4794 Wildflower Ct., Dousman, Wis. 53118
For some time I had wanted to own a large hopper-cooled engine. My opportunity finally arrived when one was located in Illinois. However, the owner did not know the HP, only the serial number and that it was a Fuller-Johnson. Not yet convinced that it was an engine that I wanted, I decided to contact Vern Kindschi of Prairie-du-Sac who I knew had the original Fuller-Johnson factory records. I checked with Vern to see if he could give me some information on this particular engine. Much to my amazement the serial number listed it as a 12 HP kerosene burning model K with throttling governor and had been shipped on August 10, 1917 to the Mulberry Hardware Co. of Mulberry, Indiana and weighed in at 2,350 pounds. After obtaining this information I lost no time in closing a deal on it.
After waiting three months to what we thought would be good weather, my son Randall and I set out to haul it home. We picked up a tandem trailer about 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning and secured it safely to our old 1971 Ford station wagon and we were finally on our way. The further we traveled south the colder and windier it got. By the time we arrived in central Illinois the wind was gusting up to 50 mph and the temperature had dropped to about 15 degrees. Needless to say with that combination coming across those Illinois flatlands we had a cold greeting upon our arrival. We could not stand the temperature in the open where the engine was located; however, luckily it was mounted on an old tractor frame and we were able to move the engine to a nearby shed in order to load it. At first it looked like any easy job of merely sliding the engine off the frame onto the trailer. However, we came to find out the transmission housing was still attached to the tractor frame and it protruded up into the base of the engine which prevented our moving it.
After two hours of blocking, prying, jacking, lifting, freezing, etc. we finally had the engine on skids resting comfortably on the trailer. We then proceeded to secure the engine to the trailer. The last action was to remove the blocking from under the trailer before we would be on our way. This sounds quite simple and should be-but alas, not so this trip. You see, when we lowered the trailer with jacks, it brought all 2,350 pounds of Fuller-Johnson plus the weight of the trailer down on one side of the hitch and-crash!-you guessed it-the frame on one side of the station wagon had snapped! Too cold and too exhausted to do more, we chained up the car frame as best we could and took off for Wisconsin. The weather took a turn-but it was a wrong turn. Added to the cold and wind we were now encountering snow along with it. By the time we reached the Wisconsin border driving, to say the least, was very difficult. With two of us watching the road and trying to anticipate upcoming hills and the edge of the road we finally reached home about midnight. But our luck had still not changed.
The roads had become so slippery we could not get the trailer into our driveway. So again we began blocking, jacking, prying, etc. and finally managed to get the engine resting on blocking in the middle of our driveway freeing the trailer so we could take it back yet that night. So after having to take some detours to avoid any steep hills we returned the trailer to Waukesha where we had rented it. Finally we got to bed about 4:00 a.m.
End of story? Not yet-I hadn't gotten around to moving the engine from our driveway to the house yet so it remained there several days on its blocking. This was fine-except when my oldest daughter decided she would try to drive past the engine on her way to work. She didn't make it. She managed to hit one of the pieces of blocking on her way past and a sad sight I did behold when I came home from work that night. Here was my prize Fuller-Johnson lying on its side in the middle of the driveway after having fallen off the blocking. Back to the jacking, prying, winching, blocking chores again.
After another two hours Randall and I again had it righted. After close examination we discovered that nothing was damaged. The soft gravel had evidently absorbed the shock of the flywheel hitting the ground plus it must have gone over quite gently. Later after cleaning and examining the engine we found it had excellent compression and seemed in good overall condition. We then hooked up a temporary gas tank, a battery (the magneto was dead) and fired it up. Those first few barks sure made all of our efforts seem worthwhile.
We now have the engine mounted on a set of heavy duty trucks that we bought from a local farmer. As soon as we figure out a way to transport it we hope to take it to local parades and shows.