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MWards Variable Speed 14: 1st post, what might I be getting into?!


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#1 DennisT OFFLINE  

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Posted August 23, 2017 - 05:19 PM

Am onto a possible Montgomery Wards, "Variable Speed 14," Model mower/garden tractor.  So I gather they were made by, "Gilson???"  Never heard of Gilson.  Cute tractor; intrigues me a lot but is $500 w/mower.  Looks straight.  Were they rugged?  Reliable?  Parts?  (Ha, pretty old...1960's I'd guess, so cannot expect much out there)  

 

I currently am picking up a 1968-ish CASE 195 in very good condition.  Happy about that and it runs, etc.  I'd like a second old machine so I can play with it around the yard and pull a cart, etc.  So this MW caught my eye.  And my Grandfather used to work for MW.   B&S engine.  I'm older and retired, so must be conservative with my finances and physical demands.  These little things look like a good hobby interest.

 

Who/what was/is Gilson?????   I think Case branded machines were made by Ingersol.  I believe Ford branded machines were Jacobsen.  Both Kohler powered, so divergence from a B&S.  

 

Thanks,

Dennis in E WA state 

 

 


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#2 KennyP ONLINE  

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Posted August 23, 2017 - 05:26 PM

:wave: Welcome to the forum! Gilson built a lot of tractors way back when. Not sure who bought them out, maybe MTD?


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#3 Swiftyd2014 OFFLINE  

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Posted August 23, 2017 - 05:29 PM

You will want to make sure the variable pulley works other than that they are a great machine I have 3 complete ones and just tore 2 down for parts
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#4 boyscout862 OFFLINE  

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Posted August 23, 2017 - 05:30 PM

Welcome to GTT fellow retiree. You can learn more about your tractor by downloading the manuals from our Manuals Section. Three for free per day. That is probably from around the early 70s. Most of the GTs from that era were well made. Post some pics. Good Luck, Rick


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#5 Xrperry ONLINE  

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Posted August 23, 2017 - 07:09 PM

I heard those little gear boxes above the transaxle are expensive to fix or replace,mine makes a lot of noise,if it goes bad I will have some mw variable speed 16 parts.the variable speed pulley was replaced with a regular pulley.only into it 25.00 so no real loss
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#6 KC9KAS OFFLINE  

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Posted August 23, 2017 - 07:12 PM

:welcometogttalk:

 
THE HISTORY OF GILSON MANUFACTURING COMPANY
January/February 1977
http://www.gasengine...ng-company.aspx
 
5,6,7 and 9 HP model (1926).
 
We thank the Badger Steam and Gas Engine Club, Inc. of Baraboo, Wisconsin for allowing us to reprint this article. This came from their Annual Show book 1975. And thanks to Verne W. Kindschi, Route 1, Prairie Du Sac, Wisconsin 53578, for submitting it.
As we have done in each of the past years in which we have published an Annual Showbook, we have again researched an old Wisconsin Farm Machinery Company. This year we are featuring the Gilson Manufacturing Company of Port Washington, Wisconsin. After much inquiring and searching we have obtained the following information on this company.
Actually, when one hears the name of Gilson, it could be any one of three different companies. The Gilson we are mainly interested in is the one that built the gasoline engines.
In 1850 Theodore Gilson, a native of Luxembourg, started a foundry at Port Washington, a city located on the shore of Lake Michigan. In association with Nicholas Martin, they built plows until 1866 when Martin established his own company.
In 1866 the firm was called Theodore Gilson and Son, as his son had joined the company at an early age. During these years they built threshing machines and horse powers, as well as improved models of their plows.
It is interesting to note that in 1897 John Gilson invented the first adjustable office chair irons. The Gilson Company became very well known for their chair irons, which they produced under the name of the Gilson Manufacturing Company. Stockholders in this company were H. W. Bolens and Boerner Brothers.
In about 1905 they came out with the gasoline engines. Also, in 1905 and 1906 John and J. E. Gilson built several two-cylinder cars at their plant in Port Washington.
Some years later, the exact year is not known, this company was known as the Gilson Bolens Manufacturing Company; then in 1914 the Gilsons sold out to Bolens.
It was during the years of the Gilson Manufacturing Company, Gilson Bolens, and Bolens Manufacturing Company that they built gasoline engines. We were not able to find out how many engines were actually built, or just exactly which dates they were built; however, from some old production records it would appear that they built engines from about 1905 until the 1920s. All of the engine records were destroyed or lost.
Gilson also had a plant in Canada where they built gas engines; also, it is interesting to know that they had a silo patented which they built there.
Mr. H. W. Bolens became president and principle owner of the Bolens Manufacturing Company; at the time of his death in 1944 they had become the largest producer of office chair irons and one of the earliest and largest producers of garden tractors. Bolens, today, is still a large producer of lawn and garden tractors, etc. They are now a Division of Food Machinery Corporation where they are still building the equipment at Port Washington.
After the Gilsons sold out to Bolens in 1914, they formed the J. E. Gilson Company in 1916 to manufacture gray iron castings and garden tools. In the early 1920s they suffered a fire at their plant. It was rebuilt; however, in 1962 fire again destroyed the plant. At this time George I. Gilson decided not to rebuild. At this time a fifth generation of Gilson, George U., had become briefly associated with the plant.
It was George U. Gilson, along with I. O. Heatwole, (who is related to the Gilsons through marriage), who were able to give us some of this information. Mr. Heatwole is the president of the Heatwole Foundry Company in Port Washington. We appreciate the time Mr. Heatwole spent with us and the information which Mr. Gilson gave us to use in this history.
Another interesting sidelight on Gilson is that in 1911 John& Michael Gilson, who were related to the other Gilsons and had actually worked for them at their plant, started their own small foundry and machine shop, Gilson Brothers Co., at Fredonia, Wisconsin, which is near Port Washington. Here at their factory they went into production of cement mixers, feed cutters, limestone crushers, hand cement tile making machines and other equipment and tools. This company is still in business today, having grown into a large manufacturer of lawn and garden equipment, outdoor recreation equipment and cement mixers.
Contrary to what some gasoline engine collectors have thought, we were informed through correspondence with this company that they never did build any gasoline engines. All Gilson gas engines were built in Port Washington.
In addition to Mr. Gilson and Mr. Heatwole, we wish to thank Mr. John M. Posewitz of Gilson Brothers Company at Fredonia, the Wisconsin Historical Society, and the W. J. Niederfcorn Library at Port Washington.

