resurrected an old project 3 cylinder fairbanks (going to be a long build)

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chuck foster

Well-Known Member
Jul 11, 2007
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well it has been a long time since i last worked on this engine, i hope to see this project through to the end this time (but one never knows)

first i have to admit that i messed up the original cylinder castings (all 3) i didn't have a rotary table to index all the bolt holes.
these bolt holes are to mount the cylinders to the crank case (8 bolts) and 8 more to mount the heads to the cylinders.


once i figured out the bolt holes were spaced wrong i set out to fabricate some new cylinders.

this picture shows the steel i used to fab the cylinders


and the various stages of turning



i next drilled holes for the bosses were the cooling pipes will attach


i used a dab of loc tite red to help hold the bosses in place


the three cylinder bodies in position


drilling bolt holes in the right spot this time


these cylinders have wet sleeves installed and this picture shows one of the sleeves.




as you can see in these few pictures i made a simple jig to hold the cylinders so i could bore them



all three cylinder bodies waiting to have their sleeves pressed in place


well that's it for tonight, i hope i didn't take up too much of your guy's time.
i will try to keep you guys up to date as this project progresses.

i do have a question for you guys.............has anyone here built this engine or know someone that has???
i have a few questions about the cam and the roller lifters ???



Looking forward to your next installment.

Yes, I'll be following along with interest as well.
Nice project Chuck, I always liked this engine but I never got around to purchasing the castings when they were still available. I have seen a couple of these running at shows but I have no experience with them so I am no help to you. I will be following along to watch your progress, Dave
thanks for the kind words helps me stay motivated hearing from you all. :)

no work done on the engine tonight, but that is because my wife let me buy a d.r.o. for my old south bend lathe!!! ;D
now i just have to get it all installed and then get back to work. the wife also told me i could get a d.r.o. for my mill as well............god i love my wife :eek: 8) ;D

i hope to have the install done by saturday and then back to the fairbanks.

chuck (a very happy canuck)
Once you get a Dro on the mill those circle bolt holes will be a cake walk. Your engine is looking good!
well i managed to get the dro installed on the lathe................ and what a treat it is :eek:
next i will get one for the mill.

i got the 3 sleeves pressed in to the cylinder jugs and i started cutting them to length and boring out close to the final bore size.
i will leave the bore .002" under size and lap the last bit so as to make the bores as close to perfect as i can.

here are just a couple of picture of the first sleeve being faced off and bored to size.




hopefully i will get more work done tomorrow

i didn't get much done today but i managed to get 2 of the 3 cylinder faced off and bored out to 1.373".
once i get the third cylinder bored out to 1.373" i will then set up and lap all three of them out to 1.375" then i will machine up the pistons and lap them to fit.

here is 2 of the 3 cylinders sitting on the crankcase


and just for fun a picture with the cylinder heads


i machined up all the valve guides years ago when i first started working on this engine and the valves are made as well.

i forgot to thank you norman for the kind words and i hope the dro on the mill will make life easier, it sure has made a big difference on the lathe. ;D

that's all for tonight and thanks for tuning in :)

Fairbanks vertical triple.... Is it going to be a diesel or hot bulb engine by any chance? (Hot bulbs and 'true' diesels are a path that's not often taken with model engines)
hi kaleb

it will use gasoline as a fuel and the ignition will be a ignitor just like the original.

i know a little about diesels and i don't think i could ever build one (i don't even know if i can build this one).

fairbanks built this engine with one, two and three cylinders and this one is a copy of the 150 horse power triple.
this one is a 1/8 scale of the original. the book i have that shows this engine in full size say's it weighed 35,000 pounds.
a guy i know in alabama has a full size engine in his front yard and an ornament :eek:

thanks for asking

I will be following this with great interest Chuck. Nice start to your engine hope you finish it this time through. How about some pics of the dro on the old southbend. :D :D

well i finished boring the cylinders for this engine so now i have to lap the bores to make them perfectly round and straight.

