Hercules Engine Factory Reopened

By Staff
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Pattern plate.
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Steve Elpers hard at work turning and drilling flywheels.
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120 completed engines.
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Finished product: Hercules.
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Ray Klaug sands, Kent Burress deburs, Steve Deutsch saws.
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Rear view of Hercules engine.
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Finished product: Jaeger engine.

20601 Old State Road, Haubstadt, Indiana 47639

In early 1989 the Hercules Gas Engine Factory came back to life.
As a part of the Hercules 75th anniversary celebration by the
Southern Indiana Antique and Machine Club (SIAM) last June, it was
decided to make commemorative toy engines for those who might be
interested in buying a souvenir.

The major responsibility for the project fell on yours truly. We
debated about having someone make them for us, but after a while it
was decided that the club would tackle it. When you’ve never
done such a thing before, it can be an interesting and challenging
experience. After much discussion, it was decided to make a 1/8
scale of the Hercules 1 1/2 HP model E engine. A 98 mile roundtrip
was made to Grandview Aluminum Products at Grandview, Indiana to
show Harold Banks what we wanted and to find out how to go about
it. A toy engine from another source was taken along to illustrate
what we had in mind. Mr. Banks explained the casting process and
the pattern requirements.

First it required a pattern to make additional casting patterns
from so it could be set up to cast parts for four engines at a time
(thus lowering the cost). Two 1/2 inch thick aluminum pieces were
acquired and glued together with a piece of paper in between so the
two halves could be split apart. Numerous measurements and drawings
were made from a full size 1 1/2 HP engine. The process of sawing,
milling, filing, grinding, filling and sanding took place until a
suitable pattern was made for the main body. All surfaces required
at least one degree or more of relief so the casting sand would
release from the patterns. A Webster magneto pattern was made and
Steve Elpers made them for the flywheel and muffler.

Off we went to Grandview to find out the next step. Some of the
patterns needed more work so back to the home shop we went. Then we
went back to Grandview and had additional patterns made from the
originals. It took another trip back to Grandview to pick them up.
We also got instructions on how to mount them on the plate for the
sand molding process. The additional patterns were cleaned and
slicked up and mounted on a 15 x 26 x 3/8 inch thick aluminum
plate. The foundry has a process to put on the lettering. We had
‘Hercules Evansville, IN’ and ‘1914 -75 Years –
1989’ put on the sides of the base.

Back to Grandview we went. 100 were cast and they called to come
and get them. It turned out that the two pattern halves of one main
casting were misaligned enough on the plate to make quite an offset
in the finished casting. That left just 75 good main castings. At
this point two things happened. Several club members started
cleaning up the castings, boring holes and preparing the parts to
be fitted together. The misaligned patterns were taken off the
plate and modified to make the main body for 1/8 scale 1 1/2 HP
model E Economy engines. It was then decided to have another 200
castings made. 50 would be Economy and the other 150 Hercules. So,
it was back to Grandview again.

By mid-April the last trip to Grandview was made and the
assembly preparations got into high gear. Some 25 of the club
members worked at various times during the next month on the parts
in my shop. We tried all kinds of filing and sanding techniques to
clean up parts. Holes had to be bored for the flywheel shaft, the
muffler, the magneto mounting and the oiler. An adapter was made
for the lathe to accept the flywheels so the hole could be bored
and the rim turned in one operation. The oilers were turned out of
3/16 inch brazing rod on a small lathe. The pulley blanks were cut
from 1/2 inch aluminum rod and then machined.

All Hercules parts except the shafts, muffler, magneto and oiler
were painted Hunter Green and the Economy parts IHC Red. The
mufflers and magnetos were painted Satin Black. Before painting,
all were stamped with a number on the base. After painting, the
raised letters on the base were sanded so the bare aluminum showed
through. As the parts were assembled, a liquid locking compound was
applied to hold the pieces in place. Before assembly several
efforts were made to find a way to put on the stripes. Finally
yours truly took a paint striper with a 1/64 inch wheel and tried
it out. Guess who ended up striping all 266 of them?

About 125 3 x 5 walnut blocks were made. All Economys and about
75 of the Hercules were mounted on them. Even though premium
priced, they sold first. In all, 52 Economys, 213 Hercules and one
Jaeger were made and all were sold.

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