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  1. Bolens Tractors: The Tube Frame Series 1962-1978

    Some Background information:


    The Bolens tube frame tractors were made for a total of 16 years. Although these garden tractors were small, they were built to last and withstand almost any task that you would throw at them. Bolens ingenious invention of shaft driven attachments and fast switch attachment system made competitors envious for years! A vast range of implements were available as well, ranging from compost shredders to post hole diggers! By the time the Bolens tube frame tractor series ended, about 40 different implements were available for these tractors.


    The great thing about these Bolens tractors is many of the parts are interchangeable from model to model. As the years went on Bolens was determined to have the most versatile garden tractor you could buy on the market.


    With each year that passed, Bolens used larger engines with more horsepower in each model. When the Bolens tube frame series began in 1962 a 6 HP engine was used in the Bolens 600. In the final year of production(1978) the tube frame Bolens model H16 had a 16HP engine in place. And who could forget the Bolens "treadle pedal" in their hydrostatic transmissions. This was a years ahead concept that made Bolens a popular tractor to own.


    Because of these garden tractors being so well built, many of them are still around and being used to this day.





    Scope of the Article


    Mainly this article is intended for anyone interested in learning more about Bolens garden tractors, but the main scope is to have collectors, owners, enthusiasts and future collectors be able to correctly identify their model. Also to know the correct engine HP and color scheme that each model had. Over the last few years I have been collecting literature, documents, brochures and more to help further my knowledge on this series of Bolens tractors. The pictures in this article are mainly from brochures, but some are from pictures found on the internet and members of GTtalk. All information in this article is correct to the best of my knowledge and resources. I'm not perfect, so If you see I made a mistake let me know.



    Transmissions used:


    The tube frames had 4 different transmissions that you should be aware of.


    The tube frames that were hydrostatic all used Eaton 10 hydrostatic Transmissions. There were 3 different gear driven transmissions. The first is a 3 speed with the locking differential. The second is the 6 speed with a hi/low range selector built right into the transmission. The 3rd was a cheaper 3 speed that did not feature a locking differential. The Bolens Husky 600 did not come with a locking differential. A good way to tell if you have a true original transmission in your 1962 Bolens 600 is look at the hitch on the back. It will be a cast iron hitch molded right into the transmission. 62' was the only year they did this.




    Another important thing to know is that in order to be able to push the tractor in "free wheel", you must pull out the cotter pin and slide out the free wheeling pin. You can see the pin in the area circled in the picture above.


    Here is a picture of the differential control knob featured on most transmissions:





    Changing speed ranges:


    There were 3 different ways to change speed ranges in the gear driven models. Each of the Bolens gear driven tractors had 6 total forward speeds and 2 reverse speeds. Below are pictures of each hi/lo feature.


    The first one you had to stop the tractor and manually change the belt to another pulley.


    The 2nd all you had to do was push down the lever and push in for hi range or pull out the lever for low range.


    The 3rd was the easiest because all you had to do was push in the clutch and slide the lever either up or down.




    Now that you have this general information, lets begin describing the models.



    The early years.....


    Bolens enters 1962 with the Bolens Husky 600


    The Bolens Husky 600 was the first of the tube frames. I think its safe to say that this is the garden tractor that helped Bolens pave the way in becoming a powerhouse in the lawn and garden industry for years to come. This new tractor featured a 6HP Briggs and Stratton engine with a 3 speed cast iron transmission. The Bolens Husky 600 featured a 20 second belt change system that could give you Hi or Low range speeds. Making the tractor feature 6 forward and 2 reverse speeds. Bolens offered the choice of electric start or manual start. Features also included a Farm type PTO that could power a variety of attachments. Bolens also boasted the fastest attachment switching system in the industry. With the Husky being equipped with a live PTO, all you had to do was slip on the universal joint to your attachment ( example: Mower deck) and push in a few attachment pins and you were done in under 2 minutes. No tools needed!


    Slight changes were made during the 3 years of production, mostly cosmetic changes like color changes.


    Below are the pictures of the Bolens Husky 600 with a short explanation of each change that was made.


    As stated before the first Bolens tube frame tractor made its debut in 1962. Which in return ended up replacing the Bolens Ride-a-matic.



