Fuller & Johnson Co. records return to their roots

Fuller 1

Verne W. Kindschi (left) formally passing the Fuller & Johnson Co. shipping records to Stan Johnson (right), great-grandson of company co-founder John A. Johnson. Verne has been maintaining the records since 1966.

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It was 1966 when the shipping records of Fuller & Johnson Manufacturing Co., Madison, Wis., were given to me by Sever Thingstead.

Sever had been with F&J all of his working years. After the company went into bankruptcy, he worked for the bonding company that took over the business. This was basically a parts business with a few engines being assembled from the inventory. About 1945, they sold all of the remaining parts to Sever and A.J. West, who continued selling parts. After Mr. West passed away, Sever continued the business until 1954. Then, because of dwindling sales and Sever’s advanced age, he closed the doors of Fuller & Johnson forever. Only a few parts were saved and the remaining 80-plus tons were sold as scrap.

Sever retained the shipping records – more than 180 books – at his Madison home. It was there that I met Sever in 1962 when I asked him to look up the records of my two Fuller & Johnson engines. Sever and I became very good friends over the next few years with our common interest in engines and F&J.

He was a very interesting gentleman, and enjoyed sharing his information and experience over the next few years.

Sever decided to give the records to me in 1966 because of his age and failing health. He passed away in 1977 at the age of 94.

Later in 1966, I began researching serial numbers of the F&J engines for other collectors, being able to find when the engine left the factory and to whom it was originally shipped. Over the years, I have looked up more than 3,000 Fuller & Johnson engines for collectors.

Now that I have reached the age of 76, it has been a concern of mine that, I, too, need to pass these records on to someone who will appreciate and share them. The solution fell into place as I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with John A. Johnson’s great-grandson, Stan Johnson.

Stan is very interested in the old records, not only in preserving them, but in making the information available as we have in the past. Stan also has the ability and resources to preserve the records electronically. This will surely prove to be a great advancement for the Fuller & Johnson history.

Over the last 42 years, my family and I have enjoyed working with the records and sharing our common interests with others. We have made many new friends from all across the United States, Canada, England, Australia and a few other countries.

The F&J records were officially turned over to the Johnson family on June 11, 2008 – three generations and 76 years since they originally left. I’m sure Stan and the Johnson family will do the records justice.

Good luck, Stan and family – I’m sure you will appreciate and enjoy having the Fuller & Johnson history in your hands even more than we have.

Ready for the responsibility

By Stan Johnson

It is foresighted people like Verne Kindschi who allow for some history to be preserved. In this case, it is the Fuller & Johnson Manufacturing Co., of Madison, Wis. It was Verne who saved all of the records from the landfill. It is people like Verne and Pearlie Kindschi who take the time out of their very busy lives to write books like The Fuller & Johnson Story, parts one and two.

Without people like them, some very important people like my great-grandfather John A. Johnson would drift into obscurity. Although I am not a newcomer to the Johnson family, I am a newcomer to the hobby (or is it the passion?) of collecting and restoring Fuller & Johnson engines. My 34 years as a pilot and captain for American Airlines kept me out of town most of the time.

Now that Verne has passed the records on to me and my family, I have come to understand the enormous responsibility I have taken on to share and preserve these very old and detailed records. It will be “business as usual” in the matter of furnishing any information about engines that I have available to me. It is my plan to put the information on the Fuller & Johnson website at www.fullerandjohnson.com. Electronically archiving this information will be a tedious and lengthy task.

Meanwhile, I ask that you e-mail your information request to me or my son at fullerandjohnson@aol.com, or, if you prefer to write, 3070 Lake Forest Park Road, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235.

Contact Stan Johnson at 3070 Lake Forest Park Road, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235 • www.fullerandjohnson.com • fullerandjohnson@aol.com