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  1. April 2015: Bolens 1886 With Forklift

    I guess I'll toss my Bolens 1886 with the forklift attachment into the ring.

    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? :D :D :D

    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:
    100_4471.JPG 100_4470.JPG

    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 :dancingbanana:
    A week later, it was delivered and once rolled off the trailer and pushed into the yard it looked like this:
    100_4476.JPG 100_4477.JPG 100_4475.JPG 100_4473.JPG

    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:

    100_4713.JPG 100_4714.JPG 100_4717.JPG 100_4719.JPG

    She also came in handy when I was installing some REALLY heavy (105 lbs. each) wheel weights on my HDT1000:

    100_4785.JPG 100_4786.JPG 100_4787.JPG 100_4788.JPG

    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.
    100_4883.JPG 100_4884.JPG 100_4886.JPG 100_4887.JPG

    A log of that voyage, and more pictures are available here:
    http://gardentractor...ahoy-mateys/?hl= rainmaker

    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:
    http://gardentractor.../?hl= rainmaker

    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. :D

    At the first show, I ended up using it to help a fella unload one of his crawlers:
    100_5178.JPG 100_5179.JPG 100_5180.JPG

    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.

    100_5226.JPG 100_5227.JPG 100_5228.JPG

    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.

    • Apr 01, 2015 05:42 PM
    • by OldBuzzard
  2. February 2015: Bolens Estate Keeper

    I've been waiting for this category to come up so I'm going to jump in and nominate my 1965 Bolens Estate keeper :D

    Here's the story:

    I got a call from a neighbor saying his friend had a Bolens Articulating tractor for sale. As usual I always picture worst case scenario, all rusted out or one of the new "FS" series ones, anyway I never pass on an opportunity to look at a Bolens so I went down to check things out.
    I got to his house and as I turned the corner around the garage my jaw just about dropped!
    An all original 1965 EK7!!!!!!!!

    Believe it or not this was actually going to be scrapped if the guy did not pull this from his neighbor's garage and bring it to his place ( I believe the gentleman who owned this passed away and the property needed to be cleared)

    This has never seen a night outside in its entire life and is truly a survivor. There was even a maintenance tag on the shifter with the last oil change being performed in 1974 which could have been the last time this was ever used by the looks of it!

    I am going to leave everything exactly as it is , There are still "nubs" on the 50 year old tires and factory belts all around! The mower deck still has paint underneath and on the blades. Its truly remarkable that the seat is in almost pristine shape as well and no mice have chewed on the material in 50 years, nothing has been touched up the best I can tell and even has its original battery hold down clamps and cloth coated wiring harness!!!

    [attachment=142029:Bolens Estate Keeper 1.jpg] [attachment=142030:Bolens Estate Keeper 2.jpg]

    [attachment=142031:Bolens Estate Keeper 3.jpg] [attachment=142032:Bolens Estate Keeper 4.jpg]

    [attachment=142033:Bolens Estate Keeper 5.jpg] [attachment=142034:Bolens Estate Keeper 6.jpg]

    • Feb 01, 2015 09:36 AM
    • by Bolens 1000
  3. Taking care of your Delco Remy Starter Generators

    Over the years many garden tractor manufactures used these Delco Remy starter generators & Regulators so I figured I would do a little write up on taking care of your Regulator and Starter to prolong its life and keep your machine running trouble free.

    There were two common types of starters. A "stubby" one and a longer starter which was most common. There were also different versions of bearings used. Some had all ball bearings and others had a bearing near the pully end and a bronze bushing on the other end.

    Long starter w/ bushing above
    Approx 7'' end to end on the main base with slotted screw

    Stubby version w/ dual ball bearing above
    Approx 6'' end to end on the main base with slotted screw
    Basic Operation:

    Starter/Generator- Pretty simple this is the unit that when activated by the solenoid turns your engine over to start once the engine is running the generator aids in keeping your battery fully charged.
    Basic components include Brushes,armature,field coils


    Voltage Regulator- This regulates the amount of current/voltage that the starter/generator puts out.

