Hercules Engine News

ARCO Engine in Disguise

| November 2005


At the recent Old Threshers Reunion at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, I was going through the gas engine area looking for Hercules-built engines so I could record the serial numbers. I happened onto an Economy engine being shown in one of the exhibitor spaces.

I looked at the tag and it was identified as 2 HP Model FW, engine no. 291057. Hmmm ... ? There aren't supposed to be any 2 HP Model FW Economy engines in that 3-1/4-inch bore size.

The next thing I looked at was the fuel mixer. There was surprise number two. It had a Lunkenheimer mixer with a pipe reducer screwed into the air intake to help richen the fuel mixture for a slow running engine. While I was looking over the mixer, the engine's owner came over to see what was going on. That is when I met Perry Smith of Alleman, Iowa. He said he just recently purchased the engine.

We talked about the engine a little more and I told him it was not an Economy brand engine. He looked at me sort of surprised and I told him that he had an ARCO engine. His reply was to the effect that he had really wanted an ARCO. I then told him, "You got one."

At serial no. 291057, only the Model FW ARCO was rated at 2 HP. Someone else had unknowingly or purposely painted it red and put an Economy decal on it.

Further examination re-vealed several other interesting things relating to the ARCO engine of that time. The side rod bracket that holds the magneto trip finger is one piece with no provision for adjustment other than moving it on the side rod. The bracket is typical of engines built at that time. This bracket is often broken and welded because it was built too weak. Later, it had a reinforcing rib cast onto it. The trip finger bracket does not have the Oct. 30, 1923, patent date on it and there is no clip to hold the trip finger in the bracket.