    Bolens Husky 600 made from (1962-1965)




    (1962) The 1962 Bolens 600 can be easily be identified by its decals and location of the throttle cable. Only the 1962's had the throttle control placed in the center of the Steering Column. Also the decals will say Husky 600 on the side of the hood. In the center there will be a circular emblem with a red and blue flag looking pattern. The front will also read "Bolens" all the way down. The clutch petal will also be different than all other tube frames and it looks like this




    Here is the location of the throttle and choke cables. I would like to thank George (NUTNDUN) for supplying the picture.




    The 1963 600 featured the same gold color as before but a few changes were made. Most noticeably the decals were changed to read "Bolens" on the side of the hood and the front grille read "Husky" with a 600 placed on the Bottom. The throttle and choke cables were also arranged on the sides of the steering column instead of the middle.




    Here is the clutch setup for 63' and 64-65'' Bolens 600's








    1964/1965 600


    In its final 2 years of production the Husky 600 saw a major color change. Gone were the gold and white that were used in the previous years. The colors were now the familiar cordovan white and red.


    Notice the design change in decals from the previous years.



    Bolens Husky 800 (1963-1965)


    (1963) Bolens Husky 800- The Husky 800 was a step up from its little brother the 600. This new model featured a Wisconsin engine instead of the Briggs and Stratton. The transmission used on the Husky 800 featured a new locking differential in which you could control the degree of traction needed. For slippery areas you could gear down and have nearly straight axle drive. Changing speed ranges was also easier with this model. You no longer had to turn off the tractor and get off to change speed ranges. The new Husky had a speed range lever that could be controlled from the driver’s seat with the engine running. The 1963 Model featured a Wisconsin S-7D (7- 1/4HP).


    The Bolens 800 also featured unique decals that really stood out. You can see the "B" in the center and along the sides a red decal that read "Husky 800" along with a striped pattern of red and white on the end that in my opinion resembled a flag almost. This is also the year Bolens began to get away from the "all gold" look by making the hood white on this model.




    (1964/1965) Bolens 800- One of the biggest misconceptions is people think the 800 was only made in 1963. That is not the case. This year Bolens yet again re powered by Putting in a S-8D Wisconsin (8 -1/4HP) engine. The most noticeable changes were the decals and change in color. You can see that the 63’ still had the gold colored body while the 64’ and 65' body was brown (cordovan).






    Once again another change was made during 1964-1965 the decals were changed to this






    Bolens Husky 900 (1964-1965)


    The 900 was only made for 2 years. The Husky 900 was basically the same tractor as the 800 using the same Wisconsin S-8D. The difference though is the tractor had a few new features added to it. This model was sold with a standard cushioned seat with a tool box under the seat. The fender pan was made out of fiberglass. Wider tires were also placed on the front and back to give more stability and traction. This tractor had the 3 speed transmission with locking differential and hi/low flip switch lever.


    The decals were changed twice during this tractor’s short run.




    The other decals that were used are the same as shown in the pic of the 64' 800 above



    Bolens Husky 1000 (1965)


    This new Husky was another one Year only model. The Bolens 1000 featured a rugged 8.25HP Wisconsin TR-10D engine. I am not sure if it was an error or a marketing deploy by Bolens but the manuals always branded this as a 10HP tractor but really was 8.25.
    The 3 Speed Transmission in the previous models was replaced by a true 6 Speed transmission with a Hi- Low range selector built right into the Transmission along with the locking differential. The 1000 Featured a Cushioned seat along with the same fiberglass fender pan as the 900. The fiberglass fenders only lasted 2 years with the Husky 900 and Husky 1000. My thoughts were that they were breaking too often so they had to go back to the standard steel fenders. It’s too bad because I really liked the tool Box compartment in the fiberglass fenders.





    Bolens 1050 (1966-1969)


    1966 Proved to be another great mile stone for Bolens garden Tractors. 1966 saw the introduction of the 1050. This 1966 Husky was powered by a TR-10D engine (8.25HP). In the years 67’-69’ the engine was changed to a coil ignition TRA-10D (which was 10HP). The Bolens 1050 came standard with electric lights and parking brake. This is when a complete design change was made. The hood was now square instead of in previous years of the rounded hoods. The controls were also moved to a new dash panel just below the hood.


    Here is a picture of what the dash panel was like.




    This model is by far the most popular and well known tube frame out there. Over the years the color of the white hoods changed slightly each year. To the average person, you wouldn't be able to tell. But if you look close at a 66’ and 69’ 1050 you will be able to see the difference. The transmission was the 6 speed with HI-Low built in along with the locking differential.


