Grandpa Would Have Loved It!


| November/December 1999



15 HP Fairbanks-Morse

127 N. Park Drive, Madern, California 93637

This is the story of a 15 horsepower Fairbanks-Morse engine that sat and waited many years to be restored to its factory new condition.

Life began for this engine at the Fairbanks-Morse & Company plant in Beloit, Wisconsin. It was shipped to California in 1919, as indicated by searching the company records. The engine was bought and placed at the Luigi and Jennie Bandoni Vineyard in Madera, California. Its purpose was to pump irrigation water from a shallow well, by a large centrifugal pump (6'or 8') that was lowered into the well pit and connected by a long flat belt that ran in a wooden belt trough. In the winter the pump and belt would be removed because of rain, frost and the water table rising up in the pit.

The engine was started on gasoline. When the engine warmed up, it was switched to kerosene fuel. The mixer is a dual fuel system with water injection to control pinging on kerosene while under heavy loads. The cooling was accomplished by circulating, under pressure, a small amount of water from the pump, through the water jacket of the engine, then back to the discharge pipe. This was so no water was wasted and the engine could be left unattended for many hours of pumping.

The engine performed well for many years of service according to Jennie, except for an occasional stoppage caused by a clogged fuel line. After the line would be cleaned and the fuel pump hand-primed, the engine would be started again.

The engine was taken out of service for good when the shallow well went dry. A new deep well was dug and a new electric turbine pump was purchased, to continue supplying irrigation water to the vineyard.