Fairbanks-Morse Type T “Jack of All Trades” Engine





This is a circa 1897 Fairbanks-Morse 2 HP “Jack of All Trades” “hit-and-miss”engine.  There is some controversy over whether to call these engines "Type 'T'" or "Jack of All Trades".  Both names were used.  From what I've learned, here's the probable difference.  The Type "T" engine was shipped with a cast iron base so it could be mounted to the floor in a permanent (stationary) location.  On the other hand, the Jack of All Trades engines were shipped without the cast iron base and on wooden skids for portable use.  If that's the case, any "T" engine can be converted to a "Jack" by simply removing the cast iron base and vice versa.



Here are a couple of cuts from a Fairbanks-Morse catalog of the time that seem to reinforce this theory.



In the late 1890's, this engine was purchased on a wooden base and was used to drive a water pump to move water from a below ground cistern to an attic cistern in the farm house.  During it's working life, the engine was rebuilt with a new cylinder and piston.  With the arrival of commercial electricity on the farm, the pump  was re-powered with an electric motor. 


The engine and base were retired to a barn loft until I obtained it from the original owner in the 1950’s.  The pump, ignitor generator, hot tube, original galvanized fuel tank and cooling tank were long gone by then.  When I picked up the engine, I didn't ask and he didn't tell me that he still had the original cylinder, piston, pin and rings.  It wasn't until just a few years ago that I learned of their existence and worked up a swap with his son.  At that point, I decided to re-restore it to as close to it's factory fresh condition as possible.


Also, sometime in it's working life, the fuel tank must have rusted out because when I got it it had a home-made copper tank in the original location.  I plan to re-use this tank.


The following four images were made before the second restoration of the engine.


Ignitor side - Note the two bolt flywheels                                            Ignitor side                    



Unusual early mixer                                                             Mixer side     


The color of this engine in the above pictures is definitely not what came on it.  When I repainted it in the sixties, no one was interested in originality.  

After I got the engine, I stored it in the only space I had which was a damp shed.  While I was in the service the original skid got rotten.  If I'd known then what I know now, I would have somehow found some place dry to store the engine.  If not that, I could have either reproduced the skid exactly like the original or at least preserved what was left of it.  Now, I don't even have a pattern.  For the time being, I plan to use the green skid I made in the 1960's until I can either get an original or good reproduction.


I now climb up onto my soap box for a short lecture.

This engine is an excellent example of what NOT to do!  I really screwed-up in the 1960's when I "restored" it.  If your engine is unusual and original, please leave it in that condition by simply cleaning it and preserving the original parts and color.  Remember - they ain't makin' 'em anymore and someday, your engine may be the last remaining example of it's type.  In other words, in a hundred years, someone will thank you for saving it and all of it's original details.

I step down from the soap box and resume my narrative.


When I started cleaning the parts, I found, to my surprise, that my engine is a very early example of it's type.  There is no boss on the head/block joint where the serial number is usually stamped.  Instead, I found the number "665" stamped very lightly on the hot tube side at the base of the original cylinder at the joint with the crankcase.  The earliest recorded Fairbanks Morse serial numbers start in 1898 at a number in the 1400's.  The latest patent date on the data plate is 1897, so this engine was most likely manufactured in that year.

The original cylinder (above) has traces of the factory paint and is sort of like a red oxide primer.  I've found an industrial enamel paint that is very close to the original color (although slightly glossier) and will repaint all the parts in this color before assembling it. 

Since the engine was rebuilt sometime during its working life, it had a “rebuild” cylinder with a thin embossed (rather than cast) data plate on it when I got it.  This is what you see on the photos of the engine before its' second restoration.  All the plate says is Fairbanks-Morse Vertical Engine.  None of the stamp blanks are filled-in.  

There is a spark saver on this engine.  There is no fuel saver (intake latch), nor is there any provision for mounting one.

The engine was originally equipped with a hot-tube for starting on kerosene (parrafin) but this is long gone.  The studs, bolts and clips are still on the original cylinder and there is a pipe plug where the hot tube was originally screwed into the block.  If the reproduction parts are not too "dear", I will set it up with the hot tube again.


14 October 2004:

I've disassembled the engine and am starting on the repairs.  