    Below are pictures of a 1966 next to a 1969 Bolens 1050. The shade of white turned more almond as the years went on. This change in white also took place on all other models that were being made at that time.







    Bolens 650 (1966)


    The Bolens 650 only lasted 1 year. This was made to meet the demands of the person with a tight budget and smaller yard. This 6HP Bolens was powered by a Briggs and Stratton engine. You had your choice of easy spin starting, or electric start. This featured the 3 Speed Transmission, but did not come equipped with a Hi-Low range lever. The same concept of the 600 was implemented on this Husky. You had to stop the tractor to manually change belts over.





    Bolens 850 (1966-1969)


    The Bolens 850 made the same 4 year run as the 1050. This Husky Had a S-8D Wisconsin engine (8 -1/4HP). Same color changes were made to the hoods. Standard electric starting along with an optional light kit made this Husky a popular choice for the homeowner. The transmission was the 3 speed Transmission with the Hi-Low range lever and locking differential





    Bolens 750 (1967)


    The 750 was basically a carbon copy of the 650. Only this time the 750 was fitted with a 7HP Briggs and Stratton engine. The 750 was made 1 year only.




    1968- This year no new Tube Frame models were introduced. The Husky 850 and 1050 were the only ones available this year. On a side note: 1968 Also saw the beginning production of the Bolens small frame tractors.



    Bolens 1220 (1969)


    The Bolens 1220 Had many of the features of the 1050. Mainly the biggest difference was this Bolens was fitted with a 12HP Tecumseh engine. The 1220 had the 6 speed Transmission with hi and low built in with locking differential.





    Bolens 1225 (1969)


    The 1225 was another 1 year only model. This Bolens was the first tube frame to feature a hydrostatic Eaton 10 transmission. Unlike the Tecumseh in the 1220, The 1225 featured a Wisconsin TRA-12D (12HP) engine. Also as standard equipment, the 1225 had a built in hydraulic lift to raise and lower attachments. The locking differential was still in place on this hydro unit.




    The 1969 lineup was the last time Bolens would have the familiar brown, white and red color scheme. Along with the “Husky Man”. At the end of 1969 Bolens was looking for a new Bold look for their team of Husky's.


    1970- This year lots of changes were made. The Bolens garden tractors saw a complete color and logo change. Gone was the Husky Man that was used in previous years and now Bolens began to use the “Husky Dog” .


    (NOTE): Bolens used the Husky dog in Brochures in 1970 but on the actual tube Frames they still used a chromed “Husky Man” in between the two headlights. This year, Bolens cranked out 5 different Tube Frame models!


    Below are the husky dog and husky man logos.


    [attachment=25783:7050.attach] [attachment=25757:6641.attach]



    Bolens 1053 (1970)


    Made for only 1 year, the Bolens 1053 was basically the same thing as a 1050. It had all its main features. The only differences were the cosmetics of the tractor.


    The fenders, decals , color, and seat were all different. A few other minor parts were also changed. The steering wheel was also shaped differently than in previous years. A Wisconsin TRA-10D (10HP) engine was used on the Bolens 1053.





    Bolens 1253 (1970)


    The Bolens 1253 was almost an exact copy of the 1053 except it had a 12HP Tecumseh engine. Other than that, they had all the same features.





    Bolens 1256 (1970-1972)


    Made for 3 years the 1256 was a popular and well designed tractor. The 1256 Featured a 12HP TRA-12D Wisconsin engine. With an Eaton 10 Hydrostatic transmission.


    Over the 3 years a few minor changes were made.


    The 1970 1256 used these decals along with the “Husky Man” in the middle of the headlights.


    The 1971-1972 1256’s used the new decal design along with the “Husky dog” between the headlights. The front grill was also painted blackish brown. Also the seats were changed.


    [attachment=25780:6996.attach](1970) [attachment=25761:6645.attach](1971)


    Take a note on the Transition of Decals from "Bolens" to "Husky" on the sides of the hood.



    Bolens 1257 (1970)


    The 1257 was an exact copy of the 1970 Bolens 1256. Only difference was the 1257 was fitted with a Tecumseh 12HP engine. The Bolens brochures didn’t even show a picture of the 1257… They just used the 1256 as the picture.



    Bolens 853 (1970-1972)


    The Bolens 853 lasted for 3 years just like the 1256. Just like I described for the 1256, the 853 also saw the same decal changes. The 1970 Model is shown below.


