I have a love / hate relationship with my Bolens. I love it, because it has been in the family since the late 70's and my friend's house backed-up to the plant where it was built in Port Washington. I hate it because I have spent so much time and energy on it and it continues to have problems. My wife probably hates it more than I do right now. When it runs, it makes me so happy though and I really don't have the cash to buy something else. This is why I am going to give it one more try fixing it.
This tractor belonged to my uncle who had treated it (from what I know) very well from the late 1970's to when he gave it to me about 4 years ago. My uncle had been using it at his cottage to occasionally plow, cut and launch boats. When I got it, it ran well. After the 1st year, I had to replace the solid state ignition and the battery. About 2 years ago I replaced the starter and the battery cables.
Last fall I was having a bear of a time trying to get the thing started, and I didn't have any compression. It always took a little bit to get it started, but this was different. I took the head off and figured out that one of the valve seats was completely loose in the head. I took it to a Napa and had them put in new valve seats. I put it all back together and it was like I had a new tractor! It would start instantly; even in winter! This last winter was the first winter that I was able to use the plow attachment.
That brings us to the present. A couple of weeks back, I felt like it was running hot, and I realized that after having cleaned the carb in the fall, I didn't remember adjusting the mixture screw. I also checked the spark plug and it was black and sooty. So, the next time I was going to use it, I decided to reset the carb. I turned the screw in probably 5 full rotations before it set. I then turned it out 2 turns. It ran OK, but was loosing power under load (mower on). I tried several adjustments even going back to 5 turns out, but now it ran rough everywhere except for completely seated. I checked the air filter (new as of last fall), and there was a lot of gas on the filter and on the plate it gets sandwiched against. I tried leaving the air filter off, just to see, and shortly after, I lost compression.
After the kids were in bed one night, I opened the valve cover and noticed that the intake pushrod was unseated. I reseated it and adjusted the valves to .005 for the intake and .010 for exhaust. So this last weekend, I tried it again, but it was still hard to start and then I lost compression again. I assume that it is the pushrod again, but haven't had the time to look with all of the push mowing that I am doing!
Has anyone else experienced something like this? Is this the sign of the end? If it is toast, is there a good replacement motor that I can toss in? Will I need to cave into my wife telling me that I need to get rid of it?
Thanks in advance for any help, guidance and emotional support given.