A line shaft display wagon

Two enthusiasts build an impressive wagon display


| December/January 2004



Auto-Lite generator

Note the small generator located opposite the Hercules engine. It is an Auto-Lite generator used in early car lighting systems. The company eventually became the Autolite Co. of spark plug fame.

We have been collecting belt-driven equipment for years, simply because we have a weakness for anything with a pulley on it. The equipment we've collected had been stored in our barns and garages, gathering dust while we waited for an opportunity to use them. That opportunity finally came along in the form of a steel-wheeled wagon we acquired from an acquaintance in Oregon. The wagon provided a perfect base for mounting our assortment of equipment, and for supporting the line shafts to drive it all.

The result is a working display of belt-driven tools that dynamically demonstrates how. various equipment was powered before the electric motor came along.

An advantage of the wagon display is that we can roll it off a trailer and into position, and it's ready to show -no tedious lugging of materials to set up, and no unpacking.

At the heart of the display lies a venerable 1919 Hercules 1-1/2 HP Type E engine. The main drive belt runs from the engine pulley to line shaft pulley. When the clutch lever is pushed, the engine rolls forward, putting slack in the belt and stopping the shaft. Note springs under the engine to tension the belt.

It took us an entire winter to build up the display, as we had to restore each piece of equipment to some extent, mount it on the wagon, then adjust it for proper operation. The line shafts are 1-1/2-inch cold-rolled steel, supported on ball bearing pillow blocks. To improve visibility and give adequate pulley clearance, we placed the shafts on top of steel pedestals, which are bolted and braced to the wagon top.

The power source is a 1919 Hercules 1-1/2 HP Type E hopper-cooled engine with a Webster Tripolar Oscillator magneto. This engine is old but eager, and will run almost everything on the wagon at once, and at about 400 rpm. The Little Wonder feed grinder takes quite a bit of power, so we have to unbelt a few other tools when we use that particular piece.