Louis Runkles’ George B. Miller Engine

A reader shares his 7hp George B. Miller engine, which bears a strong resemblance to a Waterloo, and the story of how it came into his possession.

article image
by Louis Runkles

The George B. Miller looks every bit like a Waterloo engine, which is no surprise given George B. Miller’s connection to Waterloo Gas Engine Co.

To tell the story of this engine, I have to first explain that my son-in-law and I have been going to Mount Pleasant, Iowa, for the past seven years for the gas engine show.

We would listen to the engines run and talk to the owners about how they found them, what to look for, and the big thing – how much they cost. There are a lot of engines out there, all sizes and shapes. This is something that amazed me, as we were looking at engines made at the turn of the century.

Each manufacturer had their own design, with different castings, ignitions, flywheels and so on. Last year, I saw an engine at a show. We talked to the owner and found out it was in good condition. It had been restored about 10 years ago. There was no name tag or identification on it to show who manufactured it. I’m sure the cart wasn’t original, but it worked fine to move it around. The owner thought it must be a 4hp engine.

I decided to purchase it, and I took it home and did a little research to find out who manufactured it. I went through a lot of magazines looking for pictures that resembled it or looked just like it. Most people I spoke with thought it was a Waterloo engine. Waterloo made a lot of engines for a lot of different companies, but this engine didn’t match up to any of the Waterloo engine pictures I found. As I researched more, I found a lot of differences on my engine that the Waterloo engines didn’t have.

In talking to some engine owners, they said to contact Waterloo engine enthusiast Jimmy Priestley and tell him what I have to see if he could help me figure out who manufactured it. I contacted Jimmy and described the differences my engine had compared to other Waterloo engines and Jimmy said he would do a little research and get back to me. In the meantime I cleaned and degreased the engine, sanded a few spots, put new bolts in the water tank and primed it. There were other colors under the red paint, but I couldn’t tell what they were; it was just dark. I painted the frame and wheels with several coats of primer, but waited to paint the engine.

Jimmy called back and said that based on his research and what I had told him, he thought the engine might be a George B. Miller. He said the paint should be dark green, like Brewster Green, similar to DuPont 24166.

Jimmy said the differences between George’s engine and a Waterloo were the rocker arm, the igniter, the water tank, the carburetor, the piston cylinder and the muffler. The rocker arm was at an angle instead of straight across, the igniter was diamond shaped instead of round, the water tank was bolted on with four long bolts, the carburetor was on the bottom instead of straight across, the piston cylinder had a round ridge on the edge where the other ones didn’t, and the muffler was on the side instead of the bottom.

George B. Miller was one of the founders of Waterloo Gas Engine Co., which was sold to Deere & Co. in 1918. But after several years of retirement, Miller went back into the engine business, making his own engines based on the original Waterloo. The
differences were enough that they didn’t infringe on the Deere engine. Miller’s new engines were called Faultless and were built up to perhaps 1926.

The connecting rod has a casting number on it (D46) indicating it was a 7hp engine. It turned out to be a beautiful 7hp George B. Miller engine. To make a long story short, there is more information on the engines today than when people were restoring them 10 years ago.

Thanks to my son-in-law, Tim Urban, who painted it with dark green automotive paint, and Linda Hippi of St. Peter, Missouri, who painted the logo and did the pinstriping. And thanks to all the people along the way for making this an enjoyable journey and a chance to give an engine a name and bring it back to life.

Please send your questions and comments for Flywheel Forum to Gas Engine Magazine, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265 or email editor@gasenginemagazine.com

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines