Immortal Hercules Drag Saw

Restoration of 1921 Hercules drag saw proves it is no mere mortal

| June/July 2012

Luke Kissell Drag Saw

Luke Kissell and the completed (and running) Hercules drag saw.

Hercules Drag Saw
Hercules Corp., Evansville, Ind.
Year: Mid-1921
HP: 1-1/2
Governing: Hit-and-miss
Serial number: 254252 Type E
RPM: 550
Ignition: Webster low-tension magneto
Original cost (in 1922): $74; extra blades, $4.45 each

In September 2004 I was showing a few engines at one of my local shows when a man approached and looked over my display. After a while he started asking a few questions and asked if I was interested in purchasing any more engines. Of course, he had my attention.

Apparently, his late father had owned some engines and now his mother was interested in letting them go. I took the man’s name and number and later called to arrange a meeting time.

When I arrived, I found several items sitting outside or in outbuildings that were in various states of disrepair. I looked everything over, made an offer and his mother accepted.

One of the items sitting outside was a Hercules drag saw. At least, most of it was outside. The engine and chain-operated saw drive were mounted on half-rotted wooden rails with wheels. The ratcheting log winch was found in the ground by the engine, rusted and stuck. The drive chain, sliding blade mount and saw blade were not with the engine. A subsequent search of outbuildings turned up the missing parts. Luckily they were in great shape, protected from the elements.

After getting everything home, I removed all the parts from the wooden rails. Since the handle ends of the rails were rotted off, and probably not original to the saw, I made new ones based on my experience with other saws. The new ones were made out of sawmill maple that was cut, planed and shaped to size. They were primed with two coats of white paint and then painted with three coats of New Holland Red tractor paint. Between coats, work began on cleaning, stripping and priming the metal parts. The engine had been restored before, so everything needed to be taken down to metal.