    The 1971-1972 saw the Husky dog along with the darkening of the front grille.


    This model had the 3 speed transmission with the hi-low range selector that was controlled from the driver’s seat. All models had an 8HP Briggs and Stratton engine. You had a choice if you wanted lights or not. Unfortunately the 853’s did not come with the locking differential.







    Bolens 1054 (1971)


    The 1054 can be compared to the 1050. The only differences were decal, color changes and seat design. A TRA-10D Wisconsin 10HP engine was used. The tractor had the 6 speed transmission with locking differential


    The 1050 and 1054 were so structurally identical that if both the 1050 and 1054 were painted the same color you would have a hard time guessing which one was which.





    Bolens 1254 (1971-1972)


    The Bolens 1254 was fitted with a 12HP TRA-12D Wisconsin engine.


    The 6 speed transmission was used.





    Bolens 1556 (1972)


    This Tube Frame was fitted with a big 15HP Tecumseh engine. The 1556 featured the Eaton 10 Transmission. Also a hood scoop was added to fit the large engine with its over head valves.


    Although this is not a Brochure picture, it is the original paint seat and color scheme. The 1556 was the last of the tube frames to feature the white and red color scheme.




    1973- Yet again Bolens changed the color of their Garden Tractors.


    This time Bolens used a simple white and black scheme. The white was an off white cream color. The style of decals and husky dog changed yet again. The husky dog now featured some yellow coloring





    Bolens G10 (1973-1977)


    The Bolens G10 is also known as a 1055. This Tractor had a production run of 5 years. In the years 1973-1975 the G10 was fitted with a 10HP Tecumseh engine,this tractor was a popular choice for your yard and garden duties. In the last 2 years of production the G-10 saw an engine change. In 1976 and 1977 the G10 was now fitted with a 10HP Briggs and Stratton engine. The G10 featured the 3 speed transmission, where you had to switch the belts over to select Hi or low range.


    The 1973-1977 G-10's did not have the locking differential.
    At some point the decals were changed again. Bolens changed over from the Husky dog to the fmc style decals. I believe the transition occurred between late 73' & 74’ But I do not know for sure.


    Below are pictures of the decals that were used along with a picture of a 1976 Bolens G10.









    Bolens G-14 (1973-1978)


    The Bolens G-14 saw an incredible 6 year run. This proved to be another popular tractor for Bolens.


    This 14 Hp garden tractor featured a Tecumseh HH140 overhead valve engine. Bolens brought back the true 6 speed transmission with locking differential. Below are pictures showing the G-14 with its 2 different decal changes.


    Here is an early G-14 with the Husky Decals


    [attachment=25807:7164.attach] Husky Decals (The Husky dog will be in between the headlights.


    Here is the later G-14 with FMC decals (as stated above the transition occurred somewhere between 75'-76'


    [attachment=25808:7165.attach] FMC Decals



    Bolens H-16 (1973) (1976-1977)


    The H-16 made its debut in 1973. A Tecumseh HH160 (16Hp) engine was used. This Bolens was a hydrostatic model with an Eaton 10 transmission.


    Below is a picture of the 1973 model with the Husky decals.




    The H-16 disappeared from the line up in the next 2 years 1974-1975. I have no Idea why they would have stopped production then start up again in 1976-1977.


    The H-16's that were made through 76'-77' had the FMC style decals. All of the H-16's came with a locking differential in the transmission.





    Bolens H-14 (1974-1976)


    The Bolens H-14 featured a Tecumseh HH140 14Hp engine. The H-14 was basically a little brother to the H-16. The only difference between the two was the difference in HP and engine model. The same decal changes as stated in previous years apply to this model as well.





    Bolens G-9 (1976-1977)


    The Bolens G-9 is sort of an elusive Bolens. You really don't see too many of these around. This Bolens came equipped with an 8HP Briggs and Stratton engine. The G-9 used the 3 speed transmission without the locking differential. For Hi/low range you had to manually change belts.


    This is the best picture I could find of the G-9





    Bolens G-12 (1976-1977)


    The Bolens G-12 featured a 12Hp Tecumseh engine HH120. This Tractor came equipped with a 6 speed transmission and locking differential. Unfortunately I don't have a good picture of a G-12 so use the G-14 for color and decal reference.



    Bolens G11 (1978)


    In the last year of the tube frames the G11 was produced. Basically the same as the G10 this machine was badged with some very colorful decals, Reasons why they would go with this design is still debated to this day.