i bored the cylinders in my old 9" south bend lathe and the bores had a taper of about .0005" so by lapping i will be able to remove the taper.

the first picture shows the brass barrel lap that i will be using to do this job. i run the lathe at about 400 to 500 rpm's while lapping.


a different view showing the adjuster nut (on the right) that is used to expand the brass lap.


when i lap i never allow the part being lapped to come off of the lap more than the 1/2 the diameter of the lap.
as shown in the next 2 pictures



this is the manufacture of the laps that i use


i have them from about .250" up to 1 1/2" they might make smaller or bigger ones but i don't have them.

here is what the cylinder bore finish looked like before lapping, you can clearly see the machining marks.


and this is after lapping, it just needs a good washing with varsol to remove the lapping compound.


i use clover lapping compound and i think i started with 150 grit and finished with 400 grit

one thing i forgot to mention is you must cover the ways of you lathe to protect them from any of the compound getting on the ways.

i hope this all makes sense, if not let me know and i will try to explain it better.

well now the cylinders are almost done (just need head bolt holes drilled and tapped) i turned my attention to the pistons.

i rough turned the pistons a few years ago so tonight all i had to do was fit them to the cylinder bores.
then i made a split lap and lapped them to size, i made the piston 0.0001" to 0.0002" smaller than the bore.
these pistons will be fitted with rings, 2 per piston.
i thought about making the rings and i know steve huck did a excellent write up about doing so but i think i will cop out and buy the rings.
there is enough things to make on this engine that will challenge my abilities so piston ring will not be one of them.

here are the pistons after lapping (forgot to take pics while lapping)


the pistons will now need to have ring grooves and wrist pin holes machined in place.
the castings in this kit are very nice, this next picture shows up inside the piston and the wrist pin bosses.


enough about this engine cause..................................i have a tool gloat
the wife let me buy a quick change tool post th_wav and here it is



and 2 extra tool holders


ok so not a big deal as i know most of you guys probably have a qctp already.............but to me it was exciting ;D

well thats all for tonight from aurora ontario, thanks guys for tuning in Thm:

Chuck - I for one am glad you resurrected this project. Will be watching your progress and cheering you on. Just take a lot of pictures.

Great work Chuck,I really like those cylinders.I'll be watching and thanks for showing it.

Way back when, (1966), I was charge ERA of a Navy GPV which had a 5 cylinder FBM as the main engine, direct drive to the prop. It was always nervous nelly time going from ahead to astern wondering if the bloody thing would start and run the other way.

Thanks for the memories and it's great to see a model of these very fine engines.

Best Regards
Harold Lee said:
Chuck - I for one am glad you resurrected this project. Will be watching your progress and cheering you on. Just take a lot of pictures.


Here Here! Go Chuck Go! :bow:

Chuck you must be doing something right you got a new dro system for your lathe at the beginning of page 1 and by the end of page 1 you had a quick change tool post. You have a very nice wife. The engine is also looking very good

thanks for all the kind comments guys, and i am glad it brought back some good memories bob :)

well i didn't get much shop time tonight as i am just burned out tonight (my day job is getting crazy busy).
so i thought i would show you guys some of the mistakes i have made on this engine.

first set of cylinders have ALL the bolt hole drilled in the wrong place



so then i thought what the heck, i will just fabricate three new cylinders and put the bolt holes in the right place.


well i messed them up as well, i cut the water jacket too close to the bottom of the cylinder. when i went to press in the cylinder liner..........the bottom of the cylinder broke off.
as seen in this next picture


so i almost tossed this hole project in the scrap bin.............but i then thought why not try making the cylinders one more time and see if i could get it right.
so the cylinders i posted earlier are the newest batch.

now here is the hole mess of cylinders that i have made



i have made plenty of mistakes before but never have i had this much trouble making one (or in this case three) parts :wall:

right from the start of this project i figured i would show all the parts, good or bad in hopes others could learn from my mistakes.

now on to the cylinder heads :hDe:


they were started long before i had a rotary table to index the bolt holes, man oh man i hope i don't have to fabricate these.



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