    This is critical to ensure your battery does not overcharge or undercharge. The insides consist of windings,temperature strip & contact sets that are spring loaded (Almost like a points and condenser)

    When the starter is running the contacts repeatedly open and close in sequence depending on the voltage needed back to the battery
    These can be adjusted and serviced if overcharging is encountered(See the wisconsin repair manual for proper procedures, a few different styles were used)


    Do's and Donts:

    *Always use a good battery! Do not use a battery that is dead or jump start a dead battery. These Starter/Generators are designed as a maintainer charger only and are not meant to bring a dead battery back to life on a regular basis! Many people end up ruining their starters because of this!

    * It is normal for these to be hot to the touch , being a sealed unit these have an operating temperature of about 300 to 350 degrees!

    *Let the parts warm up before making a reading/Adjustment! The delco service manual states starter and regular need at least 15 minutes to get to operating temperature.

    * Check voltage output frequently especially on models without a ammeter, On a voltage meter you should get a reading between 12.2 to 13.9 volts MAX, anything over 14 volts on a constant basis leads to over charging and makes your generator run hotter making parts wear out faster.

    A simple cleaning and adjustment of your regulator can often correct many issues you may experience with charging.

    * Do not crank longer than 30 seconds at a time, this also will severely damage your starter over time.

    * If you have the bushing starter keep it oiled! These have a felt wick that was soaked in oil from the factory and when serviced by a shop.
    a few drops every now and then is fine do not over oil.

    *All extra accessories such as lighting must be attached to the "L" terminal of the regulator

    * Keep all contacts clean

    *Keep the battery clean

    For more detailed information on the principles of operation of the Regulators see this link below which is a 1 page sheet on the Basic Principles of Operation of the Delco Remy Regulators

    To help Identify what terminals are what here is a picture I found of a NOS regulator with instructions
    [attachment=141853:Voltage Reg Delco Bolens.JPG]

    Hopefully this helps clear things up. If you are uncomfortable doing the repairs yourself look for a local electrical shop they often can bench test both regular and starters to determine what is faulty if you are not sure.

    Delco Also does a decent job of stocking parts for these and most parts are readily available!

    • Jan 30, 2015 07:58 PM
    • by Bolens 1000
  4. Featured Tractor September 2014

    I'll nominate my 1958 Bolens Deluxe Ride-a-matic.

    I've had this little tractor for about 30 years, my grandparents gave it to me when I was about 8. I could barely start it when I first got it!

    My grandfather had done a lot of work in his garden with it over the years. I'm not sure exactly when he bought it, but it wasn't too old when he did. I got a single bottom plow, a set of discs, a cultivator and a homemade trailer with it. I drove it around the yard a lot growing up. It had definitely seen a lot of use, the front wheel bushings were completely worn out.

    Over the last few months, I did a rebuild on the tractor. I replaced all of the bearings and bushings on the tractor, rebuilt the original Kohler K160, painted it, and put new tubes and tires all around. The steering is nice and tight now, re-bushing the front wheels made a huge difference. It's not completely factory original, but it's basically how I got it.

    At some point it got an electric start kit, but the starter/generator and regulator have disappeared over the years. My dad says it's around his place somewhere... It also had a plate added to the back of the frame to use as a trailer hitch.

    I had a lot of fun on the rebuild, and plan on using it to plow the garden and pull the trailer around the yard.

    [attachment=125953:Bolens Ride-a-Matic 1.jpg] [attachment=125954:Bolens Ride-a-Matic 2.jpg]

    [attachment=125955:Bolens Ride-a-Matic 3.jpg] [attachment=125956:Bolens Ride-a-Matic 4.jpg]

    Here is a link to the rebuild thread if anyone is interested:


    • Sep 06, 2014 07:18 AM
    • by Kfs35
  5. Featured Tractor September 2013

    I'll nominate the 1977 Bolens H16 which I am the temporary steward of, since I don't believe in ownership of inanimate objects, lol. I bought the tractor earlier this year and the fact it was not a kohler powered tractor was an unusual tractor purchase for me. I really didn't think a collection of 1970s hydros would be complete without a Bolens Tube Frame hydro or Large Frame hydro (hint), so I committed to the purchase of the tractor, tiller, snow blower, and front blade for 550.00 in non running condition listed in a Des Moines Iowa Craigslist posting.