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#7 DennisT OFFLINE  

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Posted August 23, 2017 - 11:42 PM

Great information, thank you all.  I've begun downloading manuals/information.  This machine is priced at $600, but comes with sickle bar mower.  Looks clean.  I think price is high considering age.  Still have not been able to contact owner, but expect to shortly.  Rather sharp looking, I think.  Maybe it's those side-mount headlights!

 

Right now just not sure what it's worth and no word yet about what kind of shape it is really in mechanically.

 

Dennis in E WA state



#8 KC9KAS OFFLINE  

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Posted August 24, 2017 - 04:13 AM

A sickle mower for a garden tractor often sell for $300-$500 by itself!

My wife has a 1970 S-14 Hydro that we restored last year.


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#9 DennisT OFFLINE  

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Posted August 24, 2017 - 02:29 PM

Thanks for the additional information.  News on my end is that I touched bases with seller who wrote, quote, "It does not run do not know how come i have never used the sickle blade i have owned it for a year got the tractor from a friend grandfater."  

So I understand, KC9KAS, your estimate for sickle mower value.  But if this MW machine is not good enough to restore, how many other brands of garden tractors might a sickle mower mount up to?  Frankly, the sickle mower appeals to me, but the $600 price tag is quite a lot for my budget if tractor is not running.  A non-running tractor to me means I must expect the very worst, pay accordingly, and work up from that.

Do those sickle mowers work well?

Still researching before decisions.......Maybe offer $400 and see what happens....

Dennis



#10 Sprint 6 OFFLINE  

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Posted August 25, 2017 - 05:58 AM

I think they are pretty high on the price.  If the machine does not run, that means the sickle bar may or may not function.  Sickle bars can rust up and seize, and I don't know where you would get parts for it if it has bad sections.  As a reference, the last Gilson I bought was a MW Gear 16 with a junk 42 inch deck.  I paid $75 at auction non-running.  One this one, because of the sickle, and if it looks decent, I would offer $200.

 

Gilsons are tough, well built machines.  As others have noted, the variable speed is their achilles heal.  The right angle gear box should be taken apart, cleaned and repacked with grease, as they were intended to be serviced.  Mine are packed with John Deere cornhead grease.  The transmission in the gear models is a Peerless 2300, same as a lot of others, John Deere, Jacobsen, etc.  The large Briggs engine on them is getting harder, and more expensive, to find QUALITY parts for, points, carb parts, etc.  Lots of knock off parts out there if you don't mind replacing them more often.  They are hard on the carb throttle shaft bore due to the excessive engine vibration.  Almost forgot about that, it you don't like a machine that vibrates a ton, don't buy it.


