Preservation for the Future

Rare Model Z fills out Fairbanks collection

| August 2006


Fezzy with his 1917 3 HP screen-cooled Fairbanks-Morse Z engine, serial no. 249897.

Although Bob "Fezzy" Hanauer of Albany, Minn., has been a serious collector of everything from old motorcycles to antique snowmobiles, antique gas pumps and small tractors, he always comes back to gasoline engines as a favorite.

"My dad, Bob Sr., was involved with the first Stearns County Pioneer Days, so I kind of grew up around it. I started playing with gasoline engines when I was 7 years old," Fezzy says.

In fact, Fezzy got his first engine when he was 13 years old. "It was on an old farmstead south of Albany. Mom and Dad became friends with the person who lived there, and one day they mentioned they had this old gas engine," Fezzy remembers. "We went out and looked at it, brought it home, and I tinkered around with it. That was the first engine I made run. It was a 1-1/2 HP Monarch, and they were the original owners."

His tinkering probably comes down through his genes, as his dad has been involved with engines for many years, as well as his great uncle, Ben Hanauer. Ben built a model steam engine based on a Corliss twin-cylinder engine, a home-made tractor, a riding lawn mower and many other items.

Over the years, the 41-year-old collector has had a variety of engines, from a 10 HP Root & VanDervoort to a Jumbo, an Economy and others - but it was a little Briggs & Stratton that really got him hooked, and cemented his friendship with Pete Kruger. "We pulled that little Briggs &Stratton F off the shelf and worked on it until we got it running. Then we just sat in the shed and watched it run. Three hours later, after five or six phone calls from my wife wondering when I was going to come home for supper, I was hooked," Fezzy says. "Everybody has their own little thing. Some people like football, some golf, but I enjoy engines. The thing I enjoy most about collecting stuff is driving around and meeting people. You won't get a purchase every time you go somewhere, but it's always fun to sit down and spend an afternoon with an older gentleman who collected these for years and years - and learn a little bit more about the engines and the hobby."

Fezzy's fascination with Fairbanks-Morse engines hinges a great deal on their looks. "There are so many different types of FM gas engines produced through the years, so many different models and so many variations of each model," Fezzy says. For example, his 3 HP upright Model T looks totally different and is built different from one with a serial number only three apart. "That intrigued me. From what I learned, FM would pretty much build you an engine to meet your specifications," Fezzy says. "They were probably one of the largest producers of gas engines at the time, and probably one of the longest-lasting, so it's kind of neat to see them making from 1 HP to several hundred horsepower engines."