Originally started as a joint partnership in Port Washington Wisconsin. The earliest of the Bolens company was actually the J.E. Gilson / H.W. Bolens Manufacturing Co. working together making chair irons and garden tools. Then in 1914 Gilson sold out to Bolens and they went their separate ways.
Quoted from Robert Mann: “Bolens from that point on had become the worldwide leader in the manufacturing of Outdoor Power Equipment. Located in the same building since 1894, they went on to invent and make the world's first self contained four wheel riding garden tractor, The first mulching mower design that is still patented to this very day and one of the first hydrostatic transmissions implemented on a garden tractor.”
Some time during the 1940’s around the WWII era, FMC acquired Bolens which then implemented their progressive engineering program. In 1948 Bolens introduced the first compact tractor called the Ridemaster.
Bolens Continued to blow away the competition adding the Ride-a-matic series Garden tractors in the late 50’s up until 1962.
1962 Was a very important year for Bolens. The Bolens Husky 600 was introduced to the world. This garden tractor boasted a 6hp Briggs and Stratton engine with a farm tractor type PTO that could run many attachments. The Bolens Husky 600 popularity and durability launched the “tube frame series” which made an incredible run of 16 years of production from 1962 to 1978. With each year that passed Bolens upped the standards by adding features and larger engines years ahead of other garden tractor makers.
One year later (1963) Bolens yet again improved their garden tractor lineup by introducing the Bolens Husky 800 which featured the cast iron 8hp Wisconsin engine. Bolens also startled the industry in 1964 when the Bolens Estate keeper made its debut. This tractor had center pivot steering which was way ahead of its time.
1966 Saw another turning point in Bolens design when the Bolens Husky 1050 was introduced in 1966. This tractor was a more fine tuned version of the previous makes; the Bolens 600, 800, 900 and the 1000.
The Bolens Husky 1050 featured a 10HP Wisconsin engine with a 6 speed transmission. The transmission had two speeds ie; hi / low built into the transmission. Lights were also sold as standard equipment. The Bolens 1050 was sold from 1966 to 1969. This was one of Bolens most popular and most marketed tractors. Bolens also used Arnold Palmer as a marketing tool for advertising in the mid to late 60's.
Yet again in 1967 Bolens introduced another design ahead of it's time in their hydrostatic transmissions: “The treadle petal”. 1967 Also was the debut of the large frame Bolens series (1250). The Big husky 1250 Featured a heavy duty transmission powered by a rugged 12hp Wisconsin engine. Bolens was still not done yet.
In the following years even larger engines were used on the Large Frame Garden tractors. The 1455, 1476, and the 1477 featured the Wisconsin 14 HP engine.
In 1971 Bolens introduced the 1886 Large Frame Tractor. This again was fitted with an ever larger engine than the previous large frames. The 1886 was fitted with a 18hp Kohler engine. 1973 saw the launch of the HT series which yet again featured a larger engine, a 20HP!.
The HT series consisted of the HT20, HT18, HT23, HT23D (diesel). The last year for the large frame series was 1987. These big garden tractors could power just about anything. Even a back hoe and front end loader! What more could you ask for?.
Sadly after 1987 Bolens started to decline in the quality standpoint. They were bought out by Troy built and then by MTD in 2001.
Luckily, there are still a lot of these older Bolens garden tractors out there to this day. Many people are now starting to collect and restore these wonderful garden tractors. There are a lot of knowledgeable Bolens tractor collectors here on GTtalk and the Bolens Tractor Forum is a great source of information.
- Feb 15, 2016 06:31 PM
- by Bolens 1000
I recently restored my dad's Bolens 1053 this past summer/fall. I first started by taking it apart piece by piece until it didn't even look like it could be a tractor anymore. Once I had it torn down I proceeded with sandblasting every single piece. There wasn't a single piece that wasn't bare metal till I was finished.
Here are some pics of what I started with and the tear down process:
Here are some pictures of the 1053 as it was being finished and what it looks like now:
I still have some more to do like I mentioned before. I still need to paint the wheels and the original gas tank had a hairline crack in it. We had a spare tank from the parts we got when we bought our 800 and I currently have the new tank sandblasted and ready for paint but winter has fallen upon us now so I will wait till warmer weather to paint it.
The Wisconsin motor was partially disassembled and all the carbon was cleaned out and all new gaskets installed. When we bought the tractor it would barely run and when it would it would drip gas out of the carburetor. When I went to tear the motor down it was apparent why it didn't run right and that was because almost all of the head bolts were completely loose letting it loose almost all of it's compression.
As for the carburetor, the previous owner installed the gasket on the wrong side of the venturi and caused an air leak and also let the gas leak. Once I got the restoration done and got everything ready she fired right off and ran like a champ. We had the original seat reupholstered at a local shop. It turned out pretty sharp and I think I will be having them do the seats for my MF8 and MF12.
I had a lot of help along the way from members here by posting questions about the Bolens 1053 in the Bolens tractor forum. Also the Bolens tractor manuals here at GTtalk were a huge help.
- Dec 30, 2014 06:31 PM
- by NUTNDUN