Champion “Hercules” 

Power Hammer



In 2021 I bought a Champion #1 Power Hammer for the Pioneer Farms Blacksmith Shop.

As this is being installed at a living history museum I’m interested in both how to repair the power hammer, the history of the hammer, and the history of the man, Jared McLane, who patented and first produced it.


How to Contribute

  1. Upload any copies of the Champion Blower & Forge Catalogues you might have that aren’t on the Vintage Machinery site. 
  2. Send me photos or videos of your power hammer that I can add to the page.

Champion Power Hammer Add

Life of Jared McLane

“There are some men whose energies are so great that they seem unimpressed by difficulties that would discourage the average man, who press on to their objectives through obstacles at the mere sight of which the majority of their brothers faint upon the way.”  

The opening description of Jared McLane’s biography in American Biography: A New Cyclopedia, Volume 5, 1918 seems apt considering the rags to riches story of Jared McLane. Though it should be noted this exact phrase is used multiple times for various people in the New Cyclopedia.

Starting from very humble beginnings Jared Brown McLane would become a famous wagon manufacturer, inventor, bank director, and eventually state legislator. 

The youngest of eight children, Jared McLane was born in Pugwash, Nova Scotia on May 8th 1853 to parents Alexander, a blacksmith, and Harriett (Brown) McLane.

McLane initially attended the local public school in Pgwash but dropped out at a young age to work in a blacksmith and carriage shop.

At about nineteen (1872) he moved to Topsfield Massachusetts to work for D. E. Hurd a prominent wagon and carriage builder.  His hard work and skill quickly enabled him to become a partner in Hurd’s business.

While working for D.E. Hurd McLane was introduced to Alice Long his future wife. 

During the winter of 1874-1875 Jared McLane was also a manager of The Dancing School kept in the Topsfield town hall. Reportedly large numbers of the young attended and make rapid progress in learning the dances. (6)

The Salem Gazette reported on April 7th 1875 Officers for the Topsfield Division Sons of Temperance were elected. Among that group were Alice M. Long, W.A. and J.B. McLane, Treasurer. (6)

At 24 years of age on Sept 16th 1875 Mr. McLane married Alice Martha Long of Topsfield (born 1851) daughter of local blacksmith Henry Long.  By the time of the marriage Alice had already lost both her parents, Henry Long (52y Aug 19th, 1871, brain fever) and Catharine Perley (36y 10m, died Feb 10th, 1858 of erysipelas) before her marriage. 

In 1876 the newly married couple took possession of the house, which is still standing, on 148 Park Street in Reading. A Federal style building originally built in 1818 by Ebenezer Damon.

The newly married couple celebrated the birth of their first daughter, Lelia Harriet McLane, in Topsfield on Aug 22nd 1876.  

In 1877 McLane sold his interest in the D.E. Hurd business to Ira Perley Long (6) and purchased a blacksmith shop, located at the rear of the current Flint Memorial Building.  McLane was the third blacksmith in town, with two well established competitors.  At the time the country was still recovering from the Panic of 1873 which economic turmoil and and depressions lasting until the spring of 1879. 

With a new business, strong competition, economic turmoil, a new wife and young daughter to care for  McLane had to do whatever he could to supplement his blacksmithing work by working on the public highway grading, installing drains, and in winter pathing snow. 

At this same time the McLane’s celebrated the birth of their second, and final child, Bessie Long, born in North Reading 29 Oct., 1878. 

The hard work and industry paid off and as the economy recovered McLane picked up more prestigious work from the From 1885-1887 North Reading contracted with McLane to provide and maintain the iron railings over several bridges. He was also responsible for gilding the tablets on the Flint Memorial building (photo of the tablets) honoring 26 local men who died in the civil war. He was hired to paint the signs over many shops throughout the town.

With the success of his business McLane purchased the building adjoining his blacksmith shop and commenced building wagons.  McLane was well known for incorporating the very latest in wagon design and quickly became a master builder.

 The McLane Wagon Works became extremely successful exporting wagons to a number of states and employing an average of fifty workmen making him the largest manufacturer in town. The business produced a full line of commercial wagons and eventually auto bodies.

