Waterloo Boy Tractor Scaled to Perfection

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

| July 2015

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.