The Fuller and Johnson Farm Pump Engine

Farm Pump Engine

Courtesy of Verne W. Kindschi, Route 1, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin 53578.

Verne W. Kindschi

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Route 1 Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin 53578

In the past, I have written a couple of articles about the history of the Fuller & Johnson Company (F & J), Madison, Wisconsin and the engines they built. Many of you know that I got the records of the F & J Company several years ago. Since then I have tried to find out all I can about the history of the company and their engines by studying the records, old books and talking with former employees.

This article is about what I have been able to gather together regarding the air-cooled Farm Pump Engine, (FPE). The FPE was, I'm sure, the engine that F & J was best known for, and they built more of these than any other single model. This engine is unusual for the fact that they run in the opposite rotation of most engines. They are different also, because they have just one flywheel, use the auxiliary exhaust port system, and are unusual looking.

The FPE came out in 1909 and were built until 1952, with the same basic design. There were some minor changes made over the years, and I will explain these in this article.

Mr. Frank Winkley, who was chief engineer for F & J, designed and patented the FPE. For this he received $1 per engine that the company built. This may not sound like much for his efforts, but one has to remember the value of the dollar in these years and the fact that at one time F & J were building one hundred of these engines per day. This was a sizable income for Mr. Winkley.

The first type of the F & J Farm Pump Engine. Note the wood base, plain flywheel and that there is no battery box attached. Taken from a 1910 catalog.

A later model farm pump engine. This one still has the plain flywheel, but has the battery box attached and an all steel base. Taken from a 1915 catalog.

A late model of the farm pump engine. Note this one has the printed flywheel and the spark plug has been moved from the cylinder to the head. This engine is S. N. 110659, built about 1920, and is in my collection.

The Manitoba engine owned by Elmer Haecker, Blue Rapids, Kansas,' Box 44, 66411. Notice how similar it is to the F & J Multimotor.

Mr. Sever Thingstead of Madison, from whom I got the records, said that for four or five years in the early 1920's, they were shipping three carloads of these engines each week to Texas, where they would be used to pump oil with. Mr. Thingstead, who is 86 years young, worked for F & J all his working days. From 1945 until 1954 he and the late Mr. West owned the company. Sever told me that originally these engines sold for $69.95, with battery ignition. In 1917 they were listed at $85. However, the last ones built in 1952 sold for $179.95, with a Wico EK Magneto. After 1932 not too many of these were built, and those that were built were hand built out of the tremendous parts inventory which was left over after the original F & J Company had to go out of business in 1932. In 1952 they only built and sold four of these engines.

The F & J Multimotor built from the basic farm pump engine. Very few of these were built, as they were not successful.

As near as I can tell, F & J built about 65,000 of these engines. The first ones were built in 1909 and started with S. N. 20279 -- they ran consecutively through 49999; then 100,000 to about 133,000. I was unable to obtain the first shipment book and I'm afraid it is lost forever; however, I can look up any FPE from S. N. 116,950 to 126,470 and find out when it was shipped and to whom. Anyone interested in finding out the age of their F & J engine, pump or hopper cooled, can send me the Serial Number, Horsepower and Model (if known). I have to charge fifty cents for the first and twenty-five for each additional. But bear in mind that I can only supply information on the FPE engines with S. N.'s between 116,950 and 126,470. I do have all the engine records on the other types of F & J's.

I'm sending along some pictures which will show some of the changes and variations of these engines. It is easy to tell the very first of the FPE, as they had the plain flywheel (no printing), a partial wooden base, the spark plug was in the cylinder, the grease cup right on the connecting rod and a large drawn fuel tank. The very, very early does did not have the battery box built on the engine -- in fact, they didn't even have the bracket cast onto the base to hold the battery box.

The F & J model JA engine, also built from the basic farm pump engine. These were built later than the Multimotor and were more successful. However, not very many were built.

Just when they started to put their name on the flywheel, use a steel base and a soldered fuel tank instead of the drawn fuel tank, I cannot be sure. The spark plug was moved from the side of the cylinder to the cylinder head starting with SN 102,701. The drilled crankshaft with the grease cup on the end of the crankshaft outside of the engine, instead of the grease cup right on the connecting rod inside the engine started with SN 102,791. This was a real improvement, as before one had to stop the engine and open a door on the side to turn the grease cup down on the rod. These two changes probably came about 1920. Another small change came in 1924 with S. N. 117804, when the shield on the bevel pump gear was extended around on the lower half.

Most of these FPE used four dry cell batteries and high tension coil. However, as early as 1917 a high tension gear-driven magneto was available for an extra $30. Of course, in the later years most engines were shipped with a Wico EK Magneto.

Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin 53578 Some of the other types of pumps that the basic farm pump engines were attached to - taken from a 1910 catalog.

Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin 53578 Picture taken from 1910 catalog showing the farm pump engine being used to power a grindstone.

The oldest FPE I know of at the present time is one owned by Ruben Michelson of Anamoose, South Dakota. Ruben's engine is S. N. 20600, so this would have been built about 1909.

The FPE were also used with several other types of pumps, other than the deep well. They had them set up to be used on pressure pumps, force pumps, diaphragm pumps and spraying outfits. Also, I have seen an advertisement in an old marine magazine where they were used on a bilge pump for boats.

From the basic FPE they built the multimotor for general light belt power The only real change in it was the base it sat on and the addition of two pulleys, and of course, leaving off the gearing for the pump jack. Mr. Thingstead told me that these were not successful, as they did not develop the 1? hp. as they were supposed to. He said, geared down like they were on the pump, they would develop over 1? hp. However, the belt hp. on a multimotor was only about ? hp. I don't know of any collectors who have a multimotor; however, if anyone does they have a real rare engine as very few were built.