With the Wagon Works booming McLane became a more and more prominent member of the town.  in 1895 he was present when the local North Reading Fire Department was organized and was appointed an engineer and responsible for the care and maintenance of the fire fighting equipment.  This included the purchase and refurbishment of the first horse drawn fire fighting wagon for the town.

The wagon works not only brought economic success but familial as well. In 1900 his first daughter, Lelia, married Foster Rayner Batchelder who worked as an assistant manager in the McLane Wagon Manufactory.  

In 1903 he helped bring gas streetlights to the town by making an agreement with the town that if enough subscribers purchased lamps he would furnish the pole and fixture at cost.

Never one to not look at how to improve whatever he set his mind too this period saw McLane file 4 patents supporting his Wagon works.

  • Axle Cutter (1881)
  • Metal-Punching Machine (1894)
  • Metal-Shearing Machine (1896)
  • Power Hammer (1902)

Jared McLane commitment to his community saw him become a board member and major contributor to the building of the L.D. Batchelder School. Become a director of the First National Bank of Reading, become a member of the Good Fellowship Club, and take on the role of the Town’s Finance Committee.

His civic duty culminated in 1914 when he was election to the General Court of Massachusetts representing North Reading, Reading, Woburn, Wilmington, and Burlington.

Three years later, at 64, he died Pinehurst, North Carolina March 27th 1917.  Alice would live until 1918. They are buried alongside their daughter Bessie (1878-1962) in the Riverside Cemetery in North Reading.

After his death his the J.B McLane Wagon Factory was renamed the North Reading Wagon Factory. It was destroyed in a devastating fire in Feb 1928.

Jared McLane was known as a man of unimpeachable honor and integrity who showed courtesy and consideration of all men combined with a genial nature. This along with a “intrinsic manliness which showed in his every action and word” made him extremely popular. He was known for “his broadminded tolerance for the rights and opinions of others, with a sincere effort to be just to all. ” (4)

Though he had dropped out of school before reaching high school age he was noted as a very well educated man whose advice was sought out for his views on the affairs of the day and business acumen.  

In spite of all of his success outside the home Jared found his chief pleasure in his home life and was a devoted husband and father “ever studying means to increase the happiness of his loved ones at home”.

Sources & Additional Reading:

  1. Jared B. McLane & His Wagon Factory
    1. North Reading Historical Commission, North Reading Cultural Resources Survey Part I. 1978
  2. Vital Records of Topsfield Massachusetts Vol II 1850-1899 
  3. Vintage Tools Patents for Jared B. McLane
  4. History and genealogy of the Perley family
  5. The Historical Collections of the Topsfield Historical Society
  6. Murphy, Leo. North Reading Review: Annals and Reminiscences, North Reading’s Industrial Past. No. 5. December 1962


Power Hammer History


  • 1875 – Champion Blower And Forge Co. Lancaster PA.  founded by 17 year old Henry Keiper.
  • 1901 Oct 18th – J.B. McLane files patent for a power hammer.
  • 1908 June – First advertisement for the McLane power hammer in The Blacksmith and Wheelwright June 1908.
  • 1909 Nov – Last advertisement for the McLane power hammer in The Blacksmith and Wheelwright Nov 1909.
  • 1909-1911 – McLane sells patent to Champion Blower and Forge Company.
  • 1912 January –
    • Champion “Patented” Power Hammer appears in 1912 Champion Forge & Blower company catalogue.
      • First price listed: $150
    • Advertisement including Champion Power Hammer appears in The Crow Bar.
  • 1913
    • Hercules Branding in advertisements.
    • No 0 – 30lb hammer introduced.
  • 1922 – Electric Motor versions of the No 0 & No 1 hammers.
  • 1926 – 
    • Hercules No 2 125lb hammer introduced.
    • Hammer dies on all hammers changed to angled dies.
  • 1955 – Last Catalogue found mentioning Champion Power Hammers
    • First mention of Electric OE2 Hammer found.
    • 1955 No 0, 1, 2 & Electric 0, 1, 2
  • 1969 Champion Blower and Forge Co. Relocated to Roselle, IL 
  • 1986 Ceased Operations
  • 1987 Reopened as Champion Fan Corp of South Elgin, Il
  • 2016 Champion Fan Acquired by Paul’s Fan Company


1902 The McLane Power Hammer Patent

In  Oct 18th 1901 J. B. McLane filed a patent for an improved power hammer with several improvements on old designs:

  • Condense the spring portion
  • Employ springs to connect the hammer with it’s operating mechanism
  • Provide more secure and inexpensive guides for the hammer

The patent in full reads:

To all, whom, it in may concern.