    1979/1980 "Left Overs"


    During these two years some "Left over" tube frames were still shipped and sold by dealers. These were H16 machines but were then painted the new dark green and fitted with the Green and white decals. I was able to confirm this talking with a former dealer who had one still sitting in his bone yard.


    That concludes the entire Bolens tube frame lineup. Hopefully after reading this you have a better understanding of the tube frame series and maybe just maybe we wont see so many wacky CL and ebay ads with the wrong information!


    Bolens Resources:


    Find more information on Bolens tractors with the article History of Bolens Garden Tractors, there is also all of the Bolens tractor and implement manuals along with a very helpful Bolens Tractor Forum.

    • Aug 30, 2017 03:07 PM
    • by Bolens 1000
  2. Bolens Garden Tractor History

    Originally started as a joint partnership in Port Washington Wisconsin. The earliest of the Bolens company was actually the J.E. Gilson / H.W. Bolens Manufacturing Co. working together making chair irons and garden tools. Then in 1914 Gilson sold out to Bolens and they went their separate ways.


    Quoted from Robert Mann: “Bolens from that point on had become the worldwide leader in the manufacturing of Outdoor Power Equipment. Located in the same building since 1894, they went on to invent and make the world's first self contained four wheel riding garden tractor, The first mulching mower design that is still patented to this very day and one of the first hydrostatic transmissions implemented on a garden tractor.”




    Some time during the 1940’s around the WWII era, FMC acquired Bolens which then implemented their progressive engineering program. In 1948 Bolens introduced the first compact tractor called the Ridemaster.


    Bolens Continued to blow away the competition adding the Ride-a-matic series Garden tractors in the late 50’s up until 1962.




    1962 Was a very important year for Bolens. The Bolens Husky 600 was introduced to the world. This garden tractor boasted a 6hp Briggs and Stratton engine with a farm tractor type PTO that could run many attachments. The Bolens Husky 600 popularity and durability launched the “tube frame series” which made an incredible run of 16 years of production from 1962 to 1978. With each year that passed Bolens upped the standards by adding features and larger engines years ahead of other garden tractor makers.




    One year later (1963) Bolens yet again improved their garden tractor lineup by introducing the Bolens Husky 800 which featured the cast iron 8hp Wisconsin engine. Bolens also startled the industry in 1964 when the Bolens Estate keeper made its debut. This tractor had center pivot steering which was way ahead of its time.




    1966 Saw another turning point in Bolens design when the Bolens Husky 1050 was introduced in 1966. This tractor was a more fine tuned version of the previous makes; the Bolens 600, 800, 900 and the 1000.




    The Bolens Husky 1050 featured a 10HP Wisconsin engine with a 6 speed transmission. The transmission had two speeds ie; hi / low built into the transmission. Lights were also sold as standard equipment. The Bolens 1050 was sold from 1966 to 1969. This was one of Bolens most popular and most marketed tractors. Bolens also used Arnold Palmer as a marketing tool for advertising in the mid to late 60's.




    Yet again in 1967 Bolens introduced another design ahead of it's time in their hydrostatic transmissions: “The treadle petal”. 1967 Also was the debut of the large frame Bolens series (1250). The Big husky 1250 Featured a heavy duty transmission powered by a rugged 12hp Wisconsin engine. Bolens was still not done yet.




    In the following years even larger engines were used on the Large Frame Garden tractors. The 1455, 1476, and the 1477 featured the Wisconsin 14 HP engine.




    In 1971 Bolens introduced the 1886 Large Frame Tractor. This again was fitted with an ever larger engine than the previous large frames. The 1886 was fitted with a 18hp Kohler engine. 1973 saw the launch of the HT series which yet again featured a larger engine, a 20HP!.


    The HT series consisted of the HT20, HT18, HT23, HT23D (diesel). The last year for the large frame series was 1987. These big garden tractors could power just about anything. Even a back hoe and front end loader! What more could you ask for?.


    Sadly after 1987 Bolens started to decline in the quality standpoint. They were bought out by Troy built and then by MTD in 2001.


    Luckily, there are still a lot of these older Bolens garden tractors out there to this day. Many people are now starting to collect and restore these wonderful garden tractors. There are a lot of knowledgeable Bolens tractor collectors here on GTtalk and the Bolens Tractor Forum is a great source of information.



    • Feb 15, 2016 06:31 PM
    • by Bolens 1000