History Of The JOHNSON MOTOR COMPANY
Johnson Utilimotor No. U 15899, owned by Jennie Reynolds. Brass cover is over the Wico type 'F' mag. Flywheel is cast iron. Earlier Utilimotors used the same Johnson 'Quick Action' mag and aluminum flywheel as sold to and used by Mayta
R.D. #1 Box 86, Locke, New York 13092
In 1987 I set out to learn as much I could about an engine I
acquired that summer. The person selling it said he thought it was
The engine was mounted on a lawn mower and was covered with a
heavy layer of everything that had filtered down upon it from the
caved-in barn under which it had rested since about 1950.
After scraping away much of this crud, I found a brass tag which
proudly proclaimed that this engine was a Utilimotor No. U15899
built by the Johnson Motor Company of Waukegan, Illinois.
The mower was an F & M with the year 1935 stamped on it. It
was probably a 'kit' on which the purchaser mounted the
motor of his choice.
I had the same questions running through my head that most of us
engine nuts have at the time we have a new 'find': what
year was it built, what color was it, and how many were made?
In the time that has passed since then, all I have found out
about it for sure is that it was dark green, and that it was built
between 1927 and 1934.
What I did learn about though was the company that had built
I have noticed a number of times that people have asked
GEM's Reflector about Johnson Motor Company and the answer has
been the same- nothing. Let me share with you what I have
There were four Johnson brothers whose interest turned to the
internal combustion engine. They were: Julius (born in 1886), who
was a machinist; Louis (1881), the designer; Harry (1884), the
thinker and planner; and Clarence (1895), the mechanic.
In 1903 Louis and Harry built their first engine in a shed
behind the family home in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Since they lived right next to the Wabash River it was a marine
engine of 2-cycle design that developed about 3 HP at 350 rpm.
In 1904 they built their second engine, also with a single
cylinder and 2-cycle, with a 5 inch bore and 5 inch stroke.
1905 was the big year for the Johnsons. They were ready to offer
their engines for sale. All were 2-cycle inline engines.
Engines with a 3 inch bore and 3 inch stroke were built with 1,
2, and 4 cylinders.
Engines with a 4 inch bore and 3 inch stroke were also offered
with 1, 2, and 4 cylinders.
The line shaft in their little shop was powered by their
original 1903 motor which had been converted to hit and miss
By 1908, in need of more space, they moved to a brick factory
building at 1602 Hulman Street in Terre Haute, where they
immediately roared into production of their massive 'V'
engines designed for aircraft and racing boats. These engines were
2-cycle, water cooled with a 5 inch bore and 4 inch stroke, and
very light. It came in four sizes: V-4, V-6, V-8 and V-12.
Page: 1 | 2
| Next >>