One of the things I've discovered is that Fairbanks-Morse didn't waste time with "unneccessary" machine work.  Take a look at the bottom of the mounting base of the crankcase.  What you see is one of the sprue holes (one in each foot) that were left when the crankcase was cast.  I think that if you just bolted it down to a flat surface, you'd break the ears off.  Originally, when I made the green base, I used washers to shim the engine up but I think when I do the next base, I'll either rout out the wooden skid or will "temporarily" build up the foot areas with bondo around where the projections are.  I would fly cut the the crankcase but don't want to take away from the originality of the engine.

The two drill spots in the wrist pin are for set screws to seat in.  The set screws go through the wrist pin bosses of the piston and have locknuts to keep them from working loose.  There is a hole drilled to a little over one-half way through the length of the pin and an intersecting hole at the lengthwise center of the pin which allows oil to get to the wrist pin bushing.


30 October 2004:

The last times I ran the engine, it had a pretty noticeable wrist pin knock so I've re-bushed the rod.  I had the bright idea of making a better wrist pin out of a 7/8" X 4" hardened dowel pin.  I got the pin and we successfully turned the length to 3-3/4" but when we tried to drill the holes, we broke off a carbide bit in the piece.  I briefly considered having the hole made by wire EDM but the cost is prohibitive.   Frank and I are making a new pin out of 1" diameter pre-hardened tool steel as shown above.

The crankshaft main journals were worn about 0.025".  

Since the main bearings are bronze bushings, I had to have the main bearing journals sprayed up and ground to the original 1.500" diameter.  I made sure that the shop knew to grind all the way to the ends of the shaft to take off any nicks or rust that went over that diameter.  This work on the crankshaft was expensive but necessary.  If I'd had the shaft ground undersize, the flywheels wouldn't have fit correctly and would probably have worked loose or cracked at the hubs.  

I bought a length of bronze tubing and Frank machined new bushings from it.  After turning the outside diameters to the press fit dimension, we bored the inside diameters to just under 1.5" and pressed them into the housings.  


Because we couldn't find any reference flats on the block, I had to spend a lot of time shimming it square in the mill and clamping it solidly.  We bored out the cam-end bushing to 1.501".  

Then, without disturbing the block position, the ignitor side cap was bolted into place and that main bushing was bored to 1.501".  Another operation was needed to make fillets in the inside faces of the bushings to fit the fillets on the crankshaft.  There is very little flat thrust area on the crankshaft so our guess is that the fillets in the crankshaft have to fit the fillets in the bushings to give the maximum bearing area.

After we'd milled the fillets, we found that the crankshaft fillets must have been hand made because they didn't fit well.  This made it necessary for me to get out the 'ol file and brake cylinder hone to re-shape these surfaces.  After doing a trial fit, I had to hone a slight amount of metal out of the i.d. if the bushings so the crankshaft would turn without too much drag.  I'll carefully monitor the mains the first few times I run the engine to make sure they don't overheat until they break-in.

The rod has a bronze cap and a bronze upper bushing.  Luckily, the crankpin and big end bearing are all right as is.  The upper big end bushing is held in place by two brass pins.  Note the oil slinger.  It looks to be home made but is actually shown in the Fairbanks-Morse  parts list.  

There was a brass pin through the little end of the rod and wrist pin bushing to hold it in place.  I've left this out because the new bushing (like the original) is a press fit and I really don't think it will move.  There is a depression in the flat at the top of the rod that has oil holes in it.  I drilled the bushing for these.

The intake valve seat area is good but the thread for the keeper nut is worn to the point that the nut was only held on by the cotter pin.  Note the cup shape on the underside of the head.  The valve is 6" long overall, has a 1-5/8" head.  The stem is 5/16" in diameter and has a 5/16-18 thread for the keeper nut.  It's drilled for a cotter pin.

Here it is after I had the stem welded up and re-threaded.  It wasn't a cheap operation but at least I still have the original valve.


4 November 2004:

We used the occasion of making the wrist pin for learning to  program Frank's Hardinge CNC lathe.  Here's Frank trying to talk sense to the controller.  After several long and deep discussions, it decided that Frank was not going to give up easily and allowed him to proceed to make the part.


Once the program was entered, it was simply a matter of watching the smart machine turn a piece of 1" hot rolled semi-hard steel into an accurate and smooth wrist pin with a diameter of 0.8755", ready for the final hand polishing and fitting.

