As I Saw It Part XV


| September/October 1973



Hercules Engines

Courtesy of Thomas T. Sommer, R.R. 2, Box 110, Ridgeville, Indiana 47380

Thomas T. Sommer

Route 4, Huntington, Indiana 46750

The big production of large tractors came in the period between 1912 and 1917. Cyrus McCormick in his book 'The Century of The Reaper', claimed the International Harvester Co. made three thousand tractors in 1912 alone, followed by Hart Parr, Rumley Oil Pulls, and in lesser numbers by Aultman, Taylor, Avery, Big Four, Flour City, and Pioneer, plus several smaller companies. Most of these quit production of the large sizes by 1920.

During this period we do not find much change in design and engineering. During the war years anything would sell either in the U.S. or abroad. Steel was being withheld due to the demands of the war. Engines were mostly of the slow speed type, the cylinders set in all sorts of positions, mostly horizontal and set cross-ways of the frame, designed by men without much engineering experience. In fact, I have often wondered just how much thoughtful engineering was actually employed in most of those early models.

There was a slowdown in production after 1919 due to the depression after World War I. But now from 1920 to 1930 we find things changing rapidly. During the war years, new grades of steel and alloys were developed that had a profound effect in the lasting qualities of an engine, notably on the bearings. High tension ignition plus the impulse starter did wonders to the starting. Also one piece cast frames which mounted four cylinder vertical engines with corresponding higher R.P.M.'s.

So many of the companies had fallen by the wayside that the competition between the survivors to meet the new tractor demand caused those who did make it to hire more engineering skill in order to keep up. Also the advent of the power take off and pressure gun lubrication was a big step forwards.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Agric. in the year 1926 the U.S. had shipped to foreign countries more than 53,000 tractors, most of them wheel type, but a few crawlers too. Countries receiving these were Canada (the largest number), Russia, Australia, Argentina, France, Italy, and a few to South Africa.