F&J Farm Pump Engine

Replying to Dave Croft's question on Villiers Mar-Vil and Century varients
reminded me of the value of carrying out a 'forensic' investigation of spare
parts lists to try and determine how an engine was changed during its
production life.
I then remembered a piece I wrote for SEM a couple of years ago challenging
the accepted version of the Fuller and Johnson Farm Pump Engine's production
The article was intended to stimulate debate but, unlike another piece
twelve years earlier, it drew not a single comment - perhaps an indication
of how the magazine has changed over that period.
As this NG seems to be populated by people who think there is more to
engines than pretty pictures I wonder if I will get a better response here
(Dave might also like to try on ATIS).
Well here it is, comments please:-
Some readers may remember the controversy which raged during 1988 and 1989
over the Fuller and Johnson Farm Pump Engine and the many variants thereof.
This kind of good-natured argument actually does our hobby an enormous
service by bringing to the pages of this magazine information which would
otherwise remain in the hands, or heads, of a few individual experts. 12
years ago it was an Australian who stirred things up by daring to comment on
this most American of engines. I hope that as a 'limey' I can do the same.
Conventional wisdom has it that there are basically two styles of F&J Farm
Pump Engine- the early type; with plain flywheel, wooden base, spark plug in
cylinder barrel, con rod lubrication by grease cup on big end, and a
floor-standing battery box: and the later type; with makers name cast into
the flywheel, spark plug in cylinder head, big end lubrication by external
grease cup via drilled crankshaft, little end lubrication by oil via hollow
piston pin, and a bracket cast onto the crankcase upon which the battery box
is mounted. All these changes are supposed to have occurred in 1917 and
Verne Kindschi's excellent history of F&J states that the company did not
build engines from mixed components, the variations one sees now being
entirely due to later repairs. Perhaps foolishly, I want to challenge this
My evidence comes from two copies of the Farm Pump Engine instruction book
and spare parts list. One copy, supplied by Verne, is dated 1929 and as well
as the expected spares for the later style engine, it also lists some of the
earlier parts together with the engine serial number at which they were
superseded. The part identification system used by F&J appears to add a
letter suffix to the basic part number to denote a modification. Thus, the
old style J-2 cylinder barrel became J-2A when the spark plug hole was
deleted at engine number 102701 and the con rod advanced from J-97B to
J-97C when the new lubrication system was introduced at engine number
102791. Presumably the latter part had been subject to two earlier mod's,
though it was probably only with the removal of the big end grease cup that
it became non-interchangeable. Prefixes were used to denote sub-assemblies.
Thus XJ-2A was a new style cylinder barrel supplied complete with four J-11
head studs.
Both the engine numbers referred to above were built in 1917, so no
surprises so far.
The other parts list I have is undated but, as it makes no mention of the
above mod's, it is presumably pre 1917. It does however cover the
Multimotor, an unsuccessful development of the Farm Pump Engine introduced
around 1916. The first thing to notice is that the only parts unique to the
Multimotor (apart from the myriad different pulleys which gave it its name)
are the base casting, the crankshaft and a gear shaft. All the other parts
were presumably common to the Farm Pump Engine. This includes the crankcase
and as all the pictures I have seen of the short-lived Multimotor show the
engine mounted battery box, I believe that the bracket for this had already
been incorporated into the crankcase casting before 1917. Another indication
that this was so is that the battery box illustrated in the earlier booklet
would be impossible to use standing on the ground as all the cable entry
holes, not to mention the ignition switch, are underneath. This booklet also
lists both wooden and steel bases, the tie rod for the latter being one of
the few parts to carry a mod suffix, being J-141A as opposed to J-141 for
the wooden base.
As a final piece of evidence to support my theory of evolution rather than
revolution, may I cite my own engine. According to the serial number it was
made in 1913 and indeed it has many of the early features; plain flywheel,
spark plug in cylinder barrel, wooden base and big end grease cup. However,
it also has a drilled crankshaft and an engine mounted battery box. Now, I
am quite willing to believe that the crankshaft may have been replaced at
some time during the engine's life. But the crankcase? Quite apart from
wondering how such a sturdy lump of cast iron could wear out or be damaged
sufficiently badly to warrant replacement, the engine is in beautiful
unrestored condition and looks very much 'of a piece'. Such paint as remains
on the various components matches well both in texture and colour, which by
the way is black rather than green, apparently not unknown but unusual.
Furthermore, unless the repair was carried out at the works, would anyone
have bothered transferring the old serial number to a new crankcase? No, I
reckon this is the crankcase the engine left the factory with in 1913.
All this then suggests a possible sequence of mods to transform the old
style Farm Pump Engine into the new: -
Introduction of Farm Pump Engine 1909
Engine mounted battery box by 1913
Steel base by 1916
New lube system and relocated spark plug 1917
Maker's name on flywheel?
Reply to
Nick Highfield
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A very interesting posting Nick and, while entirely outside my experience, it sounds very plausible. 'Transitional' models are common throughout the manufacturing industry and I see no reason why F&J should be any different.
Anyone who has owned a 1980's Ford car will be only two familiar with the nightmare which was buying spares for models which fall close to an update :)
best Matt
Reply to
Matt W
Just an observation about the way SEM (which I still would not be without by the way) seems to be heading. Nothing wrong with pictures but they need to be accompanied by plenty of good historical and technical articles.
Reply to
Nick Highfield
Yes, but....
The photo's and trip reports are a feature of the individuals who populate the newsgroup. The magazine is a different animal and needs to look more at content a lot more than just the pictures.
Gordon Wright has to publish what he is sent in by readers, so no immediate brickbats for him on that score, but the way the pictures have taken over the magazine and replaced text is not good. He should have looked at what was going on with the magazine when David Edgington ran it and did almost all of the work from home.
Those issues are far more readable if that is the right word than the latest copies, and I have not seen a later one since 2001 or 2002. I have also now ditched Old Glory as well, mainly due to other matters not related to pictures.
Kind regards,
Peter Forbes Prepair Ltd Luton, UK email: snipped-for-privacy@easynet.co.uk home: snipped-for-privacy@easynet.co.uk
Reply to
Prepair Ltd
"Nick Highfield" wrote (snip):-
Oh well that's a no then apart from one of our newest (and youngest?) contributors, who also BTW posted one of the best responses in what seems to have become the 'why don't SE's attract the general public in the same way that steam engines do' thread.
Reply to
Nick Highfield
That would depend on where 37 fits in to the general spread Nick :)
best Matt
Reply to
Matt W
I must admit that since you are new to the hobby I had assumed you were a youngster like C C-W. Mind you I'm 42, been fiddling with engines for 25 years or so and still not really considered an old hand!
Reply to
Nick Highfield

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