both cylinders so it could hang free under the
Maytag washing machine.
By now all the small pieces and parts were sold, so it was time
to load up and head home.
As you can see in the photo, Skip and I got our share of the
goodies. That’s my F.M. 2 HP in the middle and the twin Maytag
on the right hand side. We got home about 6:30 p.m. that evening so
we left everything in Skip’s pickup until the next day.
The next time I went over to visit Skip and to get my 2 HP F.M.
engine, Skip had taken my mag all apart, cleaned it up and put it
back together. Skip told me that the reason the mag wouldn’t
turn over was because the tar inside the mag had gotten so hot at
one time that the tar had run down onto the armature and locked it
in place, therefore preventing it from turning. Digging the tar out
from around the armature was enough to free it up. Skip cleaned it
up, adjusted things, and soon he had a spark that would jump ?
inch. Thanks, Skip!
Al Martinson took the mag base and said he would get it welded
back together for me. This proved to be easier said than done.
There was no way, no how that those two pieces would ever become
one again. Finally Al, who is a machinist, cut out and machined a
new base for me. Thanks, Al!
The governor flyweight gear was the next thing to be fixed. A
member of our club, Bud Stringfellow, said he would make me a new
gear, but this time it would be made out of steel and not
pot-metal. Thanks, Bud!
While these parts were being made and fixed, I completely
disassembled the engine down to the bare block, which I took to the
local car wash and gave a good cleaning, especially inside the
All the bearings were good, with lots of shim stock under the
caps. The rings were good and useable. Skip told me that old rings
are better than new rings, as they are already broken in. The gas
tank was full of scale and rust, plus some small pinholes in the
tank itself. I gave the tank two applications of gas tank sealant
and that took care of those problems. It took about two weeks for
the sealer to completely set up and dry.
I primed all the parts with a gray primer. After that was dry
came two coats of medium green. I’m color-blind, so the right
shade of green wouldn’t make any difference to me. The
connecting rod and cap and the web of the crankshaft I painted
I let all painted parts cure for two weeks before I started to
put the engine back together. I had plenty of time to assemble the
engine, as I had to wait on the new mag base, and also the governor
Meanwhile, I went ahead and made my skids and engine cart. The
cart is of my own design and works well for me. The cast iron
wheels were bought from Jim Fiddler of the Madison Cast Iron Wheel
On April 3, 1999, I had the engine on its cart and running. It
runs really well and purrs like a kitten.
I am glad I went to Idaho to get it. If anyone reading this ever
makes it to Bigfork, Montana, I will be more than willing to show
you my engines and to run my 2 HP Z Fairbanks Morse for you.