Just Ask: 1928 Fairbanks-Morse 80 hp 32B-12 Diesel

A Fairbanks-Morse 32B-12 diesel engine allows show-goers to get involved.

| June/July 2018

  • The 1928 80 hp Fairbanks-Morse 32B-12 2-stroke diesel at the Almelund (Minnesota) Threshing Show grounds.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The 80 hp F-M’s fuel control lever. A plate (missing) covers the lever housing. Prime is at full left, run at center position and stop at full right.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The access hole to the F-M’s exhaust burial vault.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • A younger and slightly slimmer Matt Horstman back when he could still climb into the burial vault for inspection and cleaning.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • “Fairbanks-Morse” is prominently cast into the base of the 80 hp engine, as it was on all of Fairbanks-Morse’s large engines.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Matt Horstman with the 80 hp Fairbanks-Morse diesel.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Looking at the engine, the exhaust pipes dominate. Combustion air is drawn into the crankcase through the covers on the base of the engine.
    Photo by Bill Vossler

Matt Horstman would have liked to have been a farmer. But the 40-year-old from Chisago City, Minnesota, realized that farming didn’t seem very profitable. But as luck would have it, his next-door neighbors were gas engine enthusiasts, and through them he kept his hand in farm-related enterprises. “They collected old tractors and old gas engines, and I enjoyed watching them work on them, and learning,” Matt says.

Early start

Butt Matt wasn’t sitting back, either. As a sixth-grader he bought his first tractor, a 1950 John Deere A. “Then in seventh grade I bought my next tractor, a 1940 John Deere B.” The old iron gene was already at work.

Although his family moved away, his old iron desire remained, and when he met up with the old neighbors again, Howard Olson and his sons Kirby and Wayne, that pretty much did it. “I started to get into gas engines with them again, not necessarily for collectibles at the time, but for the history of the gasoline engines,” Matt says.

When he was 16, Matt began attending the Almelund, (Minnesota) Threshing Show (www.almelundthreshingco.org). “I discovered if you hang around a threshing show, they’ll put you to work,” Matt says. “I kind of did everything, helping with the sawmill, threshing, firing the Russell steam tractor, just mixing and mingling with the collectors, helping people, getting to know them. That’s how I got involved. They’d say, ‘Give me a hand here,’ or ‘Help me out here.’”



That led to working with a pair of Fairbanks-Morse engines when he was 18, a 2-cylinder 1928 Fairbanks-Morse 32B-12, and the 4-cylinder Fairbanks-Morse 32E-14 300 hp diesel engine. Both are 2-cycle engines. “Under the supervision of ‘Dr. Bill’ Osmer and Wayne Olson, I went from being an oiler, or ‘grease monkey,’ as everyone called it, to actually starting the 80 hp engine, checking on it, babysitting it, taking care of it, talking to people about it. Basically, maintenance of the engine fell to me.”

Today, he is one of the main people working with the show’s 1928 80 hp Fairbanks-Morse 32B-12 engine, finding unique ways to involve show-goers, including looking at someone in the daily audience and saying, “Would you like to start this engine?”