Hercules Engine News

Including Economy, ARCO, Jaeger & Thermoil


| June/July 1992



6 HP tank cooled model D hercules

6 HP tank cooled model D hercules.

20601 Old State Road, Haubstadt, Indiana 47639

Engines built by the Hercules Gas Engine Company of Evansville, Indiana are, in general, considered to be among the more simple, more common hit and miss open crank style. When you consider the models, fuel types, sizes, brands, options and miscellaneous changes thrown in, the picture becomes complex. Add to that the fact that the Hercules story overlaps a couple of years with the Economy engines built at Sparta, Michigan. In this article and those to come, it is hoped that an interesting story will unfold.

During 1913, a new factory was being built at Evansville, Indiana for the specific purpose of supplying Economy brand engines for Sears & Roebuck catalog sales. The Hercules Buggy Company had been supplying Sears with buggies for more than 10 years as well as marketing Hercules brand buggies through their own dealer network. It was only natural that Hercules brand engines would be produced and sold through the existing buggy dealer network too.

Old newspaper articles indicate that the first engines were produced in the new factory the week of January 19, 1914. These were the first 'Evansville' engines. They bore resemblance to the Sparta type Economy engines, but they had some new distinctive characteristics. At another building some ten blocks away, Sparta type Economy engines were being assembled from the remaining parts that had been shipped to Evansville. Apparently additional Sparta type parts were made as needed to go along with the existing parts. The last of the Sparta type engines were completed by 1915.

The first Evansville engines were the model D. Sizes were 11/2, 21/2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 HP. Bores and strokes were as follows: 31/4 x 5, 4 x 6, 5 x 71/2, 53/4 x 9, 61/2 x 11 and 71/2 x 12. These dimensions, with few exceptions, would remain the same until that general style of engine was discontinued in 1929.

The identical, except for color, Hercules and Economy D models were produced the first part of 1914. They had no tag for the serial number or other information. Some had the model and HP stamped on the end of the crankshaft and other places. Some also had additional numbers.