Here, we discuss the design of a model-scale WEC for obtaining data to inform limitations of the simulations and provide better insight into control design and implementation for full scale systems. In addition to the design process for this device, we present a hardware load simulator for dry system performance and dynamics characterization. This load simulator system approximates the wave tank test environment, including linear inertia and stiffness, as well as some damping. This load simulator comprises the components of the classical spring-mass-damper system studied in many physics and system dynamics courses. By allowing the power take-off to excite the load simulator system, we are able to perform valuable bench testing experiments within the operating regimes that will be tested in the wave tank. Results from these bench tests and system identification show good performance from the actuator.