    I sold an extra tiller and front blade for a Ariens to buy this H16, it was 425 miles from our house, fortunately the man I sold the tiller and blade to gave me 150.00 to take another tractor to Kansas City, that paid for most of my gas. I have been VERY fortunate in that almost all of my tractor purchases turned out to be better deals than I thought originally, and the Bolens was no different.

    The tractor had been wrecked almost 20 years prior, but before I get into that, a little history. The man I bought it from had been given the tractor by a dealer on a quasi-warranty issue concerning a 1981 Bolens QT17 that thrown a rod a year after his purchasing it. It wasn't under warranty any longer, but the dealer wanted to help the old guy out and gave him the 1977 H16 that was a trade-in. Eight years later the tractor needed an engine in 1990 and a new engine bought was installed in the spring of that year, unfortunately the first person to use the tractor was his young son who hit a well casing in tall grass. The impact broke the lower PTO unit off and destroyed the mower deck gear box. The deck and gear box disappeared with a gypsy repair shop never to be seen again. Not having a mower or PTO the guy put the Bolens in the barn, along with the tiller, snow blower, and blade in the barn and covered it up with a tarp, and GASP, bought a Murray, in fact, three over the years.

    Fast forward 22 years later the guy wants a Zero Turn and decides to sell the Bolens. He told me he finally came to the conclusion that he wasn't going to fix it, and it only took the better part of a quarter century to realize it. The wife and I made the long familiar drive to Des Moines, (we had just been there last November to pick up an Ariens GT14). After getting it home I assessed the tractor and found the good and bad. The good, a brand new engine you could eat off, The tractor had not been used in over twenty years, it was dusty, but not very rusty except for the damaged front wheel. The bad, broken PTO, no starter, solenoid, missing hood rod, bent hood hinge, missing taillights/headlight (Allstate didn't cover the damages, well casing was uninsured).

    First I repaired and replaced all missing parts, a friend gave me a starter that needed rebuilt, but it was an older good one. I replaced all the fuel lines, filters and fluid. I attempted to start it, but it really was having a hard time turning over using a little L&G battery, so I bought a full size 51r battery and that helped. I really had to lube the cylinder, it was so new and had sat so long the compression was really dragging the starter and battery down. the carb was full of junk and when I finally was able to clear the jets she fired up and ran at full throttle well, but died at idle, it has taken a tank full of gas with a high concentration of sea foam to remedy.

    I replaced the steering link and both tie rod ends and had the right axle/spindle tube reamed to 7/8" in order to use a Bolens1050 spindle due to excess wear inside the 3/4' axle tube. The original spindle was trashed as were the bearings. I tore the tractor down to the frame and power washed it and all the parts three times, using oven cleaner, degreaser, and soap, after that I sprayed OSPHO on the rust spots then used a rust-inhibitor primer. I used a black semigloss industrial alkyd enamel with Naptha as a reducer and a poly converter as the hardening agent on the frame and a high heat engine enamel on the engine. After welding cracks in the fender pan with the MIG welder, I sanded all worn/rusty areas and primed. Then I used Rustoleum's gloss white on the hood and fender pan and installed all new Maple Hunter decals, I altered the original paint scheme by making the hood bulge black to draw attention toward it.

