Waterloo Gas Engine Research Continues …

By Staff
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Our hobby had an exciting announcement in 2001
when the Waterloo Gas Engine Co. serial number list was discovered
in the John Deere Archives and published in the November issue of
Gas Engine Magazine. Finding the list was a major break-through,
allowing an owner to finally determine the year of production of
his Waterloo engine. The serial number list is also available at:
www.majesticengine.com

Majestic is just one on the many names found on the Waterloo gas
engines. Waterloo was one of the “big four” manufacturers along
with Fairbanks-Morse, Hercules and International. They used an
ingenious, unique and quite successful method of merchandising
their product by selling through dozens of other companies.

From the beginning of production of Waterloo Boy engines in
1906, engines were shipped directly to their customers either from
the massive Waterloo, Iowa, facilities or from one of their branch
warehouses located around the country. Engines would be shipped
with the customer’s own personalized nameplate attached. Production
at their Hedford foundry also included Associated, Galloway and
some other brands. The company was sold to John Deere in March 1918
for $2.1 million. Production of the original Waterloo Boy model
continued by Deere until 1921, when sales of Waterloo engines
through their 63-plus-customer base ceased.

From mid-1919 through 1925, Waterloo produced the H gasoline and
K kerosene models with minor mechanical changes. In 1921,
production of the renowned John Deere Type E began and continued
through 1946.

Frank Eddy, the “Waterloo Expert,” began research on the
Waterloo Gas Engine Co. many years ago. Our hobby lost a great
asset when Frank passed away this year. Over many years, Frank
compiled a list of Waterloo customers by simply recording what he
saw at the shows he attended. As the customer list grew, so did
Frank’s interest in compiling a complete list of every name
Waterloo’s were sold under. Many of us knew there were several
names, but only Frank knew just how many.

Frank also discovered that a few of the engines had a casting
date. I began working with him many years ago to find more casting
dates. Dates have been seen only on the 1911 through 1915 Waterloo
engines. Dates are usually located on the subbase under the
crankshaft on the side opposite the igniter and are easily visible
through the flywheel spokes. One casting date has been found on the
igniter side of the subbase, as well. If you have a Waterloo or see
one at a show, check it all over. There may be other locations to
be discovered. Contact me if you find a new casting date and I will
add it to the research.

You will note from the list that the serial number and casting
date generally correspond, as would be expected. My theory on
casting dates is that the first subbase produced each day was given
a date. All subbases and other parts produced that day, in various
horsepower sizes, were lined up in a field or large warehouse. Some
of the parts were able to cure for a few months while others were
assembled immediately to fill an order. The more thermal cycles
cast iron can experience, the stronger the engine. You will note
that one engine was cast and shipped in three days, indicating it
may have been a rush order.

Casting and Ship Dates

Some dates are on the weekend, indicating seven-day per week
production and shipping. The ship dates on the list were also
obtained from the John Deere Archives. Since foundry furnaces would
not be shut down, production continued around the clock.

Waterloo claimed production capability of 100 engines per day in
their massive facilities. Their best year was in 1912, when
production averaged 75 engines per day or one every 19 minutes
working around the clock. Including the other companies they
contracted with, such as Associated and Galloway, 100 per day was
probably achievable. Fairbanks-Morse at 200 engines per day in 1918
seems to hold the annual production record. That is at a rate of
one every seven minutes.

Production at the Waterloo foundries seems to have begun in
1895, with annual production averaging some 450 engines during the
next 12 years, then increasing dramatically. The oldest known
engine is serial no. 86 for 1895, owned by C.H. Wendel. Engine no.
219 has also been located. Production of the well-known Waterloo
Boy began in 1906. Their customer base grew to a point where the
following names (see sidebar) would appear on their engines during
the next 16 years.

Waterloo engines have 3/8-inch diameter igniter/magneto studs on
2-1/8-inch centers. No other engines have these type igniter studs.
Igniter stud information is available under “Technical Index” at
www.oldengine.org courtesy of Ted Brookover.

If your Waterloo has a casting date, please contact me so we can
collect the number. Thanks for your support in this continuing
research.

Contact James W. Priestley at: 117 Lind St., McMinnville, TN
37110; (931) 473-7775 (after 4 p.m., CST);
jimmypriestley@hotmail.com

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