Be it known that I, JARED B. McLANE, of North Reading, in the county of Middlesex and State of Massachusetts, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Power Hammers, of which the following is a specification.

This invention relates to power-hammers; and it consists in certain improvements there in hereinafter described and claimed, having for their object to condense the spring portion of apparatus employing springs to connect the hammer or striker with its operating mechanism, to provide guides for the hammer which shall be more secure and in expensive to apply and renew than prior constructions, and to provide a treadle mechanism which may be operated from various positions with respect to the machine and with equal facility in any of said positions.

Of the accompanying drawings, Figure 1 represents a front elevation of a power-hammer provided with my improvements. Fig. 2 represents a side elevation. Fig. 3 represents an enlarged section on the line 3 3 of Fig. 1. Fig. 4 represents an enlarged vertical section of the spring and connections. Fig. 5 represents a section on the line 5 5 of Fig. 1, showing the treadle mechanism in plan.

The same reference characters indicate the same parts in all the figures.

In the drawings, 1 represents the cast frame of the hammer. 2 is the anvil; 3, the hammer, mounted to slide in vertical guides, and 4 is the driving-shaft, mounted in bearings at the upper end of said frame. A constantly running belt 5, normally loose on a pulley 6, attached to the shaft, is controlled by a belt-tightener 7 on a lever 8, oscillated by the treadle mechanism, whereby the belt may be caused to grip the pulley and rotate the shaft 4.

Fixed to the front end of the shaft 4 is a  fly-wheel 9, having a wrist-pin 10, connected by a link 11 with a spring 12, whose lower ends are attached to the outer ends of two pairs of links 13 13, which suspend the hammer 3 at their inner ends. The links are pivoted to a single pintle 14, passing through ears on the hammer. My improvement consists in making the spring 12 substantially in the shape of a lyre, its two depending arms 15 15 being outwardly and upwardly recurved or looped at 16 16 in their lower portions. The connection with the outer ends of the links 13 13 is formed by pintles 17 17, passing through the links and surrounded by bushings 18 18, which occupy the bent or hooked extremities 19 19 of the spring-arms. This construction enables me to obtain a long spring and long suspending – links, giving greater elasticity to the blow, but condenses the spring as a whole both longitudinally and horizontally, which, among other things, re duces the danger of the operatives being struck by the spring.

The guides for the hammer are detachable from the frame and are constructed as follows: On the frame 1 is formed a flat seat 20, against which the guide is held by two vertical rows of bolts 21 21. The guide comprises a gib-holder or base 22, having a planed outer face forming a bearing for the back of a dove tailed guide-engaging portion 23 of the hammer 3, and two gibs 24 24, mounted in said holder and engaging the edges of said dove 55 75 tailed portion. The bolts 21 pass through . the gibs and holder and serve to secure the two together and to the seat 20 on the frame. Adjustment of the gibs in a horizontal direction is effected by means of adjusting bolts. 25.25, mounted in the holder 22, the gibs having elongated slots 26, Occupied by the bolts 21, to permit such adjustment. The back of the gib-holder 22 and the face of the seat 20 are left unplaned, and between the two are interposed two leather packing strips 27 27. Other soft material-such as paper, fiber, lead, &c.-may be employed, although leather is preferred. The gib holder finds its own bearing with respect to the seat 20 when the bolts are tightened, for the irregularities of each metal surface sink into the soft packing and a very secure joint is made. The guide may be removed bodily from the machine, making the expense of replaning or renewal relatively small, and the construction is obviously such that the parts are few in number and may be easily assembled, taken apart, or adjusted. The interposition of the leather packing avoids the expense of planed seating-surfaces for the removable guide, and the cushioning action of this packing increases the life of the guide and prevents the bolts 21 from becoming loosened by the jarring of the machine.

