Fairbanks-Morse V-twin Diesel

By Staff
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The Model 45 appears very well-engineered, with stout castings and a compact profile.
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Flywheel side of Jeff Conner's unique and obviously very rare Fairbanks-Morse Model 45 V-twin diesel. When first asked, officials at Fairbanks-Morse said no such engine type had ever been built.
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The Model 45 appears very well-engineered, with stout castings and a compact profile.
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A Model 45 specification sheet provided by Fairbanks-Morse to Jeff Conner gives basic information on the engine.

I like all kinds of engines, but old i diesels arouse a
particular interest with me. I don’t know why, they just do. I
once told my wife if there were an aftershave lotion that smelled
like diesel exhaust, I would probably buy some. Maybe that’s a
clue.

Every now and then I drag out old issues of Gas Engine
Magazine
and go through a few. You never know what you might
have missed, and one day while reading through the March 1988 issue
I ran across a short article and accompanying photo of a unique
two-cylinder Fairbanks-Morse diesel engine. As it had the first
time I read the article, the engine caught my attention, but this
time was different.

That engine stayed on my mind for quite a while, so one day I
called the owner identified in the article. He lived in Vermont,
and as luck would have it, he sold the engine a short time after
purchasing it. He remembered, however, the name of the person he
had sold it to, so I tracked down the next owner. He had also sold
the engine, but could not remember to whom. Dead end. All I knew
then was that the engine was still very likely somewhere in
Vermont. My interest faded.

Rekindling the Flame

A couple years later I was browsing the classified ads on
Harry’s Old Engine Web site, a frequent practice for me. Since
I don’t collect marine engines I rarely read the Marine Engine
Ads section, but that night I did. Looking through the ads, I
immediately spotted a listing for a ‘Fairbanks Marine Diesel
Engine.’ The ad description provided little detail, but it did
say ‘two cylinder,’ and the seller was from Vermont! I
immediately called him, and his description of the engine confirmed
he had either the same engine described in the March 1988 issue or
one just like it.

The engine’s seller operated a classic car automotive
restoration and repair business, and the engine’s previous
owner had bartered the engine for some automotive repairs. Over the
course of the next few days we made a deal, and I arranged to pick
up the engine in Vermont a few weeks later. I live in neighboring
New York, so Vermont isn’t far away. This was in September.

My wife and I  make a habit of driving through central New
York and Vermont during the fall foliage season in mid-October.
Columbus Day weekend is a favorite time of mine, as the long
weekend and the many local harvest festivals in both states add to
the enjoyment. The country foods, fresh apple cider and splendid
fall colors lift the spirits.

On a beautiful, crisp and sunny October morning, I showed up at
the owner’s business and loaded the engine in my truck. With
the engine safely loaded I was ready to head for home, but the
sunny weather and fall colors were too much to ignore, so my wife
and I spent a nice weekend in Vermont.

Once home, I began researching the engine, but with the
exception of an entry in C.H. Wendel’s American Gasoline
Engines Since 1872
, I found nothing. I decided to call
Fairbanks-Morse and was put in touch with George Ferriter, a very
helpful gentleman who apparently gets stuck with all the calls from
old-engine collectors. I described my new engine find to George,
and he told me right off that no such animal was ever built by F-M.
‘Nope. No way. We never built a V-twin engine,’ George
said. That was until I faxed him a copy of the photo in
Wendel’s book of a V-type Model 45 F-M diesel engine. Puzzled
by the photo, he told me he would look around and get back to me. A
few weeks later, he did.

The Model 45

The engine I have is a Model 45 A 3-1/2 S. It is rated at 10 HP
at 1,200 rpm, and it is a narrow-angle, V-type two-cylinder engine.
As George related to me after his investigations, the Model 45
diesel engines were designed for the railroad mechanical
refrigeration market and first entered production on Oct. 10, 1939.
Serial no. 815146 was the first Model 45 built, and production of
Model 45 engines ended a short time later on Feb. 1, 1940, with
serial no. 815195. World War II was looming, and the U.S. Navy
visited F-M during this period and requested F-M devote 100 percent
of their productive capacity to building large, opposed-piston
diesel generators to power submarines. As a result, production of
the Model 45 diesel engine ceased.

Only 49 engines were manufactured during this period, and the
last four engines were never shipped – they were instead
disassembled and put on the F-M shelves for parts stock. Of the 45
engines shipped 30 were two-cylinder V-type models, with
single-cylinder models making up the balance. With few exceptions,
these engines were shipped directly to F-M branch stores for
showroom sale, and this particular engine was shipped to F-M’s
Cleveland, Ohio, branch store.

SIZES AND RATINGS

Number of Cylinders

1

2

Bore and Stroke, inches . ……… . ……

3? x 4?

3 ? x 4 ?

Braka Horsepower …………………………..

5

10

K.W. Capacity Generating Untt

3

6

R.P.M,………………………………… ……

1200

1200

B.M.E.P. Lbs. per sq. in……………..

72..5

72..5

Piston Speed, feel per mlnufe.

950

950

Mam Bearings;

Number

.2

2

Type and Size-Timken Roller Beating

559 & 552B

559 & 552B

Auxiliary Bearing Dia, x  Length, inches

1 7/8 x 1 3/8

1 7/8 x 1 3/8

Crankpin Bearings Dia, x length, inches. [2 1/8 x 1 ?

Piston Pin Bearings Dia x Length, inches

1? x 1 ?

When production of Model 45 engines resumed after World War II,
the V-type two-cylinder layout was abandoned and replaced with an
inline two-cylinder configuration. Witte and other manufacturers of
small diesels had moved into the market for small diesel railroad
refrigeration engines, and F-M’s V-type engine configuration
was apparently too expensive or too troublesome to manufacture. But
even with a new design the post-war Model 45 engine failed to
successfully penetrate the small diesel engine market.

Literature obtained from F-M shows the Model 45 in generator and
marine engine configuration, and F-M records indicate that at least
two V-type engines were sold as 6-kw generators to supply standby
power for hotels. Fairbanks-Morse never printed an owner’s
manual for the pre-World War II models, but George Ferriter and F-M
were kind enough to provide a copy of the original hand-typed,
hand-illustrated manual that had been prepared for, but never
submitted to, the printer.

My engine is equipped with a stub output shaft and was intended
for stationary engine duty. A former owner of this engine was told
it was used to power a Ferris wheel. My engine appears complete,
although I have not had the opportunity to get it running. I have
not seen another like it, but would certainly like to hear from
anyone who knows of any other Model 45 V-type two-cylinder F-M
engines. 1 would also like to thank George Ferriter and the folks
at Fairbanks-Morse for their help.

Contact engine enthusiast Jeff Conner at: 8269 Dunham Rd.,
Baldwinsville, NY 13027; e-mail: jconner2@twcny.rr.com

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