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The Waterloo Boy Tractor: The Beginning of the John Deere 2 Cylinder Tractor

By Dave Cole

The Waterloo Boy Tractor: The Beginning of the John Deere
Two Cylinder Tradition
By: Dave Cole

Waterloo Boy Model N 1916 to 1924

Anything that can be done on the farm by horses, can be
accomplished by the Waterloo Boy Tractor.

The Waterloo Boy tractors had a water cooled, two cylinder engine
that burned kerosene, a cheaper fuel for farmers to purchase. The
transmission was located on the left side of the engine, instead
of in line or behind the engine. It had automotive type sliding
gears, the Model L and R had only one forward speed, while
the Model N had two. (Although bull pinion gears as an in
field add on were available by special order for farmers
who found the need for more speed)

The Model R Waterloo Boy Tractor

Until 1919, the Model R Waterloo Boy tractor was sold in 13
different styles, from the A to the M. Style N, which became
the Model N Waterloo Boy tractor was introduced in 1917.

The Model R was much the same as the Model L, except that the R
was given a 6.5 bore where the L had a 5.5 bore, both had a 7
inch stroke.

A little over 8,000 Model R's were manufactured, including those
shipped overseas.

The Model N Waterloo Boy Tractor

The Model N Waterloo Boy was manufactured from 1917 thru 1924.

It was known as a 12-25 tractor because the tractor delivered 12
horsepower at the drawbar and 25 horsepower at the belt pulley,
at 750 revolutions per minute.

The new and improved Model N had two forward speeds, 2 1/1 and
3 miles per hour.

Pulling a 3 bottom plow, or a 9 foot disc harrow, or 2 binders,
the new Waterloo Boy Model N had two forward speeds with a 6.5
bore and 7 inch stroke engine. It delivered 16 drawbar horsepower
and 25 at the belt with an engine rpm of 750.

The outer bull pinion gear on the final drive was changed to
have the teeth face the inside of the drive wheel to decrease
wear on the final drives and help shield them from dirt.

The Model N was an immediate success with almost 5,000 units
being sold in 1918.

Waterloo Boy and Deere & Company

Noting the success of the Waterloo Boy Tractor, Deere and
Company's sales manager Frank Silloway began to investigate.
The philosophy of upper management was that Deere and Company
could no longer just manufacture implements, it was time to
move on to the business of selling tractors.

While Deere and Company had been experimenting with various
tractor designs since 1912, nothing had proven itself to be a
seller on the market.

After much consideration and despite the consternation of
certain board members, Silloway believed the Waterloo Boy
Model N was the second best tractor on the market, the first
belonging to the International Harvester Company.

Sales in 1919 did hit a slump, mostly due to Henry Ford's
introduction of the Fordson tractor, but the board members
of Deere and Company did take an option to purchase the
Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company.

On March 14, 1918, an agreement was reached by the board
agreeing to purchase the Waterloo company for $2,350,000.

On January 20, 1920 Deere and company were officially in the
tractor business. The acquisition gave many more sales
opportunities to the Waterloo Boy tractor as Deere and Company
had an already established dealer network across the United

The new John Deere Waterloo Boy tractors were to be painted
John Deere green, except for: hub caps - red, gasolene tank -

The Waterloo Boy decals were were still used, however the John
Deere decals were placed on the front.

In March and April of 1920 the Model N had the privilege of
being the first tractor tested at Nebraska under the new tractor
testing law.

The tractor exceeded the advertised 12 - 25 and became also the
first tractor to be certified.

The Waterloo Boy Overtime Tractors

Export of the Model R began in 1917 with tractors going to
Denmark, England, France, Greece, Ireland and South Africa.
Most of these exported to England were purchased by L. J.
Martin, head of the Overtime Tractor Company, London.

Upon arrival these tractors received a new paint job, decals
and serial number and a new name....Overtime.

In Great Britain, the Waterloo Boy tractors burned paraffin,
the British equivalent of kerosene.

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