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Looking for some much needed advice on Bolens G14.

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#1 crazy_dave OFFLINE  

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Posted December 01, 2016 - 12:17 PM

Hey guys,

I recently moved into a home with about an acre and half of land. Needless  to say I need something bigger than the push mower from the other house.  I tried convincing the girl friend that it would help get her in shape but all that did was get me called a few nasty names.


Anyhow, This will be my first GT and  I’m looking  for one  that I could use around the house  for gardening, lawn mowing, snow removal etc… I would like something a little more robust than a riding lawn mower but smaller then say a Cub cadet low-boy. I have a budget of around  2K.


In comes the Bolens and here is the seller description.


Bolens G14 System. Model 1453. Kohler 14 hp. 6 speed. Excellent condition. Model 73501. Very rare find. 12 HP Kohler. 42" DECK, 33" TILLER (rare), 43" FRONT PLOW, Tires good. You know they don't make them like this anymore. All running, NEW BATTERY. Starts immediately. No problems entire system

He is also the original owner and I’m going to look at it this weekend.


Can anyone bring me up to speed on this tractor, things to look out for, a fair price (he’s asking 1k), are parts going to be available , would this  tractor be capable of moving snow in upstate NY (we measure by the footBolens.png ) with the plow or will I need to find a blower? Was  the Kohler motor an option? Everything Ive read says it should have a Tecumseh.


If this tractor doesn’t work out what are some make/ models to keep an eye out for?


Thank you all in advance.

#2 Bolens 1000 ONLINE  

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Posted December 01, 2016 - 12:28 PM

If you have a budget of that size I would suggest you shop around and purchase a nice original machine in solid condition thats ready to go. The seller obviously dosen't know what he has and  the engine in there is the original HH140 Tecumseh 14HP, not a 12HP Kohler.

He also lists everything as rare which is a common selling tactic most people use to try to get you to buy, all the attachments are easily found and parts are plentiful for Both the tractor and its attachments, only thing thats getting tough to find parts for is internal engine parts for that tecumseh.

The Bolens tubeframe line also used Wisconsin and B&S in some of their models which offer  better parts support.


With the shape that tractor and attachments are in its not even close to being worth $1000


Welcome to GTT by the way, lots of knowledgeable guys here.

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#3 Husky OFFLINE  



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Posted December 01, 2016 - 12:35 PM

Welcome to the forum. Bolens1000 correctly summed up the deal on that tractor. I'd stay away from it. For your budget you could even get into the bolens large frame tractors. I'd keep searching around and feel free to ask us about anything else that you may find. 

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#4 crazy_dave OFFLINE  

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Posted December 01, 2016 - 12:47 PM

Thank you guys for the quick replies!


I'm very new to the garden tractor world, my thing is motorcycles. I'm not sure exactly what I'm looking for. I really like what Ive read about the JD 318 but all the ones for sale around my area are 2K and up without attachments.



When you say (bolens large frame tractors) are talking about the actual size or build quality? I need to be able to maneuver around the property and a (low-boy) type tractor would be just a wee bit to big.   Your avatar is what I am looking for.

#5 hiwan OFFLINE  

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Posted December 01, 2016 - 12:54 PM

Hello crazydave,

I agree with Dr. Bolens. I have owned several "tube frame" Bolens and all had Wisconsin engines, (you will know what the old days used to sound like when you start the Wisconsin's up versus a Kohler or other recent models. My Wisconsins were era 1960's). Regardless of engine mfg., I would suggest finding a machine with a blower attachment. Unless your driveway is a postage stamp, (mine is 100+ foot long) compared to your acre+ of land, using a front blade will not suffice, (at least in a time line acceptable to me) in clearing deep, heavy snow, (just my personal preference of doing the job quickly and efficiently in cold, freezing weather, versus sitting on a less efficient machine freezing fanny off for long period of time). Also, as much as I liked my Bolens, I found mowing acreage of that size on hot, humid days, (especially if it is native grass) with a wide area mower, (wam = 72" or greater) is more efficient as well. In both cases, unless you like to spend your beer drinking time on a garden tractor, which is fine too :-).

Good luck in your decision.

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#6 MiCarl ONLINE  

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Posted December 01, 2016 - 02:13 PM

Some things to think about aside from a particular tractor is your property.


How much of that acre and a half are you mowing?  Has it got lots of gardens and trees etc. to mow around?  Anything that hangs low like willow trees that you need to mow under?  Is it level or hilly?  Smooth or rough?


