The Plight of the Collector:

| February 2001

When Jerome Then was a 7-year-old kid living on the family farm about a mile from Sartell, Minn., he fell in love with farm engines.

'I recall seeing them run,' he says. 'One was used to mix concrete when my father built a new barn, and we had two we used regularly on the farm, one to run the vacuum pump for the milking machines, and the other to pump water to cool the milk and provide water for the livestock. Many, many times I was sent out late in the evening to shut this one off after it had pumped water long enough to cool the milk.'

The other one was difficult to start: he remembers his mother struggling with it when she went out to milk. 'That was during harvest time, when my dad was already working out in the field,' he says.

Both of these were Fairbanks-Morse engines, so it is no surprise that when Jerome started collecting and restoring farm engines a dozen years ago, he picked up three of them. 'They're not real collectible - they're little Model D's like we had on the farm - but two of the three are mounted on a channel iron frame that runs a little Fairbanks-Morse piston-type water pump, which does make them fairly collectible. Fairbanks also used the little D to run the air compressor to start the larger Fairbanks-Morse diesel engine.'

Despite Jerome's history with Fairbanks-Morse engines, the ones he has aren't his favorite farm engines.

'That would be the Mogul, manufactured by International Harvester back in 1915,' the 73-year-old rural St. Cloud, Minn., collector says. Jerome also has proof of that engine's age, making it probably the oldest in his collection of three dozen engines.