| May/June 1981

  • Fairbanks Morse owned by Don Hitzeman
    Mr. Joseph Chesak of Medaryville, Indiana and his 1 HP Fairbanks Morse, type Z engine, now owned by Don Hitzeman.

  • Fairbanks Morse owned by Don Hitzeman

Westville, Indiana

Things were tough for a farmer in the early 1940s, especially if your farm was way out where there were no electric power lines. All the work was done with horses and by hand. There were a lot of great items around to make the work easier, but they were, after all, new fangled and maybe not worth anything. You may have gotten a tractor; however, the only advantage was that it didn't need to be fed twice a day. But the horses were kept if for no other reason but to pull the tractor to start it when your arm got tired!

Now with all these problems, why should a guy go out and spend hard-earned cash on any other 'labor-saving device?' What would make you part with the 'green' to make things easier? After all, you are about 30 years old and have the problems and procedures down by now. Well, there are a lot of things going on in the world and you really want to know about it. Why, there is a newspaper for that and it does a real good job, but you need to go five or ten miles to town to get it. Then you sit by an oil lamp to read it and fall asleep because of all the hard work that was done that day.

Well, radio was the thing and the 'in group' had one. Everyone that wanted the latest news from the war front had a radio. There was one big problem; a radio needs electric power from a battery. It didn't take long to find out you were back to the trips into town, but this time to get a battery charged. You know when it really needed to be charged? Right in the middle of an important broadcast.

That's the reason Mr. Joseph Chesak bought a Fairbanks-Morse type Z engine. The first thing this engine did was to be belted to a generator from a Ford car so the radio battery could be kept charged. It didn't take long for the engine to be used for other chores around the farm, like pumping water for livestock. He used it to pump water from several basements after a real downpour. Then one day Mrs. Chesak saw the real value in this thing and it got hooked up to a washing machine. So, as it turns out, this little 1? HP engine revolutionized the farm. This particular engine was used productively until the mid-1950s when it was set aside for more efficient equipment.

I bought it from Mr. Chesak in September 1979 and started restoring it. It's main function now is to help demonstrate how our mechanized world developed in the early days of power equipment. It will be an educational tool to provide first-hand information on our heritage to the future generations.