By Staff
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Lower crankcase half bolted to skid.
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Lifting cylinder onto engine.
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On display at Milton, Ontario.
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Engine pieces as found.
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A truckload of the smaller pieces.
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A trailer load of the larger ones.
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Flywheels safely home.
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R.R. #1, Ayr, Ontario, Canada NOB 1E0

It all started one Sunday afternoon when Rich Mosher (a good
friend of mine) and I were thinking of an engine he saw at a local
show about 14 years ago. From bits and pieces of his memory of this
Marshall diesel, he thought he could recall the owner’s name.
This hunch was quite accurate and we soon had an address and we
were on our way. About an hour and a half later we were there,
viewing another collection that was new to us. We carefully looked
over about 50 engines including the Marshall diesel, and a 60 HP
Fairbanks Morse ‘Y’ diesel. Just as we were ready to leave
he thought that, as long as we were in the area, we should pay a
visit to another collector just a few concessions away. So off we
went again, with a few directions and a slight boost to our
enthusiasm. The next stop, a farm where we were cheerfully greeted
and given a guided tour of several buildings very well stocked with
iron. This tour included small to medium sized farm engines,
tractors, and steam traction engines. During our visit, I mentioned
that I was interested in the ‘BIG ONES’ which caused our
guide to steer us in the direction of a group of trees and tall
grass behind an implement shed. From 100 feet away I could see two
flywheels about 5-6 feet in diameter quite narrow for their size
and still on the crankshaft. Lying on the ground next to the
flywheels were two cylinders and two crankshaft halves. The heads
were still on the cylinders and the pistons and rods had never been
removed from their respective cylinders. Once the others in the
party caught up to me, I was told it was a Fairbanks Morse 100 HP
model RE. It was supposed to be all complete and by the serial
number it was made in 1915.

We walked over to a small building where all the smaller parts
were stored, such as bearing caps, lubricators, gears, piping,
shafts, rockers, bolts, extra pistons, extra ignitors, the
manifold, etc. It appeared like everything was there, the obvious
parts anyway. Because I’d never seen an engine like this
before, I had to take his word on the smaller pieces. After viewing
a few more pieces, I got up the nerve to ask him what he wanted for
the F-M which he mentioned earlier was for sale. The price, being
more than I ever paid for any other engine, didn’t seem too far
out of reach so I let him know I was interested, got his telephone
number and headed for home. On the drive home the conversation
pretty much was centered around the big F-M.

By the time we were pulling in my driveway, I had convinced
myself that this engine was one of my necessities of life, and I
should get it at any cost. I’m sure you know how that is.

My wife, Carol, is always very understanding about my hobby;
however, she had to remind me that food and the mortgage would have
to come first. I’m glad she is so logical about these things or
I may have had another engine with nowhere to put it.

After realizing I needed to sell a few engines to finance this
next purchase, I made a few well placed phone calls and was well on
the way. In a very short time I was ready to get serious about it,
so I made a call to do the usual haggling. The price was not open
for discussion so I agreed to it and set up the pick-up date.

The designated Saturday arrived and we were off with three
pickups and two trailers. The plan was to put the flywheels and
crankshaft on one trailer, the other major pieces on the other
trailer and the small parts into the remaining pickup.

Loading went very well, other than a slight under estimation on
flywheel weight, which quickly made firewood out of one of our
ramps. The cylinders and crankcase halves were winched onto the
second trailer, except for the lower crankcase half which had the
cam gear being the lowest point, so we couldn’t slide this one.
A neighbor’s forklift solved this problem by lifting it up and
setting it on a couple of railway ties we brought along. All the
remaining parts filled the third pickup and we were off!

As anxious as I was to get it home, we took the two trailer
loads and dropped them at a friend’s place. The reason for this
was, we had sold our house and didn’t want to have to move this
on moving day.

After we were into our new place, once again it was loaded and
moved directly to a building suitable for its restoration and
assembly. As soon as the engine shows were over for the year, I
started on it immediately. I think that was about

After studying the engine and reading about the models R and RE
in Charles H. Wendel’s book Fairbanks Morse 100 Years of Engine
Technology 1893-1993, I discovered it was not a 100 HP model RE
but, in fact, a 50 HP model R. The previous owner had mistaken a
flaw in the steel on the end of the crankshaft as a number one in
front of the actual serial number. An honest mistake which I
certainly didn’t feel bad about.

