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A Brief History of Hercules Engines

Author Photo
By Robert Booth, Jr. | Jun 1, 1988

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.

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