1918 15 HP Fairbanks-Morse Kerosene Engine


| November/December 1977



One real good engine show at Portland

1918 15 HP screen-cooled and truck mounted Fairbanks-Morse Kerosene antique engine.

A friend of mine, Leon, told me about this old 1918 15 HP Fairbanks-Morse kerosene engine about three years ago. One day, while at his home, we decided to go look it over. I had just started collecting antique engines in the 1-1/2 to 3 HP range, weighting from 100 to 300 lbs.

I have worked on engines all my life, from lawn mowers to 2,000 HP gas and Diesel engines. However, I was surprised to see about 3000 lbs. of iron to make a portable power unit of only 15 HP. Real quick I told Leon that I was not interested in an antique engine this large.

In the next year of antique engine collecting, and one real good engine show at Portland, Ind., I did a lot of thinking about the old truck-mounted, screen-cooled FM. Finally I decided to try to buy the engine. It was at some relatives of the owner, near Leon's, but the owner lived in New Jersey. Leon really worked hard at negotiation on the sale. It took many months and I became very anxious. Finally Leon called and said the deal was closed and I could come get the engine.

Rescue begins
I arranged to borrow a gooseneck trailer and pickup truck, gathered some chain, come-alongs, and some two by twelves. At 5 PM, Alton, another friend of mine, drove the 20 miles with me and we met Leon. Well, the grist mill that was to go with the engine was gone. But there was the engine, way on the back of a lot grown up with weeds, in a little lean-to shed, on the back of an old garage that was leaning so badly that I was scared to walk into it, and the lean-to shed was resting on the engine.

We took come-alongs and chains and with the aid of a handy tree, we pulled the shed and the garage upright. The screen-cooling tower was too tall to go through the opening in the rear of the garage and we had to hacksaw the piping and remove the tower. We then started pulling on the engine with the come-along. Well, the engine had set there so long that the wheels were about 6 inches buried and when the engine started to move ahead it also started to rise. Now the flywheels got too high to enter the garage and we had to back off and dig trenches for the wheels to travel through until the flywheels were clear of the garage entrance.

We thought we had it going easy and tried to pull it with the pickup. All we could do was spin wheels. So back to about 50 ft. of pulling with the come-alongs and steering by hand. I got real smart next and decided to back the low boy trailer in the road ditch to lower it for easy loading and learned real quick that a three axle low boy only backs over a small ditch, not lowering it more than an inch or two.