The Fairbanks-Morse story begins with two brothers, Erastus and Thaddeus Fairbanks, who set up the E. & T. Fairbanks Co. iron foundry at St. Johnsbury, Vermont in 1823 - the firm went on to become world famous for its Fairbanks Platform Scale, developed in 1830. Two decades later an apprentice named Charles Morse joined the company, and soon rose up through the ranks, resulting in him opening the first office of Fairbanks, Morse & Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1865. The product line was broadened extensively, and in 1893 James Charter of Charter gas engine fame joined the company, which soon led to the first Fairbanks-Morse engines being produced. It was a relatively small step from gas engines to gas tractors, and the company began to experiment with these in the first decade of the 20th century. The result was the Fairbanks-Morse 15-25, which appeared around 1910 and was also built in Canada by the Canadian Fairbanks-Morse Co. This tractor used a single-cylinder engine with low-tension ignition and a screen cooling system. It was joined in 1912 by the larger 30-60 model, which had a two-cylinder engine and was built for just two years. The 15-25 subsequently saw several improvements, including the addition of mudguards, and was later described as a 15-30 model. An intermediate 20-40 model was also built in Canada for several years. True Fairbanks-Morse tractor production ceased around 1915, but the company did offer two more tractor models that were built by other companies but sold under the 'Fair-Mor' name: these were the 10-20 model built by the Reliable Tractor & Engine Co. of Portsmouth, Ohio, and the 12-25 model built by the Townsend Manufacturing Co. of Janesville, Wisconsin.

(Click on images below to enlarge)

Canadian Fairbanks-Morse 15-25/15-30 (serial no. C9713) at the Yorkshire Vintage Association Rally, Newby Hall, Yorkshire, England in 2009.

Fairbanks-Morse 15-25/15-30 (serial no. 112994, built 1912) at the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum, Vista, California, USA in 2008.

Fairbanks-Morse 15-25/15-30 at Pioneer Village, Minden, Nebraska, USA in 2011.


TOP       BACK       HOME
Copyright 2006-2017 David Parfitt. All rights reserved.