1899 Fairbanks-Morse “Type T” Special Electric 6 HP engine


| February / March 2008



Arlene

John's wife, Arlene, stands with the finished engine. On the base, John typed out the engine's history then had a sign company make a vinyl press-on sign, thus preserving the history with the engine.

In early 2004, a neighbor, Bob, was visiting me and saw some of my engines.  He said he had his father’s engine, which I should take. It was an International LLB 3-5 HP. Soon after I picked it up, it was putt-putting just like new. When Bob heard it he said I needed to go to Kansas and get “the 6 HP Fairbanks.” As I was trying to sell a 6 HP IHC “M,” I declined. But then he mentioned the magic word – “upright.” Shoot – another long trip and another restoration, just when I was trying to clean out the shop. Bob’s uncles, the owners, who were brothers, wanted their engine to go to a good home. If I could bring the LB back to life, mine was a good home.

In September 2004, I picked up Bob and we drove to my brother, Sam’s, house in Stillwater, OK. We transferred to his Dodge 3/4t diesel and heavy trailer. Who knew what we’d find? In another five hours, we were in Ness City, KS. The brothers came to the motel to visit us. “Do you have 4-wheel drive?” Uh-oh – it had been raining on the limestone powder the county puts on its roads. It is as slick as melting ice and called “smear”. 

Fifteen miles of 2-wheel drive smear later, we walked into the shed and saw the engine.  Although it was highly modified and dirty, it looked solid, turned free, didn’t have rust – and it was a big upright! One uncle used his large bucket loader and a logging chain to load the engine on Sam’s trailer. Another fifteen miles of smear, and we were on our way home, white knuckles and all.

Back around 1899, a farmer in Ness County, KS bought this 6 HP Fairbanks-Morse “Type T” Special Electric engine. He used the engine until the mid-1930’s to power a line shaft for a grinder, lathe and air compressor in his farm shop making many modifications to the engine.

Weather in western Kansas can be severe and, at some time, the cylinder froze and was replaced. The head was probably replaced too because there are supposed to be serial numbers on both pieces. Only the cylinder is stamped, and the number there begins with the letter “O,” which would not have been original issue. There has been discussion on the internet about this type of serial number, but it is all supposition. Also, this cylinder never had the cast brass name plate. 

During his ownership, the farmer replaced the hot tube and igniter with a spark plug and a magneto from a Hart-Parr 15-30. The mixer was replaced by an after-market Schebler D carburetor, which was widely advertised in the early 1900’s for this type of application. A Chevrolet water pump replaced the original, and a Madison-Kipp 50 oiler from the Hart-Parr replaced the Michigan manifold oiler.  The igniter trip mechanism was modified to trip the oiler.