Hercules Engine News

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20601 Old State Road Haubstadt, Indiana 47639 E-mail: glenn.karch@gte.net

On May 1 at about 11:00 p.m., several strong narrow streaks of wind came though our area of southwestern Indiana. At about 11:15, the lady in our rent house called to tell us that it looked like our barn there was leaning on the south end. I went to have a look at about 11:30. By the light of the lightning I could see that the south end of the barn had, indeed, collapsed and the north end was trying to stand up, but at a rather odd angle. As I went to bed, I began to think about what to do with all the stuff that was stored there. Over on the other end of the farm was a much older barn without much in it that was slated to be torn down sometime.

At this point you may begin to wonder just what this has to do with Hercules gas engines. There were 19 gas engines in that barn, and 16 of them were Hercules or related engines.

The next morning I went over at daylight to have a better look and to make a more thorough examination of the damage. The 51 x 70 barn was a total loss. Since several large trees just east of the barn were severely damaged, I went over on east to look at the other barn. To my surprise, it was flattened too. There went my temporary storage.

It is sort of creepy to crawl around in a fallen structure with beams, joists, roofing and loft flooring all in a big tangle. Now, what about the things that were in the barn? After disassembling a big sliding door, we were able to drive the 4230 John Deere and the two ton truck out with only scratches. My grandfather's high wheel Studebaker wagon was supporting enough weight that there was no damage to the 5 HP Thermoil, and we easily pulled it out. An M Farmall and an old Mack truck were supporting part of the loft and 500 bales of straw. Sawn lumber was stacked on top of the water trough and it held up part of the barn's lean-to. That is where the 1956 Plymouth Sport Suburban was, and we were able to get it out with no damage. The M suffered a bent hood, gas tank, air cleaner, muffler and steering wheel. The truck had a bent hood and cab roof, but no broken glass because most of the weight was resting on the sideboards.

The 6 HP Thermoil escaped damage even though there was debris all around it. The 6 and 7 HP Foos engines had loft joists all over them, but the only damage was to the oiler racks, the cylinder oilers, and the priming cups. There was no damage to the 7 HP Sattley.

Sitting next to the Mack truck was a trailer with 14 Hercules family engines on it. Luckily the Mack truck stopped the loft about a foot above the engines. By slowly and carefully removing debris and cribbing up under one large fallen beam, we were able to attach a chain to the rear of the trailer and pull it out. The only damage was a smashed oiler on the ARCO, a bent fuel adjustment knob on the Economy JK, some badly scarred paint on a one HP Sparta Economy, and a broken trailer hitch jack. So far, I haven't found any other broken or bent engine parts.

Luckily, we had some insurance on the barn and the M Farmall. The gas engines were fully covered. We had engines in other buildings, but none of them were damaged. Just a couple years earlier we had extensively rejuvenated the barn. It always looked like a lot of money when we paid our fire and wind insurance bill, but a one-second windburst can sure change your mind in a hurry.

We have since put up a 30 x 60 shed and discarded a lot of that stuff that we all keep to work on later or that we think we may need some day.

Without any haggling, the insurance company settled within a week on the barn. They gave me all summer to gather together appropriate oilers and M Farmall parts. The moral to the whole story is to keep your toys scattered out and to have adequate insurance on what you can't afford to lose, whatever the disaster may be.