In the Family for 62 Years

1923 Waterloo Boy gas engine

This 1923 Waterloo Boy gas engine has been in Albert Hochstetler's family for sixty-two years.

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Route 2, Box 94B Topeka, Indiana 46571

In 1923 my grandfather purchased a 6 HP Waterloo Boy gas engine at a local farm sale. My father, who was about five or six years old and had never seen or heard such a huge engine run, was about half scared of it. He was used to hearing a 1 HP run a pump jack and turn the washing machine on Monday mornings.

When Grandfather purchased the engine he used it to run a 6 inch Letz Bur grinder. Then in 1928 it was moved to the Mint Distill to pump water and run a hoist. After about 20 years of use, the engine was replaced with a steam engine. Then the Waterloo was pushed outside and left out in various locations until 1980.

In about April of 1980 I bought a 1 HP International M at a sale. For some reason I thought I would like to have an old gas engine. When I brought it home Dad said, 'I have an engine like that, too.' I said, 'You do? Well where is it?' He said, 'I loaned it out to a man about 20 years ago. He wanted to buy it from me then, but I didn't sell it.' 'Oh, lucky me!' I said, 'Well, where does he live and what is his phone number?' Dad wasn't sure where he lived and, of course, he didn't have his number.

I won't use any names or cities in this story, but I located the man on the phone that very evening. I told him who I was and, yes, he knew my father. I asked, 'Do you still have the 6 HP Waterloo engine you borrowed from Dad years ago?' He said, 'Yes, I do.' I said, 'Well, we're going to come pick it up.'

So on May 31, 1980, we went after it, and oh boy, what a sight to see! The head was off, the piston was out (which was good). The push rod was bent, no rings, the valves were in very poor health. And all was very rusty. The water hopper was half full with walnuts and acorns. There was no needle-valve or gas tank.

By this time, I had purchased another engine, a 2 HP Lansing, so I was working on it in my spare time. My spare time is very limited at times, so I didn't get started on the Waterloo till January of 1983.

First of all, I sand-blasted and prime painted it. I got a pair of John Deere D valves from a retired tractor mechanic and made them fit. I bought a set of rings from Joe Sykes and had Starbolt rebuild the ignitor. The head was cracked at two places, so I had it welded. I made all the rest of the parts myself. The bearings were O.K. they only needed cleaning. The cylinder was pitted a little but hours of honing took care of it. I had all the parts made and put together by March 12, 1983.

I'm sure most of you gas buffs know the feeling you have when you get so close to starting an engine after all the hours you put into it. I had to put gas in the tank yet and it was ready to go. I opened the needle valve about turn, choked it a little, turned the wheels and nothing happened. It just wouldn't run, so I finally gave up for that day.

Then on March 14, a friend with engine fever knew of the trick to twist the ignitor spring turn to give it a quicker snap. The first thing we knew, we had a puff of smoke and about 60 seconds later it was back to life, huffing and puffing. My heart beat was up to about 150 beats per minute!

So after a few more days of adjusting and some work on the carburetor, it was ready for paint.

Just a few days after the engine was running, two of my aunts and my grandmother (she is 91 years old) stopped in to hear it run and it brought tears into their eyes. It brought memories back of Grandfather starting the engine back in the '30's (he passed away in 1972 at the age of 78, so he isn't around to hear the engine run).