Hercules Engine News

By Staff
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When it comes to Hercules engines, there are
sometimes more questions than there are answers. When were Wico
magneto systems first used on Hercules engines? According to Jaeger
engine literature, they were first fitted with the Wico EK magneto
beginning on March 1st, 1923. Evidence indicates they were also
used on the Arco brand engines beginning near that same time. It
should be noted that all of the comments in this story pertain to
the small block (3-1/4-inch bore) engines. These Jaeger and Arco
engines had “FW” after the 2 HP rating on the identification tag.
In the same serial number sequence, the Hercules and Economy
engines continued to be either 1-1/2 HP E or F models until later
in 1923.

From what is known, the use of the Wico PR magneto preceded the
Wico EK by perhaps a year.

On the Hercules-built engines, there was sort of an evolution
after the Wico PR was introduced. Several engines, especially the
Arco, have been observed with the Wico PR magneto and an early
version of the Type 2 magneto drive. Perhaps it was offered as an
option for the not-too-successful 1A Webster magneto system. A Type
2 magneto drive and the Wico PR magneto is shown in Photo 1 on an
Economy Model E engine. It was probably a field change kit that was
available from Wico.

Interestingly, the magneto bracket in Photo 2 is slightly
different from the normal one we are used to seeing. On the back
side, the bracket is very close to the engine block and does not
sit forward enough, so it required a recessed head screw in the top
hole. Later the bracket was lengthened slightly so it cleared the
block and a regular cap screw could be used in the top hole.

The first Wico EK magneto drive used a one-piece side rod
bracket with a rather thin supporting web, as seen in Photo 3.

That bracket was prone to breakage, so, as you can see in Photo
4, a reinforcing web was added.

During the time when these two side rod brackets were used, the
trip finger holder did not have the October 30, 1923 patent date on
it. It also did not have the screw and clip to hold the trip finger
in the holder.

Shown in Photo 5 is the more common adjustable two-piece side
rod bracket and the trip holder with the patent date and retaining
clip.

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

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