Fairbanks-Morse Type NB Comes Back


| August/September 1990



12 HP Fairbanks-Morse

Rt 1, Box 1165 Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151

In 1941 my father and our neighbor, James Tignor, bought a Fairbanks-Morse 12 HP for $175.00. This was to replace an upright steam engine that Dad owned. I was four years old at the time and I remember it sure made a lot more noise than the other one. I would help carry water from the creek to a barrel that sat next to the engine.

Every Saturday they would crank up the engine to grind feed. Some neighbors would bring their corn on horse-drawn wagons to have it ground. There was no money involved, just a percentage of the feed for grinding. Sometimes the noise of the engine would scare the horses and they would run off.

They used this engine until about 1949, and by then most people had cars or trucks and electricity. They could grind their own feed or take it to town to have it ground. The engine was not used any more and in a few years the shed had fallen down on top of the engine.

I joined the Air Force in 1955 and while I was home on leave, my mother said I should fix the shed to protect the old engine, because someday it would be worth lots of money. The last thing I was interested in, at 19 years old, was that rusted old engine. So I didn't listen to Mom.

They sold the engine in 1956 for $175.00 I never thought much about it until about eight years ago when I got the engine bug. I asked Mom who they sold the engine to. She said, 'John Rhines, a junk yard owner, bought it.' I went to see John and he said, 'Yes, I remember the engine. I sold it a few weeks after buying it to a man in Grundy, Virginia, about 80 miles away.' He couldn't remember the man's name but he owned a machine shop and worked on mining equipment. That was 35 years ago, so I didn't have much hope of ever finding it let alone being able to buy it. I never did get to Grundy to try to find it.