20601 Old State Road Haubstadt, Indiana 47639
The gas engine hobby is full of challenges and surprises. To find an engine out in the rough is the challenge and what you might find is the surprise. The story today is about three of those surprises. The first engine is a 7 HP Model E Hercules #53,736 that has an F. Ronstadt Company, Tucson, Arizona, tag on it. Although he was unable to buy it at the time, it was reported by Alexander Black of Douglas, Arizona. The engine has an ignition modification typical of that done by mining or oil field interests. It has a rod apparently attached to a pivot pin added to the cam gear and going up to a rocker to trip a Wico PR magneto, held by what appears to be a homemade or after-market bracket bolted to the side of the water hopper. Originally this was an igniter engine with an Elkhart magneto. The magneto drive gear can just be seen inside of the far side flywheel.
The next engine is a 7 HP Model E hit and miss kerosene Hercules #69,817. Tom Grube of Gallipolis, Ohio, sends this picture. Someone has gone to even more trouble to rig up a different ignition system. The remains of the Webster trip holder are still on the side rod and a Wico trip finger holder has been added and is held in place by two long bolts replacing the normal set screws. A Wico magneto bracket is on the engine with the magneto support sawn off. An arm has been welded to the Wico trip rocker to operate a lever to what appears to be a rotary gear driven high tension magneto somehow attached to the engine head. A lever and spring loaded mechanism is attached to the gear and now the magneto acts as an oscillating high tension magneto to fire the spark plug. Wouldn't you like to see that one work?
The last picture was sent to me several years ago by R. D. Aillett of Australia. It is the remains of a 3 HP Model U Thermoil. How would you like to tackle that challenge? The flywheels are broken off, the governor gear is gone, the compression release lever is broken off, one valve rocker arm is broken off, the fuel tank and oil reservoir that goes on top of the hopper is missing and the speed control knob is gone. It is hard telling what else is wrong. Surprisingly, I later received a picture of the engine after it had been restored to running condition, and the owner wanted a picture of the ID tag so he could have one made for it. Ain't this a wonderful hobby?