A Fairfield First


| August/September 1996



52 John Deere MT

3437 Blue Ball Road North East, Maryland 21901

I have admired old iron most of my life, but it wasn't until the last five years that I finally was able to get busy and start into the hobby. A move by my wife and me from California to a more rural Maryland gave us enough room for me to indulge my lifelong interest. I started out with a 52 John Deere MT which was at a farm where my wife was working on some horses at the time. She traded out some work for the tractor and one day announced to me that I could go pick it up that's when the old iron bug bit me.

I fixed up the MT and traded the MT for an English Fordson and sold the Fordson to buy a JD B and sold the JD B to buy a 23 Fordsonall the while taking in basket cases and progressively turning out better and better restorations. Some of you may question the rationale for the transactions, i.e. trading a JD for a Fordson, but then again some of you may think that I got a pretty good deal!

I came to realize that to work on these tractors, one needed (preferably) a garage or barn to keep them while dissected. Since my wife has horses in her barn, and in the interest of domestic tranquility, I opted the buy, fix up, sell route to keep my iron craving satisfied, while minimizing space requirements. Eventually I settled on the 23 Fordson as a 'keeper,' which left me looking for another project. I started going to some tractor shows and soon realized that with the gas engines, I could lug them down the steps of the 'Auntie Em' door, work on them all winter while it is too cold to do much else, and then emerge in Spring with something which did not take up a lot of room. Sounded like a plan

I became acquainted with the local collectors through buying tractor parts and asking them for engine advice. About two years ago I was thinking about working on a one-lunger and saw one which looked interesting; a Fair-field 4.5 HP. It was in a shed, kind of covered with some other parts. It looked like it needed a good home, just about the right size. At the time I had no idea it was a fairly rare engine I was a rookie at the engines. We agreed on a price. I told him 'soon as I had the money' I'd pick it up. About a year and a half passes and it was now getting close to Christmas 1995. The wife is starting to ask me what I wanted the engine of course! Christmas Day we pick up the engine. We lug the Fairfield down the cellar steps. I remain in the basement for most of the next week.

The fellow I bought the Fairfield from gave me the name of a Don Kahn who lives near Fairfield, Iowa. I called him to find out what I could about the Fairfield. Turns out the company used to make hayloft equipment and such and, at one point, had foundry and a lot of cash. This was about 1913-14. In 1915 they came out with a small binder engine to help satisfy the rage of pulling self-powered implements with a team of horses. Lots of companies sold a lot of engines to meet this demand; Fairfield was no exception, albeit to a local market. By the early 1920s, the Fairfield Company was one of those obscure one-engine companies so prolific during this period which quietly faded into history. Wendel's book documents literally hundreds of such similar companies. Judging from what Don told me and the #7009 serial number on the engine, we dated it at about 1918.