Fairbanks-Morse Z Farm Team Resurrection

1917 3 HP Fairbanks-Morse Z and its companion Typhoon pump get a new lease on life


| October/November 2012



Fairbanks-Morse Z

1917 3 HP Fairbanks-Morse Z and its companion Typhoon Power Pump get a new lease on life. 

Photo By Brian Edgerton and Les Fossum

1917 Fairbanks-Morse Z
Manufacturer:
 Fairbanks, Morse & Co., Beloit, Wis.
Year: 1917
Serial number: 225401
HP: 3
RPM: 500
Bore: 4-1/2-inch
Stroke: 6-inch 
Ignition: FM Model R, modified from original igniter configuration

1917 Fairbanks-Morse Z and farm team restoration

My wife, Deb, and I have been hosting an apple pressing bee (aka apple squeezing or cider pressing) at our hobby farm in Idaho Falls, Idaho, each autumn since about 1995. Over the years it has continued to attract many local residents and antique farm equipment aficionados from throughout the area. Featured in this annual pressing is an 1859/60 Emery Brothers (serial no. 311, Albany, N.Y.) cider press retrieved from my grandfather’s farm in Vermont, powered by various stationary engines I’ve restored over the years.

I’m usually busier than a fox in a henhouse during these cider pressings and don’t get a chance to mingle with all the participants, let alone enjoy the homemade baked goods and hand-turned ice cream served during these events. However, late in our September 2009 Apple Pressing I was approached by an elderly gentleman named Donald Trupp, who complimented me on all the restored and popping farm engines and then noted that his father had abandoned an old engine behind their farm near Rexburg, Idaho, after post-war electrification. He asked if I would be interested in retrieving this engine to restore. Needless to say I was interested, exchanged contact information and said I would be up to his place the next day (always strike while the iron is still hot!).

Buried treasure

The following day, I, along with my cousin Fred Allport and friend Bill Poole, met Donald and his wife, Jean, at their Rexburg farm. After a brief walk through their back “bone yard” we found the long-abandoned engine upside down, half sunk into the dry sagebrush landscape. Once dug out and turned over it was immediately recognized as an early Fairbanks-Morse Model Z, converted from igniter to plug. Other than a missing oiler, gas tank and rear guard, it was complete.

We took the opportunity to scour the adjoining iron artifacts scattered across the sagebrush and located a nearby Fairbanks-Morse pump. Further scouting located the broken accumulator tank and various pieces of the old pump. Mr. Trupp noted that the engine and pump had worked as a team for many years in the 1920s and 1930s, pushing water 150 feet from the nearby Teton River canyon up to a wooden water tower used for irrigation. The following week, with permission, these artifacts were retrieved with the help of my friend and fellow iron enthusiast Garry Anderson and brought to my shop in Idaho Falls.

Putting ‘er back together

Although the original engine was relatively complete, the 1917 Fairbanks-Morse Z restoration took almost two years with help from fellow engine enthusiast Rick Thurman and friend Les Fossum. After 65 years in the desert, the Z was virtually a solid piece of rusted iron; the piston, valves, gears, thumb screws, and all bolts and nuts were firmly frozen. Both engine and pump were taken to the shop of retired machinist Les and there the restoration saga began.