Waterloo Boy Tractor Scaled to Perfection

A tractor collector and his grandson join forces on a half-scale Waterloo Boy.

| July 2015

  • Rolling chassis
    The completed frame, front steering, transaxle and engine mount come together to create a rolling chassis.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • The driver's platform welded
    The driver’s platform welded into the frame. Note the machined axle fitted into the steel wheel hub and flange plate mounted to the John Deere transaxle.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Steering box
    The Waterloo Boy’s steering box with chain wrap, gear and steering shaft with column support. The tall clutch lever with the idler pulley engages the belt. The smaller lever on the left operates the brake on the transaxle.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Mounts and bearings
    Mounts and bearings for the jackshaft with pulleys and belts. Late in the project, Mike and Vince adjusted the gearing. “It was a little too slow,” Mike says. “After I found a website on pulley conversions, we changed a couple of pulleys on the jackshaft and got the engine to run at 400 rpm, reducing the rpms into the transaxle to 177 rpm.” The tractor has four speeds plus reverse.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Ready for paint
    The running and driving tractor, complete enough to sand, prime and paint.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Rear view
    A rear view showing the fabricated seat mount and one of the fenders installed.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Handwritten notes
    A page of handwritten notes from the logbook Mike kept on the project.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Restored Waterloo Boy
    A restored Waterloo Boy Model N displayed at the Great Dorset Steam Fair in England in 2008.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Half-scale Waterloo Boy
    This half-scale Waterloo Boy tractor was built from scratch by Mike Hill and his grandson, Vince Koenig.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Finished scale Waterloo Boy
    This scale model Waterloo Boy travels at 2-1/2 mph. “When the tractor is in the very first gear,” Mike says, “you could probably walk backward a lot faster than it would go.”
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Mike and Vince
    Mike and his grandson Vince share a collection of 15 antique tractors as well as a few stationary gas engines and antique lawn tractors. Mike’s daughter has a John Deere Model L; her husband has a John Deere Model LA. “We have a lot of fun,” Mike says. “This is just a good hobby. You meet really nice people at tractor shows.”
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus

  • Rolling chassis
  • The driver's platform welded
  • Steering box
  • Mounts and bearings
  • Ready for paint
  • Rear view
  • Handwritten notes
  • Restored Waterloo Boy
  • Half-scale Waterloo Boy
  • Finished scale Waterloo Boy
  • Mike and Vince

Tractor collectors Mike Hill and his grandson Vince Koenig wanted a Waterloo Boy tractor in the worst way. But as they watched prices for the rare, early tractor rise higher and higher, they gave up hope. When they heard of one selling for more than $145,000, they did what any rational person would do. “We decided to build one,” Mike says.

The tractor-loving duo, who live in Lake Havasu, Arizona, have been old iron partners since Vince was 4. Now 21 and working fulltime for Lake Havasu’s Parks & Recreation Department, Vince has mastered all aspects of old iron restoration. “He understands it all,” Mike says, “mags, carburetors, governors and engine work. We do all our own work.”

Armed with books providing Waterloo Boy photos and detailed specifications, Mike and Vince got to work. Deciding on a working half-scale version of the iconic tractor, they reined in the project scope. “We started figuring and making notes,” Mike says, “and decided maybe we could do it.”

The nine-month project, he says, is a salute to the heritage of the John Deere tractor. “This is where John Deere got involved with tractors,” he says. “They had made several attempts to build a tractor and failed. We love all tractors; we have McCormick-Deering, Case, Allis-Chalmers and Ford, but mainly Deeres.”



Rounding up parts

Liftoff came in the form of a 1-1/2 hp John Deere Model E gas engine. A neighbor bought the beautifully painted relic at an auction, but couldn’t get it to start. In fact, no one could get the engine to start. “We opened it up and it was junk,” Mike says. “Everything in it was shot. That engine could never run in the shape it was in. But we rebuilt it and got it running.”

Mike found a rear-end transaxle for a mid-1960s John Deere 110 lawn tractor on an online auction. He sourced wheels from Paul Ohmes, Wentzville, Missouri. “The front wheels are steel wheels off an old John Deere side-delivery hay rake,” he says. “The rear wheels are off a horse-drawn manure spreader.” He also found an original antique John Deere implement seat.



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