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1942 350 hp Fairbanks-Morse Diesel Engine

A massive Fairbanks-Morse diesel engine gets a second life.

| April/May 2017

  • 1942 350 hp Fairbanks-Morse diesel.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The middle cylinder on the 5-cylinder diesel features a clear Plexiglas cover in the cylinder base a the crankshaft bed, allowing visitors to watch the connecting rod as it rises and falls.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The ladder and platform give access to the top of the 5-cylinder diesel.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The 5-cylinder Fairbanks-Morse diesel's Woodward Type IC governor is mounted to the front of the crankshaft.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • A Close up of the governor, which has settings for load and speed droop running a generator.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The back side of the engine and the crankcase scavenging air intake at the cylinder bases and the exhaust manifold at top.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The 480-volt generator is mounted behind the flywheel
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • A "clock" above the engine tells visitors the next starting time.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • New air tanks hold the needed volume to air-start the diesel, typically at around 200 psi.
    Photo by Bill Vossler

350 hp Fairbanks-Morse Type 32E

Manufacturer: Fairbanks, Morse & Co., Beloit, Wisconsin
Year: 1942
Horsepower: 350 hp @300rpm
Bore & stroke: 14in x 17in
Total Displacement: 5 cylinders, 13,084 cubic inches
Weight: 40-plus tons
Cooling: Water, jacketed cylinders and heads
Ignition: 2-stroke diesel/air starting
Special Equipment: 480-volt AC generator

When Ralph Altenweg of Dayton, Minnesota, was involved with pouring the cement for the base for a 1942 5-cylinder 350 hp Fairbanks-Morse diesel engine at the Rogers, Minnesota, Threshing Show in 1991, he had no idea the work would have to be repeated two years later.

“The most important point is that the pillar for the tailboard bearing must be poured continuously with the main foundation as one solid chunk, approximately 32-cubic-yards of concrete 4 to 6 feet deep. The engine anchor bolts had to be almost in perfect alignment to hold the 30-ton engine. This was accomplished by a custom fixture made by Gene Zopfi and Leo Eiden,” Ralph says, noting that when Ed Klemish with Rocket Crane Co. set the engine, everything lined up.

“We had a Fairbanks-Morse book that told how you open up that last porthole and go in with a dial indicator between the web of the crankshaft and turn it over; that’s how you set that bearing adjustment screw so there won’t be any flexing. If the 8-inch-diameter crankshaft flexes, it could break, so it was critical getting it aligned.” But all that work lasted only two years, when it had to be redone.

History all around

Ralph began collecting gasoline engines starting with a circa-1912 3 hp Waterloo Boy, and helped start engine clubs in Minnesota in the early 1970s, including the Anoka Engine Club, which morphed into the Rogers, Minnesota, show. Ralph also morphed into collecting tractors, like a 1918 14-28 Rumely OilPull, one of the last made, as well as 10 antique trucks. So he had a background in old iron, not to mention the years he spent working at Federal Cartridge Co., (now Federal Premium Ammunition,) of Anoka, Minnesota, where he worked with four Fairbanks-Morse 2-cylinder 150 hp engines of the Model E type like the 350 hp engine.


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