Well, Maybe Just Two

| January/February 2001

519 East Locust Lanork, Illinois 61046

Well, depending on how good your memory is, you may remember me from last year. I wrote a small article about my Great Uncle Robert and the 1HP R&V that was found in one of his barns. The R&V took about 10 years to get running, because the head and just about everything it touched was missing. The parts were eventually found, and the motor was running quite nicely when we took it to Robert's house to show him the smoke and smells. After we got the R&V running, Robert made a comment about being surprised to see 'that engine' running. He thought we had taken the one that hooked directly to the pump jack. 'You know, the one out in the old carriage shed with only one flywheel.' Dustin (my brother) and I ran out to the shed for a look.

At this point, I must refresh your memory about me. I am an accountant who knows very little about gas engines, or anything that is really that mechanical. Basically, if it doesn't plug into the wall and say 'Windows 98' when it starts up, I'm lost. Saying that, I had kind of seen the Fuller & Johnson about a year before. My brother and I were on one of our exploring tours, when we came to the old carriage shed which had a lean-to built on to it. The door was buried in the ground and it was wired shut in several places. So I found a spot where I could stick my head through, when I saw the pump engine. Since it was missing the head, cylinder, piston, detent swivel and stop and other ignition parts, I diagnosed it must be part of some old feed mill. The wooden base had rotted off, so I assumed the metal rods were there to hold it from the ceiling or something. It is amazing the theories you can come up with when you really don't know what you are talking about. The thing that bugged me was the flywheel. If it was just a grinder, why did it need such a large flywheel?

Well, once Robert mentioned there was an engine in the old carriage shed, I had a pretty good idea that my former theory was really off base, and I knew where to look. Dustin and I went over to the shed and found the 'grinder' in question. Sure enough, once we cleaned the brass tag, it clearly read F&J Farm Pump engine. Well, I was excited, but at the same time I knew I was in trouble. This engine was missing everything that made it run. In talking to Robert, he said at one time there were two of those engines on the farm, and that this one had been on the home place for a long time. As far as he could remember, the cylinder had been taken off a long time ago so a smaller gas engine (Briggs?) could be belted to the flywheel and the jack part was used that way for some time. The head, cylinder, piston and rest were probably somewhere around, or maybe in, one of the ditches. There had been a machine building out by the carriage shed that was torn down before WWII, so the engine went home with me as it was.

Over the next few months, I went through all the sheds again (the first time was looking for parts for the R&V). On a nail in one of the sheds I found a piston that looked odd, so I took it. It turned out to be an old-style piston with the brass tube to oil the piston's wrist pin. (Do you put grease or some kind of oil in it? The grease seems too thick to go up, and the oil runs out.) It is amazing the 'stuff' you find on your hand and knees in old barns, some of it very interesting, some not so. High and low I looked for about three months, both in and out of the buildings (I found one of the R&V parts under a barn wall, both in and outside). I was just about to give up looking, when one day in early spring just after the snow had melted, but before the grass turned green, I went looking in a ditch near one of the machine sheds. As I was walking down into the ditch, I tripped over a log and fell face-first on my hands. 'Blankety-Blank log, why did it have to be lying right there?' Of course, as I was getting back to my knees, I saw the back end of a connecting rod sticking out of the ground. Since I was on my knees anyway, a small prayer meeting of repentance and thanks was held. After the service was over, we sang the Hallelujah chorus while doing the 'Snoopy' happy dance.

Then the pocketknife came out and the digging began. The connecting rod is connected to the piston, the piston is connected to the cylinder, the cylinder is connected to the head, and the head is connected to the tree. Tree??? A small tree was growing around the cylinder, with the roots wrapped around the head and forming into the fines of the cylinder. I went to get the camera at this point. Once I dug the cylinder/tree out of the ground, I kept looking for the carburetor. After a lot of horseshoes and other unknown parts, I found another head with a carburetor attached. Although I did not find any ignition parts, I was happy with what I found. I took the cylinder/tree-combo home and cut off as much of the tree as I could, and then let it dry out for a while so the roots would shrink up a little bit. When it was loose enough, I pried the roots free of the cylinder and put the cylinder/piston in a bucket of diesel for a month.