Box 254, Brewster, Kansas 67732.
In the Nov-Dec. issue of G.E.M. there is a picture of my Fair
banks Morse Type ‘T’ engine sent in by Lyle Knerr of
Chapel, Nebraska. These engines were sold under the trade name of
Jack-of-all-Trades and were available from 2 HP to 12 HP. I do not
know the first or last dates of manufacture. Mine was shipped from
the factory on March 19, 1910 according to company records.
There is quite a story goes with this engine. It is sort of
long-winded, but I’ll tell the whole story.
The story starts in the hospital in Goodland, Kansas early in
1969. My mother-in-law had just undergone surgery and her outlook
for the future was not too bright. Now, she has a sister and a
brother-in-law, Russel, who I will refer to as Uncle Russel, living
on Lake of the Ozarks near Osage Beach, Missouri. She decided that
as soon as she was able she would like to spend a few weeks with
her relatives there, so in April, my wife, Kay and I, drove her
down in her car. She had bought a new Delta 88 Olds just before
going into the hospital and had less than 100 miles on it. We left
her there and returned home with the understanding that we would go
back after her whenever she was ready to come home, but not before
Uncle Russel and I had got to talking about old engines.
Along in May my mother-in-law decided she wanted to come home,
so Kay and I, and oh yes, I forgot to mention Pete, our Cairn
Terrier,–we now have seven; hopped into the Olds and took off. The
car was broken in by then to where we could make a little better
time, but it is still a big day’s drive. We stayed overnight
and the next morning Uncle Russel wanted to show me some of the
lake and interesting points while the women folks did whatever
women do in places of that nature. Anyway the women took our car
and Russel and I took off in his.
We rambled around for quite a while and saw lots of interesting
things. As we were nearing his place, Uncle Russel said, ‘Oh
yes, there is one other thing I want to show you.’ We made a
turn up over the crest of a hill and there about fifty yards down
the hill set an old Jack-of-all-Trades engine. This kid lost no
time getting out of the car and down that hill only to meet the
sorriest disappointment imaginable.
Somebody had torn the old engine partly down and just scattered
it around. The head and everything attached to it was gone and the
cylinder half full of water. All the governor mechanism was gone,
as was the igniter. I just shook my head and said, ‘She
ain’t worth fooling with.’ On down the hill always there
was an old bath tub and an old service station gas pump lying, so
for want of something better to do we poked around to see what they
were all about. While we were shuffling around them I stumbled over
something and–lo and be hold!–there lay the missing head! I
grabbed a stick and started digging in the pile of ashes and found
every part except the igniter tripper. Someone had torn that engine
apart because they had let it freeze up and bust the head. They had
laid all the parts up on a shelf in the shed and then the shed had
1928 Minneapolis 30-50 powered by 4 cylinder EU Sterns
engine-the only information known by the owners is that it was
built in Canada for the Minneapolis Company when they entered the
tractor field. Anyone with more information please contact the
owners: E. M. Forrest, Box 54, McLean, Virginia 22101 or Eddie Horn
baker, 12535 Lawyer Road, Herndon, Virginia 22070. Photo by Dave
Egan, R. D. 5, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania17055.
An August I940 scene taken on my farm five miles west of Wibaux,
Montana with two new Baldwin combines and two new John Deere
tractors owned by a custom combining crew from Kansas. Harvesting
Serris Spring Wheat running 32 bushels per acre.
1914 at the Power Farming Demonstration, August 17 to 22 held at
Fremont, Nebraska. The world’s record was broken by gasoline
tractor. Caterpillar made by Holt Mfg. Co., Peoria, Illinois. The
illustration shows Caterpillar pulling 24-14′ Oliver plows
cutting 28 ft. wide 7? to 8′ deep in dry gumbo soil. The
estimated draft is 21,600 lbs., working weight of the engine is
27,000 lbs., 80 percent of weight in drawbar pull. One record
biggest plow ever pulled by one engine, second record estimated
drawbar HP 115.8 third world’s record for traction engines.
Uncle Russel knew the man who owned the property–in fact, they
were almost next door neighbors. I have long since forgotten his
name, (I’d forget mine if I didn’t have it tattooed on my
hand). We went over and asked him about the old Fairbanks and if it
could be repaired. He said it had set there as long as he had owned
the property and it was just junk to him–if we could use it, we
could have it. He said some fellow years ago had a sort of service
station and a dock where he sold gas to boaters, etc. and used the
old engine on a 32 volt generator for lights and power.
Now, my Uncle Russel’s hobby is woodworking so he is not
very well equipped to work on old engines. I looked his tools over
and the best I could come up with was a hammer, a cold chisel and a
wrecking bar. That is more than enough with a little determination.
We took Russel’s pontoon boat, went back around to where the
engine was and just started splitting nuts. In almost no time we
had the old girl broken down into sections small enough to load
onto the boat. We rolled and carried the parts all aboard and
shoved off. The engine was not heavy enough to sink the
boat–quite. When we got back to Uncle Russel’s we finished
dismantling it and stowed that whole cotton-picking engine in the
trunk of my mother-in-law’s new Olds–all 700 pounds of engine
and much to her consternation. We made her a little happier by
telling her it was no worse than two big people in the back seat.
Need I add that the darn car didn’t drive very good on the way
In about six weeks or two months I had the old Fairbanks ready
to build fire in, all prettied up in original color, lettered and
striped, ready for the show. Another collector and good friend, Ed
Wendelburg, was at our place that evening and we decided to fire
her up. Now I am not by nature real even-tempered. I keep an old
plastic bucket around so when things don’t go right and I get
cross I can just kick the devil out of the bucket and not hurt
anything. I used to bust things till the bucket came along.
1910 10 ft. Deering hay rake and a 1925, 10-20 McCormick-Deering
tractor. That is R. F. Somerville driving. Photo was taken August
of 1970 by my wife. The tractor had not run for ten years and
started right off.
Well, anyway we worked quite a-while cranking the old
girl,–she’d fire but wouldn’t carry on over to fire again,
so we got down a big electric motor and belted up to her. The motor
was too big and we couldn’t get the belt right enough, so when
we’d hit the switch the motor would just spin the belt off.
After five or six times, this kid was getting pretty vexed. There
sat my plastic bucket, I aimed a good healthy kick at it and
instead of a good satisfying ‘Whap’, it give forth with a
soggy ‘Splash’. Kay had filled it with water and set it
there for us to put in the engine. When I got the water off my
glasses and some dry clothes on, we tried it again. You know that
darn engine took off and ran as pretty as anything you ever saw the
first time over.
My bucket has a big hole out in the bottom now.
(And I hope your temper has sub sided somewhat too-or sometime
you ‘reliable to have a broken foot–Anna Mae).