19388 Oxford St., Elk River, Minnesota 55330
My first interest in old iron came in a rather casual way. We
were living in northern Minnesota, on a farm in 1976. There was a
small shed by a well, some distance from the main farm buildings.
It would only be a few times a year that I would walk by this shed.
Anyway, beside this shed lay this old piece of rusty iron with dish
pan flywheels. It turned out to be a Fairbanks Morse 2 HP open
Several years passed and the idea of restoration kept crossing
my mind. I didn’t feel up to it myself, but I knew a man who
could fix almost anything. His name was Percy demons. He lived some
125 miles away from me so I would have to make some arrangements to
see if he would do the restoration. We worked out the details and I
left the old hit and miss off at his place and my life as an old
engine nut began. About a year passed before the engine ran. Percy
had to build some parts including a gas tank, but what a sweet
sound when we fired it up. As I paid him for his work, he showed me
another Fairbanks Morse he had. It was a later model and before I
left that day, I was the owner of another Fairbanks Morse 2 HP
My job situation was such that I could not get involved in
engine collection and shows like I would like to. Anyway, a Maytag
and a 3-5 Mc-Cormick Deering found their way into my
Several years passed and a couple of jobs and moves later, we
found ourselves living in Elk River, Minnesota. The first threshing
show I showed at was the Rogers Threshing Show, Rogers, Minnesota.
A water pump with pump jack ran with the Maytag, and a small grist
mill ran with one of the FB Morse engines.
After my first show, the idea began to develop that it would be
fun to make a stationary engine mobile. With the purchase of a lawn
tractor chassis, the idea came to life. Of course, as anyone with
old engine fever knows, the most enjoyment comes from rebuilding
and bringing to life these units. With some John Deere green and
yellow paint, the first self-propelled stationary engine made its
debut, called the ‘Fairbanks/Deere’. We were off to the
first trip in the old tractor parade. With three speeds forward and
one in reverse, a two inch straight pipe, two foot long for the
exhaust, it made its first parade with no problems.
The next year I acquired 1? HP John Deere hit and miss that
belonged to a friend of mine, Roger Neske of Princeton, Minnesota.
This unit had been sitting in a shed for 20 years since being run
last, and with a good clean up and new paint it ran fine. Another
riding lawn mower chassis came along, and with a cutting torch and
welder put into action, the frame of the chassis was lengthened to
accommodate the JD engine. I used a 90 degree reduction gear with
belt pulleys to transfer belt power from engine to the underside of
the chassis. With some trial and error, the second engine soon
Besides the Rogers show, I have shown at White Pine Threshing
Show, McGrath, Minnesota; the Butterfield Show; the St. Croix
Threshing Show, Almelund, Minnesota; and the Albany Threshing Show.
For the limited space engine owner, the smaller mobile units work
out fine. Good hit and miss bye to all you old engine nuts!