The Fairbanks Flash Rides Again!
9322 State Route 13 S. E., Route 1, Glouster, Ohio 45732
This is the story of the latest of my brainstorms, The Flash.
That The Flash rides again, gives the impression that it rode
before, was put out to pasture, and made to run again. That is the
case with the Flash.
Several years ago, I put together an ice cream freezer, powered
by a 1 HP Economy engine and a right angle gear box. The freezer
made one gallon of ice cream, which worked well, but a gallon of
ice cream does not go very far on hot days, especially when friends
hear the putt-putt and stop by to see what is happening. A freezer
twice as big seemed to be about right, so I bought a two gallon
size freezer. Being somewhat taller, this would require a rather
ungainly setup, so a better system was needed. Thus was the idea of
the Flash born. This would not only operate the freezer much more
handily, but would also be self-propelled.
Many years ago, I bought an 118 Fairbanks engine, about 7 or 8
HP, intending to pump a well with it. I had it stored in a garage,
but the flood of '98 found it and covered it up. I had to tear
it down, and completely clean it up, and in the process decided
that if I have to do this much work on the engine, it was going to
do something for me in return.
Having long admired the Waterloo Boy tractor, and the Mogul on
the GEM fly cover, I designed the Flash along these lines, using
the Fairbanks for power. I then bought a Dodge 50 pickup with a bad
engine, and salvaged the rear axle and springs, five speed
transmission, and steering assembly. This size truck is about a
foot narrower than a full-size truck, making a handier width
I designed the frame to fit the rear springs, and narrowed it to
allow for front axle tilt and wheel turning clearance. The frame is
built of four inch channel, but three inch would probably be strong
enough. I located a front axle from a commercial lawn mower, such
as was used to mow golf courses, and made the front of the frame
come to a proper fit for this axle.
The rear springs were fitted to the extreme rear end of the
frame, the drive shaft was shortened, the transmission was fitted
to the frame, and the engine was located a little to the rear of
center, to give weight over the rear tires, for decent
I located a gear box off a manure spreader, which had a shaft
coming out the front and back, and one coming out the side. This
allowed for power to be put into the sideshaft, and taken out on
both ends. There are two V-belts running from the engine pulley to
the side shaft. The rear shaft couples to the front of the
transmission, and the front shaft is belted up to turn the
The engine has a hand clutch on the belt pulley, so the truck
clutch was not needed. The engine clutch was originally operated
with a hand wheel, so a hand clutch was designed, using a series of
levers and bell cranks, and works like a John Deere hand
The 'body' was made of inch a-c-x plywood, and the floor
fits to the outside of the frame, and extends from the rear of the
frame, just to the rear of the engine base. Side boards were fitted
to a proper height for the seat, and this allowed for a small
'truck bed' behind the seat. Since the engine is gas
powered, I carry a small propane tank in one corner of the bed, and
have room for a spare tank and a cooler. A John Deere tractor
umbrella fitted to the front and center of the seat support, makes
welcome shade on hot days, and slowly turns when the engine is
running, giving a nice effect.
There are steps fitted to each side, for easy entry, as nearly
everyone who sees this outfit wants a ride. It was necessary to
disconnect the original governor, and in its place link up a hand
It was also necessary to incorporate some type of safety device
for the power shaft turning the freezer. If this was not done, as
the ice cream became frozen, there had to be some kind of relief,
to avoid breaking something in the freezer, I chose to make a shear
pin coupling, using a stub shaft-sleeve assembly, with a
1/8 inch hole drilled crossways to
accommodate a shear pin. I tried a piece of soldertoo soft. Two
pieces, still too soft. Tried brass rodtoo strong. Two pieces of
copper was close, but still a little weak. A friend gave me some
soft steel tie wire, which worked well. This wire was once used to
tie telephone wire to glass insulators.
The picture shows a water tank mounted on the front of the
frame. In this manner, the freezer parts can be washed off in
places where water is not available.
The top speed of The Flash is six or seven miles per hour, but
it is low on power. It will climb fairly steep hills, but needs
first gear to do it. The Flash will turn the freezer while
underway, but I don't normally do it, as the weight of the full
freezer is too hard to control.
It takes about 25 minutes to crank up a batch of ice cream. As
the ice cream hardens, the engine loads up a little, and spectators
are making bets as to when the shear pin will let go.
The Flash is a star attraction in parades, and invites a lot of
comments and questions. It took most of a winter to build, and is
worth all the time and effort involved.