A reader supplies answers to Gas Engine Magazine questions.
A few answers about Gas Engine Magazine questions. On page 32 of Mar-Apr. 1967 GEM, Fred Gertje is asking for
identification of the 5 hp engine he has; also, asking if
Fairbanks-Morse ever used red paint on their engines. I don’t
think F. M. painted many of their engines red. They do not state
the color they are painted in the catalogs. A couple of my
catalogs, 1909 and 1910, have a couple of lithographical
illustrations, which show their vertical (about 4 hp and a 1 hp
horizontal hopper-cooled, in red. The later catalogs (F.M.) show no
I remember well, up on a farm near Beloit, Wisconsin, Dad was
about to leave with his one-horse hitched to the light farm wagon,
to get a type “H” 4 hp horizontal hopper-cooled gasoline
engine to be used to rus the farm grinder, sheller and
fodder-cutter; since he didn’t want me to go along in getting
the engine from the F.M. factory in Beloit, Wisconsin where it
still is to this day — I asked Dad to get an engine painted red!
That was about 1911-1912. I was all thrilled when I saw him coming up
the road; but I soon saw the engine wasn’t red, but green! I
wasn’t let down for long, because I sure was a happy boy,
having that big, new engine on our farm. So, F.M. might have
painted them red in 1909 an 1910. As far as I know, F.M. didn’t
build engines for other firms to be sold under different names. Of
course, I stand to be corrected on this. Wherever I saw their
engines built into machines, such as Hayes Sprayers, the F.M.
engines had the F.M. regular tag.
Fred, I would ask, where did you get the 5 hp rating if there
is no name-plate? Perhaps, that owner was set in his mind it was an
F.M. and also a 5 hp. From most of your description, your engine is
a Hercules and since it was red, more than likely Hercules built it
for Sears who wanted the engines red, which Sears sold as “Economy” engine. Hercules (and Sears) sold lots of 5 hp.
engines. The early Hercules (and Economy too) were battery
ignition, M and B; then, later about 1914, Hercules attached a
bracket on side of engine frame, like you related, attached with 2
cap screws and on this bracket was mounted a rotary magneto,
low-tension Elkhart, sitting there between the pulley-flywheel and
engine base, driven by bevel gears at twice engine speed, but timed
to synchronize with the igniter tripping.
Ours is a fairly new settlement. The railroad came in in “13”; some rigs were drove in prior to that, mostly steam.
The first was an undermounted Avery. I can’t learn if it was a
30 or larger. Since I can’t get real old ones, therefore I am
collecting odd engines, the last being a Nilson.
I belong to The Northeast Montana Threshers & Antique
Association at Culbertson, Montana. We put on the best show in the
country. If anyone wants to argue about it, please come and see for
yourself. We are a little short on steam but long on “gas”.
The amount of crankshaft extension beyond flywheels is like
Hercules. The Hercules name plate is on top of the hopper, opposite
end from the cyl. oiler. The flywheels are not balanced on purpose;
conn. rod disconnected, the flywheels will come to a stop with the
crank-throw up. The post, between the valves, which has a spring on
it and a metal strip with 3 holes and slipped over the
intake-valve, the center-post, and over the exhaust valve, with a
cotter-pin at each of these 3 points, to keep the strip in lace and
so it can operate as the intake-valve lock, holding the
intake-valve closed while the hit and miss engine is coasting and
the governor holds the exhaust open. Even with the exhaust-valve
open during coasting, the big surging piston will pull open the
intake-valve, thereby wasting that much fuel. Most hit and miss
engines were provided with intake locks, many different designs for
this locking method were used. This metal strip, with the three
holes, as you described it, is definitely Hercules, including
Economy, on their gasoline engines. The early Economy engines had a
square, sharp-cornered water hopper; but I feel they were cast
separately from the cylinder and attached with bolts and a
I might add, the early F-M “Z” engines, 1? to 3 to 6 hp.
1915-16-17, had the cooling hopper and cylinder and engine frame
cast in one piece. Later, F-M bolted the hopped to the cylinder.
Also, I never did see a Hercules engine name-plate with Hercules
name and address on it; only the Hp. R.P.M. and engine number on
the plates. I guess decals were used on side of the hopper, but I
never saw a legible one of those. I need a 1917 Hercules engine
catalog, showing the engines equipped with Wegster oscillating M
& B magnetos, both gasoline and kerosene. Drop me a line if you
have one to spare. The only 5 hp. F-M built was the type “N” with 41 in. flywheels, until recent hi-speed