Fuller & Johnson Co. records return to their roots

| October/November 2008

  • 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.
  • Fuller 2
    Verne's authortative book on the history of the company, The Fuller & Johnson Story, Vol. 2.

  • Fuller 1
  • Fuller 2

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.