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

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.