Look In Your Own Back Yard


| August/September 1992



Fairbanks Morse after restoration

409 Mills Lane New Albany, Indiana 471 50

My dad told me the particulars about this engine, a 3 HP Fairbanks Morse Z less than 10 miles from home, but I've added the first part to the story, because I know it's also true.

In any one given year, Dad probably travels one or two thousand miles just in the pursuit of engines. Half or more of the trips end up being a 'wild goose chase,' and most of the balance are either too expensive or not worth owning. How many of you have spent half a day hunting a farm to look at 'the old antique engine in back of the barn,' that turns out to be a lawnmower or roto-tiller that's been left outside too long? Be honest now? Well, Dad has had his share of those too!

Dad has outgrown his trailer and was interested in restoring an old gas pump, so one day last summer he started out to chase down some leads he had. None of these leads turned up anything worthwhile, but he got a lead on an old engine on a nearby farm. Sure! Oh well, it wasn't that far and it was a nice day to be riding in the country.

Have you ever seen a school bus body removed from the frame and set on the ground and used as a shed or out-building? Well, later that afternoon, Dad found himself standing beside one! Waist deep in brush and briars, and about a hundred yards from where the trail ended. The top of the flywheel and part of the cooling tank were all that were visible in the junk inside. It took three people to carry it back to the truck and about twenty minutes worth of rummaging in the junk to find the crank.

The owner, Mr. Harold Webb, is a retired river boat pilot, and the engine had been used as auxiliary power for the boat's electrical generator many years ago. Modernization and technology had long since caused it to be abandoned to the farm. It moved from spot to spot until it found its way to the school bus and there laid at rest.