A further improvement lies in the treadle construction, which I shall now describe. 28 28 represent two rocking treadle-frames having side arms 29 29 and cross portions 30 30 at the outer ends of the side arms. The frames have four hinge-bearings 31 31 at the inner ends of their side arms, and the side arms of one frame are crossed with those of the other frame and pivotally connected thereto at the crossing by bolts 32 32, attached to one set of arms and occupying 

elongated slots 33 in the other set. One of the side arms is connected by a rod 34 with the lever 8, which carries the belt-tightener 7. The belt-tightener may be actuated by stepping on any part of the treadle structure above the bolts 3232, which will result in depressing the rod 34 without any noticeable springing of either of the treadle-frames, such as is observable in single treadle-frames of the shape shown when the side away from the operating connection, such as 34, is stepped on.

I claim — 

l. In a power-hammer, the combination of a hammer, a hammer-operating member, and a connection between the two including a pair of links suspending the hammer at their outer ends, and a lyre-shaped spring device connected with the hammer-operating member and having two depending spring – arms formed with outwardly and upwardly re curved terminal portions connected to the outer ends of the links.

2. In a power-hammer, the combination of a frame having a seat for a guide, hammer operating means mounted on said frame, a hammer, a guide therefor, having an un planed back, bolts detachably securing the guide to said seat on the frame, and a soft packing interposed between the guide and said seat. ‘

3. In a power-hammer, the combination of a frame having a seat for a guide, hammer operating means mounted on said frame, a hammer having a dovetailed guide-engaging portion, a guide for said hammer comprising a gib-holder engaging the back of said dove tailed portion of the hammer, gibs mounted in said holder and engaging the edges of said dovetailed portion, and bolts passing through said gibs and gib-holder and detachably se curing the same together and to said seat on the frame.

In testimony whereof I have affixed my sig nature in presence of two witnesses.



              C. F. BROWN,

              A. D. HARRISON.


The McLane Power Hammer For Sale

Presumably the McLane Power Hammer was available around the time of the patent though I have been unable to find records  until 1908 when McLane began advertising his Power Hammer in the The Blacksmith And Wheelwright, published from 1896-1923.  There do not seem to be advertisements in any other journals or magazines that I’ve been able to find. It’s not surprising that McLane chose to advertise in The Blacksmith and Wheelwright.  As a major wagon manufacturer & blacksmith it is possible that McLane had a subscription to the publication. It also appears that Butts & Ordway had been advertising “McLane” iron shears since in the journal since 1896.

June 1908 has the first announcement of the McLane Power Hammer.  The announcement reads, “McLane Power Hammer – in this issue for the first time appears the the announcement of the J.B. McLane, North Reading. Mass., who manufactures a power hammer, which he says gets busy at once and does things. He wants you to ask your hardware man for his hammer, but if you can get it of him send a postal card to Mr. McLane and he will give you full particulars about it, together with the price. He suggests that you will want to know about his hammer before you decide to purchase one. ”

Also appearing was a larger advertisement featuring a photo of McLane and encouraging the reader to write regarding his “Hammer which gets busy at once and does things” while being of only moderate cost. 

This advertisement appeared again a month later in the July 1908 edition. 

Compared with other advertisements in the magazine I think the lack of an image of the power hammer or any specifics about the hammer was probably 



In August 1908 the advertisement switched to the one featuring the first image of the McLane power hammer with an image of the hammer appears.  The text and image of McLane appear to be identical minus the salutation and signature from the earlier advertisement. 

This first look at the hammer shows us a basic form that will remain unchanged for the next 50 years.  Some of the unique elements that differ from the first Champion versions of the hammer are:

              1. The foot treadle is in an X design but includes a extra step making it easier to engage the hammer.
              2. The connection to engage the drive belt seems to be a slightly different connector.
              3. A bar with unknown purpose under the guides for the ram.