Edited by Sprint 6, August 25, 2017 - 06:06 AM.

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#11 DennisT OFFLINE  

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Posted August 25, 2017 - 10:14 AM

Sprint 6, thanks very much.  You said a lot in a hurry and it makes sense.  I contacted the seller last night and told him that with nothing running it was too much risk for me at that price.  He wrote back saying $500 was the best he is willing to do.  I'm not buying at that price - period.  Especially now from the insight you've given me.  

I am traveling in a few days to pick up a CASE 195, mostly restored, hydraulics, working Case tiller mounted, with mower deck and front blade.  I paid $800.  This Wards/Gilson caught my eye because it is advertised in the same area.  I will say, now that I've read about Gilsons, I'd like to have one!  Not sure how they compare to the Case.

Your comments about the B&S engine concern me too.  I'd like something my wife could run, and high vibrations would bother her, (she has health problems).  Last question:  If I find a Gilson that is NOT variable speed, then that is my best bet, right???  What are some good models to watch for?

Thank you again, Dennis in E WA state



#12 Sprint 6 OFFLINE  

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Posted August 25, 2017 - 10:35 AM

You were looking at what is known as a Gilson S series.  They do not all have variable speed, but most do.  They were also available as a hydrostat.

 

You did good on the Case.  I would put a Gilson on par quality-wise with a Case, but the Case is more of a professional grade machine.  The Case will also have much better current parts support, as many are still in service.  Gilson was absorbed into Lawn-Boy in the 80's and essentially disappeared at that point.  Parts support is good on the standard components on a Gilson (engine, transmission, belts, etc.), but Gilson specific parts can be tough to find.  Luckily, I have a friend that is an excellent machinist, he has made lots of shafts and bushings for mine.


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#13 boyscout862 OFFLINE  

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Posted August 25, 2017 - 10:51 AM

Sprint 6, thanks very much.  You said a lot in a hurry and it makes sense.  I contacted the seller last night and told him that with nothing running it was too much risk for me at that price.  He wrote back saying $500 was the best he is willing to do.  I'm not buying at that price - period.  Especially now from the insight you've given me.  

I am traveling in a few days to pick up a CASE 195, mostly restored, hydraulics, working Case tiller mounted, with mower deck and front blade.  I paid $800.  This Wards/Gilson caught my eye because it is advertised in the same area.  I will say, now that I've read about Gilsons, I'd like to have one!  Not sure how they compare to the Case.

Your comments about the B&S engine concern me too.  I'd like something my wife could run, and high vibrations would bother her, (she has health problems).  Last question:  If I find a Gilson that is NOT variable speed, then that is my best bet, right???  What are some good models to watch for?

Thank you again, Dennis in E WA state

For my wife, I picked up a freebie lawn tractor. I liked it for her because it did not have a transmission hump. This made it much easier than any others for her to get on. It took 2 hours to clean it and get it going. Then a new $50 battery and she was happy. I found a small dump cart for it and mounted a milk crate on the front. It was handy and gave her the mobility to go all over our yard and gardens. There are plenty of freebies around. I see them on CL and in peoples yards with weeds growing around them. Good Luck, Rick



#14 DennisT OFFLINE  

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Posted August 25, 2017 - 10:53 AM

Yes, I've been told my Case purchase was a good one.  I haven't even seen it yet, but had a knowledgeable, close friend check it out.  And, surprisingly, the seller turned out to be a fellow I've known for the past 30 years!  I have a lot to learn about how the many 1960's and 1970's garden tractor brands interchange parts, and, for that matter, what builders made them for what brand stamps.  I am waiting to hear about a Ford LGT120 that is derelict, but inside stored.  With mower deck.  It is promised to me but tied up right now.  I think it's a Jacobsen.  At my 74 years age, a wife with poor health and a 5 acre farmstead to try to keep glued together, these machine sizes seem to be a more useful and manageable side interest than huge equipment I can no longer physically handle.  These little guys attract me.  On the other hand, I have no intention of getting into bidding wars with, "little tractor collectors."  It's 'gotta be cost effective.  But finding them I see takes a LOT of patience, watching and being careful.  I need a  clever way to find them......

I'll continue on this forum as I like it.  Lots to learn.

Cheers, Dennis



#15 Xrperry ONLINE  

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Posted August 27, 2017 - 12:53 AM

Speaking of vibration, my mv 16 shakes like it has a hemi in it.now I know they just do it,always wondered but never asked.does look kinda cool when it idles.lol

Edited by Xrperry, August 27, 2017 - 12:55 AM.





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