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Thread: Nice Finds in Southern Arizona

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    Default Nice Finds in Southern Arizona

    Hello all,

    On a recent walk into an old mining area in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, I stumbled onto a couple of nice old relics. One was a pretty complete two cylinder Fairbanks Morse Diesel Engine and the other was a primitive rock arrastra. Besides the photos posted here, I have a more complete write-up and many more pix at:

    I really know little about the engine and have tried to speculate about the operation of the engine from info gathered on the web. If anyone has any corrections or additions that I should make, they would all be appreciated.

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  2. #2
    Darin's Avatar
    Darin is offline Rock Crawlin GPS Moving Map Totin Trailblazing Expert Ghost Towner
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Tacoma, WA.


    Great finds, great photos, and great adventure! What more could one ask for?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    N. California


    Great pictures posted here and on your own site. I suspect you are correct that the engine was used to drive a generator that provided power to a mine. Looks like the windings were removed to salvage the copper. I am simply amazed that the glass covers over the oil lines have not been broken by vandals and I hope it is enough off the beaten path that the engine will remain for some time.

    Fairbanks Morse engines were used in a lot of power plant operations, back when smaller towns had their own generating plants and in large industrial operations. The power companies wanted to monopolize power distribution, so offered very low teaser rates to entice these "island" power generators to shut down their plants and in many cases to dismantle, or scrap them. After all self sufficiency was gone the power companies raised rates when there was no longer any alternative source of power.

    There are still a few of these generating plants saved as backups, but not many. To operate them in case of a general blackout, the "island" has to be disconnected from the grid and then brought on line, which is a complicated procedure. There has been considerable discussion of these engines and power plants on another forum I frequent "practicalmachinist" in the "antique" subforum.

    Here is a link to one such discussion, but there have been others.

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