Surprise! This story isn’t about Hercules engines, it’s
about Waterloo Economy engines, which bear a slight relationship to
Hercules. As I mentioned in a past column (GEM, March
2003), Waterloo Economy engines were the forerunners to the
‘Sparta’ Economy engines. These engines used the typical
early Waterloo fuel-and-governor systems patented by Louis W.
Witry and assigned to the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Co.,
Waterloo, Iowa. Later Waterloo engines used a Lunkenheimer fuel
mixer and had governor weights located in the flywheels.
The Waterloo Gas Engine Co. was well-known for its engines, many
of which were sold to jobbers and wholesalers. In fact, just about
any company that wanted to sell its own brand of engine could
contract through Waterloo Gasoline Engine Co.
Cement mixer manufacturer Jaeger Machine Co., Columbus, Ohio,
was among the major brands that bought Hercules-built engines.
Interestingly enough, however, Waterloo produced engines for Jaeger
before Hercules. If you’re in doubt, flip to page 256 of C. H.
Wendel’s American Gasoline Engines Since 1872, and
you’ll see a Waterloo-type engine in a Jaeger Machine Co.
Iowa-built engines were featured at the 2003 Midwest Old
Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. My good friend George
Martin of Wyaconda, Mo., brought about 15 Waterloo-built engines,
all produced for other engine companies. Check out the wide variety
of engines Waterloo made for other companies in the picture
During the next few years, a long list of engine manufacturers
will celebrate their centennial anniversaries. Hercules won’t
be one of them, but the firm will celebrate its 90th birthday, and
Sparta Economy will celebrate its 95th birthday. Also, the Southern
Indiana Antique and Machinery Club’s annual Classic Iron Show
(June 11-13, 2004) will feature both brands. So in the meantime,
shine up those engines and get them ready for the festivities!
Glenn Karch is a noted authority on Hercules engines. Contact
him at: 20601 Old State Road, Haubstadt, IN 47639, or e-mail at: