Hercules Engine News

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Picture #3: 'J' style mixer with adapter for natural gas or propane.

In the fall of 1916, Sears, Roebuck & Co. began offering
engines that would burn natural gas, artificial gas or gasoline. As
Picture #1 shows, these engines were advertised as available in all
sizes. Unfortunately, the details of this gas attachment are not
clear enough to see what it looks like, and they are not
illustrated in any other literature seen so far.

Picture #1: 1916 Sears, Roebuck & Co. ad for Economy engines
outfitted to run on natural gas, artificial gas or gasoline. No
other literature showing this style of Economy engine has been

Earlier this year the opportunity came along to obtain the fuel
mixer shown in Picture #2. It is nothing more than the common
‘J’ mixer used on the gasoline hit-and-miss engines, except
it has a threaded port in the casting to screw something into it
that has 3/4-inch pipe threads. I have never seen the gas
attachment that screws in there, nor have I ever talked to anyone
who has seen it. From what I can see in the catalog, it appears
that some kind of horizontal gas attachment is screwed into the
mixer at the same point.

Picture #2: ‘J’ style mixer with additional threaded
port clearly visible. It’s unknown if this mixer was originally
made to equip Economy engines to run on natural gas.

Taking a clue from the later vertical-type gas attachment, I
decided to try to make one, as shown in Picture #3. It is simply a
hollow chamber with a seat and moveable gas valve in it that works
against a weak return spring during the engine intake stroke. The
gas supply comes in through a hand valve into the chamber where the
valve is.

Now comes the big question. Does it work? W-e-l-l, it works, but
not with the consistency I would like, so it’s back to the
drawing board and fiddling around with the gas pressure, gas
adjustment and return spring tension. Surely somewhere out there
someone has – or has seen – the genuine gas attachment for this
kind of mixer.

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

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