Another Fairbanks-Morse Story

By Staff
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2844 E. 12th Avenue, Apache Junction, Arizona 85219.

When I lived in Oklahoma, there was an oil rig close to my
house. I was amazed to watch this one-lung Superior engine pop and
wheeze unerringly, no matter the weather. I wanted an engine like
that; rustis first attack.

Much later I moved to Apache Junction, Arizona. There, I came
across a second-hand store where the owner sold artifacts from our
many mining sites.

Having been raised in the rural life, I mused over the
implements of yesteryear. THERE IT WAS! Two big cast iron wheels
showing through a pile of stable tack and chains. I dug through
this pile, and found a well rusted 6 HP Fairbanks Morse
‘Z’, the brass nameplate still attached.

The piston was gone, as were the main bearings and magneto. The
carburetor and head hung loosely from the head bolts. Despite the
rusted exterior, the cylinder walls and journals were clean. The
carburetor was rusted inside and outside; the linkage was

This engine had been used to pump water out of our mine
shafts-being underground would account for the rusted exterior.

The next move was a real trick! With a forklift and two eight
foot 4×4’s chained to the forks, we dragged this 750 pound
engine ten feet. We had to raise it high enough to clear an eight
foot fence and miss the overhead power lines.

We just missed the power lines with the forklift’s mast.
Several hours later, the engine was sitting in the bed of my

When I got the engine home, the cutting torch went to work! Soon
the engine was completely dismantled. I left the flywheels attached
to the crankshaft for easier moving. While I restored the
carburetor, the rusted parts were sandblasted clean. Each part was
then primed and painted.

With the help of the local Arizona engine club, GEM’S
articles, and ads, I have put this engine together completely.
It’s well that we could all speak the same language:

I converted the carburetor to propane and built a cart to move
this eight hundred pound beast around. The time came and I tried to
start this engine-NOTHING, JUST NOTHING! It would fire and run
backwards and stop.

I moved the spark plug to 15 degrees BTC. Propane doesn’t
require a very long burn time. Now it would start and I had a
carburetor throttle linkage out of sync with the governor, and
therefore defeating its function.

After I reset the timing and resyncronized the carburetor, I
tried again. On July the 4th, 1990 I cranked the flywheels over and
the first impulse fired-the second. The engine accelerated quickly
and the governor took over.

It was a surge of accomplishment to watch this 70 year old
engine chug along, relentlessly on its syncopated beat, which we
know so well.

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