A little over a year later, September 1909, we see a longer article / advertisement that provides more details about the power hammer.  Details around the hammer dies and forging capabilities are spelled out.  These details wind up remaining standard items as the patent moves to Champion and into the 1950s.

McLane’s experience as a businessman who has developed a hammer to improve the function of his business is clear in some of the text of the advertising, “The McLane Power Hammer, illustrated herewith, is a thoroughly practical machine, and a valuable adjunct to any blacksmith’s shop. 

It is said that if a physician takes his own medicine it is a good test of merit. Mr. McLane keeps hammers of his own make in constant service in his factory; and his machines are the outgrowth of actual shop practice.”

A much better advertisement than the earlier ones but considering the sale of the patent within the next couple years probably too little too late.

Lest We Forget Advertisements – Feb 1909 – Nov 1909

Last add for the McLane Power hammer from the Blacksmith & Wheelwright Nov 1909.

Note the reduced price being advertised. 

It’s unclear why the tag line “Lest We Forget” was added to the advertisement.

“Lest we Forget” was first used in a Rudyard Kipling poem called “Recessional” to commemorate Queen Vitoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The poem emphasizes the dangers of a nation failing to remember the true source of it’s success.  It reads in part,
‘God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle line,
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!’

There do not seem to have been any notable disasters in the later half of 1908.  It’s possible the reference is to do with the 1908 presidential election of Taft over Byron and the controversy of the Free Silver movement.

I think the most likely is just an increasing popularity of the phrase as a reminder. Cream of Wheat ran an ad at the same time featuring the same slogan calling on the buyer not to forget to buy their product. 

With the end of November 1909 the McLane Power Hammer was no longer advertised and a few years later it was reintroduced as the Champion Power Hammer.

It is likely that a very small number of McLane Power hammers were ever produced and sold and none may still exist. As of this point I have yet to see evidence of an existing hammer.



1912 “The Champion” No 1 Power Hammer

The earliest documents I can find for the Champion Power Hammer branding are from 1912. in The Champion Catalogue and an advertisement in The Crow Bar.

The full page writeup, in the Catalogue, details how the inventor and manufacturer of this hammer sold the patent to The Champion Blower and Forge company noting that while the inventor was “an expert Power Hammer worker.” that manufacturing of power hammers was “entirely foreign to his regular business”.  

It seems likely therefore that the patent was sold sometime around 1909-1911 allowing Champion to start selling it in 1912. 

The overall form of the hammer looks similar to the McLane Power Hammer advertisements with a few notable changes:

  1. Removal of the lower bars on the foot pedals.
  2. Changes to the way the foot pedal engages the clutch. 
  3. Changes to the branding on the hammer. 

The advertisement notes that the hammer will with the regular dies weld a 2-1/4 inch axle, with a special die a 3-inch square axel, and that 2-1/2 inch square can be forged down to the size of a horseshoe nail without any adjustment.

It also notes that this hammer can weld a tire 3 feet in diameter up to 4 inches wide and 1 inch thick.  Undoubtedly a key feature in McLane’s design of the hammer that he would have used in his wagon works.

The Crow Bar Magazine also ran an advertisement in Jan 1912 for the first time that incorporated the Champion Power Hammer into a collection of other Champion Products.  This style of advertisement was a staple of the Champion Blower and Forge Company and numerous variations on it were used throughout the time the Power Hammer was advertised. 

From 1912 through 1925 the Champion No 1 hammer seems to have remained the same without any obvious redesigns.

In 1913 the “Hercules” branding for the hammer was introduced and many of the advertisements 
















  1. 1912 Champion Blower and Forge Company Catalogue at the Adirondack Experience: The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake

Versions & Production Dates


Hammer Version Production Dates & Earliest Announcement Key Features Photo
McLane 1902 – 1909

The Blacksmith and Wheelwright

McLane Branding, 2 level foot treadle. 
Champion Hercules No 1 v1 Jan 1912 – 1925

1912 Champion Catalogue

Straight Dies, X style foot treadle. 65lb
Champion Hercules No 1 v2 1926 – 1955+?