After the pin was turned, the oil hole was drilled to the middle of the pin.  Before separating the pin from the stock, it was removed from the lathe and clamped in the soft jaws of the vise.  Using worn out 400 grit wet-or-dry emery paper with WD-40, the pin was polished to an "almost" fit in the rod bushing.  With the now dry paper, the pin was again polished until it was a light press fit.  The bushing was polished with this paper to remove any taper after alternately slipping each end of the bushing over the pin and polishing until the fit was the same from both ends.  

At this point, the fit was still extremely tight.  Using WD-40, a lot of elbow grease, disassembling and re-oiling often; the little end of the rod was "lapped" until it was a tight working fit.  I'll allow the engine to finish breaking it in.  The pin was returned to the lathe and cut-off then the intersecting oil hole and setscrew points were drilled as shown.

There are still some final tasks to do before stripping, painting and polishing.  These include making a "semi-permanent" crack repair to the hub of the cam-side flywheel using a couple of 5/16-18 socket head screws bolted across the crack.  I repaired the flywheel years ago using a couple of 1/4-28 bolts and, after many hours of running the engine at rated speed (450 RPM), the crack never moved so I feel confident that the repair with the larger tempered bolts will be perfectly safe running at show speed of around 120 RPM.  All the while, I will be searching for a good original wheel to replace it with.

The next thing I need to do is machine the new fuel pump casting.  At one time, the plunger rusted to the bore.  This wasn't noticed until after cranking the engine.  By this time the pump body was badly bent and split.  I made a poor repair and, although it worked, the body leaked and was cocked.

Finally, Frank and I will be making a couple of new, oversized flywheel keys.  It was a loose key that caused the flywheel to crack in the first place.  When I first fixed the flywheel, I used shim stock to get the keys to fit tightly then applied Loktite before tightening the bolts.



21 November 2004:

We've been working on the fuel pump.  At some time in the past, the plunger rusted to the brass bore of the pump.  The body of the pump was sprung out of shape and cracked when the engine was cranked.  I "fixed" it years ago by hammering the casting back into approximate alignment and soft soldering the crack.  A couple of years ago fellow enthusiast Ron Haskell of Riverside, California mentioned that he'd had some pump bodies cast and had an un-machined rough casting left over.  Ron was good enough to let me have it at his cost.

My pump plunger was badly rust pitted and leaked at the packing so the first thing we did was to turn the O.D. to clean it up.  Then I used fine emery to polish the surface.  Frank decided that we needed to counterbore and bush the pump barrel for a better fit.   To get the counterbore straight, he threaded the end of a piece of brass rod to fit where the packing nut screws into the barrel.  Screwing the barrel  onto this fixture centered it and provided a stiff mounting.  After the counterbore was done, a brass bushing was made and soldered into the counterbore.

After he finished that job, he had this really lovely piece of brass rod with a perfect thread on it so, instead of bushing the old boogered-up packing nut, he made a new packing nut.  He knurled it and everything.  Real purdy!

Now, we have to machine the pump body.  We're experimenting with a new (for us) way to mount the body in the lathe for machining.  We got some low-temperature melting-point metal (180 degrees F) and poured it around the body inside a tuna can.  Now, the whole works can be mounted in the 4-jaw chuck and centered.  I'm holding the old pump body for comparison.  

Oh, yes.  We weren't sure if the metal would sweat to the brass body so I sprayed it with Pam cooking spray before we poured the metal in.  Since the metal shrinks quite a bit when it cools, the body is a really tight fit.

There are three threaded bores in the pump body.  One of them is 1/8" pipe thread and the second is 1/4" pipe thread.  The hard one is the large bore on the right where the pump barrel screws in.  This bore is an odd diameter and 18 threads per inch so Frank gets to practice some more on automatic thread cutting.

After we do the machining; we can get my pump body back by putting everything in a can with water and heating to melt out the metal which can be re-used.


17 December 2004:

Lately, I've been doing the steps prior to reassembly.  One of the things I think I've figured out is how to set the crankshaft end play by the shade-tree method.  Since the bushing in the cap isn't a tight fit, I pushed it out and was going to use Loktite to make it stay in place.  After doing some thinking, I decided to not push the bushing back in until the time comes to put the crankcase back together.  Then, after getting the crankshaft in and the gasket in place, I'm going to apply Loktite to the bushing and push it in from the inside, making sure that the end clearance is way too tight.  Then, before the Loktite sets-up, I'll put the cover in place and draw the bolts down.  This will move the bushing in the bore so, when the cover is tight, there will be zero end clearance.  There are big fillets on the crankshaft where the throw meets the mains and Frank and I have just an approximation of a fit there.  I figure the thrust surfaces will rapidly wear-in.  At least, that's what I ass-u-me will happen.  I'll let you know how it works out.

