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2x Bolens Ground Keeper's Recovered - Advice?

gkground keeper barn finds bolens

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#1 regularseepage OFFLINE  

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Posted June 03, 2016 - 01:27 PM

Hello everyone, 

 

First post here, fantastic site you have here. 

 

A friend of mine and I recovered 2x Ground Keepers, both model number 96001. I wanted to thank a member on here by the name of framesteer for uploading the entire service manual, I owe you one. :thumbs:

 

Few questions; 

  • Were most / all of these made 1968 / 1969?
  • Any advice on getting these started? Both have the 2 cylinder Wisconsin. 
  • Should these have a generator or alternator? One of mine have a generator, the other alternator. 
  • These Gk's transmissions are a bit confusing - A high and low and a 4 speed (I think, i was feeling gears on one of them.) is the high/low just a 2 speed rear end? 
  • Does anyone have or know where an exhaust manifold is for one of these Wisconsin engines? I am missing one. 
  • Is this Wisonsin engine in anything else? Do any parts from anything else Bolens makes besides the EK cross over? 

 

Thanks guys, 

-regularseepage  :wave:

 

 


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#2 boyscout862 ONLINE  

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Posted June 03, 2016 - 03:34 PM

Welcome to GTT. I know nothing about your machines so, wait for someone knowledgeable. Parts are available from our sponsors. The manual should be able to tell you about the transmission. Good Luck, Rick



#3 SC Farmer OFFLINE  

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Posted June 03, 2016 - 03:51 PM

Welcome!  Wow, if your avatar is a picture of your Bolens, that is one monster of a machine.  Impressive.  Good luck with your project!



#4 Paulgo OFFLINE  

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Posted June 03, 2016 - 05:18 PM

Welcome to GTT:picsoritsnotyours:   Paul


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#5 LPBolens ONLINE  

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Posted June 03, 2016 - 06:37 PM

I have more than one of the GK's myself. They do have high and low range in a range box attached to the transmission, and a 3-speed transmission with reverse. So you get 6 forward and 2 reverse speeds. Note that the final drive is via drop axles.

 

It seems that the Groundskeepers (GK's) were sold only in 1968 and 1969, with 960-01 and 960-02 being the only two model numbers.

 

GK's were originally equipped with generators.

 

The Wisconsin THD's used in the GK's employ a magneto. If you are having trouble getting them to fire, you may need to clean and regap the points in the magneto, or replace them.

 

The GK and the EK are two very different machines. I doubt they have any parts in common. (There is also an LK, again very different.)


Edited by LPBolens, June 03, 2016 - 06:44 PM.

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#6 Eric OFFLINE  

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Posted June 03, 2016 - 07:31 PM

I also have a few GKs, two and three quarters to be exact. The motor is a wisconsin THD and was quite commonly used in generators cable pullers stump grinders and many other municipal and military pieces of equipment. Not many parts on these machines are found on other machines other than bearings and bolts and so on. Feel free to ask anything as I am restoring one of my GKs this summer and it is fresh in my mind. I also have parts for the body and quite a few other things just ask and I will let you know. Good luck and have fun.
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#7 MailmAn OFFLINE  

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Posted June 06, 2016 - 07:40 AM

I have more than one of the GK's myself.

It seems that the Groundskeepers (GK's) were sold only in 1968 and 1969, with 960-01 and 960-02 being the only two model numbers.

 

For some reason, this just seems odd to me.  These GK's are such an impressive looking machine and had such a wide variety of attachments for them they could do almost anything.  You'd think like golf courses, municipalities, commercial lawn maintenance crews, snow plowing crews, etc. would have been buying these things like hotcakes.  Unless they gave it a shot making them for 2 years and for some reason they just didn't sell, so they decided to focus more on homeowner individual lawn care machines instead?  (Or else the large frames basically replaced this model?)  I wonder if machines by Toro or Scag or other companies for some reason were more favored over the Bolens' for commercial use?  It's really a shame they didn't make more of these or manufactured them for a longer run of years.  If I had a home with a larger yard (like more than an acre), I'd seriously love to own one of these machines myself.


Edited by MailmAn, June 06, 2016 - 07:43 AM.


#8 LPBolens ONLINE  

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Posted June 06, 2016 - 09:30 AM

There were not that many attachments. In fact, it seems Bolens only offered three, other than having a trailer specifically for moving the machine itself around. The three attachments offered by Bolens were the 72" batwing mower, the massive 2-stage, 48" snow blower, and the equally massive 54" dozer blade. I also have literature for a multiple reel mower set-up on a GK, but that was not offered by Bolens, and I don't know if it was something Bolens approved as an "Allied Manufacturer".

 

IMO, I think Bolens mistake might have been to make the GK a gear drive, 2-wheel drive tractor. I think had they made it hydrostatic and all wheel drive, they would have had more commercial success with it. That, and I would bet it was expensive. I did see a few of them back in the day, and they were all operated by municipalities and universities.