Picture of the Coldwell, Model L, Lawnmower, taken from the Coldwell instruction book. This has the engine on it that F & J built for Coldwell.

My own Coldwell, Model L. When this picture was taken I had not restored it yet, but is now almost completed. This had the F & J engine on it and was built in 1924.

After this they built the model JA, which like the multimotor used the basic FPE parts. However, they used two heavy flywheels and were able to turn out the rated 1? hp. Being these were not accepted by the public, very few of these were built and sold. I don't know of any of these in the hands of collectors either. I have seen a number of FPE at different shows and they are always real attention getters and make a nice show piece. When they are running they have a sound which is easy to distinguish from the other engines.

The FPE used an auxiliary exhaust port on the bottom of the piston stroke. This port was mainly for cooling the engine. Near the end of power stroke, about 90% of the exhaust gases went out this port. Very little exhaust actually came out of the top exhaust valve in the head. The exhaust valve in the head actually did more to cool the engine than it did for exhausting gases. Between the times of firing, this top valve was held open, allowing cool air to be circulated in and out of the cylinder. Originally F & J furnished a muffler for only the bottom exhaust port.

Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin 53578 This F & J engine built for Coldwell, is owned by Melvin Fox, Route 6, Jackson, Michigan 49201.

Since the article that I wrote in the March - April 1968 issue of GEM, I received this picture from Robert Swanberg, Route 1, Prole, Iowa, 50229. This shows a complete F & J oil-cooled engine which I wasn't able to show in the article. This is the oldest F & J engine I know of at this time - a 3? hp. S. N. 226, and I'm sure it was built in 1903.

Thanks to Stanley Moe of DeForest, Wisconsin, I received this picture of Mr. Sever Thingstead actually closing the door of the F & J company for the last time. This was taken by Mr. Moe in the fall of 1954. It was from Mr. Thingstead that I got the F & J records. Sever is now a very young 86 years old and enjoys telling about his experiences at F & J.. He started working for F & J in 1901 and continued with them until 1947, when he and Mr. West bought out what remained of the company. Thus, this was the end of the F & J Company of Madison, Wisconsin.

There were several changes in the mixer over the years, but the same basic design was used. All the changes made seemed to be in the choking device.

Mr. Thingstead told me that a company in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada copied the pump engine. So F & J took them to court, won the case, and the Manitoba company had to stop building them. Enclosed is a picture of one of these engines, called the Manitoba Engine. This picture is one of the engines from the collection of Elmer Haecker of Blue Rapids, Kansas. You'll notice how much it looks like the multimotor. Except for the first letter of the parts number cast into the various parts, in most cases the number was the same on the two engines.

The FPE was rated at 1? hp., ran at a speed of 500 R. P. M. The speed of the intermediate shaft was 150 R. P. M. and it pumped 35 strokes per minute. The shipping weight was 335 pounds. Originally the FPE was painted a green -- the same shade as the present day New Idea Farm Implement Machinery, with a silver cylinder and head. This same green was used on hopper-cooled engines. Striping was done in yellow.

A picture taken at Sauk City, Wisconsin, during the 1968 Summerfest Parade. The engine is my 8 hp. Lauson 'Frost King.', S. N. 10238, Type F, Size CD. The engine was built around 1914 and weighs 2240 pounds. The cart under the engine is original, and the reason the engine is turned around is that it was built as a saw rig. However, I do not have the saw parts which he mounted on rear of it. The horses pulling the engine are owned and were driven by Al Fenske, Loganville, Wisconsin.

This is my Monitor Engine, No. 3819. I found this engine in a junk yard. The water jacket was cracked in two places very badly.

We ground a V in the cracks with a high speed small emery wheel and welded it with 100% nickel rod. Have one very small pin hole that does not leak but about a drop every five minutes.

Well, I was very dumb about Gas Engines and I want to thank all of my GEM friends who gave me information about it. A special thanks to Mr. Ted Hunter of Galesburg, Illinois, Jerry Swedburg of Wahpeton, North Dakota and anyone who has helped me.

The engine was rusted very badly and stuck. It surely used a lot of penetrating oil but it sure was worth the hard work. I put a new set of rings in it. She runs nice now.

From some of the mail I received, it seemed there were some questions regarding this engine -- I hope this article will answer some of these.

I will briefly mention another engine that F & J built. This is a little one cylinder, vertical, four cycle, radiator-cooled engine which they built for the Coldwell Lawn Mower Company of Newburgh, New York. These are very unusual looking little engines; in fact, they look very much like an old 2 cycle inboard marine engine.

As near as I can tell from their records, 3255 of these were built from 1923 to 1927. These engines were used on the Coldwell Model L mower. F & J built only the engine and Coldwell built the mower. The engine was actually designed by Coldwell. The little 7? by 8? inch honeycomb radiator was actually used for cooling and not just a condensing radiator as many of the later Coldwells used.

I know of only three of these engines in the hands of collectors now, but I'm sure there must be others. I feel fortunate in having one of the Coldwell Model L's in my own collection.

It seems as though Coldwell used a number of different engines over the years. I am not very well informed on Coldwell, so do not know how many different makes and types of engines they used. I only know that the F & J built engine was used only on the Model L.

I have some four page parts and instructions books for the FPE printed in 1941, which I will sell for fifty cents each. I have had a few mufflers cast from an original, out of aluminum -- these I will sell for $2 each. (Limited number, on these.) Also, I have had the original F & J decals printed -- these are exactly like the original and these I sell for $1 per set of two. These are actually for the F & J hopper-cooled engines, but look nice on the battery box of the Farm Pump Engine.