If you've got a lot of things to mow around a 42" deck might be the way to go.  If it's got lots of open grass you're going to kick yourself for not having a 50" or larger deck about the 2nd time you mow.  If you've got low hanging obstacles you want to make sure you don't go with a tractor that is too tall.

Edited by MiCarl, December 01, 2016 - 02:14 PM.

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#7 chieffan OFFLINE  

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Posted December 01, 2016 - 02:20 PM

Don't be afraid of other brands of tractor either.  Bolens are great machines and I have 7 of them but only use on to mow with on occasion.  Lot of nice Cub Cadets out there as well.  Your wise to stay away from the LT series on any brand.  They simply won't hold up.

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#8 boyscout862 OFFLINE  

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Posted December 01, 2016 - 02:56 PM

Welcome to GTT. If you are used to repairing bikes then you will probably find garden tractors refreshingly simple. You should be able to find a good name brand GT with a couple of attachments for under $600. The most common are the Bolens and the Allis Chalmers/Simplicities. They are also my favorites. Take your time and learn a bunch. Anbody that uses "rare" , "classic", "ran when parked" and "vintage" is trying to be a salesman. Be cautious when dealing with sellers.


We have a free Manuals Section that has alot of the operator and shop manuals for tractors. There are plenty of members who will answer your questions. We are all in this together.


The large frame bolens were physically a bit bigger than tube frames and used channels for the frame. Once you've used a large frame the others seem like toys. The LFs are more money and are harder to find. Any good name brand GT should do the work for you if it is in good shape. Shop based on condition. Ball park that each attachment is worth about $100 when budgeting. Good Luck, Rick


Here is a large frame.  http://hartford.crai...5894157931.html   It seems to have what you want but I can't tell what kind of shape it is in. I think the price is a little high even if everything is in good working order. Repairs can be expensive. If there are problems, especially with the trany you may be best off passing on it. Here is a tube frame Bolens with mower, blower, and wheel weights. http://worcester.cra...5885385674.html If it runs and works well, it is a pretty good deal. It may have the hydraulic lift. One additional word of advise, a cab makes snow blowing alot more comfortable.

Edited by boyscout862, December 01, 2016 - 03:16 PM.

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#9 hiwan OFFLINE  

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Posted December 01, 2016 - 06:14 PM

Great ideas and posts above. Had a few more thoughts... Boyscout862 makes a great point with comment, "take your time...". Maybe consider buying a used walk behind blower for this winter and do some research on machines and what your property calls for. Always great deals to be had during winter for mowers and GT's. Especially when the snow is deep and the seller just wants it out of his garage, (because he doesn't think he will ever see green grass to mow again). Also, consider auctions. Here is a link to an auction in my area next week that has numerous GT's with blades and mowing decks. I bet most will go at well within your budget...


Be Patient, the right deal and machine will come your way.

Good Luck!

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#10 Gtractor OFFLINE  


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Posted December 01, 2016 - 08:22 PM

If you measure snow by the foot there's only one brand of tractor that will work for you. 

A Gravely.

You will need a Snow Cannon to go on the front.

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#11 OldBuzzard OFFLINE  



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Posted December 01, 2016 - 08:28 PM



Second, forget all the talk/hype about the JD 318.  It may have been the best thing ever from JD at the time, but compared to the Bolens of the day it was at best an average tractor, and nowhere near the build quality of the Bolens offerings.


You said that you liked what you saw in Husky's avatar?  It appears to be an 1886 which would be a large frame.


Your location is pretty vague, so I'm not sure if these are too far for you to travel for, but would be great tractors for your needs.


This one is over your budget but at $2,500.00 is a great deal when you consider that when he says rare, he means it.  That tractor is the only one of that model known to be in the USA.



This one looks reasonable,  Only downside is that it's been repowered with a new engine.  That ruins it's collector value but for just a working tractor it should be OK.



This one is over your 2K budget too, but believe me, if you are going to be moving snow, the cab will be more than worth it.







Edited by OldBuzzard, December 01, 2016 - 08:37 PM.

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#12 crazy_dave OFFLINE  

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Posted December 02, 2016 - 07:41 AM

Holy cow, you guys are amazing! Thank you all so much for the replies.  This is shaping out to be great forum.


Im not sure if I should start a new thread or continue this one but.......