The last couple of days I've been cleaning up the castings prior to painting.  Here's a picture of the crankcase (upside-down) after I primed it.  This is just filled with sand voids.  I wonder if Fairbanks-Morse really wanted such a dirty casting to go out of their plant.  Since there was no filler in the castings when I stripped it, I'm leaving it that way and letting the boogers show.

Did Fairbanks-Morse make their own castings in about 1897 or did they farm out their castings in this period?  Either way, they must have had a problem with their quality control.  Even I would have tossed it back into the furnace for another try.  Maybe they were new to the foundry business and were learning as they went along.  A lot of their later engines had nice looking castings.  I know that at some time they had a really big manufacturing facility in Beloit, Wisconsin and probably had their own foundry.

Can anybody shed some light on this?


24 December 2004:

Lately, I've been making a mess.  Stripping, pressure washing and wire-wheeling old paint off is a good way to keep the laundry busy!  While I was wheeling-off the black paint I had used on the timing gears, I found traces of the original paint so I'm painting them engine color.  I suppose the gears were painted all over but I like the detail below.


Believe it or not, the color is the same on both gears.  That's the difference between using no flash and "processing" the dark image (right and below) and using flash (left).  The most correct color is the non-flash color.  When I finish, I'll have it out in the driveway.  In the sunlight, the colors will be right.

I've got the skid painted and the crankcase mounted.  Instead of using something like Bondo to "bed" the engine to the skid, I cut some washers to fit the mold marks in the crankcase, then shimmed the whole works up off of the base so the "boogers" don't hit the base.

I used my Loktite method to set the main bushing in the cap and, although I had to mount one of the flywheels to get it to turn, after oiling it and cranking for a while, it's loosened-up some so I'm sure the end clearance will "break-in" with some running.

After Christmas, I should be able to get most of it put together.  The only unfinished part is the fuel pump body.  Without me to nag, Frank has put it on the back burner.  Message to Frank: "Nag, nag, nag, nag".


30 December 2004:

It's going together pretty fast now.  In the last couple of days, I've been cleaning, painting and polishing parts and adding them to the engine.  Here's how it looks now.


These photos show the color more accurately.  Once I get it running, I'm going to clean the rims of the flywheels with oil and steel wool.  I'm hoping some day to get the hot-tube ignition for this engine.  It would be interesting to learn the how-to's and quirks of that kind of ignition.

I think for cooling I'll use a bunch of black iron pipe and fittings to make a zig-zag arrangement with an expansion tank at the top.  Since it isn't going to be worked (at least right now), not much cooling capacity is going to be needed.


Oh, yes - I had four heavy-duty casters laying around looking for something to do so I bolted 'em to the skid.  It's easy to move the engine now.


5 January 2005

It's about ready to bark-off for the first time in it's new clothes.  I'm waiting 'til tomorrow when a friend is coming over from Pensacola to help.  I think he's going to get to hold onto the skid as I try to crank it.  It will be a little stiff for the first little while because the mains need to be run-in.

Here's how it looks now.


Take a gander at my "Redneck Cooling System".  Looks like something made by the Three Stooges!  I made an expansion tank out of iron pipe and used a thermometer (right) and sight gauge (left) to kinda spiff it up.

Geez!  The colors are all over the place!  Depending on sunlight, flash, etc. it comes out different all the time.  I think the last photos show the true color.  The last picture taken on 24 December was inside the garage with flash only.  The pictures taken on 30 December were taken in shade using flash for fill.  The last pictures were taken in bright sunlight using flash for fill.  I wonder if the differences are due to something strange with the paint or with my camera.  The camera's a cheap Mavica so that could be it although this is the first time I've seen this kind of anamoly.


13 January 2005:

We started it today and quickly shut it down.  The cam-side flywheel had been cracked and I repaired it years ago.  It lasted until I decided to "improve" the repair with larger (5/16") bolts.  After a few licks, Joe noticed that the wheel was wobbling so, after stopping it, we found that the threads for one of the repair bolts had pulled out of the hub.

