United Restoration

Waterloo-made United: from ordinary to extraordinary


| March 2006



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I remember the first time I saw my 1-3/4 HP United; I thought it was majestic. A fellow Southeast Michigan Antique Tractor and Engine Club member, Olan Dagner, owned it previously, and I had known about it for a long time. The engine is associated-built and was made by the Waterloo Engine Co. I didn't know Waterloo made United engines. One day Olan decided to sell the engine to me, as it was getting too heavy for him to move around. I had never seen this engine run, so I gave it a quick look over. I checked the igniter with an ohm meter and it did appear to be working.

Over the summer, I repaired the mixer. At the time, the engine had a Hercules-type mixer, but Olan had given me the one that was on the engine when he got it. The mixer is a gravity type with a priming button, but there was no name on it. When installed, it worked well and the priming system made the engine easy to start. I have never seen a mixer like this one. All other Waterloo-built engines I've seen have a Lunkenheimer, and in a Waterloo parts book it stated that if the mixer was marked with an L, to use the Lunkenheimer parts list. But if not, then to request the part needed.

The next item I repaired was the cylinder head. It had been repaired at least three different times, with one repair on top of the other. The only way I could think to fix the damage was to remove all of the old repairs, working my way down to the original crack and starting over. Because of all the welding work done on the head over the years, the repair job was very difficult. With the welding and grinding work done, it was necessary to re-machine the gasket surface to make it flat and true again.

While the head was off, I installed new piston rings and a new connecting rod bearing, which was poured and fitted. The cylinder head also received new guides, valves and springs.

When it was time to reinstall the cylinder head, there was a serious problem. For some reason, the head would not bolt up flat to the cylinder. I first suspected it was the machining work I did. Something may have moved and I didn't catch it. With the cylinder head off, it looked OK. I thought it must have been the face of the cylinder. To check the cylinder face, I had to remove the four head bolt studs. All I needed was a large pipe wrench and a couple of good hits with a hammer. When I put them back in, they were given a good coat of anti-seize compound.

To be able to get the engine on the milling machine, it had to be completely taken back apart. The crankshaft and flywheels had to be removed, along with the piston and most small parts. After I put it back together, I wanted to run the engine and get it good and hot to see if all the repairs were OK and whether there were any leaks.