Reunited With An Old Engine

Author Photo
By John R. Heath | Jul 1, 1998

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Rear view.
2 / 4
Front view.
3 / 4
Left hand view.
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Right hand view.

494 Twp. Road 232, Sullivan, Ohio 44880

On July 24, 1997, my nephews called and asked if I would be
interested in an old hit and miss engine. It took me about thirty
seconds to say yes. The next day I went to the farm, and to my
surprise, there sat a 1923 Fairbanks-Morse
l1/2 HP dishpan flywheel engine, serial
number 548890. I remember as a lad in the 1930s, sitting on the
back porch, listening to this engine putt away, belted to an old
wood tub washing machine. The engine was bolted to the porch floor,
and ran only on wash day. My grandfather purchased the unit new in
1923, and it ran the washing machine till 1941, when rural electric
came through. An electric motor was placed on the washer and the
F-M was put out in a storage shed.

My grandfather passed away and my uncle took over the farm. He
was a packrat and filled the storage shed with all kinds of
treasures. A couple of years ago, my uncle passed away and my
nephews took over. During the summer of 1997 they decided to clean
out the old storage shed and that is when the Fairbanks-Morse was
discovered. They did not know where the engine came from or what it
had been used for.

I brought the engine home and gave it a thorough degreasing. The
engine was in very nice shape, the buzz coil was hot and only
needed new wires from the battery to the spark plug. The rings,
bearings, and valves were like new. As of now, I am leaving the
original paint. Some people have said to paint it and others say
leave it as it is because it gives it character. I guess this will
be a once in a lifetime experience.

In September 1997, at the LaGrange Engine Show, the old
Fairbanks was belted to the club’s Ireland drag saw. It did a
nice job pulling the drag saw during the three day event.

I had totally forgotten about the Fairbanks and I am sure
thrilled to be able to add it to my collection!

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