Adventures Of A FULLER-JOHNSON

By Staff
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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.

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