1926 Champion Catalogue

45 degree dies, 1 bar foot treadle
Champion Hercules No 0 v1 1913-1925

1913 Crow Bar

Straight Dies, X style foot treadle.  30lb
Champion Hercules No 0 v2 1926 – 1955+?

1926 Champion Catalogue

45 degree dies, 1 bar foot treadle
Champion Hercules No 2 v1 1926 – 1955+?

1926 Champion Catalogue

45 degree dies, 125lb ram
Champion Hercules 0E v1 1922 – 1925

Champion Catalogue

Electric, Straight Dies, X style foot treadle.  30lb
Champion Hercules 0E v2 1926 – 1955+?

1926 Champion Catalogue

Electric, 45 degree Dies, single bar foot treadle.  30lb
Champion Hercules 1E v1  1922 – 1925

Champion Catalogue

Electric, Straight Dies, X style foot treadle.  65lb ram
Champion Hercules 1E v2 1926 – 1955+?

1926 Champion Catalogue

Electric, 45 degree Dies, single bar foot treadle.  65lb ram
Champion Hercules 2E ?? – 1955+?

The earliest I’ve seen these referenced so far is 1955 but they likely started being sold in 1926 when the electric versions of the other size hammers was introduced.

1955 Champion Catalogue

  Not Yet Found

Hammer Specs Summary

Champion No. 0  v 1 & 2

  • Material: Cast Iron
  • Height: 5ft. 4 ins.
  • Hammer Base: 18 x 25 ins.
  • Weight: 1,100 lbs.
  • Pully 9 x 2-1/2 ins.
  • Motor: 1 H.P. required.
  • Speed 400 R.P.M.
  • Ram Weight: 30lbs.
  • Upper Die: 3×1-1/2 ins.
  • Lower Die: 3 x 2 ins.
  • Capacity 2  ins. round or square

McLane & Champion No.1  V1 & V2

  • Material: Cast Iron
  • Height: 5ft. 8 ins.
  • Hammer Base: 20 x 72 ins.
  • Weight: 1,400 lbs.
  • Pully 10 x 2 1/2 ins.
  • Motor: 2 H.P. required.
  • Speed 300 R.P.M.
  • Ram Weight: 65lbs.
  • Upper Die: 3×1-1/2 ins.
  • Lower Die: 3 x 2 ins.
  • Capacity 2 1/2 ins. round or square

McLane & Champion No.2

  • Material: Cast Iron
  • Height: 7ft 3ins.
  • Hammer Base: 27 x46-1/2  ins.
  • Weight: 5,000 lbs.
  • Pully: 32 ins.
  • Face: 6-1/2 ins
  • Motor: 5 H.P. 
  • Speed 150 R.P.M
  • Ram Weight: 125lbs.
  • Upper Die: 6×3 ins.
  • Lower Die: 6×3 ins.
  • Capacity 3 ins. round or square


Electric Champion 0E

  • Material: Cast Iron
  • Height: 5ft. 8 ins.
  • Hammer Base: 20 x 72 ins.
  • Weight: 1,400 lbs.
  • Pully 10 x 2 1/2 ins.
  • Motor: 2 H.P. required.
  • Speed 300 R.P.M.
  • Ram Weight: 65lbs.
  • Upper Die: 3×1-1/2 ins.
  • Lower Die: 3 x 2 ins.
  • Capacity 2 1/2 ins. round or square


Electric Champion 0E

  • Material: Cast Iron
  • Height: 5ft. 4 ins.
  • Hammer Base: 18 x 25 ins.
  • Weight: 1385 lbs.
  • Pully 9 x 2-1/2 ins.
  • Motor: 1 H.P. 
  • Speed 400 R.P.M.
  • Ram Weight: 30lbs.
  • Upper Die: 3×1-1/2 ins.
  • Lower Die: 3 x 2 ins.
  • Capacity 2  ins. round or square


