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Broke my Snow Blade or the Saga of the Zam-Bolens

bolens h14 snow caster snow blade snow plow

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#1 Dan O ONLINE  

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Posted January 15, 2016 - 03:05 AM

I'm a newbie, I got my first tractor, a Bolens H14 this fall. The previous owners added the letters ZAM in front of the Bolens because they used it to clear(and squeegee) their ice rink. For a guy who really likes to skate, it seemed like a sign. It's been repowered with a Honda GX340 motor. It came with a plow, a snow blade, 2 mower decks and a snow caster(round back), and a dumping "wheel barrow" thing. also an extra set of wheels with weights and chains for the rear. I love the fact that it has a PTO. No belts to mess with, easy swap on the attachments. Seemed not bad for $400.

H14 Craigslist Photo
Honda Repower

It has turned out not to be quite the good deal I thought it was, although I've had a lot of fun wrenching on it. (My wife says I'm nuts)


I had to rebuild the snow caster, I did that in December(before the first snow fell) after figuring out that the previous owner ran it with no oil in the gearbox. New gears (from Rick, blackjackjakexxix), new bearings (local bearing store) all around, and now it throws snow great. Even wet heavy snow.

Snow Caster Bearings
Snow Caster Gear Box
Snow Caster Bearing Replacement
New and Old Snow Caster Gears
Snow Caster Gears

I also ended up sleeving the tubes at the front end of the tractor. Right after I bought it my wife sat on it, turned the wheel and the whole front rocked back and forth. Im guessing that it was the same previous owner who killed the gears on the snow caster also pushed the anti-crush plates in the front tubes back so he could get the bolts in easier. That caused the tubes in front to collapse. Got the torch out, a muffler pipe expander and about 16 inches (each side) of heaver tubing to pound into the front tubes. Carefully drilled some holes and its good as new, maybe even better, the tubing I used is much thicker than the original tubing.(I also put the plates back in, in the right place) I also replaced the axle pivot and put some bushing in the axle support. There was a lot of wear in there. When its already apart, that's the time to do it.

Internal Sleeving the Front Tubes 2
Internal Sleeving the Front Tubes 1
At the end of my first snow snowplowing session, when I was almost but not quite done, the the snow caster quit staying in the up position. I put it back in the garage and decided that I would look at it the next morning. One of the hydraulic hoses burst, had a hole worn through it. Hydraulic fluid all over the place. The previous owner again, he routed the hose against a frame bracket, and the valve wasn't bolted down, so lots of vibration and a hole. Got a new hose from the local hydraulic hose store (who even knew there was such a place), took it all apart, put the new hose in, put it back together, bolted everything down, added a a lot of hydraulic fluid and all good to go.
H14 Bad Hydraulic Hose
H14- new Hydraulic Hose
H14- Disassembled for Hose Repair


The next outing, it stops in the middle of clearing the alley, hydrostatic just cuts out. Push it back into the garage (after taking the plow off in the snow) My first thought is that I cooked the tranny when the hose burst, but instead, the belts died. Did some searching on the forums, lots of people talking about rebuilding the hydrostatic, then there is one that says, check the belts first. I checked the belts. Apparently the old belts didn't like being soaked in hydraulic fluid. Off to NAPA. got 2 new belts, good to go.



Unfortunately, now I broke my snow blade. But, as they said about Steve Austin, we have the technology, we can rebuild.

I'm still learning where the high spots in the sidewalk and alley are, and I hooked one at an angle and the mounting bracket broke/tore. Actually I hooked several, but only the last one was really bad. I had already done some welding on it, a couple of the tack welds had popped and the angle selector was very worn, had to rebuild the bar and the slots, but that all went fairly easily, things seemed to be in good shape. Little did I know. 


Sad, rusty snow blade
Sad broken snow blade
See through snow Blade
Laying out new metal for Snow Blade


There is a lot of rust in there, the metal is really thin. I figure that if I weld it back together it will just fail again. So, out to the garage to look in the odds and ends scrap pile (never throw useful stuff away). Found a piece of 3 1/2 by 2 1/2 by 3/8 or 1/2 inch angle iron, also a piece of 3/8 inch plate for a new scraper. I figure this will double the weight of the plow, should help in snow removal. Get a pry bar and the angle grinder out and take the old mounting barcket off  and start laying out the new pieces. I'm still deciding what to do about the bottom 3- 4 inches of the plow blade, it's really rusty(see through) and I will need to put something on either the back or the front to reinforce it. I'm worried that if i put it on the front side the snow will stick/get hung up on it. We will see. I'll keep you posted.

