A Brief History of Hercules Engines

Hercules Engines

Content Tools

6501 Ravenna Road Painesville, Ohio 44077

The Hercules Motors Corporation was organized in Canton, Ohio 73 years ago (1915) to supply highs-peed, lightweight gasoline engines for the fast-growing transportation industry. These engines became the standard power for the then-major independent truck manufacturers.

Demand for the engines grew in other industries-farm machinery, construction, oil-field equipment, generator sets, etc., brought about by the dependability of the engines and the company's ingenuity in designing and tailoring them to fit any application.

In 1931 Hercules and its numerous well-known, manufacturing customers recognized the need for high-speed, lightweight diesel or compression-ignition engines, theretofore used only in stationary and heavy marine application due to size and weight.

Hercules came through with a line of high-speed, lightweight diesel engines. The new diesels paralleled Hercules line of gasoline engines and could be used by its customers without radical design changes in the equipment.

During World War II, Hercules recognized its responsibility to supply the U.S. and Allied armed forces with infinitely more engines than could then be produced. The company greatly increased its capacity to 18,000 engines per month by building additions to the existing plant, at its own expense, and providing the tools and equipment to accompany the expansion.

The result: nearly 750,000 Hercules engines, representing 65 million horsepower, went to war in every conceivable type of mechanized military equipment-tanks, armored cars, scout cars, tank transporters, landing craft, picket boats, jeeps, amphibious tractors, rescue craft, trucks for all purposes. Also war-related equipment: power for generators, welders, agricultural, construction and maintenance machinery needed to sustain the greatly expanded economy.

Hercules pioneered again in 1956 with a new line of interchangeable, overhead-valve gasoline and diesel engines with three, four, and six cylinders. Identical cylinder blocks, crankshafts, valves, connecting rods, gear covers, bell housings, etc. were used for the companion gasoline and diesel engines.

In addition to supplying engines for myriad commercial uses, Hercules developed a reputation for being willing and able to provide engines for special and unusual applications.

In the early '60s, Hercules acquired Lycoming Industrial Air Cooled Engine Division of Avco and the Hall Scott Engine Division, moving them both into the Canton plant.

Hercules was purchased by Hupp Corporation in 1961. In 1969 Hupp was taken over by White Motor; the plant operated as White Engine Division. The engine division was sold in 1976 as a separate entity and operated until March, 1987 as White Engines, Inc.

During this period 85 percent of product was for military use: the multi-fueled engine for the 21/2 and 5-ton truck, the 141 Mutt engine and engines for 15 and 30KW generator sets. Fifteen percent of engine production was for application in generator sets, welding equipment, chippers, street sweepers, blowers, sewer cleaners, graders and some farm equipment. White also entered into a private-brand contract with Caterpillar Tractor to supply engines for its Tow motor line. This contract continues. A 70 HP diesel engine was developed by White and private labeled and marketed by Ford Motor Company for repower, to diesel capabilities, Ford's E-350 step-vans.

In 1987, Donald C. Stewart acquired White Engines, Inc., and reinstated the proud name of Hercules Engines, Inc. The new Hercules continues its commitment to the military as well as to Caterpillar. In addition, concentrated development of the DT 3.7L Series II engine has been ongoing; it is being market-tested at this time with promising results.

This history of Hercules is purposefully brief.