Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fairbanks Morse Generator and Howitzer

(Update: content that was here concerning tractors and marine engines has been moved to Beloit, WI factory.)

While driving through Williston along US Alt 27 in Florida, my eye caught a grey machine off to the right, so I pulled into the next parking lot. In a city park they had a Fairbanks Morse engine coupled to a flywheel, a Fairbanks Morse generator, and a couple of belt pulleys.

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Note the spanish moss hanging on the tree in the background. And that is the first time I've seen an exhaust pipe that looks more like a smokestack.

The sign says:
An electrical distribution system was purchased for $33,000 on June 11, 1923, from the Williston Manufacturing Company. Included was the generator, ice plant, cold storage plant, water tank, a ten-year-old bay horse named Charlie, and a wagon with a harness. This generator was used for seven years to produce electricity and had a capacity of 100 kilowatts.
 I assume one of the belt pulleys drove the compressor for the cold storage and ice plants and the other drove a pump for the water tank. I recognize the Fairbanks Morse name as one of the companies that made diesel-electric locomotives in the 1940s and 1950s. They made an opposing piston design that did not work very well in locomotives, but did work very well in the submarines of WWII.

The coils on the engine side of the generator are in good shape. This shot is framed by the rim and a spoke of the flywheel.

But a lot of the coils on the pulley side have been damaged. Most of the coils on the left side are gone or severed like those that you can see at the bottom. Also the 2 contacts are not aligned with the 2 slip rings. And I had expected to see 3 slip rings because normally 3-phase power does not have one of the phases at ground level. I guess it worked for only 7 years because something slipped or fell off and caused a lot of damage. I don't think vandals would have enough energy to cause this kind of damage.

The city park that is displaying this generator is also displaying an 8-inch Howitzer.

You can see the generator in the background below the elevation arm and the exhaust stack to the right of the tree. The sign says "This Howitzer 8" M2 Cannon was secured by the City from the Anniston Alabama Army Depot on April 30,1975."

Both signs had the information:
Williston was incorporated as a town in 1897 and chartered as a city in 1929. On October 10, 1915 this area was designated as a public park by the Mayor and Town Council in a deed from J.B. and P.A. Epperson It is known as Epperson Park.

Steve Bolte posted four pictures with the comment: "For the Fairbanks Morse aficionados. 300 horsepower and 300 RPMs." But the fourth picture seems to be a different engine.



They made small engines as well.

Screenshot from Ted Gibbons' posting
1945 Fairbanks Morse used to run the Vacuum pump in my great Grandpas cow barn we believe it's been in our family since new.
Bill Adams Love those salt blocks!!
Ted Gibbons It's hard not to love them so simple and robust.
This power plant has 1940 and 1960s generation of F-M engines plus the first and second generations of EMD engines. I don't care for the "tour" format, but there are enough useful scenes to make these videos worthwhile. For example the slow and fast starter motors on the modern EMD self starting generator.
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  1. Good find in FL! I have never heard of Fairbanks Morse so I looked them up on google and they are still an operational engine manufacturing company. Cool to see how far technology has come!

  2. Thanks for your post. We glimpsed the 3-cylinder plus smoke-stack machine when passing through Williston yesterday, and searched the Internet for more information - which you provide. I hope to see it close up some time, curious what kind of engine it is