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Thread: A Hercules engine from a Studebaker.

  1. #1
    Silver Hawk Member
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    A Hercules engine from a Studebaker.

    So I'm in the throes of tidying up my garage, and I decided it was time to do something with this Hercules JXB engine, sitting in the engine stand, that has been cluttering up the place for several years. I had bought the engine in Portland, off a military vehicle collector, who said it came out of a US6. I'm pretty sure this is not the case (at least not as original equipment), as the US6 trucks all used the JXD engine, which has more displacement (bigger bore, IIRC). But some of the K-series commercial trucks, pre-war, used the JXB. It has the Studebaker Wheel emblem on the intake manifold.

    I aired up the tires on the engine stand, and rolled it out where I could have a good look at things. I noticed the head bolts were loose, so I undid them all, and popped the head off. Mouse nests in the water jacket! But the pistons looked good. In fact, if they are not brand new, they are the next thing to it. No carbon on top, and all are marked for .040 oversize. No ridge in the cylinders at all. I was able to turn it over with a bar in the crankshaft studs, and it turns freely.

    The valves were sticking in the guides, so I got out my valve spring compressor, and took out each valve in turn, cleaned the stem and guide, and lapped it into its seat with valve grinding compound. One or two of the valve seats have some fairly heavy pitting, and the exhaust valves are seated right on the inner edge of the 45 surface, so they protrude up into the combustion chamber a fair bit. I think it would be wise to have a machine shop do a proper valve grind on this beast, if I'm going to use it. Anyway, I got all the valves freed up, and lapped enough that it will have some compression on all cylinders.

    I rolled it over in the engine stand, and took off the oil pan. It is very dirty inside, mainly because the engine, with the clutch housing off, is open to the elements at the rear, and all kinds of dust found its way in there. The crank and bottoms of the pistons are actually pretty clean, and the pistons look like new on the underside, too.

    I removed the rear main bearing cap, and found a shell bearing in apparently good condition, and a journal free of scores or pits. It shows .002" clearance measured with Plasti-gage. I couldn't remove the shell from the cap, so I don't know if it is standard or undersize. The bearing surface appears to be a copper or bronze alloy, but I'm pretty sure it's not bearing backing metal, because the color is 100% uniform. There was one shim between the bearing cap and the block. Anyone know if it was standard practice to use shims on main bearings in those engines? It appears to be a manufactured part, not home-made. If it were removed, main clearance would be too tight, I expect.

    I plan on checking the other bearing clearances, and if they are all good, then I think I can assume that this is a rebuild, with practically no time on it. Probably the thing to do would be to carefully tear it down, hone the cylinders to clean up the very slight rust present, and have the machine shop do a proper job on the valves. I could have the crankshaft polished, too. Then order up a gasket set, and reassemble it, to use, at least temporarily in my US6. The current JXD engine in there is VERY tired, and blows a cloud of blue smoke at idle, and really lacks compression. The JXB should readily substitute for it. Would make a little less power, but should run a lot better. Then the JXD could be rebuilt at my leisure.

    On the other hand, if there is anyone here who NEEDS a JXB for a K-series truck, I have one. No carb, no distributor, no clutch housing.

    I don't plan on spending too much time (or money) on this thing right now, but I will probably Plasti-gage the rest of the bearings. Who knows, it might have been a rebuild that went sour with a bad rod bearing shortly after installation. If the crank is bad, then it's probably worth more as parts.

    Funny thing: the heads of the exhaust valves are non-magnetic. Even a very strong magnet won't stick to them. Stainless steel? Or Stellite?

    If anyone here can poi
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

  2. #2
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    Hi, Gord,

    The Hercs are impressive, expensive hunks of iron. We did one for a boat last year and some of the parts were sky high. If you freshen up yours, it should sell for good money and quickly.

    Here's a link for you http://www.herculesengine.com/

    thnx jack vines

    PackardV8

  3. #3
    Golden Hawk Member Dick Steinkamp's Avatar
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    quote:Originally posted by PackardV8
    We did one for a boat last year
    If you end up selling it, Gord, the antique marine market might be the best. Chris Craft (and others) used the Hercules flat head 6...



    The "hot rod" ones used in early ski boats had TWO updraft Zenith carbs. [:0]

    We had one in the old boat my Dad and I restored in the early 60's.

    Dick Steinkamp
    Bellingham, WA


  4. #4
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    No question it's a quality engine. Seven main bearings, and the connecting rods all have castellated nuts with cotter pins to secure them. Big housing on the front for gear set that drives the cam, AND the water pump. Distributor drive is taken off the water pump jackshaft.

    I'll go ahead and Plasti-gage the rest of the bearings today.

    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

  5. #5
    Silver Hawk Member studeclunker's Avatar
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    Not that I know much about diesels (heck, I even have trouble spelling it)... It seems to me, though, that if your JXD engine is that tired, you should be very happy with this seemingly fresh Hercules. I've always wanted to put one of those in a Studebaker truck...[8)]


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    Where the heck is Lewiston, CA?

