The September/October 2017 issue of Antique Power magazine will be available in subscriber mailboxes and on newsstands soon. Our latest cover tractor and 2017 Century Tractor is a 1917 Waterloo Boy known as the "Bathtub D," which is owned by Dan Thomas of Plain City, Ohio.
Resurrecting the “Bathtub D”
Dan Thomas has restored the missing link, bridging the Waterloo Boy and the 2-cylinder John Deere tractor lines.
by Chad Elmore, photos by Brad Bowling
One of the tractors owned by Ohio collector Dan Thomas was never meant to survive. Were it not for a lucky scoop from a construction worker, and the quick thinking of several John Deere tractor aficionados, his 1917 Waterloo Boy experimental, dubbed the “Bathtub D,” would still be buried near the Cedar River in Waterloo, Iowa.
Thomas acquired the tractor in 2011, but the story of its discovery and restoration began in 1992. “I attended the Two-Cylinder Expo in Waterloo, Iowa, in July 1992, when I heard about a construction crew digging up an old main case from a tractor that looked like a John Deere D,” he said.
With John Deere experts in town for the Expo, the rusty collection of gears and cast iron was identified as the remains of an experimental tractor that the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Co. had developed before its 1918 acquisition by Deere & Co. It was the first of a series of prototypes that would lead to the John Deere Model D tractor, which started production in 1923.
“A friend, Earl Scott, bought the main case for $50 and a case of beer. It was delivered to his barn in Ohio, and that is where it stayed until I purchased it,” Thomas said. “Earl really liked owning it, but circumstances dictated that he never got to work on it,” he continued. “I bought the main case with a couple of other John Deere tractors from his son. I later sold the other two tractors for what I paid for all of them, which meant that I had no money in the Waterloo Boy experimental. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then.”
There might never have been a story to tell. Scott, related to Thomas that thieves stole an amount of scrap iron from his property. They had dragged the case out to the edge of his barn where it was stored, but it must have been too heavy to load and was left behind.
To read more about our featured 1917 Waterloo Boy "Bathtub D," pick up a copy of the September/October 2017 issue of Antique Power magazine!
Other articles in this issue include:
- Honoring the Long Blue Line - Charlie and Harold Fellers bring the Bass family’s 1963 Ford Model 2000 back to life. (by Rick Mannen, photos by Al Rogers)
- The Find of a Lifetime - Brad Smith’s 1916 Aultman-Taylor Model 30-60 tractor is a prairie original with many working days ahead of it. (by Ray Hoffman, photos courtesy of Brad Smith)
- My First Tractor - Eli Fred’s 1940 Silver King Model 440 highway mowing tractor is a treasured remembrance of his grandfather. (by Eli Fred)
- Treasure Hunting in Maine - John Sundberg had no trouble finding tractor parts and a mechanic who knew what to do with them. (by John Sundberg)
- Canada Connection: A Rich Harvest—The Combine in the Tractor Age (by Rick Mannen)
- Gallery: Case C (Rick Mannen)
- Garden Tractors: 1949 Allis-Chalmers Model G (by Richard Adams)
- Letter from the Editor: It's All Good (by Rick Mannen)
- Letter from the Publisher: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same (by Patrick Ertel)
- Letters to the Editor
- Of Grease & Chaff: How Much Work? (by Ted Kalvitis)
- Photos from the Attic: IH 8-16 (by Rick Frostman)
- Tech Tips: Restoring a pto on a Farmall Cub (by Ted Kalvitis, photos by Emily Erekaife)
- Tractor Show: Readers show off their favorites
- The Yankee's Attic: Farming by Ford in the 1940s (by Ed Bezanson)