Cosmetic restoration turns a 1923 2-1/2 HP Jaeger engine into mechanical art
Last year at the local Lincoln County Old Threshers show in Elsberry, Mo., I purchased a 2-1/2 HP Jaeger engine from good friend Clarence Lammers, Lake St. Louis, Mo. I could tell it was somewhat different from the Hercules engines I had ever seen. After getting it home I did some research and found some interesting facts that a lot of collectors might not be aware of.
In 1923, a new size Hercules-built engine made its appearance. It was a larger, one-piece-block engine with a 3-5/8-inch bore and 5-inch stroke.
Unique features on the Hercules engine include the valve rocker arm being set at a slant, and the valves are positioned side-by-side rather than up and down. Additionally, the crankcase has no cast iron bottom; instead, the fuel tank creates the bottom. In the fuel tank, there are provisions for the fuel spout to be located through a hole in either the front or rear of the engine base rather than through the side. Finally, other Hercules engines normally had a five-bolt head and this one has a four-bolt head.
The size of this engine never became very popular. One of the factors affecting popularity was the fact that it was introduced after the gas engine heyday was over, and sales of gas engines in general had begun to decline.
Of the 75 or so of this size engine known, the Jaeger engine and Hercules engine are the most common. They were produced in the FW, G, H, GH and S models, and were equipped with the WICO EK magneto system.
The condition of the Jaeger engine when purchased by me was the same as new. It had little to no running time but the paint still needed to be redone.
I felt this engine was worthy of a top-notch restoration, so after much preparation and painting I decided to have a friend of mine do the pinstriping. Her name is Linda Hippe in St. Peters, Mo., and she is one of the finest sign painters I have ever seen. Have you ever seen anybody who could paint extremely small letters with two or three hairs on a brush? I failed to mention her work in the article on my Big 6 HP Sandwich engine in the September 2009 issue of Gas Engine Magazine. She was the one who did all the spectacular pinstriping work on that engine as well.
Happy engine hunting to everybody and don’t give up looking for that special engine. They are getting harder to find, but occasionally you can still get lucky.
Contact Dean Tapley, 1446 Browns Mill Rd., Ellsberry, MO 63343 • firstname.lastname@example.org.