Our Scratch Waterloo Boy

By Staff
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March 1989, before restoration.
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Jake Zilverberg, Rt. HC 6, Box 4, Aitkin, Minnesota 56431, started with a skeleton and ended up with this 7 HP Model K Waterloo Boy.
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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piston had been replaced by a long wedge.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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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