It was wonderful meeting Steve and I have him to thank again for the delivery!
This tractor must be seen in person to be appreciated. If you didn't know anything about Bolens, you'd think the engine swap was factory. It runs and performs just like an OEM machine would with no hint or signs that it has been modified.
After it was delivered, I spent the remainder of the day on the machine moving dirt anywhere around the yard that I could!! I have a feeling that I am going to be putting A LOT of seat time on it. It is just so much fun to use and so versatile.
What is it like to use?
As I told Steve, this was actually my first time seeing a large frame Bolens in person. To describe it in one word, "tank." This thing is a BEAST. The sheet metal all around is thick and a lot areas like the hood for instance are thicker than my Economy tractor for comparison. Probably the biggest thing to get used to is the hydro pedal and the positioning of your foot for the actuation. I'm already picking it up pretty quick but it's a different style then would I've ever used before. The pedal is sensitive to your inputs.
Thanks to Steve's work, the tractor feels tight all around and does not have slop or play anywhere. All the bushings, seals, bearings etc etc have been replaced. In other words, when you go over bumps you don't hear or feel any looseness in the machine. I can't over emphasize enough how heavy and planted it feels.
I know this is a very broad comparison, but the last loader I used was my relative's Case backhoe. You'd think something like this would feel a lot lighter in comparison, but I kid you not, if that Case was on a smaller scale it would feel exactly like this. The tractor has a very indestructible feel to it as if it belongs on a job site. You almost feel like you're operating a piece of heavy construction equipment as the loader does not ever overcome the machine in anyway.
The Kohler 22HP v-twin runs smooth and has a lots of power. The hydraulic system, especially, likes higher rpm's in order to make quick transitions.
Having the hydrostat operation definitely goes hand-in-hand with the loader.
The tiller attachment points have been modified so that it can mount to the 3-point hitch which is pretty cool and convenient.
Bolens vs Economy Tractor:
I thought it would be fun to do a little comparison between the two. They really are two completely different tractors. The Economy is gear driven while the Bolens is hydrostatic. The Economy has an electric PTO vs. the tension system in the Bolens. You really sit "in" the Bolens while you feel like you sit "on top" of the Economy tractor. The Bolens definitely has the Economy in terms of hydraulic technology by having all the ports and front/mid/rear controls. The Economy Tractor setup is much, much, more archaic in design and limited. You really cannot operate more than one attachment at a time on the Economy vs the Bolens you can run two or maybe even three at once.
In terms of size, I was expecting the Bolens to be smaller than the Economy which I consider to be more of a small compact utility tractor over a GT. They are pretty close. The hood on the Bolens I think might actually be a hair taller than the Economy but I haven't measured.
Despite being older, the Bolens feels a lot more modern than the Economy. I think it is mainly due to the modern characteristics of the newer tech Kohler engine and probably the much more advanced hydraulics system.
I will say that it's pretty cool to have the opportunity to own two different tractors that are designed in completely ways.
Anyway, what an exciting day. I've dreamed of the day I'd own a Bolens large frame for a very long time and I'm glad I waited this long to get this particular one. I am looking forward to giving it a total esthetic make over. Possibly this winter I will take it apart and either have it powdercoated or painted. That is if I can withstand not being able to use it for a while!