The Almost Forgotten Engine

5 HP Hercules engine

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R. D. #1, Box 757, Easy Drive, Lucinda, Pennsylvania 16235.

The story begins in the summer of 1991. I was showing some of my neighbor friends my engines and a friend of one of them said he had an old engine something like mine, but in real bad shape. I asked him if he cared if I looked at it. He said it was for sale, and if anybody could get it to run, it would probably be me.

In a couple of days, I went to his farm in Lucinda, Pennsylvania, (my hometown) and behind his barn we found the old engine. It was a 5 HP Hercules made Economy in really bad shape. He said it had been behind his barn for about three years, but before that, it had sat in an open field since about 1951. It had been on his grandfather's farm, up on a hill with no buildings ever around it.

This engine had originally been used to power a large fan to blow air into a coal mine shaft. The mine shaft caved in a long time ago and the fan fell into the cave but the engine survived. The mine shaft closed in 1951--the last year the engine was used. It had been sitting outside for forty years.

The engine was definitely stuck; the valves were rusted and almost gone. The cylinder had about two quarts of water in it and I had it rebored and new sleeves installed by my son-in-law, Matt Smerker, on a 36 inch swing lathe at Betts Machine Shop in Rouseville, Pennsylvania. The valves, from a 454 Chevy engine, were modified to fit the head. The mag bracket and other parts came from Hit & Miss Enterprises (the mag bracket was the first one they had ever sold) and these parts really worked out well.

After working on the engine all summer, it was started and runs well. It ran almost all day on the Fourth of July, 1992, at a show held by our engine club, the Coolspring Hit & Miss Engine Society, at Wolfs Corner, Pennsylvania. I made the truck for the engine from red oak timbers and the wheels I acquired from a junk yard. My wife had a picture of my engine put on a sweatshirt for me for Christmas 1992 and it turned out great! It also has my grandsons' names below the picture, Justin (8), Callen (4), and Kyle (), naming them as my crew.