Because F-M records only go back to 1911, I made a graph that
might represent their engine building before that time. Of course,
this is pure speculation but using the graph, it places my engine
at 1907 which corresponds to the date that the building it was in,
was built. This makes me believe this engine was built in 1906-1907
and was put in the pump house when it was new in 1907.

The first thing was to design and build a skid. I located some
used ‘I’ beams that just needed to be cut. They were 16
inches deep, 7 inches wide and 20 feet long. One beam made two 10
foot sections for the base. The other made three 6 foot cross
members. This gave a nice size skid with the right amount of
flywheel-to-ground clearance. The sides were closed in with inch
steel plate. Two inch thick wall box tubing was used for the cross
bracing. Also, a piece of 5 inch x 8 inch ‘I’ beam was
fitted between the 10 foot runners front and back. Next the lower
crankcase half was cleaned, painted and bolted on the skid. The
main bearings use removable babbitt liners which were all showing
very little sign of wear. However, over the years, probably from
being moved several times without being in the bearing caps, the
thrust part of the babbitt had been broken away. My brother, Peter,
machined bronze thrust bearings which were fitted to the inside
faces of the crankcase and bearing caps. The flywheels and
crankshaft, which had still never been separated, just needed some
work on the bearing surfaces which had rusted from being outside.
Long strips of emery paper were used starting at about 80 grit and
finishing with 400 grit. As this was the largest and heaviest piece
to be installed, at about 4 tons, it was the biggest challenge

We jacked the crank and flywheels up a few inches at a time,
supported well at all times, until they could be rolled over the
top of the 16 inch high ‘I’ beams of the skid. Once being
positioned over the lower crankcase half, they were jacked down
into the main bearings. Then the upper main bearing caps were put
on and checked for required shims.

Next, the upper crankcase half was lowered on, timing checked as
the cam gear was meshed, and silicone gasketing was used for the
seal between the two halves.

The cylinders were in surprisingly good condition because the
intake and the exhaust ports and the walls of the cylinders were
packed with grease. This, along with the pistons still being in the
cylinders, seemed to have allowed very little water in.

The pistons required no persuasion and were able to be pulled
out by hand. The rings had very little wear so I left the originals
in place. The valves were stuck, but not bad, and just required
lapping. Even the original valve springs were used again. The
heads, which I don’t believe had been off since the day they
were assembled in the Fairbanks Morse plant, seemed to be quite
content. I hated to disturb the original head gaskets so I
pressurized the water jacket with air to test for leaks. Air
pressure was maintained for several hours, so I was pretty sure
there would be no water leaks and could just hope there would be no
compression leaks.

After rigging a chain hoist to the ceiling joists, we lifted the
cylinders with pistons and rods secured inside onto the crankcase.
The rod bearings were in excellent condition requiring over inch of
shims per side. One of the intake valve push rods was missing,
which was made from 1 inch, cold rolled, round bar. The exhaust
stacks were fabricated from 4 inch stainless steel tubing. Standing
on the top of the skid it was all three people could do to lift the
intake manifold to shoulder height and slide it onto the studs. Now
it was really starting to look like something!

The vertical and horizontal shafts to drive the ignitors went
together reasonably well as did the governor and air starting

The lubrication system was the next thing to be tackled. It
starts with a three gallon holding tank mounted high above the
engine. The oil flows down a 1 inch pipe and over to a brass rack
containing 13 drip oilers and sight glasses. From these, the oil
feeds down brass tubing or inch brass pipe to the various bearings.
The bearings serviced by this rack are as follows: 5 for the main
bearings, 3 for the camshaft bearings, 2 for the cylinders, 2 for
the connecting rods, and 1 for the vertical ignitor drive shaft.
The used oil collects in the crank-case and is pumped out into a
holding tank for filtration and reuse, or disposal. Luckily,
nothing was lost except for some of the smaller lines of brass
tubing and pipe.

