A Gas Engine Magazine Cover Girl Returns After 26 Years
After leaving the factory in Wisconsin, this 20 HP Fuller & Johnson was shipped to Oregon, then to Washington state, up to Alaska, back to Oregon, and, finally, back to its home state in Wisconsin.
Fuller & Johnson engine no. 14061, was shipped from the factory in Madison, Wis., on April 7, 1914. This 20 HP Double Efficiency (DE) was delivered to the Pacific Hardware & Steel Co. in Portland, Ore. It was shipped as a stationary unit with full cast iron base. These early, large, Double Efficiency engines were built in 8, 10, 12, 16, 18 and 20 HP sizes, and were the only sideshaft model built by the Fuller & Johnson Co.
Pacific Hardware & Steel sold this 20 HP engine to Troyer & Fox Machine Works at Astoria, Ore., which would later become Astoria Marine. At Troyer & Fox, the 20 HP was used to drive the line shaft in the factory where boats were built, as well as gasoline marine engines, which were known as the T&F engine.
The continuation of this engine's story was written in 1984 by my very dear friend, the late Tom Graves of the Tigard, Ore., area. (I bought this particular engine from Tom in 1974.) Tom was one very fine man, known by a great many engine collectors throughout the U.S. In the early 1970s he was president of the National EDGE&TA. Tom passed away Oct. 14, 2000. This is what Tom had to say about the F&J:
"On the 20 HP you have: After Astoria, Ore., got electricity in about 1918-19, the engine was taken out of the machine shop and made into a pile driver at Fleck Machine Works in Tacoma, Wash. Here they made hundreds of 3-cycle, high-pressure pumps for the logging industry to pump water from creeks, ponds or rivers for the steam locomotives and logging donkey engines.
"The pile driver was mounted on a big sled and mostly used on a barge to drive piling for fish traps. There were 150 of them north of the Columbia River. At one time, Columbia River packers got this rig and took it to Bristol Bay, Alaska, to drive piling for their canneries, docks and fish traps in Bristol Bay. This was after Oregon and Washington voted to eliminate all fish traps in any tidal flowing rivers. Later, Alaska voted the traps out and the rig with the 20 HP was returned to Astoria.
"It came into the hands of the Hess family, hard working entrepreneurs and developers of the now famous Astoria bent grass (one of the few bents tender enough for cow feed). They, in addition to farming, operated a seed cleaning operation, fished commercially on ocean and river, and operated a dairy. They built a commercial shipway for construction and repair of fishing vessels. Several members of the family were lost at sea when the fishing vessel Rose Ann Hess sunk without a trace.
"The Hess' had driven piling for their own shipyard and some trestles for the county and loggers. The last job for the 20 HP was driving piling in the delta land on their farm for bases for some concrete silos. I got the engine from right where it sat after the silo job. A large elderberry tree had grown up between the engine and winch, which must have been more than 15 years old. I bought it from Davis Hess, who was then raising beef stock. Looking back - it was a good thing the engine was out of town (Astoria) at the time in 1922 when the whole town was destroyed by fire."
After Tom purchased the engine and did a restoration about 1962, he showed it at various Oregon and Washington shows. Tom helped start the Brooks, Ore., show and attended it regularly. In 1974, because of his age and the difficulty of moving the big engine, Tom asked if I would be interested in buying the engine - that was not a difficult decision!
We made arrangements with a local implement manufacturer who hauled farm equipment to the Northwest and returned with a load of lumber each time. Tom took care of the arrangements and loading out there, and the engine was brought to our area along with a load of lumber - it all went smoothly.
Five years prior to my buying the 20 HP from Tom, I had attended a farm auction in our area. An older gentleman there shared that he had owned a Fuller & Johnson engine many years ago, but had scrapped it during the World War II scrap drive. When asked what size it was, he said it was a 20 HP and he still had the original cart. He wondered if I would be interested in buying the cart - another decision that did not take long to make! It was, in fact, the original Fuller & Johnson trucks for a Double Efficiency engine, complete with the original fuel tank and in very good condition. When the 20 HP was delivered, we unbolted it from the cast subbase and set it directly on the trucks I had bought - all the bolt holes fit.
Over the last 30 years, we have shown this engine at many local shows and events. Starting the engine is a real pleasure - you only have to prime it with gas, turn it to the power stroke, pull it back against compression, hit the hand igniter and it starts.
This is my favorite engine in my collection, and has been especially interesting because of the detailed history Tom wrote and shared with me. Thus, I felt we should share the story with other collectors. This 20 HP was featured on the cover of Gas Engine Magazine, September/October 1979. This was the fourth color photo cover used by GEM.
We have had the Fuller & Johnson production records since 1966. Over the years, we have researched shipping dates and delivery records of more than 3,000 engines for collectors all around the U.S. and several foreign countries. We ask a fee of $1 to research the serial numbers and send information. To date, I only know of eight of these larger engines: one 20 HP, three 18 HP, and four 8 and 10 HP.
This engine, built in Madison, Wis., traveled to the West Coast, to Alaska, back to the West Coast, and returned back to Wisconsin, just 30 miles from where it was built.
For an informative Fuller & Johnson website, visit www.oldengine.org/members/lozzi/index.htm developed by Nick Lozzi.
Verne W. Kindschi is the author of The Fuller & Johnson Story I & II. He can be reached at: S. 9008B U.S. Highway 12, Prairie du Sac, WI 53578; (608) 643-3915.