Thinking Back


| August/September 1988



Model Z Fairbanks 1 HP

5328 E. Hermosa Vista, Mesa, Arizona 85205

Some 63 years ago two boys with no plans started to build a self-propelled contraption. An early model Z Fairbanks 1? HP furnished the power. An old buggy supplied axles and springs. Wheels from two old horse walking cultivators were added. The hubs didn't fit the axels, so the wheels wobbled considerably.

Limestone spreaders and end gate seeders used large sprockets clamped to rear wagon wheels to drive a 55 cast chain. One of these was mounted on one rear wheel. A junked manure spreader supplied a cross shaft with a small sprocket for chain to rear wheel. Pump jack pulley on the other end of the shaft was belted to the engine with an idler or belt tightener which acted as a clutch.

The steering shaft was an old water pipe run vertically through the floor with the steering wheel on the top end and the chains from the front axle wrapped around the bottom. The seat was borrowed from a gang plow, and an old cartridge box on the front end held 4 dry cells, a coil and starting crank.

We hadn't considered RPM, the ratios of pulleys and sprockets, nor the direction of shaft rotation. We were quite surprised when it ran backward and much too fast. We turned the engine around, changed ends with the cross shaft, traded rear wheels and took the large pulley from a burr mill to replace the smaller one. These changes made it run forward at about 3 miles per hour.

The Ford dealer was always teasing us boys, so my Dad offered us $5.00 if we would drive in the front door of the dealer's garage and out the back door without stopping or saying a word regardless of what was said to us.