F-M Find

By Staff
1 / 2
6 HP Fairbanks Morse as found.
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The 6 HP F-M engine before removal of the sub-base.

10732 Cranberry, Boise, Idaho 83704

In August 1985 our family went to the Western Idaho Fair. The
main attraction for us are the exhibits. One of them was conducted
by an old gentleman with about fifteen old gas engines. I fell in
love with the sound of them running and decided to get as much
information about them as possible. I am sure the old gentleman was
glad to see me leave, as I must have asked 300 questions about his

Last year while visiting a rancher friend of mine in southeast
Oregon, I asked if he would keep his eyes open and spot some old
engines for me. Sure enough, about one month later he called me and
asked if I would be interested in two or three engines!

The next evening after work, my wife Mary and I drove 94 miles
to Mike Hanley’s ranch, arriving about dark. Mike said the
engines were seventeen miles down a gravel road into remote Owyhee
County, Idaho, where an old ranch was for sale. When we arrived it
was really dark and the temperature was around 30 degrees. We
approached a fence line behind an old rundown machinery shed, and
lo and behold, there was a good sized engine embedded in the
ground, in the middle of a big bunch of briars and wild rose
bushes. In looking it over, I knew it was almost complete, but
because of the darkness I couldn’t tell much more.

Mike said the other engine was in front of the machinery shed.
Yep, there it was, smaller than the one in the fence line and
covered with some boards. We were able to move it some, and my mind
started racing ahead. We went to the ranch of the people selling
the old place and purchased the engines and any attachments for
them for $100.

Mike, Mary and I then went back out to the old place, arriving
about 10:30 p.m. The ‘problem’ was how to get the smaller
engine into my 1963 Volkswagen Bug. We removed the passenger seat,
then all three of us dragged, groaned and lifted the engine to the
VW; with much slipping and running, we rolled the engine onto the
passenger side floor of the little Bug. Mary and Mike crawled over
the engine and piled into the back seat. The highest gear I could
get going back was third, because the engine was flopped over to
one side.

We dropped Mike off at his ranch and Mary and I returned to
Boise tired, cold and happy. The next day upon examination we found
the engine to be a Fairbanks-Morse 1-1/2 HP Type Z. Two weeks later
I went back down and picked up the other engine with a tractor and
a truck.

This one is a 6 HP Fairbanks-Morse Type Z. While both engines
were complete except magnetos, the 6 HP was stuck and the head had
been repaired.

A fellow engine collector, Bob Thrupp, has the little 1-1/2 HP
running. The 6 HP has been donated to the Owyhee County Historical
Society, as that particular engine had been used to power a sawmill
that cut timbers for the mines in the early years of Owyhee

While the engines are a great find, the most valuable gift was
the new friends we made while searching for these engines. With Bob
Thrupp’s skill and patience I hope to learn more about these
magnificent engines from the very historical years of this

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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines