Lee Pedersen recently sent me a picture of a Hercules 'look alike' engine. According to Lee, the engine is a 5 HP and is labeled 'American Sawmill Machinery Co. #137, Hackettstown, N.J.' He says it looks like a Hercules, but up close, every casting is different. A close look at the picture he sent shows several differences from the normal Hercules patterns. The fuel mixer, choke plate, flywheels and hopper casting all appear to be modified from the normal Hercules patterns. The original tag has been replaced with the American flag.
Hercules did indeed supply 5 or 6 HP engines to the American Sawmill Machine Co. for a variety of wood sawing construction equipment. I have seen several of these 'American' engines, and Hercules built them with genuine Hercules patterns and with the normal Hercules data tag. A few of these engines have had slightly modified flywheels. I have a copy of the American Sawmill Machine Co. catalog showing various heavy duty sawing rigs using 5 or 6 HP Hercules-built engines.
So, how do we explain the pattern modifications on the engine pictured? Here is one man's opinion. Hercules discontinued engines of this general style (S model) by 1929. The Plessisville Foundry at Plessisville, Quebec, produced Hercules 'look alike' engines from 1919 until 1946. I suspect that this engine is one of those. They used the Webster magneto throughout production at Plessisville. The American Sawmill Machine Co. may have sought out another supplier for the engines they needed after Hercules discontinued them in 1929, importing the 'look alikes' from Canada instead.
Another possibility is that American shipped saws to Canada, and Plessisville provided engines when they arrived. This could well be a Forano brand because they were the major marketer of Plessisville engines through their farm supply catalogs. American was known to use several engine brands as well as electric motors on their saws. Shown here are two examples of American saw outfits.
Glenn Karch is a noted authority on Hercules engines. Contact him at: 20601 Old State Road, Haubstadt, IN 47639, or e-mail at: email@example.com