Electric Champion 1E

  • Material: Cast Iron
  • Height: 5ft. 8 ins.
  • Hammer Base: 20 x 72 ins.
  • Weight: 1,660 lbs.
  • Pully 10 x 2 1/2 ins.
  • Motor: 2 H.P. 
  • Speed 300 R.P.M.
  • Ram Weight: 65lbs.
  • Upper Die: 3×1-1/2 ins.
  • Lower Die: 3 x 2 ins.
  • Capacity 2 1/2 ins. round or square


Electric Champion 2E

  • Material: Cast Iron
  • Height: 7ft 3ins.
  • Hammer Base: 27 x46-1/2  ins.
  • Weight: 5,000 lbs.
  • Pully: 32 ins.
  • Face: 6-1/2 ins
  • Motor: 5 H.P. 
  • Speed 150 R.P.M.
  • Ram Weight: 125lbs.
  • Upper Die: 6×3 ins.
  • Lower Die: 6×3 ins.
  • Capacity 3 ins. round or square


Hammer Specs Detailed

Champion No 1 v1

Parts List:

  1. Hammer Frame
  2. Drive Assembly
    1. Drive Shaft
    2. Drive Belt Wheel
      1. Drive Belt Wheel Screw x2
    3. Fly Wheel
    4. Fly Wheel key
    5. Babbitt
    6. Babbitt Shims



Base Details:

PH Base



Restoration of a No. 1 Power Hammer

Restoring a Champion Hercules No 1 v1 power hammer from 1912 – 1926.

This hammer was purchased in San Marcos Texas and is currently at Pioneer Farms Living history museum in Austin Texas.


Moving the hammer

The hammer weighs 1,400lbs or 0.7 tons. A lot of the hammer can be disassembled for moving and I’d recommend removing everything except the guides for the ram.  

One of the big risks moving these hammers is that they are cast iron and tipping them over or having them fall over risks the hammer breaking. 

With the hammer taken apart a chain can be wrapped under the guides and then an engine hoist can be used to lift the hammer. (see videos 1 & 2)


Babbit Bearings

Materials Needed: 
  1. ~5lbs babbitting metal
  2. 4 small pine sticks or high temp thermometer. 
  3. Drive shaft / mandrel – 1-9/16″
  4. Shaft/Mandrel shims
  5. Oxy acetylene torch
  6. Ladle 
  7. Damming clay
  8. Housing Shims (copper, paper or similar)



Babbitt bearings are solid bearings that were used extensively historically and continue to be used where there are concerns around the catastrophic failure that rolling bearings can experience. 


Babbitt Sources:

For my project in order to keep things as historically accurate as possible I selected a Grade 8 Lead Base Babbitt and ordered 5lbs from RotoMetals.  The 5lbs of metal was enough to pour all the babbitt with a small amount left over.

For a non Lead Based Babbitt the grades 1, 2, 3, and 11 are tin based and should work well for this application.

Too pour the babbitt the drive wheels from the shaft will need to be removed or a mandrel will be needed to use for the babbitt pour. In my case I ordered a 1-9/16′ x 24″ inch bar for a mandrel to pour the babbitt around. 


Pine Sticks / Thermometer: 

Babbitt should be heated to ~400 Fahrenheit this can be determined by testing with a pine stick that should start scorching or a thermometer.


Drive Shaft / Mandrel: 

The drive shaft or mandrel will need to be suspended halfway between the top and bottom of the bearing housing. 


Shaft / Mandrel Shims:

There are a number of ways to accomplish this but the simplest is probably to get some thing leather strips and cut a small stack of shims until the shaft looks like it’s relatively centered in the housing.


Oxy Acetylene Torch:

The torch is used to preheat the power hammer & mandrel before pouring the babbitt and can be used to melt the babbitt as well.



A large ladle with a long handle and pouring spouts will be needed to melt and then pour the babbitt.  Iron ladles used for melting lead work well.


Damming Clay: 

A high temperature casing or damming clay is needed to dam the gap between the bearing housing and the drive shaft/mandrel. I ordered 1lb of clay from RotoMetals


Housing Shims:

Babbitt shims can be made out of cooper, brass, aluminum, paper or other materials. The important factors are that the material is thin and softer than the drive shaft. There are commercial products available as well. for my pour I used a single thin copper spacer but should probably have used more.


