Ice Plant Fairbanks Mores

By Staff
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David Smith, Carl Smith, Everett Hudson, and John Smith working on Fairbanks-Morse.
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Rt.1 Shelbyville, MO 63469

As readers of Gas Engine Magazine, we have enjoyed many hours of
pleasure. At times, it becomes divorce grounds when my husband
reads his magazine. He starts looking for the magazine was before
its time to arrive. Then, when he gets it, he will not put it down
until he’s looked at every single page in it! I mean, the house
could burn down around him and there he’d be.

I enjoy tractor hunting, restoring antique tractors, and many
hours at the shows. My father, Carl Smith, owns a shop in Emden,
Missouri, and that is where many hours are spent by my husband,
Everett Hudson, my brother David Smith, my uncle John Smith, and on
occasion cousins Ronnie Smith and Roy Smith pop in to work on some
antique machinery or tractor. Also, many people stop by to see what
they’re working on now. One of our neighbors and good friend,
Dick Powell, stops in and helps them work on things.

Sometimes you wonder if you’re still married, but it’s
good therapy for all gas engine and antique tractor people that
have it in their blood.

It really ruins my day when I have been out and around the
countryside (on my job) and I see an antique tractor sitting
somewhere. I rush home to tell my husband about it and he says,
‘Oh, yah, I know where that place is and exactly where it is
at.’ Just makes me furious!

Well anyway, I would like to tell you about an antique engine
our old threshers organization was able to get a hold of and

We are involved with Northeast Old Threshers Organization.
Recently, a 100 horsepower Fairbanks-Morse engine was donated to
our organization by the city of Shelbina. During one of our first
shows, coordinator of old threshers Carl Smith became acquainted
with Dwain Snider. Dwain used to stop along the road nearly three
decades ago and listen to the chug-chug of the twin cylinder engine
which used to produce ice at the old ice plant in Shelbina,
Missouri. Dwain’s interest in the engine to this day has led to
the saving of it.

Over a year ago, the city of Shelbina, which had earlier
purchased the structure which used to be the old ice plant, took
bids for the building to be town down. The engine seemed doomed for
the scrap pile, until Dwain approached the city about leaving it
with hopes of later building shelter over it. The city approved the
request and the old ice plant became a memory while the rusty
engine with its tall smoke stack was saved.

Then during our show in the fall, Dwain and Carl Smith talked
many times about their interest in and admiration for the antique
engine and many other types of antique machinery from days gone by.
That is where all the real work began.

The men in my family (mentioned above) took over the project of
moving the big engine. I needed to name their names because
they’ve done so much work over the years for our organization.
My dad is a great person to learn from about getting any difficult
task done. He has taught me to keep on trying to do it, even if you
know nothing about it, until you get it right or get the job done.
He’s a very handy guy to have around.

Our local newspaper article said Carl Smith took on the task of
moving the engine (with the help of others named), and made what
seemed like a monumental task a simple one. Carl, working with hand
tools, cutting torch and a backhoe, removed the outer accessories
and the main portion was winched onto a trailer and moved to the

Later in the week the foundation was poured for the engine.

My brother, David Smith, wrote Fairbanks Morse Company and they
sent a copy of the original operating manual and the original
shipping order. The 100 horsepower engine was shipped February 25,
1943 at a cost of $3,812.00, including accessories. It was
delivered by the CB&Q Railroad to the Missouri Ice Company,
owned by Shelbina entrepreneur O.L. Wright. The engine’s main
purpose was to pressurize ammonia which was used to freeze ice in
the plant.

Wright also used it to generate electricity to Lentner, Mo., and
people along the way. They served about 40-50 customers. It seems
the electrical system was dropped in 1944 or 1945 when REA took

The engine was operated continuously when used for electric, but
dropped to partial use when used solely for ice production. It
fired its last glorious puff of diesel exhaust about 1965,
according to Bill Heathman, who helped operate the city’s three
generators at that time. A cooling tower was originally used to
cool the engine, as it turned 300 revolutions per minute for its

After the engine was finally mounted upon the foundation, many,
many hours of work went into the restoration of the insides of the
engine. Several weekends were spent overhauling the engine so that
we might hear it chug-chug again.

Our organization just put up a new building in which this engine
is sheltered. Many of our members helped construct this building,
and we are very thankful to them for spending the only days they
had off to help. We really have had a wonderful reception in
Shelbina. The Chamber of Commerce, Fair Board, the Young Men’s
Organization, and many other people have been very helpful, as has
been the City of Shelbina itself.

I would like to dedicate this story Cecil L. Smith from
Hunnewell, Mo., and Ellis Smith, also from Hunnewell, who both are
passed away. Cecil was my grandfather, and Ellis my uncle. In these
men our organization has lost two valuable people. I would also
like to dedicate this story to, or at least say please remember,
our men and women who served and are still serving in the Middle
East, for they have fought for what we are all about.

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