  6. #6
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    Not Diesels. Both are flathead sixes that burn gasoline. All the main bearings check out OK, but I lost one of the little shims from #1. Went to pick it up, and fumbled it, and it went I don't know where! Took the timing cover off, not in there. Still searching.

    Woo-hoo! Found the little devil. It had fallen into the open bottom of the timing cover, and went past about 3 gears, and lodged in the oil filler standpipe. I had blown the standpipe out with compressed air, and got nothing, and was on the point of giving up on finding the darn thing, but I got a strong flashlight to bear on the base of the standpipe, and there it was. The shims appear to be stainless steel, non-magnetic, but I was able to winkle it out, undamaged, with a hooked wire.

    All the main bearings checked, and 4 of the six rods. No damaged ones yet, and clearances range from about .0015 to .0025, most of them right on .002, as measured by Plasti-gage. I talked to the machine shop I deal with, and provided the last two rod bearings are OK, I'll take the block and valves in on Friday to have them done.

    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

  7. #7
    Silver Hawk Member
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    Hercules are "flathead sixes that burn gasoline" and MUCH of it. A friend had a Diamond T with a JXD which always got single-digit fuel mileage unloaded - but Gord already knows that.

    thnx jack vines

    PackardV8

  8. #8
    President Member warrlaw1's Avatar
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    Deisels,too. I crewed on a trimaram with a Hercules deisel. Wrote for a shop manual and received a reply from the White Pressure Cooker Co. that had bought them or their inventory. Nice people

  9. #9
    Silver Hawk Member Guido's Avatar
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    The Hercules engines were used in a large number of industrial applications. I have had them in Oliver and Cletrac crawlers as well as Cockshutt tractors. Jerry Biro used to be a source for engine parts.

    Guido Salvage - "Where rust is beautiful" and real Studebaker horsepower lives

    See pictures here: http://community.webshots.com/user/GuidoSalvage

    Hiding and preserving Studebakers in Richmond, Goochland & Louisa, Va.

  10. #10
    Silver Hawk Member Milaca's Avatar
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    My dad bought a gravel pit years ago and it came with a Speeder Shovel (late 1920's model I'm guessing) with a 4 cylinder Hercules engine. The steel tracks were cut off for scrap metal years before and it likely hadnt run since the 1950's.
    To clarify, Speeder is the actual brand name of this cable shovel. Speeder was later bought out by Link-Belt.


    Autumn at Lake Barget
    In the middle of Minnestudea

  11. #11
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    Well, the last two bearings proved to be good. It looks like the rod journals were ground undersize, and new shells installed. The rod journals are all near-perfect, while the mains show slight wear, and the rod shells, while all Federal-Mogul, same as the mains, aren't dated, while the mains are.

    So I pulled all the pistons, and found each one had a few stuck rings. Aside from a little carbon above the top ring, these pistons are like new, and SHINY!

    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

  12. #12
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    quote:Originally posted by gordr

    Well, the last two bearings proved to be good. It looks like the rod journals were ground undersize, and new shells installed. The rod journals are all near-perfect, while the mains show slight wear, and the rod shells, while all Federal-Mogul, same as the mains, aren't dated, while the mains are.

    So I pulled all the pistons, and found each one had a few stuck rings. Aside from a little carbon above the top ring, these pistons are like new, and SHINY! They are Sealed Power brand. Big, too. I got every ring unstuck without breaking any, and I'm sure I can de-glaze the cylinders and use the existing rings. I really doubt this engine had more than about 1000 miles on it since the last rebuild. To all intents and purposes, it is new.

    I'll take the block, valves, and crank in to the machine shop on Friday. Have the crank polished, and the valves and seats done, and the block hot-tanked. They tell me their hot tank will NOT damage cam bearings, and there definitely is a mouse nest in the water jacket. I took the water pump off, in search of the errant shim, and got about a coffee cup's worth of grain out of it!

    Parts-wise, it looks like a gasket set is all I will need.

    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

  13. #13
    President Member
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    Gord gets oil out a wheatfield, and grain out of an engine block! He's a wizard, that one.

    The Hercules may not be any worse on fuel than most HD sixes of its era. My 6X6 has a REO Gold Comet 331, rated 124 HP, and it is single digit MPG also. Burns any old thing, but a lot of it.

  14. #14
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    Well, the engine is now completely disassembled, and the valves, lifters, bearing shells, and hardware all individually bagged. Once I finish lunch, I'll fire up the tractor, and pick it off the engine stand, and load it into the rear of my Suburban, to go to the machine shop tomorrow.

    I'll get them to polish the crank, and do the valves and seats, and hot-tank the block. Water jackets have a fair bit of rusty sludge, as well as mouse pantry.

    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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