Pouring the babbitt bearings: 

To pour the bottom bearings:

  1. Remove the tops of the bearing housing, remove any old babbitt, and clean the bearing housing. 
  2. Ensure the bearing housing and mandrel are completely dry.
  3. Soot the shaft or mandrel.  This is an optional step but will help prevent the babbitt from sticking to the shaft/mandrel.
  4. Position the shaft/mandrel on the shims and align with the bearing housing. 
  5. Use the damming material to block the gaps between the bearing housing and the shaft/mandrel.
  6. Preheat the power hammer and mandrel. 

Because Babbitt wears down over time it’s possible to shim in-between the top and bottom of the bearing so that as the babbitt material wears away the shims can be removed to retighten the shaft. The shims should be made of copper, paper, or some other material that is softer than the shaft.



Designing your Belt & Pulley system

The critical factors when designing your pulley system:

  1. Stepping down/up the motor speed to run the hammer at the correct rate.
  2. Ensuring the belt runs loose when the clutch isn’t engaged.
  3. Ensuring the hammer runs when the clutch is engaged.
  4. Ensuring a smooth startup.

The Champion No 1 hammer is designed to run at 300 rpm.  The motor I selected was a DAYTON General Purpose Motor: Totally Enclosed Fan-Cooled, Rigid Base Mount, 2 HP, 115/208-230V AC. I selected this motor as it fit the 2 HP requirement and was totally enclosed. I plan on having the motor mounted up in the rafters where it will be exposed to a lot of soot and dust so being totally enclosed was critical.  This motor runs at 1725rpm.

To calculate the step down from 1725 to 300rpm you multiple the speed of the motor (V1) by the ratio of the pully on the motor by the pully on the hammer (D1/D2).  That gives you your final speed.  There are also online calculators to make the process easier.

For my hammer the math looks like this which indicates I need a 1.75in outside diameter pull on the motor.

The problem with this setup though is that the belt should run loose when the hammer is not in use and a 1.75″ pulley doesn’t have enough friction to drive the belt when it’s not under tension. 

To ensure the belt runs loose when the clutch isn’t engaged we need a pulley around the same size as the 10″ wheel on the hammer.  That however won’t get our step down ratio right and so we need to introduce a jackshaft.

A jackshaft is a bar with two or more pulleys on it. These pulleys can be the same or different sizes.

That led to a final design that looks like this:

Starting at the motor we have:

  1. A 2hp motor running at 1725 rpm
  2. Connected to the motor 2.25 V-belt pulley (1725rpm)
  3. A Powertwist variable length V belt running from the motor mounted pulley to  
  4. A 10.25 diameter pulley with a detachable bushing for 1.5 shaft  (379 rpm) mounted to the jackshaft.
  5. 1.5″ diameter round mild steel bar as the jackshaft.
  6. The jackshaft is supported by two 1.5″ bore pillow block bearings.
  7. The jackshaft then drives an 8″ flat belt pulley (379rpm) which is connected to our 3 inch wide flat belt pulley
  8. The flat belt pulley is then connected to the Champion 10″ wheel (303 rpm) which drives the hammer.

This configuration allows the V-belt to be tensioned extremally tightly ensuring smooth startup and good power transmission. The large Flat belt pulley (#7) ensures that the flat  belt continues to run smoothly even when not tensioned.

Hammer Dies

My goal was to recreate a hammer as close to the original 1902 patent as I could get so I elected to go with the straight dies in the hammer rather than the 1926 angled dies.  For that I contacted Russell Faison who will be machining me new dies. 



A multilevel base was used under the hammer.

The foundation of the base is a 6 inch slab of reinforced concrete.  A 1/2 plywood sheet was placed on top of the concrete which was then covered with a 1/2 thick rubber mat (I used a horse stall mat from Tractor Supply).

The goal with the foundation is to provide enough mass to securely anchor the hammer while still providing some dampening against vibration and be sturdy enough to hold up for at least 10 years.

 7″x1/2″ inch concrete anchor bolts were used to attach the hammer to the base.