Gas Engine Magazine

Hercules/John Deere Combine Engine

By Staff

Reader Shawn Burns wrote in for the August/September issue, asking about the original purpose of a skid-mounted engine that belonged to his late father. The engine was a Hercules, but confusing matters was the John Deere radiator. As we learned from readers, the Hercules engine was used by John Deere on different combines, including at least the Model 45, the early version of the Model 55 and the pull-type Model 65.

Quite a few readers responded, including George Stringam, who wrote: “I’m certain this was used in the early version of the 55 combine, up to serial number 55-57000. The 55 came out in the late Forties. John Deere didn’t have its Dubuque Engine Works up and running by then and it needed a compact power plant to power the newest line of combines. Hercules stepped up to the plate and sold engines to Deere until the mid-Fifties.” Ex-John Deere parts man Dick Denney also wrote in, agreeing it was from a Model 55 and noting that in the late Forties and early Fifties John Deere was only building 2-cylinder engines.

And if anyone has any doubts, we’d imagine there’s no higher authority on the subject than the John Deere company itself. Reader Al Smemo, a John Deere Fellow and an engineer for John Deere in Dubuque, Iowa, wrote to tell us: “The Hercules engine was used on the John Deere 55 self-propelled and 65 pull-type combines well into the mid-1950s, when it was replaced by the 217-cubic-inch engine produced at JD Dubuque. The flat belt pulley on the flywheel end indicates it was a combine engine, as does the tall radiator.”

Please send your questions and comments for Flywheel Forum to Gas Engine Magazine, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265 or email

  • Published on Nov 20, 2017
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