20601 Old State Road, Haubstadt, Indiana 47639
The other day a man called and said that he had a gas engine out
in his corn crib. After some discussion with him, it was determined
that it was likely a 1? HP model XK engine built by Hercules. I
told him that I would come by one day soon and look it over and
advise him about it.
In the course of the conversation, he mentioned that his dad,
Allen Hay, had the old steam whistle that came off the original
Hercules power plant that was located just east of the Hercules
Buggy Works. In 1936 the whistle was moved to a new power plant
built by Servel Inc., the successor to Hercules. I had known about
the old whistle, but I didn’t know where it was. We were hoping
to get it to display at the Classic Iron Show June 11, 12 and 13 to
help commemorate 85 years of Hercules built engines.
Arrangements were made to visit Mr. Hay and to photograph the
whistle. Shown here is what remains of the original three-stage
whistle. Mr. Hay worked at Servel and later at ARCLA when they took
over. He retired in 1976. In 1986 he drove by one day and noticed
that the old whistle was gone. After inquiring, he was able to
obtain the upper two parts. The lower part had reportedly
deteriorated and he was unable to locate the remains. The part
shown at right is about four feet tall and weighs 165 pounds. Mr.
Hay brought it home, cleaned it up, and now has it on display in
his dining room.
It was the whistle of all whistles in Evansville, Indiana. After
both WWI and WWII it was blown continuously for an hour or more
until steam pressure was lost. After steam pressure built back up,
the blowing continued several more times. It once was tradition to
blow the steam whistles at midnight New Year’s Eve in
Evansville. Mr. Hay reported that the Hercules-Servel whistle
drowned out all the others.
Now, back to the engine that caused this story. After taking
pictures of the steam whistle, I went over to his son Steve’s
house to see about the engine. He took me to the corn crib and
there it was, a 1? HP model XK Economy. It was well weathered and
stuck, but it was complete except for the muffler and (you guessed
it) the WICO EK magneto. He really didn’t want the engine but
wanted someone to have it who would fix it up so he could see and
hear it run again. A deal was quickly struck and I loaded it up and
took it home.
After quickly disassembling it, I filled the cylinder with a
soaking solution. In less than 24 hours it soaked through, and with
the help of an oak block and a big hammer, the job was completed.
You always have to wonder just what has happened in the past to an
engine. Generally, it was in good shape, but the governor weights
had been welded, the camshaft was remade, the cam gear had some odd
gouges and scratches on it, and the head had been brazed. It has
serial number 7298 with a 1-14-29 casting date on the head and
1-31-29 on the block. It is shown at left, in original condition as
it arrived in my shop.
Both the whistle and the engine will be on display at our show
next June. Come and see them.