Gas Engine Magazine

Seeking Information on Winch Engine

By Staff

Ron Cairns, author of Power Pioneers: The Art of the Engine, a collection of interesting engine patents he’s found over the years and reviewed in the December/January 2016 issue of GEM, sends in photos of a winch engine he found at the North Pacific Cannery Historic Fishing Village in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada. The staff at the village did not have any information on the engine so Ron wrote in asking if anyone might be able to help with identification.

The engine Ron found is a throttle-governed Fairbanks, Morse & Co. Type Z, likely a 3 hp manufactured in the mid-1920s. Close examination shows a host of issues, including welding to the cylinder head and, more curious, a catastrophically bent connecting rod. What caused that? The gears for the winching mechanism look to be in very good shape, begging the question, how much use did this winching setup see before it was retired or quit? The engine wears a thick coat of paint, which has likely helped it survive the ravages of time and exposure to the salty sea air, although we’d expect the cylinder has filled with water thanks to the upturned exhaust pipe elbow. It appears to be surprisingly complete, right down to the spark plug and magneto. Fairbanks did a brisk trade in winching engines on the West Coast, selling them to many boating and mining companies. Large units featured flywheels that could be broken down to be packed into desolate mining areas by mule.

Contact Ron Cairns via email at

Please send your questions and comments for Flywheel Forum to Gas Engine Magazine, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265 or email

  • Published on Nov 11, 2016
© Copyright 2022. All Rights Reserved - Ogden Publications, Inc.