I'm not branded by any means. I was just trying to get some info on  a tractor that I thought would do everything I need.  Any suggestions on make/ models would be very helpful and welcome. 


I live about 30 mins  east of Rochester NY and about 30 mins west of Syracuse NY. Im pretty much right in between both of these cities along lake Ontario.


The land I will be maintaining is not wide open, I need maneuverability for sure.  Id like to be able to, mow, till, snow removal, and anything else fun that I can find to do with it.  Im not sure of what is possible and whats not.


The thing about upstate NY is that you could have your AC on one moment and breaking out the boots and snow brush the next, literally in the same day.  We got 3ft of snow the Sunday before Thanksgiving and now everything is a swamp because we hit almost 60* for the last few day, crazy.


I'm going to go buy a walk behind snowblower this weekend so that's going to put a dent in my GT funds but it sounds like Im going to need one in the coming weeks. 


I don't know if its my area or what but everyone around here seems to think their GT is gold. I stopped to check out three different GT on my way home, all over 2K and looked beat to hell. Motors just caked with oil, missing parts, sloppy components etc... I would never buy a motorcycle in these conditions for the price these guys are trying to get.  There in kinda lies the problem for me. I can fairly price bikes, I buy them in boxes and put them back together. But I have no idea what I'm looking at with GT. Im not looking for a collector item at the moment but IM sure that will change in time, it usually does.


So again, any direction you guys can point me in would be very welcome.


Thank you all for the replies.

Edited by crazy_dave, December 02, 2016 - 07:49 AM.

#13 crazy_dave OFFLINE  

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Posted December 02, 2016 - 11:11 AM

Found this one. Again, I know nothing about this one either, good, bad...........?


#14 Doug E. OFFLINE  

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Posted December 03, 2016 - 09:15 AM

I'll ad my thoughts in here. 


I used to use a 10 hp walk behind Craftsman snowblower, which worked pretty well for a few years before it had trouble advancing.  I don't like the rubber wheel against the aluminum plate drive that they used.  A friend put me on to the Bolens product, and located a number of implements for me for a tube frame.  Half way home (600 miles), I located an H14, rented a trailer, and brought it home.  I didn't find a snowblower at that time however.  A few months later, I picked up a non op medium frame G16xl locally cheap with only the snowblower, with the idea I would use it on the H14, only to find the PTO rotation is opposite for the G16xl, and that I could not use the snowblower on the H14.  I cleaned the carb and tank on the G16xl, and smile every time I need to blow snow with the 16 hp Bolens tractor rather than the 10hp walk behind.  What a difference!  Last summer I picked up a couple of large frames that I have not had much time to go through, but have had a chance to at least run.  Here are some of my observations:


I live in a snow belt.  More HP is better when snowblowing, imho.


The G16xl does very well snowblowing, but I think I prefer a hydro tranny to be better able to match the ground speed to the snow conditions for the absolute optimum results.  That being said, I would not feel disadvantaged if I never had a tractor with a hydro tranny to blow snow. 


The H14 tube frame is much more maneuverable than the large frame, and a little more than the medium frame.  I have obstacles in my yard when I mow, and in the garden when I till.   I prefer the tube frame for these tasks.   I prefer the hydro tranny for mowing because of the obstacles.  It is so fast to reverse over the gear tranny.  I have no preference when tilling. 


I over all like the size and feel of the large frames.  My intent is to set one of them up primarily for snowblowing. 


I could be quite satisfied with strictly a tube frame, medium frame, or large frame, if they were equipped with the larger sized engines for their respective types. 


I am impressed with the vintage Bolens tractors from a user perspective.  I watch for other vintage tractors, but have yet to see any locally for sale that I felt would meet my needs better. 


I have ended up watching to find what I want.  Sometimes it takes a while.  Patience and perseverance are needed to get what you want on this older equipment.   


Hope this helps with your decisions. 





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#15 hiwan OFFLINE  

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Posted December 03, 2016 - 12:08 PM


Here is a list of snowblowers on CL in your area...


Lots of walk behind choices at more than fair prices, (imho) compared to where I live.

PLEASE NOTE: there is a cub cadet, with hard cab and electric windshield wipers listed for $1200. Seller seems honest on why he is selling, (a key in my decision process) and well within your budget. Don't know much about cub cadets, but I am sure you will get lots of competent advice here. There is also a Bolens snowblower listed further down if you want to start buying bits and pieces prior to the purchasing the GT.

Good Luck,