I pulled the wheel and after breaking two taps trying to run the threads all the way through the hub, I just drilled out the hole to 5/16" and relieved the cam side of the hub for a nut.  Went to the local hardware store and bought a 5/16" allen head cap screw and nut.  I put the bolt in and tightened the heck out of it then put the wheel back on using loktite.  That oughta hold it!


16 January 2005:

Today, I rolled her out again and ran it a couple of hours.  The mains are still just a slight bit stiff but, I bet that when I turn it again after it's cooled off, they'll be fine.

I was running it with the timing retarded some and was holding sand paper to the flywheel rims to clean them up so the engine was doing some work.  The warmest it got was 160 degrees with my "Three Stooges Cooling System" so that's working all right.  

Since Frank doesn't have the fuel pump machined yet, I've made a check valve and soldered a copper nipple into the mineral spirits can  a piece of plastic tubing that runs to the gasoline inlet of the mixer.  Once in a while, I raise the can to fill the overflow-type mixer.  The check valve is to keep the gas from flowing back out of the mixer into the can.  It works pretty good as long as I remember to loosen the cap on the can.

Back to the cracked flywheel.......If anyone wants to see this engine at a show, I think I'm going to wait 'til I get a good wheel.  Although it has been fine for years with the repaired crack, I'm not really comfortable running it (even at real low speed) with a crowd around.


14 February 2005:

Today I went to the Post Office and picked up a package from Frank.  He finally found the time to finish the fuel pump and did a great job.


We cheated a little on some of the inside details.  I don't know what kind of packing was used in the joint of the barrel and the body of the pump but it now has a nice o-ring there.  The plunger packing is also a little more modern.  I took some mop string and wrapped it with teflon tape.  After running it in a little, it doesn't leak a drop.  It'll be interesting to see what long-term exposure to gasoline will do to it.

Today, when I ran the engine, I just let it idle and it only got up to 125 degrees after about an hour of running.  That suits me fine.  Since 'ol Jack is retired and will only be running at somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 RPM, he'll keep his cool.

Well - that's about it.  I finally found a good flywheel and have made a new key so it fits snugly.  I've also added a couple of drops of Loktite to make sure it doesn't work loose again.


In response to a numerous request, here is a drawing of the skid and cooling tank for the 2 horse with dimensions.

Dimensions for the 2HP Jack of All Trades cooling tank.

(Refer to the catalog cuts above for a good idea of the text style.)


Now, here are some pictures of an original skid with some dimensions.  My thanks to Jim Sherman for them.




1 February 2010:

In response to a request from a guy who is restoring a Jack of All Trades, I'm posting some photos of the "Spark Saver" or "Battery Saver" for my engine.

Note that you can click on the small images to get the full size images.





31 March 2010:

In response to another request for information and photos of the "beehive" mixer, I have included some more photos.



26 November 2014:

In response to a request from fellow collector Craig Lipscomb, here are some more photos and a CAD drawing of the needle valve for the beehive mixer.:



Details of the needle valve for the beehive mixer.

I have not included adrawing or detailed photo of the anti-rotation spring because mine is just one out of the juink box to replace the rusted away original.  The spring does seat in the groove on the mixer side of the knob and needs to only be strong enough to keep the needle from turning out.

The thread on the needle looks to have been made with a die.

The witness marks on the knob appear to have been made at the factory when testing the engine.  The numbers stamped are original also.  Number "1" is the position for best starting.  Number "2" is for running.  The height of the numbers is between 0.115" and 0.125".

The 0.100" steel pin is drilled at an angle through the spring groove (probably before machining the groove) and through the needle, being flush with the outside end of the needle.


15 December 2014:

Another request had me back in the shop with my camera.  Barry Buttle of England needed more detailed photos of the fuel pump and plumbing for the engine.  I hope I have taken photos that help.




Eventually, I would like to find the following parts:  

- A new or good original cooling tank

- A good original or reproduction wood skid

- As much  information on this engine as I can get  

- A hot-tube and torch set-up.  (Although I can get the casting kit for the hot tube, I will still need the burner and would really like to get an original).

If you have these parts or information or have a source for them, please contact me.



[email protected]

Visits Since 8 February 2010