Hercules Restoration: Building an Economy Engine Cart

In this second installment of the series, Peter Rooke builds a cart for his Economy engine with help from a Glenn Karch article.

| October/November 2015

  • Hercules engine
    Peter Rooke's circa-1923 Hercules Model F engine.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Welding rear axle bracket
    Ready to start welding the rear axle bracket. Note the “V’d” edges on the plates, which were ground out to ensure a solid weld.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Bending bracket corners
    The shaping former used to bend the bar for the bracket corners.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Checking corners for fit
    The corners were checked for fit before welding them in place.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Completed rear axle bracket
    The completed rear axle bracket after cleaning it up with a grinder.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Lamp post
    An old section of lamp post was perfect for making the wheel rims.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Turning wheel hub
    Turning then boring one of the wheel hubs.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Roughing out spokes
    Using a milling cutter to rough out the spokes, followed by cutting out the hole for the hub.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Checking for true
    Checking a wheel for true before welding the spoked center to the hub.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Spoke wheel
    A spoke wheel after filling and filing, ready to weld to the hub.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Finished wheel
    A finished wheel after welding the hub and the rim to the spoked center.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Checking fit of bar cut
    Checking the fit of the bar cut for the front axle bracket.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Milling front axle
    Milling a front axle bar to create the “U” section. This was done on each piece prior to welding together.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Front axle clamped
    The front axle clamped in position on the guide and ready to be tack welded together.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Front axle bracket tidied
    The front axle bracket after welding and tidying up with a grinder.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Cross member
    The cross member with pivot pin for the front axle.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Side arms of handle
    The side arms for the cart handle before welding on the front piece.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Joining front to sides
    Joining the front handle to the side arms for the cart.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Square head nuts and bolts
    Square-head nuts and bolts before final profiling of the heads.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Body and connector
    The fuel filler body and connector before welding together.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Fuel filler body
    The fuel filler body shaped after welding with block for pivot pin.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Finished fuel filler
    The finished fuel filler with lid, connected to the fuel tank.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Completed cart
    The completed cart.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Boring fuel filler body
    Boring a hole in the fuel filler body.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Bending tank body
    Starting to bend the body of the fuel tank after marking.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • End plate with corners cut
    An end plate with the corners cut off but before any bending.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • End plate bent
    The same fuel tank end plate in process of being bent for final fit. The tabs were bent twice and folded back for a clean, recessed fit.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Secured with wire
    To secure the tank, wire was wrapped around lugs cast inside the engine base then secured to bars running under the gas tank.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Completed tank
    The completed tank with all fittings in place.
    Photo by Peter Rooke
  • Tank fitted to engine base
    The complete tank fitted to the engine base.
    Photo by Peter Rooke

  • Hercules engine
  • Welding rear axle bracket
  • Bending bracket corners
  • Checking corners for fit
  • Completed rear axle bracket
  • Lamp post
  • Turning wheel hub
  • Roughing out spokes
  • Checking for true
  • Spoke wheel
  • Finished wheel
  • Checking fit of bar cut
  • Milling front axle
  • Front axle clamped
  • Front axle bracket tidied
  • Cross member
  • Side arms of handle
  • Joining front to sides
  • Square head nuts and bolts
  • Body and connector
  • Fuel filler body
  • Finished fuel filler
  • Completed cart
  • Boring fuel filler body
  • Bending tank body
  • End plate with corners cut
  • End plate bent
  • Secured with wire
  • Completed tank
  • Tank fitted to engine base

This is part 2 of Peter Rooke's series on restoring a circa-1923 Hercules Economy Model F engine. Start at the beginning with part 1.

Cart and wheels

Looking for information about the carts used on Economy engines, I found Glenn Karch’s article in the May/June 2003 issue of Gas Engine Magazine about the styles of carts fitted to these engines. This article mentioned that carts made from 1920 to 1928 had a frame 26 inches long, axles 18 inches wide and wheels 9 inches in diameter, with rims 2 inches wide front and rear. The front wheels do not turn under the cart frame. This information, together with photographs found online, enabled me to draw up plans for a cart that would be a fairly close replica to an original.

The two rails of the cart were cut from angle iron 1.5 inches wide salvaged from a scrapped axle. These fit the bill after welding short lengths together and filling in unwanted bolt holes. The axle rods were cut from some 3/4-inch nominal pipe giving a true OD of 1.05 inches.

Starting with the rear axle, angle iron was cut to three lengths before drilling holes for the axle rod. A section of the angle near the corner on the uprights was removed and any edges to be welded were chamfered to give a larger surface for the weld to bond to. The dimensions of the rear axle assembly were marked out on some scrap board as a guide when welding. With the axle rod put in place to ensure alignment, the three sections were clamped to the board and the bench to hold them firmly in position for welding.



To produce the rounded top corners for the axle bracket, flat 0.25-inch thick bar was bent to shape. First, a piece of scrap rod turned to the diameter of the desired bend was welded to a piece of angle iron. The end of the steel bar was heated red hot with a propane torch, then bent to shape using this temporary jig. Once cool, it was cut to fit. The corners were welded together, then cleaned up with a grinder.

To make the wheels I made four rims 9 inches OD and 2 inches wide. Fortunately, I had a piece of an old lamp post with a 0.25-inch wall thickness that would be perfect. This was set up on blocks and cut into sections using a disc grinder, cutting slightly oversize so the rims could be trimmed to more accurate dimensions on the lathe.