Traveling Engine


| July/August 1998



Fairbanks Morse engine

Dad and his restored Fairbanks Morse. What a beauty, you can almost hear it purr ....

8821 Jupiter Drive Anchorage, Alaska 99507

That Hume Baker of Sheridan, Texas, got some more 'Old Iron.' This time it was different, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Dad retired from Shell Oil several years ago and thought a hobby would be a good idea. Besides, having a really good hobby can help the conscience when faced with a long honey-do list, and so Dad began collecting 'old iron engines,' restoring them, and making them purr again.

In 1993, on a very special visit, I had the pleasure of meeting Milt and Cora Holmes at their Chernofski Sheep and Cattle Ranch on the Aleutian chain by way of Unalaska, Alaska, in a float plane. Chernofski Ranch is an isolated place, and the logistics of getting equipment, let alone repairs accomplished, is difficult. Food, supplies, and equipment are brought to the ranch once a year by ship. While at Chernofski Ranch I got weathered in and a five day visit became a 13 day visit, so with a lot of help we decided to change out one of Milt and Cora's generators. Having a background in electrical wiring helped me do some rewiring in the generator house and in the main house. Milt and Cora were delighted the generator was up and running and I was happy to do it.

In the main sheep shearing barn I found a line shaft and three engines covered with old sacks and dust. I videoed the three engines and sent the video to my folks in Sheridan, Texas, mentioning to Dad how nice it would be to get one of those old workhorses going again. We both thought it a pretty good idea.

I stayed in contact with Milt and Cora since that very special 1993 visit. My wife Maxine and I are pleased when Milt and Cora come to Anchorage, because they stay with us. Milt's hips began failing and last year Milt had surgery. Milt's doctor told him he could no longer live at Chernofski Ranch. While recuperating at our house in Anchorage, Milt and Cora decided to sell Chernofski Ranch. Milt asked me if I thought my dad would want one of his engines to restore. Well, I didn't have to ask him, because I knew the answer. When Milt and Cora's sons took the barge from Dutch Harbor back to Chernofski Ranch to load up their belongings, along came the three engines! Dad and I were thrilled their sons and others took time to load the old iron. Milt and Cora's sons delivered a 6 HP Fairbanks-Morse engine to another friend's house for transportation to Anchorage.