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#2 Alc OFFLINE  



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Posted January 15, 2016 - 06:13 AM

Welcome to GTTalk ! Looks like your tractor has done plenty of work and with all your repairs many more

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#3 WrenchinOnIt OFFLINE  


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Posted January 15, 2016 - 06:39 AM

Welcome indeed, good way to get amalgamated with the brand with that much work,you're probably a keeper. Good job on all your repairs, TF blades are plentiful it seems in the great lakes region, they usually can be bought reasonably, I have several taking up space, including a NOS one. If you get in a bind.

Edited by WrenchinOnIt, January 15, 2016 - 06:41 AM.

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#4 KennyP OFFLINE  



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Posted January 15, 2016 - 06:44 AM

:wave: Welcome to the forum! I'd say you are learning a lot about your tractor this way!

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#5 chieffan OFFLINE  

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Posted January 15, 2016 - 08:17 AM

When we buy a used tractor we never really know what we have till we get it home and get to using it and looking it over real good.  Repairs are expensive and ruin that good deal real fast.  Been there - done that.

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#6 Bolens 1000 OFFLINE  

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Posted January 15, 2016 - 08:24 AM

Hello Welcome to Gtt :wave:

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#7 crittersf1 OFFLINE  


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Posted January 15, 2016 - 08:33 AM


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#8 oldedeeres OFFLINE  

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Posted January 15, 2016 - 09:07 AM

Welcome aboard. Sounds like getting your outfit in shape has become a point of honour--- I like that! It'l be better than new when you're done.

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#9 Oldford OFFLINE  

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Posted January 15, 2016 - 09:47 AM

I'd say for 400 bucks you did fine.  Honda motor probably costs around that.  Hydro lift counts for a lot.  Cool you could find all the parts you needed and fix it yourself. 


Thanks for reminding me, i need to check my front blade and make sure it's unlocked after using it last summer.  If you get tired of patching yours could look for one with trip springs.  Even a different type/brand, with your skills could probably adapt it to the Zambolens, good luck

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#10 JDBrian OFFLINE  


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Posted January 15, 2016 - 10:59 AM

Well done on the repairs!! What you are describing is normal for many older GTs that have been used and abused for many years. Lots of stuff worn and ready to give out when put under a load. As others have said, it's a good way to learn about your tractor. 

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#11 boyscout862 OFFLINE  

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Posted January 15, 2016 - 11:34 AM

Welcome to GTT. You have a great tractor there. The dump attachment is a very desireable treasure. Checkout our Manuals Section for manuals and brouchures you may want. When you have questions, just ask. We are all in this together. Good Luck, Rick
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#12 blackjackjakexxix OFFLINE  



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Posted January 15, 2016 - 01:30 PM

I think you did fine on the price,the rear dump carts are hard to find,and usually bring good money,also welcome aboard,and Thanks for the purchase,alot of good guys on here that can help you out with info
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#13 Eric OFFLINE  

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Posted January 15, 2016 - 04:04 PM

I have a trip blade here and live in Wisconsin. Pm if your interested, it is off a cub and shouldn't be to hard to adapt. I believe I may also have a bolens blade just the blade no mount or shoes. Eric.

#14 blackjackjakexxix OFFLINE  



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Posted January 15, 2016 - 07:21 PM

I have a decent blade here also,not sure how pricey the shipping would be

#15 Dan O ONLINE  

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Posted January 15, 2016 - 07:26 PM

Wow. Thanks for all the responses and support. I've been having a lot of fun both wrenching and driving the tractor. I bought it to reduce the amount of shoveling and pushing the snowblower around, a utilitarian tool. I certainly didn't expect the plowing and blowing to be as enjoyable as it's turned out to be. Thanks for the offers for the snow blades, mine is a spring trip one, (the NOS one is a bit to much for this tractor) but for right now I'm going to try to fix this one. I like the idea of a super heavy duty mounting system. DannO

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