A Return From the Past

| August/September 1993

  • 20 HP Fairbanks Morse
    The crew that removed the 22 HP Fairbanks Morse.
  • Paul Clark
    Paul Clark directs the lifting of cylinder rod and piston; Dan Ehlerding standing by.
  • Dan Ehlerding
    All parts loaded, ready for tie down. Dan Ehlerding checking things over.

  • 20 HP Fairbanks Morse
  • Paul Clark
  • Dan Ehlerding

13 W. Plum Street Tipp City, Ohio 45371

I have read many stories in GEM about retrieving big gas engines from old grain elevators, from basements of old theaters, from under garage floors, out of creeks, and what have you. All these stories I enjoyed very much, but little did I realize that some day I would be writing about an engine that I helped to retrieve from an old grain elevator right here in my home town.

To begin with, this old grain elevator was built in 1885. I was told that in its early stages it was powered by a steam engine which was on an outside wall made up of brick and stone. How long this steam power was used, I do not know, but it did succumb to a 22 HP Fairbanks-Morse gas engine which was run on natural gas with the exhaust piped to the outside.

The engine sat in the basement, which was about six or seven feet below ground level, and just opposite where the steam engine sat on ground level on the outside wall. It, too, met its demise when electricity came into being, for then electric motors, vie belts, vie pulleys and such took over. Electric motors of all sizes were used depending on the job they had to do.

Electricity remained the supreme power until the grain elevator was shut down for good; there it stood as silent sentinel with concrete silos high overlooking the town.

My dad, who was born and raised in town, knew about this engine being in the basement, and had told me about it a good many years ago. The subject of when it was installed never came up. I wish now I had asked him. In fact, not too many people in town knew that the engine was in the basement of the old elevator.


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