An FM C-O From P-Ville

After a Hard Life and a 31-year Coma, this 200 HP Fairbanks-Morse C-O is revived

| December 2005

Last month's issue of Gas Engine Magazine included an article titled "Salute to a Dream," in which several large Fairbanks-Morse engines were featured. Within that article, another large Fairbanks engine was mentioned, one belonging to the American Thresherman Assn. in Pinckneyville, Ill.

That engine is a model C-O 200 HP 4-cylinder reversible marine engine, recently started for the first time in 17 years at the association's 46th Annual Steam, Gas and Threshing Show in Pinckneyville this past August. Dennis "Junkyard" Fust, John Hidy, Gary Bahre, and Harold and Paul Kurtz are the men responsible for getting the engine running again, working about 18 hours over the course of just a couple of days. But before the ATA got their hands on it, the old Fairbanks had already faithfully served its previous owners for many years.

The C-O's Working Years

The big Fairbanks diesel left the Beloit, Wis., plant with another, identical engine on June 19, 1925, and headed for Nashville, Tenn., to be used to power the M/V North Star, a riverboat owned by the Dillman Egg Case Co.

After 10 years of service, in an unfortunate turn of events while heading down the Upper Mississippi River in November 1935, the North Star somehow sank, thankfully in fairly shallow water. However, the vessel was ruptured, and ice in the river prevented any rescue efforts for 69 days. During those 69 days, the poor Fairbanks sat in a pool of water and mud, some of which made its way to the engine's internals.

Once pulled from the water, the North Star was taken to Paducah, Tenn., and the pair of 200 HP engines was removed and replaced with a pair of much larger, 400 HP Fairbanks diesels.

The old steam engines used at the Fairbanks Ranch pump house in Eldred, Ill., owned by Henry Cohn, had seen better days and were in need of replacement. Henry made the decision to replace them with one of the 200 HP Fairbanks engines pulled from the North Star. Once the deal was made with Dillman Egg Case Co., he had it shipped via train to Eldred and loaded on a lowboy trailer owned by Kirbach Trucking Service. Kirbach then delivered the engine to the pump house very late one night, only to find the road too soft. A crawler tractor was then called in to help pull the truck to its destination.