207 Second Ave. N. Clanton, Alabama 35045
A few months ago you published my 1915 3 HP Hercules gas engine in GEM for the purpose of identification. (See April 1990, page 2, 24/4/1.) The engine was identified as noted above and from that date on I have been making or chasing down parts. This is my first gas engine to restore, so I needed all the help I could get. The greatest assistance was acquired by attending gas engine shows in Laurel and Houston, Mississippi and Athens and Huntsville, Alabama. All of these shows and trade days were very informative.
I am not going to dwell on all the problems of restoration because all of us have had the same problems which are repeated over and over in restoration articles such as-I found it-it was rusty-piston stuck-head frost cracked-parts missing, etc. My problem was that when I had reached the final stage of completing this engine I had no ignition system. I had spent all the money I could afford on items up to this point and from quotes from some of the supply houses I would have as much in the ignition system from the push rod bracket forward as the market value of the engine.
Well, traveling from shows to trade days I was amazed at the number of restorers who were in my same position. I am sure you have seen the many substitutes for the Webster and Wico magnetos. The ignition systems range anywhere between the Model 'T' coil to a natural gas heater lighter. The timing system may be wire attached to the cam gear and a piece of flat banding. They all work and work well. No matter what you use, if gas and fire can get together at the right time, your engine will run.
The observation of all these various systems sent me to the drafting board to see if I could come up with a system that could simulate and also substitute where a Webster K26 mag previously operated on this Hercules. Remember, the only thing I had to begin with was the push rod bracket.
After many changes I designed a high tension compact single unit that bolts to the cylinder where the original ignition system was attached. I had designed a system that simulated the K26, was easily timed and allows the engine to crank and run good.
Pictured above is the 1915 Hercules with the new ignition system in place. I never could get a clear picture, but if anyone is interested in this type of ignition system I will be glad to share with them my working drawings. They may call R.W. Powers, (205) 755-2136.