3904 – 47th Ave. S., Seattle, Washington 98118 CHAPTER
Looking back at the history of the many gasoline engines
appearing in the articles of this story, little has been said about
the small engine that was first marketed by Fairbanks Morse.
Possibly, one of the reasons why the engine was not mentioned
was due to the fact so little information about this machine
reached the present day public. There were not many of this model
in service. Not until recently, and to the writer’s knowledge,
no existing machine has been found.
When John Charter, the inventor of some of the gasoline engines,
moved to join the Fairbanks Morse engineering staff at the Beloit
plant, the first engine to be shipped in 1892 was known as
Fairbanks-Charter engine. They were built in ratings of 2-1/2 to 75
HP and the engine resembled the Type ‘N’.
Shortly after, in 1895 there were a number of changes made on
the #3 engine and the rating included the 2 HP vertical engine, and
up to 75 HP. All except the small vertical engine was of the
horizontal design. The newest feature was the addition of the
electrical ignition on all sizes except the 2 HP. This engine still
used the torch.
In 1898 the ratings were changed on the Type ‘N’ listing
and would include the 5 HP up to 60 HP. At this time the Type
‘T’ was introduced and the small vertical 2 HP engine was
taken off the market. The dates show that the 2 HP vertical engine
was marketed for three years, which accounts for the small number
of engines now available.
With this bit of history leading up to the origin of the 2 HP
vertical Fairbanks Morse farm engine, which was all brought about
when the writer received a letter from one of the more successful
collectors in the western territory. I do not know whether he was
more excited than the writer or not, having word that such an
engine had been found.
Mr. Gilbert Merry of Lowden, Washington is the proud owner. This
engine was used in a machine shop where Gilbert purchased it, and
the engine is in excellent condition, still having the original
paint. Mr. Merry can be remembered by the cover picture of the Coey
engine on the September-October 1973 Gas Engine Magazine.
This engine, together with many more make up his collection,
such as the 8 HP ‘King Bee’, Atlas, 9 HP Alamo,
International ‘Tom Thumb’, 6 HP Mogul, 2-15 HP Fairbanks
Morse, Type ‘N’ and 2 HP Type ‘I’ and the largest
one is a 37-1/2 HP Fairbanks Morse ‘Y’ and many more.
It is this small 2 HP vertical engine in which we are
interested. The nameplate shows a patent date of 1897. The outline
of it is very simple. The cast iron crankcase is rectangular in
shape. The main bearings are mounted on the narrow sides and the
timing gear and exhaust valve are on the same side, which is
opposite the crank side. The cylinder is attached to the top of the
crankcase by studs.
Here are two pictures of an unknown engine make. It did, at one
time, have a name plate. At least there are 2 small holes on the
split and removable water jacket that would indicate a place for a
plater. The trucks and gas tank are not original and I doubt the
water tank is original. The governor weight is in the flywheel rim.
The bore is 7′ and the stroke is 7′. This is a very good
running engine. Any help on size and make would be appreciated.
The crankcase has a hand hole to get any adjustment of the
connecting rod in the front of the machine. The starting torch
burner is mounted on the engine cylinder in the front side, or
above the crankcase hand hole. The exhaust valve is attached at 45
degrees from the starting torch. The ignition is inside of the
cylinder with a short rod in the piston on one side. The blow torch
is mounted on the cylinder which is fed from an auxiliary tank, and
ignition tube provides the heat for the explosion. A mixing valve
was also mounted on the cylinder which was fed from a pump on the
Having never seen one of these engines, I trust this information
is somewhat like the actual machine, as I stand corrected if any
owners can set the record straight.
This story was conceived by the circumstances as they exist and
an endeavor to seek out another unknown gasoline engine in the
history of this industry. Anyone who knows about one of these
little 2 HP Fairbanks Morse machines is asked to write to the