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Bolens 1668 hydro

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#1 tom tractor OFFLINE  

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Posted May 26, 2016 - 04:54 AM

I'm considering getting a Bolens 1668 Hydro. Can anybody give me a review of the tractor - how reliable is the tractors motor, Hydro and mower deck. Is there any known problems with this.
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#2 Husky OFFLINE  



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Posted May 26, 2016 - 06:35 AM

I've owned two 1669L which are almost the same, different engine. The 1668 is a nice tractor. It  probably has the 16HP L head twin opposed briggs in it and that is a great engine. I've got one in another tractor. The hydro is an eaton 11 and is a great hydro. They use it in the HT23 so it's got plenty of power in the 1669. The mower deck linkages sometimes get worn in the holes of the lift bars. They tend to oval out but most do on other decks as well. The deck is super easy to take off and put on. It is belt driven with electric pto. I hate the electric pto that is the only thing I don't like about the Eliminator tractors. Just a personal preference thing I guess. I like the manual pto. The steering bushing in the steering shaft are cheap and get worn but you can replace them. Overall it's a nice tractor and a pleasure to run. I loved both my 1669's when I owned them. I only sold them to buy my DGT 1700's that I now run. Hope this helps.

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#3 Paulgo OFFLINE  

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Posted May 26, 2016 - 07:27 AM

Husky pretty much covered it. Switching mule drives between summer and winter use is a small pain. Some of them have power lift, which is a lot nicer than the standard manual lift.  They made a tiller attachment for these, but I don't really consider them heavy enough for that sort of use.  Paul

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#4 Oldford OFFLINE  

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Posted May 26, 2016 - 08:17 AM

This spring i got my first bolens, 1980 h16xt basically the predecessor to the 1668 tho i'm no expert by any means.  It mows great, no complaints there.  The briggs 16 is powerful and smooth at the same time, it never feels like too much tractor or not enough power.  It is rugged built with thick metal and pretty easy to work on so far.


The driveshaft is simple and rugged unlike some brands where you had to worry about rubber engine mounts and rag joints wearing out and breaking things.  Foot pedal hydro is real nice unlike my jd which i could never adjust the creep out of and always need an extra hand to work controls.  or my case that likes to lunge around pretty hard.  


I see eliminators getting parted a lot now, prices are dropping.  so there is the "save one from scrap" thing otoh you can find extras.  Last night i picked up a plow, wweights, chains for pretty cheap being out of season.  a guy in nh i think rebuilds the electric clutch on craigslist.  bolens may be the best supported machine on gtt with parts and knowledge, good luck

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#5 ClassicBolens OFFLINE  

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Posted May 26, 2016 - 12:19 PM

The 1668 is a fine machine. They are very well built and one of the easiest to maintain and use. Parts are relatively easy to obtain and plentiful. I wouldn't put too much concern into the electric PTO clutch. These tend to be less prone to failure than some of the others and I can still get the field coil new for less than a rebuilt one costs. The Eaton 11 hydro and Bolens rear end are as good as they get. Rarely are there any issues. When the mower deck is set up and leveled properly they can mow as well as anything out there and cut beautifully.



Problem areas to look for: 


Front axle assembly pivot point. These did not have a replaceable bushing or bearing in them. Rather they used a bushing that is welded into the axle and used a bolt through the axle instead of a pivot pin. The welds can break potentially requiring the axle to be replaced. Also, the pivot bolt and welded bushing can be worn. Raise the front of the tractor to get the front wheels off the ground and inspect these areas. A little bit of play is normal and expected, however if you can tilt the axle forward and rearward there is likely a problem.


Steering gears. Visually and physically check for sloppiness and wear or gear skipping. The steering gears are obsolete and somewhat difficult to find new. Good used gears are pretty easy to find. The sector gear is cast iron and typically assumes all of the wear. There is a flange bushing in the steering support that can be replaced if needed. Unfortunately, it is not common to find that this bushing has ever been replaced just for preventive maintenance because it is a fairly big job to do. In this diagram, #59 is the flange bushing. #36 is a shim washer. There is also an upper nylon steering bushing beneath the steering wheel. All of these parts are readily available.



As Husky mentioned, linkages and pin holes can and do wear out as they do on any machine. Look for overly large, or oval pin holes. This is more commonly found when people have used a threaded bolt or undersized pins in place of the correct pins. My 1668 front axle support had worn out attachment point pin holes from bolts being used before I got it:




The key to longevity of the Briggs L Head Twin cylinder engine is maintenance and cleanliness. Change the engine oil annually. Don't skimp on the oil. Head down to your local small engine dealer and get some quality small engine oil that is made for these air cooled engines. SAE30 for summer, 10w30 for winter. Keep the air filter clean at all times and replace it annually. Keep the engine clean of debris and grime build up. These engines need to be cool. Blocked cooling fins and plugged up flywheel screen will kill one of these engines. Make sure all engine tins remain intact. They are there for a purpose and that purpose is cooling the engine. I highly recommend a good engine degreasing at least annually.   


Overall, they are really a great machine. As with all older equipment you have to expect some repairs and maintenance will be needed. Be sure to tend to any found issues sooner rather than later. 










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