Our Scratch Waterloo Boy


Engine Before Restoration

March 1989, before restoration.

Content Tools

RtHC6,Box4 Aitkin, Minnesota 56431

In October 1988, I got possession of a skeleton of a 7 HP Model K Waterloo Boy. It had last been used as a wood splitter. The piston had been replaced by a long wedge.

My intention was to use this engine to advertise my hobby. I sat it next to my workshop figuring this spot would be the engine's permanent home.

For some reason the old engine aroused my interest more than I expected. I didn't have a problem conviricing myself that the old engine made an unattractive yard ornament. It had some things going for it, such as the timing gear was still hanging on the side. Besides, it would be more fun if the old boy would come back to life again.

It wasn't long before I took a pry bar and checked the main bearings and found them to be in good shape. The rod bearing was also nice and snug. A few days later I mixed a batch of kerosene and oil and started soaking the wedge and cylinder with this mixture. I soaked it several times a week for the next couple of weeks.

Then I unbolted the connecting rod. A few solid blows on the wedge with a steel maul loosened it, making it simple to remove.

I honed the cylinder. There were a few small pits on the cylinder wall, but it was usable.

I ordered a Waterloo Boy repair book No. 16 from Star Bolt. Looking at pictures would be of great help in case I had to make some of the parts.

I had put an ad in Gas Engine Magazine for parts for a 7 HP Waterloo Boy. We didn't have any parts that we needed. Mary and I went to four swap meets in the spring of 1988. We both checked the rows of vendors carefully and struck out each time.

I've built several scratch engines in the past, and they run very well. I decided if I could make small parts, I should be able to make larger parts. It was either build the parts or abandon the idea of getting this engine running again.

One part I needed was a 15 tooth governor gear. I checked with the Aitkin Iron Works. The parts man figured a blank spur gear would be reasonable and that I would have it in a few days. He took the pitch off of the timing gear and ordered it. In a few days he called me and told me that what I needed was not a common pitch gear. He said they would have to machine me one special and it may be several months before they could cut it. He gave me the names of several more companies that sold gears but they all brought the same results.

One day some time later I was in one of our sheds. I noticed a little gear in a wooden box. It was a box full of H. G. Cletrac transmission parts. This gear was a low or reverse gear. It had a shifting collar and a splined hole but just the right size for the governor. I machined the collar from the gear and bushed the center.

I decided to build this engine with a hit and miss speed control. I did this for a couple of reasons. I like the hit and miss type and some of the parts are easier to make.

After I removed four broken head bolt studs, I worked on the governor. I think it took me over a week to make all the parts for it. After I mounted the governor on the engine block, I belted our little L. B. International 11/2-21/2 HP to the Waterloo Boy. The governor latched and unlatched like it should.

Bob King from Garrison, Ontario, Canada sent me the dimensions of the water hopper and the head, plus a few more measurements. I had the Aitkin Iron Works build the water hopper for me. They have benders that can handle plate steel.

I was still short a few parts. One was a 51/2' diameter piston. I checked in C.H. Wendel's book, Nebraska Tests Since 1920. He gives a very good description of bore and stroke of all the tractors tested. I found that John Deere A's have a 51/2' bore.

One of my friends, Gene Mejdrich, has a couple of John Deere A's. When I called him he said he had a couple of spare pistons. I told him I had only one hole to fill. He said I could have them both for the same price-nothing. The John Deere A's piston from the center of the wrist pin to the top of the piston was the right distance for my engine, but it would have to be bushed to fit the wrist pin.

By the middle of the summer in 1989 I had put together almost a complete Waterloo Boy up to the top of the cylinder. This included a battery coil and igniter that I had rebuilt out of an

old Webster mag. The gas tank was made out of a 30 lb. freon tank. They are shaped like a Waterloo Boy tank and hold over three gallons of gas.

I removed the handles of the freon tank and brazed on a filler spout. We were still missing some parts like a couple of valves, the head, the rocker arm, and a bunch more. I checked with my brother-in-law, George Jensen, who is a mechanic. I asked him if he had a couple of valves with at least 2' diameter heads and stems about six inches long.

The next day, he came over with a couple of valves from a big Buda engine. The heads of the valves were 25/8' in diameter and the stems were9/16' in diameter and at least a foot long. We worked them down to the right size and turned the heads down to 21/8.

Next I started on the cylinder head. First I made a template from 3/l6' steel with the hole pattern of the head. Then I used 1/2' plate steel for the base of the head-the part that contacts the head gasket. I welded the intake and exhaust passages to this and also six short pieces of pipe cut the right length for the bolt holes so the head wouldn't crush when the head bolts were tightened. Then I welded bands around the outside perimeter then filled in the front around the exhaust and intake passages. Then I drilled the water passages. Rather than curved slots for the water circulation from the head to the block, I drilled three 1/2' holes to take the place of each slot. Next I drilled for the valve guides and valves.

There was a noticeable bulge on the head resulting from welding on the 1/2' plate that contacts the block and head gasket. My little Craftsman lathe wouldn't handle the head, so I took it to the Aitkin Iron Works to have it machined. They had it done the next day. After seating the valves I bolted the head to the block.

The next step was to make a mixer. The Waterloo Boy repair book No. 16 came in handy again. I took the simplest looking one pictured and made it even more simple.

By the end of August 19891 had the  engine completed. I was ready to start it. I put in water, oil, and gas, opened the compression release valve, and set the choke. By this time I was getting a little nervous.

I closed the knife switch and started turning the flywheels. I wasn't trying to turn them very fast. In a little while it let go with a couple of big chugs and smoke started coming out of the exhaust and compression release. Before long it was coasting free like it should between power strokes.

A little later my wife Mary came to the shop and said, 'You did it again, Dad.' She was just as happy about the engine as I was. This one seems to be her favorite. I had to call a few of my friends to let them know the old engine was alive again-especially a few that belong to the Lake Head Harvest Reunion Club near Duluth. Mary and I belong to that club. One of the fellows I called was Wayne Kari. We do a little parts and repair trading. He said that he and his wife and daughter would be coming in a couple of days to paint the engine for us. They showed up like they said, armed with a paint gun, tack cloth, and other painting supplies.

The next day Mary and I pinstriped and put the decals on it.

A few days before the Albany Pioneer Days show that was held September 15, 16, and 17,1989,1 got a call from Bruce Lindberg. He said that they were going to the Albany Show and that they would like to come with their

tandem trailer, load up our engine, and take it to the Albany show along with their beautifully restored igniter fired 6 HP McCormick Deering engine.

At the Albany show, Bruce and Pixie's Model M was hooked to a miniature saw mill. It ran nice and smooth all three days. Our Waterloo Boy was racing away at about 120 r.p.m., firing between three and four times per minute.

In 1990 we showed this engine at the county fair and four shows. We run it five to nine hours a day at each of the shows and it hasn't had any problems.

This engine is a long way from being original but it runs good, looks nice, and it does make a good show piece. I think this engine represents a lot of early engines. Not just one make or model, but especially the ones that had parts that weren't original and kept running.

All of us engine and tractor restorers have a lot of sources to get information. First of all, we have each other. And we have many knowledgeable people like C. H. Wendel, King, and Williams, just to mention a few, that put this knowledge into book form.

Along with having a good supply of tractor and engine parts (except Waterloo Boy parts), all the vendors of tractor and engine parts always seem willing to share their information with us too.

If it wasn't for the help I got from these many different sources, plus some hands-on help, our old Waterloo Boy would still be a wood splitter.