1616 First Street S. W., Huron, South Dakota 57350
Here is the picture of Dad’s 15 H.P. FOOS Engine which I
promised last winter to send. She was built in 1912 by the FOOS Gas
Engine Company of Springfield, Ohio. She develops 15 H.P. and spins
her 55 inch flywheels at ‘300 R.P.M. and is numbered Engine No.
The old FOOS, as she has become affectionately known, came to
South Dakota during 1917 when John King-don built a new grain
elevator in the small prairie town of Hitchcock in central South
Dakota. Until the late 40’s, the old FOOS powered the
elevator’s machinery until the switch was made to electric
power. On a few occasions when electric power failed, the old
engine would be called into service for short periods. For about
the last ten years, 1954 to 1964, her exhaust was silent. During
this time the elevator changed hands and some remodeling was done,
making entrance to the engine room very difficult. A steep rickety
stairway through the office floor or a small barn sash-size window
provided the only entrance.
In the summer of 1964 Dad’s brother Hans, of Wolsey. South
Dakota, found the old engine and made a deal for it. Plans were
then made to remove it from the elevator. By taking the engine
apart completely and by using planks and a winch, all parts were
removed and hauled to Dad’s engine house (garage) in Huron.
South Dakota, where over a period of two years it was reassembled
with the following new parts: rings, fuel pump shaft, gas tank and
gaskets where needed. The valves were ground and a cooling system
built. She was cooled by an artesian well in the elevator. We also
built a muffler, as can be seen in the picture, so as not to scare
the neighbors. We were fortunate the piston was not stuck as is
often the case when one finds an old engine.
It uses a low tension coil and rotary type ingiter. Two separate
carburetors furinish metered gasoline or kerosene. All crankshaft
and connecting rod bearings and wrist pin boxings are solid brass,
with drip oilers on both mains, connecting rod and governor. As can
be seen in the picture, two large cast iron counter balance disks
are installed on the crankshaft throws. These are caulked on with
lead and were not forged as part of the crankshaft. It is a
throttling governor and is the smoothest engine you ever heard run.
The exhaust is more like a chuff than a bang. The piston and
connecting rod assembly weigh 116 pounds; quite a handful.
In constructing our truck, we departed from conventional engine
trucks in that we built an automotive type front end, using a 15-30
McCormick Deering front axle and spindles onto which we grafted
Case separator wheels. This allowed us to keep ground clearance and
overall length to a minimum, plus a short turning radius. The rear
axle was left long enough to use four wheels in dual fashion. The
sills are eight inch channel iron.
As mentioned in the second issue of G.E.M., Dad and I have been
do-it-yourselfers from way back, and we had a lot of fun putting
the old FOOS back together again and building the truck, etc. Of
course there are always problems and head scratching, but who is
there among us that does not like a challenge? Dad’s address is
Julius Johannsen, 237 18th Street S.W.. Huron, South Dakota, and my
address is Jim Johannsen, 1616 First Street S.W., Huron, South
Galloway – HP and age. unknown.