Hercules Engine News

By Staff
1 / 6
2 / 6
3 / 6
Niagara's nameplate lists Plessisville Foundry as actual manufacturer.
4 / 6
Flywheel rims are thinner and lighter than a Model E's.
5 / 6
Fuel filler cap on the Forano is located on the off side of the engine base but has an old style spring swivel cap.
6 / 6
Magneto on the Forano is a Webster MM, and the magneto band is aluminum, not brass as common to U.S.-spec Webster's.

At this year’s engine show in Portland, Ind., Ron Heutter
asked me to take a look at an engine he had, and pictured here is
what he showed me.

Beginning in 1919, Hercules look-alike engines were produced by
the La Fonderie De Plessisville in Plessisville, Quebec. Although
very similar to Hercules engines in appearance, there were
differences. They were of Hercules Model E design, but with a few
Canadian inspired modifications. Ron’s engine is an original
‘Petit Moteur Niagara 2 Chevaux-Vapeur a Gazoline
Seulement,’ French for ‘little 2 HP gas engine.’
Several look-alike engine brands were produced up until 1925 when
they all became Forano.

Ron’s engine is number 3020, and it was the 58th out of 60
engines made at Plessisville in 1937. It is also the last of 11, 2
HP engines made there that year.

What looks like a Hercules Model E is a Canadian-built Niagara
sold by Forano. Made in 1937, the Niagara has two-bolt flywheels as
last used on Sparta-built Economy engines in 1912.

Niagara Brand

This particular engine is the Niagara brand produced for and
sold by Forano. Forano was a marketer of farm and industrial
equipment, and it is possible Forano may have been the owner or
became the owner of the Plessisville Foundry.

Although the engine pictured looks very similar to the 1-1/2 HP
Hercules Model E, there are several differences. Made in 1937, it
still uses the flared lip Hercules Model E block casting that
Hercules used from 1914 to 1921. The Webster magneto was always
standard, but the one pictured has the MM magneto rather than the
typical M Model used on U.S. production. The aluminum magneto band
rather than a brass band was also a Canadian feature.

The paint color was a dark green similar to that of the early
Hercules. As can be seen in the pictures, the striping pattern was
somewhat different. The Niagara decal was used on the hopper while
Forano was cast on the flywheel rims. The flywheel rim is about
1/8-inch narrower than those of the Hercules Model E, and the cross
section of the whole rim is thinner making the flywheel lighter in
weight. The RPM rating is 650 rather than the 550 of the Hercules
Model E, thus lighter flywheels could be used. The flywheels are
two-bolt, a feature not seen since the Sparta Economy days in
1912.

The early ball muffler and the early rocker arm without the
reinforcing web seem to have remained as standard features, too.
The fuel filler cap, still located on the off side, is the old
style with the spring swivel cap; however, the cap has a casting
number of some kind on it.

Production of the 2 HP size ceased after 1942 and all production
stopped in 1946. The Forano Company is still in business producing
sawmill and tree cutting machinery.

Glenn Karch is a noted authority on Hercules engines. Contact
him at: 20601 Old State Road, Haubstadt, IN 47639, or e-mail:
glenn.karch@gte.net

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines