Waterloo Threshing Machinery

One Step Further... Identifying the Mystery Engine


Spalding’s Corner mystery engine photo from Steam Traction Fall 2007.

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Editor's note: Responses to Spalding's Corner are generally short notes of identification. But when Bert Michel responded to our Summer 2007 query, he sent full documentation supporting his identification of the engine shown. Owing to the quality of Bert's material, we thought it deserved special treatment, and we present it here for your benefit.

This engine is a Waterloo traction engine, manufactured by Waterloo Mfg. Co. Ltd., Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. I would take it to be about a 16 or 18 HP engine.

I would like to point out two things which make identification a bit difficult: 1) The smokebox door is not typical of a Waterloo engine (this is an older type), which I have seen on older portable engines. Most doors are in two parts, both castings; a convex ring is bolted to the front of the smokebox. A smaller cast iron door containing an emblematic lion's head is then hinged from this ring. 2) The smokestack is in one piece, made of sheet steel. A number of later Waterloos have a two-piece stack; the lower portion about 12-14 inches long is cast and the upper rolled steel part with a flange is bolted to it.


The items which I see that identify the engine as a Waterloo are:

• The wheels, both front and back, have cast hubs and rims with round spokes cast in place.

• The cleats on the rear wheels are typical.

• The smokestack ring is a typical cast part.

• The clutch, visible through the flywheel has three arms and shoes, a design on smaller Waterloo engines.

• Looking at the spoke at the 6 o'clock position in the flywheel, you can see a round pin held in place by a set screw. This lock pin can be engaged if the flywheel is rotated by hand to line-up with a "U" shaped slot in the hub of the clutch. The pin is then pushed in and locked by the set screw to give a positive drive.

• The linkage from the throttle lever to the throttle is in two parts with a cast support arm bolted on the top of the dome which pivots back or forth with movement of the lever.

• The valve gear and the way it is hung.

• The angle steel frame, which carries the countershaft on which is mounted the differential gear and road wheel pinions. The back end of this angle frame is bolted to the lower section of the axle brackets. The front end of this sub-frame is supported on each side by a cast bracket. The top end of bracket is bolted to the boiler and the lower end to the forward part of the angle steel frame. Both the angle steel frame and the cast brackets are visible in the photo (Steam Traction, Spalding's Corner, Fall 2007).

• There area two gears for the intermediate gear, which means this is a 2-speed engine - an option.


I am 70 years old and the fourth generation living on the Michel family farm, settled by my great-grandparents in 1867. My father, Albert Michel (1899-1968), was a stationary engineer. He started running traction engines for threshing and sawmill work back in the 1920s and owned various engines in his lifetime. One such engine, a 20-22 HP John Goodison, purchased by my father the year I was born in 1936, is still owned by us and on the farm to this date.

In the early 1960s, we picked up a number of other engines to keep them in our area. We also have two Waterloos on the farm; hence that is why I was able to identify the mystery engine. I also have an original Waterloo catalog dated 1916, which I referred to.

In addition, I have sent along two photos taken in 1924 using a Waterloo for threshing in the Petawawa, Ontario, area and operated by my father, but owned by Fred Burger who lived on the farm next to us. Included is a third photo of another Waterloo taken in September 1930 of an 18-20 HP. It was also owned by Fred. The men in the photo are unknown. This engine, after sitting idle for a number of years, was purchased by my father around 1948 and sold to a contractor working on the construction of a large hydro dam being built on the Ottawa River about 40 miles upstream from Petawawa. That was the last we ever saw or heard about the engine.

Contact steam enthusiast Bert Michel at R.R. 1, 590 Black Bay Road, Petawawa, ONT Canada K8H 2W8.