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April 2015: Bolens 1886 With Forkliftfeatured tractor bolens 1886
Back when dirt was new and dinosaurs roamed the earth....OH wait a minute, I don't need to go back that far do I?
Actually, in December 2011 I bought an 1886 that needed a new air filter, and I had found that a local Cub Cadet dealer/Farm & Garden store had also been a Bolens dealer until Bolens was sold off to Garden Way. So on the off chance that they would know what filter I needed for the K482 I stopped in and sure enough they had what I needed.
While there, one of the owners and I got to talking about 'All things Bolens', and he mentioned that they had used an 1886 as a forklift for a lot of years, had retired it some 3-5 years ago, and that it was still 'out back' under a tarp.
Well now, as any true GT enthusiast knows, that got the saliva flowing and I asked if he knew just where 'outback' it might be. He said no, but I was free to roam around to see if I could find it. I was expecting to find one of the Johnson Forklifts but instead found this:
Now I was really intrigued, and asked about it's history as I had never even heard of a front mounted lift on a Bolens.
He told me that they took a brand new 1971 1886-01 (the first year of production for that model) out of the crate, assembled it, added the optional Power Steering Kit, and sent it off to have the forklift attachment mounted. He wasn't sure just where they sent it, but he thought it was "Green - Something" or "Something - Green". As best as I can figure out, it was most likely Bowling Green Ohio, as that was where the mast was made.
I asked if it might possibly be for sale. He wasn't sure and said that the would have to talk to his other brother and father as they were joint owners.
I contacted them again, and the older brother said that they were thinking about putting it on eBay, and/or Craigslist. That kinda dampened my hopes.
A couple of months later it still hadn't showed up for sale anywhere, so I talked to them again, and they were iffy about selling it, didn't know what they wanted for it, etc.
Finally in early January 2013 I went back resolved to buy it. I talked to the older brother and made a firm offer of $1,000 as is/where is. He went off to talk to his dad and other brother and said that they would like $1,500.00. I said that for $1,500.00 I would like it delivered. He agreed, and after more than a year of looking/negotiating it was finally mine
A week later, it was delivered and once rolled off the trailer and pushed into the yard it looked like this:
I also made video:
As you can see, during it's 30+ years of use at the dealership the poor old girl had been used, abused, rode hard and put up wet on numerous occasions. It had also been repainted in 'non standard' colors, and some really 'non standard' decals applied in places that they were never were on the stock 1886-01. It also turned out to have been 'used' harder than the pictures show. You will find more about that in the refurbish thread that I'll post further down. I also found out when I stopped back in with it on the trailer after the refurb so that they could see what it looks like now that they regularly exceeded the 750 Lb. lift rating on the mast. So much so that they had bent the forks more than once and had to have them straightened a couple of times.
After just a wee bit of work it started and ran just fine. In fact much better than I had expected. It's quite possible that it doesn't have the original engine as it has a cutout for access to the oil filter that the 1886-01 lacked. It ran great, was easy to start, didn't smoke, and there was no lack of power.
In any event, she was put to work doing what she was made for. Moving 'heavy stuff' around:
She also came in handy when I was installing some REALLY heavy (105 lbs. each) wheel weights on my HDT1000:
As time went on, I got to thinking that it REALLY need a refurbishment. Lacking a workshop, tools, and expertise to do that, I decided that I'd have to find someone that I could trust, and was capable of doing a good job.
It turned out that one of our members and Site Sponsors (Old Paths Equipment) filled that to a T. So, I contacted Ben Wagner (superaben here on the forums), to see if he might be interested in undertaking the project. He was agreeable and we discussed what I wanted done. One of the things I was adamant about was that it wasn't going to be a 'restoration' with everything put back to original colors and such. I wanted to preserve the history of the tractor, and things like the non standard paint job and the 'cobbled' throttle setup were important to that history. Ben agreed with me and we decided that when the time was right that it would be coming his way.
On November 5, 2013 the 'time was right', and she was loaded on the trailer and hooked behind the HSM Rainmaker for a road trip to Mt. Solon Va.
A log of that voyage, and more pictures are available here:
Months passed, and after a LOT more work than Ben had expected and most likely after a number of shucks, hecks, and darns, she was ready to come home. Ben did a post of that which has a lot of pictures, and details of what he did:
So another voyage of the HSM Rainmaker was scheduled:
When I got to Mt. Solon I found this waiting for me:
On the way home we stopped at a couple of tractor shows that just so happened to be on our route home. It got a lot of comments, and I got a lot of questions about it. I also got comments and questions about it at a couple of campgrounds that I stayed at and at a couple of fuel stops. We all know that in most cases that tractors generally look better in pics than when you actually see them. With this, it's the opposite. Pics really don't do it justice. Ben did a magnificent job. So good that he's now working on another project for me.
At the first show, I ended up using it to help a fella unload one of his crawlers:
I didn't have anything in the weight box, and as you can see there was one point where I needed some 'ballast". Also if you look at the third pic closer, you can see that the front tires were 'squishing' a good bit. Turned out that there was only around 14 PSI in them.
Two days later, after tossing in two sets of rear, and one set of front wheel weights in the weight box (roughly 270 lbs), and pumping the front tires up to 40 PSI, it handled the load (675 lbs) with no drama at all.
It also became apparent that the muffler that Ben had put on it just wasn't up to the task of quieting the 'bark' of the mighty Kohler K482. It was loud with a capitol L, so on our way from that show to the next, we stopped at a TSC and got a muffler that would be better up to the task.
We then found a local muffler shop that did some cutting and welding, all for just a $20.00 bill, and it now looks like this:
It still has something of a 'bark' to it but it's much better than it was. I have another 1886 with a stock muffler and maybe this Spring/Summer, I'll swap mufflers and see which is the quieter.
Well, that's the story of my Bolens 1886 Forklift. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoy owning and operating it.
- kwj427, trowel, redcarkids and 1 other said thanks