Verne Kindschi, author of the Fuller and Johnson Story I and II, and who possesses the engine production records for Fuller and Johnson, said this engine is perhaps the oldest Fuller and Johnson around today. According to American Gasoline Engines Since 1872 by C.H. Wendel, F and J first manufactured engines in 1900 under Gisholt Machine Co., a side project of founder John Johnson. After John's death in 1901, Gisholt was acquired by Fuller and Johnson, when John's son Carl was elected president of the company.
Kindschi suggests this engine, serial no. 136, was probably built in 1904 and was the 36th engine out the door of the F and J factory, because the first serial number was 101. He cannot verify the year for sure, as the very first production record book was lost before he received the records.
Not only is this engine rare because it was one of the first out the door, but also because it is a water tank-cooled model. Kindschi said most of the very early F and Js were oil-cooled, as most of the ones left today are. According to Nick Lozzi, who runs his own F and J website, this engine is somewhat of a mystery. While the water tank-cooled model was definitely an option in the first years, no one knows for sure whether or not the option was available from the beginning of production in 1902.
Owner Tom Winkler said this engine was used to run a line shaft in a wagon building shop in the La Crosse, Wis., area. Tom said the previous owners remembered seeing the engine at work in the wagon shop when they were young. The F and J was removed from the shop some 50 years ago and was never run or shown until August 2005. Tom bought the engine 100 percent complete in May 2005, but it was in need of essential repairs, as any 100-plus-year-old engine would be. It was completely restored just in time (the night before) for the August 2005 Badger Steam and Gas Engine Show in Baraboo, Wis.
Tom thanks Don Blausey of Baraboo, Wis., for assisting in the necessary machining in the rebuilding of this engine and his father, Don Winkler, for getting him hooked on a great hobby with so many great people!
Contact engine enthusiast Tom Winkler at: N. 265 County A, New Holstein, WI 53061; (920) 894-3106.
Visit Nick Lozzi's website at: www.oldengine.org/ members/lozzi/index.htm
For more information on Fuller and Johnson engine history, contact Verne Kindschi at: S. 9008B Ush 12, Prairie du Sac, WI 53578; (608) 643-3915.