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#9 MailmAn OFFLINE  

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Posted June 06, 2016 - 10:50 AM

There were not that many attachments. In fact, it seems Bolens only offered three.


Well, isn't that enough? lol... I know it didn't have as many attachments for it as other Bolens tractors, but with those gigantic mower, snowblower, and plow blade attachments, you could still do a lot with them. Also, as I recall, a lot of attachments for many other Bolens tractors were not actually manufactured by Bolens either. For example, the sickle-bar mowers, flail mowers, and de-thatchers designed for use with the tube frame or large frame tractors were all made by other companies, like Haban. Is it possible that if the GK were more of a success and was made for longer than 2 years, these manufacturers may have started developing other attachments for this machine as well? A good one that comes to mind for the GK's would be either the flail mower or a brush-hog type mower to quickly rough-cut down large fields of brush where a finish mower is not necessarily needed.

 

Also, not that it is an attachment really, but it was an option at least, but they did make the nice solid cab for the driver's compartment as well.  I'd imagine that was almost a necessity for snowblowing with it in the winter.  For mowing in the summer with it... meh, not so much, probably.
 

IMO, I think Bolens' mistake might have been to make the GK a gear drive, 2-wheel drive tractor. I think had they made it hydrostatic and all wheel drive, they would have had more commercial success with it.


I do agree 100% here as well. I'm sure the gear drive was cheaper and possibly even more robust to implement in this machine, but it also makes it a lot more difficult to operate, especially for long periods of time as you would expect for commercial use. I'm not sure why they didn't made this hydrostatic drive either myself. (Unless that was still quite rare for the late 1960's?) I'm hoping that if it had continued to see production into the 1970's that they would have made a hydrostatic version of this tractor. I agree 4 wheel drive would have also been nice, but it seems like it would have been a lot more difficult to implement, especially back then. I think newer 4x4 commercial mowers (for instance, by Toro) are only implemented my having hydraulically operated drive spindles at each wheel, which is very expensive to engineer and produce. I think it would have been too cost-prohibitive for Bolens to try to engineer a 4 wheel drive system on a frame steer tractor like this. Even most of their large frame tractors were not 4 wheel drive either, as far as I am aware. They probably didn't start manufacturing 4x4 tractors until the mid to late 1970's at least.
 


Edited by MailmAn, June 06, 2016 - 10:54 AM.


#10 Husky OFFLINE  

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Posted June 06, 2016 - 11:02 AM

Welcome to the forum.



#11 Eric OFFLINE  

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Posted June 06, 2016 - 07:26 PM

I would think the reason that bolens didnt keep these in production would have to be due to the higher cost of maintaining commercial fleet equipment. They would have had to train the dealer mechanics and keep more stock on hand, most parts on these machines do not cross with any other machine. I also learned recently that alot of the parts for these were NLA in 1974 that is very early for production run equipment and may hint at the cause of not keeping them around. I also think that it would have been hard for the companies that made attatchments for GTs to justify the cost of adapting anything to suit the GK as it would be a complete rebuild to make anything work. As many have said Bolens was way ahead of the rest when they built these and most likely would have had more success had they waited ten or twenty years in releasing these machines. Hydraulic motors on each wheel would have been alot cheaper to produce had they waited.
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#12 framesteer OFFLINE  

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Posted June 07, 2016 - 09:51 PM

As stated above, there were no hydro wheel motors when these were developed.  Also, I'm sure they wouldn't have used that prehistoric two cylinder Wisconsin unless there was nothing else available.  I love to mess with my GK, but the Bolens guys were about 10 years too early with it.


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#13 regularseepage OFFLINE  

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Posted June 08, 2016 - 07:52 AM

 

 

There were not that many attachments. In fact, it seems Bolens only offered three, other than having a trailer specifically for moving the machine itself around. The three attachments offered by Bolens were the 72" batwing mower, the massive 2-stage, 48" snow blower, and the equally massive 54" dozer blade. I also have literature for a multiple reel mower set-up on a GK, but that was not offered by Bolens, and I don't know if it was something Bolens approved as an "Allied Manufacturer".

 

I actually have all of the "factory" attachments (minus the reel mower, never seen one of those), I also have something very interesting - a homemade (but made fairly well) bucket attachment! Not sure how well it actually works though, looking at the hydraulic ram it doesn't look like they have that much "travel", and I wouldn't think you could really lift much weight with it. 

 

I also failed to mention one of mine is enclosed. I will get some pictures up in the next few days. 

 

 

 

I also have parts for the body and quite a few other things just ask and I will let you know. Good luck and have fun. 

 

You wouldn't happen to have an exhaust manifold, would you?  :D


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#14 LPBolens ONLINE  

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Posted June 08, 2016 - 09:18 AM

I might have an exhaust manifold. I will have to check my GK parts pile.


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#15 regularseepage OFFLINE  

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Posted June 09, 2016 - 10:28 AM

I might have an exhaust manifold. I will have to check my GK parts pile.

 

Would be super interested if you have it, I sent you a message with my contact info. 

 

-RS







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