Our Fuller & Johnson Engine

| November/December 1996

Submitted by Dr. Robert G. Diener, PE West Virginia University Box 6257 ASA Morgantown, WV 26506-6257

Note: This engine was restored in our department at West Virginia University last year and is now back at the Adirondack Camp where it was first purchased new in 1917. It is planned to restore the pump next and actually pump water into the old water tower shown in the photos; perhaps that will be the next story. Robert Diener


The Fuller & Johnson Model N, 3 HP engine featured in this story is unique because it was purchased new in 1917 by my grandfather, J. R. Leonard, and thus has always been in our family and has always been located in the pump house at our Adirondack Camp in upstate New York.

Adirondack camps were started in the late 1890s by New York City 'captains' of industry and finance who could afford to get away from the heat and pollution and escape to the Adirondack mountains in northeastern New York State. There, in rustic natural beauty of the primordial forests and spectacular lake frontage, the first camps were started. However, in order to achieve the degree of isolation required, these camps were necessarily located at remote, almost inaccessible locations. Frequently travel time from New York City was measured in days, involving an overnight Pullman sleeper ride up the Hudson River and then cross-country travel by stagecoach, river steamer, and finally wagon, pack mule and horse to reach the camp site. Some wealthier empire builders even constructed their own short distance railroads to transport their family and belongings. In some cases the family would remain in the railroad lounge car while it was transferred to waterway transport and back to rail again making the trip as luxurious and comfortable as possible.

At first, camp life was relatively primitive, featuring tents, canvas cots, lanterns, campfire cooking and what few servants the families could manage to bring with them. The camps soon evolved into more permanent facilities with cabins, main lodges, boat houses and most important (for the purpose of this story) electric lighting and running water all powered by hit and miss engine rigs!

These engine/pump outfits were especially well suited for pumping water from lakes, rivers, springs, wells or other sources of supply where the pump could be placed within the suction limit of the source of supply. They were used extensively for pumping water into elevated tanks at country homes (or summer camps) or railroad stations, for sprinkling roads and lawns, for irrigating crops, and fire protection.