Hercules Engine News

By Staff
1 / 3
6 HP tank cooled model D hercules.
2 / 3
21/2 HP model D Economy.
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11/2 HP 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.  

Three D models are illustrated including a
11/2, 21/2 and 6 HP.
The 11/2 HP has no speed control. The other
two have a thumbscrew control. The two smaller ones have a small
cast fuel mixer with no choke flap. The 6 HP still uses the D
models and are few and far between today. Only about a dozen are
currently known to exist. There are, no doubt, more around the
country. Total production was likely less than 5,000. Ignition was
by ignitor, battery and coil on the 11/2
through 6 HP with the Elkhardt magneto an option. The Elkhart was
standard on the 8 and 10. The larger sizes were also available as
kerosene hit and miss. They used a small tank on the side of the
hopper for starting gasoline and a three way cock to switch
fuels.

The 6, 8 and 10 sizes, in addition to the standard base, were
available in half base style for mounting on straight framed carts
and saw rigs. These sizes were also available as screen cooled
models.

The D model should be considered a transition from the Sparta
type engine to the popular E models that would follow later in
1914. Both the spring and fall issues of the 1914 Sears catalogs
illustrate D model engines.

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