Finally, the anticipation got too much to bear and I just had to
try and start it. We hooked a 20 pound barbecue tank and regulator
up to the intake, battery and low tension coil to the ignitors and
the shop’s air compressor to the air start valve, turned the
air on and it spun over about four times before emptying the 80
gallon tank. At this point, when we felt everything was ready, I
made a few phone calls to people I promised I would let know when
the first start up was going to be. With family and friends
gathered, we again turned the air on this time with a battery
connected propane on and a little gasoline into the intake manifold
for priming. To our surprise, it fired almost immediately on number
one cylinder but quit as soon as the gasoline was used up. After a
few more times, with only the same results, we believed our propane
supply was not able to flow enough propane. We connected a second
tank and regulator to the small holding tank and tried again. This
time number one cylinder got enough propane and started to run
after the priming gasoline was gone. It was picking up speed so I
moved the start lever to the run position and number two cylinder
caught right away. As the governor was not set up correctly yet, I
adjusted the gas and air valves to control the speed. Within about
a minute or two, it was running smoothly at 125 RPM both cylinders
not missing a beat. Because the cooling system was not hooked up we
had to shut it down after a few minutes but this run was enough to
get our blood pressure up and to know everything was working well
up to this point.

The governor linkage was next. It controls a gas and an air
valve with one lever and by sliding a pivot point you can vary the
gas to air mixture.

For the cooling system, a 1 inch vane pump was used to pump
water into the bottom of both cylinders. Water exits from the head
of each cylinder and from the top of the exhaust valve chambers.
These 1 inch lines were brought together and empty into a 140
gallon stainless steel tank with screen cooler. Without the screen,
after a few hours the temperature would want to rise above 180
degrees F but after the screen was installed it never goes over 165
degrees F. A few more lubricators, the inspection covers and a
little fine tuning and it was ready just in time for our first
local show of the season in Paris, Ontario. It also went to shows
in Rock-ton, Milton and ran for a week at the International Plowing
Match in Ayr, Ontario. It uses 100 lbs. of propane and a quart of
oil each day when just idling at about 100-125 RPM. To assist in
the starting procedure, we made use of Rich Mosher’s air
compressor unit which consists of a 19183 HP Fairbanks Morse Model
‘Z’ belted to a Fairbanks Morse model ‘C’ air
compressor. This, with a 20 gallon tank, will give the engine four
revolutions when 140 lbs. is used. This is just enough as the
engine usually fires on the second or third revolution. It has run
successfully at 70 RPM and as much as 275 RPM at which point it
starts to rock a bit because the ground is usually not perfectly
level. Even without being bolted to a solid cement foundation it
seems to be balanced very well for an engine of this size and

Engine Specifications are as follows: Model R; Serial No. 65799;
50 HP; R.P.M. 300; flywheel diameter 70 inches; flywheel face 5
inches; bore 11 inches, stroke 13 inches.

The choice of paint, for those interested, was ONE SHOT sign
painters enamel. I used their Dark Green #148-L which seemed to be
a perfect match to the little bit of original paint that was found
on the engine. The shade of green on this engine was like a forest
green, not the familiar bluish green seen on the F-M ‘Z’
engines. ONE SHOT paint is made in Gary, Indiana. It’s the best
I’ve found for coverage, smooth application, hard glossy
finish, and brilliant colors. I highly recommend it for people who
choose to apply it with a brush. I’m sure other collectors have
used this paint but I’ve never heard of any in G.E.M.

I would like to thank, in no specific order, the following
people: Bob and Sharon King for storing some large engine parts
during our move and for not getting upset when their dog tracked
grease through their house after inspecting some well-greased
cylinders; my brothers, Ian and Peter, for their help in
retrieving, assembly, and some machining work on broken and missing
parts; to Scott Malcomb for finding a few spare parts and a little
history on this engine which was installed in Simcoe, Ontario to
pump water. And thanks to Rich Mosher for help hauling, assembly
and supplying compressed air, and for that one crazy notion to go
visiting one Sunday afternoon which without, I would have never
stumbled upon that sleeping treasure.

I would like to hear from other F-M type R owners. I’m
curious to know how many of these engines still exist.

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank my wife,
Carol, for her patience and understanding when I was spending most
of my spare time on this project when my time could have been used
for renovating a couple of rooms in our house. All of us have
different interests which makes it a special feeling when we’re
unselfishly given the time to pursue something that we enjoy.

It’s been a dream of mine for a long time to find an engine
of this style. Finding one of this caliber was certainly an added

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