    I found a new NOS steering wheel cap which cost me big $$$, but I had to have it as well as a new steering wheel bushing. New head lights and reproduction tail lights as well as alot of new wiring completed the electrical part. I used 3.75" narrow Simplicity rims with timken bearings and 4.00-8 tri-rib tires up front to aid in steering. The rear tires are 25x10-12 ITP 589s and really make the tractor look like the BULLDOG it is. I'm in school full time and am having quite a bit of trouble with my eyesight, so I'm not able to work on my tractors like I want to, but I found a few hours in the evening I could spare from the TV and computer to complete this project in about a month. I will never regret buying this Bolens, they have to be one of the stoutest, best designed tractors ever made. Thanks, Mike

    [attachment=83187:bolens-H16.jpg] [attachment=83179:bolens_2.jpg] [attachment=83180:bolens_3.jpg]

    [attachment=83181:bolens_4.jpg] [attachment=83182:bolens_5.jpg] [attachment=83183:bolens_6.jpg]

    [attachment=83184:bolens_7.jpg] [attachment=83185:bolens_8.jpg] [attachment=83186:bolens_9.jpg]

    • Sep 01, 2013 10:39 PM
    • by OkieGt
  6. Featured Tractor Of The Month for April 2013

    I posted a "WTB" post on Craigslist and a man about an hour or so south of us responded about his RIDE-a-matic sitting in his barn. We went and looked at it and brought it home.

    Here is the "before" picture from May 30, 2011.

    [attachment=65925:Bolensbefore.jpg] [attachment=65926:Bolensbefore2.jpg]

    [attachment=65927:Bolensbefore3.jpg] [attachment=65928:Bolensbefore4.jpg]

    [attachment=65929:Bolensbefore5.jpg] [attachment=65930:Bolensbefore6.jpg]


    Adam's goal is usually to restore one tractor every winter. During the winter of 2011-2012, he took everything apart - down to nuts and bolts. Many parts were sandblasted at a local truck repair shop and hours of sanding other parts, we were ready for primer.

    [attachment=65932:Bolensduring.jpg] [attachment=65933:Bolensduring2.jpg]

    [attachment=65934:Bolensduring3.jpg] [attachment=65935:Bolensduring4.jpg]

    And after paint, we were ready for reassembly!


    Final product!

    [attachment=65921:Bolensafter.jpg] [attachment=65922:Bolensafter2.jpg]

    [attachment=65923:Bolensafter3.jpg] [attachment=65924:Bolensafter4.jpg]

    It was a learning experience, as each restoration teaches Adam new methods and techniques. This Bolens has the original engine, a Kohler K161. We still have the original mowing deck, although that was not restored with this tractor.

    The decals were provided by Hank, the "Old Bolens Guy". The paint was purchased from Napa and is a late model Dodge/Chrysler color. It was Adam's first experience spraying with a metallic flake. Pictures don't do it justice!

    • May 02, 2013 06:45 PM
    • by michelle
  7. GTtalk's Featured Tractor Of The Month Of A...

    Here are some before and after pictures of my 1961 Wizard garden tractor. It was sold by Western Auto and was Built by Bolens. It is the same tractor as a 1961 Bolens Ride-a-matic. At this time it is the only one that I know of.I found it on ebay several years ago in New York and it was a rust bucket in bad shape. It cost me twice as what I paid to get it shipped to Salem Oregon. It sat here for several years until my friend Dave restored it for me. Dave had a 61 Bolens years ago and was looking for one again.

    I had some extra ones so we worked a deal and he restored it. As far as we can tell the Wizards were painted orange and the wheels were what ever the color of the Bolens ones of that year. I also have a 57 Wizard and Dave has found a 59. I have heard of about five other of the 57 Wizards but not any other of the 59 or 61 models. Dave has restored several garden tractors over the years for me and does a great job.

    I have taken it to a lot of shows and display it with the other Wizard that I have and my Bolens Ride-a-matics. If any one has one of these or any info on them please let me know. I have never seen any of them with any decals so I am really unsure if they had the same as the Bolens, some thing different or no decals. thanks, Steve

    [attachment=27671:10-23-06 003.jpg]

    [attachment=27672:10-23-06 002.jpg]

    [attachment=27673:1-6-07 002.jpg]

    [attachment=27674:1-6-07 006.jpg]

    [attachment=27675:1-6-07 008.jpg]

    [attachment=27742:1-13-07 001.jpg]

    • Apr 17, 2012 04:27 PM
    • by steve johnson