Garden tractor restoration can be accomplished with a little bit of mechanical knowledge, a lot of will power, and a passion to bring things to life. Stephen dives into the world of garden tractors, with the restoration of a 1949 David Bradley. Whether you are an old farmhand, or the news about how our food is grown disturbs you, and you want to get started- Stephen's experiences may be of interest to you. Read on to learn more, and for Stephen through the entire project.
A couple of years ago, I decided to get back into gardening. As a young boy in the mid-west, I grew up with a John Deere 110, and lived on a 3 acre yard- 1/4 of which was garden. My parents were both teachers, and I had 5 brothers and sisters. So, how do you feed a crowd like that on a teacher salary? Well, you grow it yourself in the garden. After growing up and moving to the city, the thought of gardening was the remotest of thoughts. We grew our garden with no artificial anything- nowadays people call it 'organic' but we just called it food. Well, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out these days that our food now is over hybridized, genetically modified, loaded with chemicals and preservatives- and everyone is getting sick. Who ever heard of someone being gluten allergic?
So, I decided it was time to return to gardening. Plus, I felt that as Americans, we are far too reliant on those 18 wheelers that roll into our grocery stores every couple of days. So- I had to find me some equipment to till the soil with. Sadly, my yard is waaay too small for any sort of riding tractor (thus, no John Deere 110), but I wanted something more than a rototiller. I went looking and found these great old garden tractors, with implements to do all sorts of things. I thought this would be perfect! Well, I live in Texas, and walking tractors just didn't seem to catch on here, and I couldn't find any locally. I really liked the David Bradley- it was so cool looking, had a good reputation, and they were made with 60+ attachments. I thought this would be perfect!
After much looking, I found a pair for sale in the same town that my uncle lived in up in Massachusetts- they are still very popular in the midwest and the east coast. I thought this would be a good excuse to visit my relatives, made a deal for 2 broken down tractors for $100. Plus about $500 to go get them! Well, I was excited to get them and to make a good project out of it- and I decided to use it to start a DIY show- The American Garage. Well, I got the tractors, and started in on the project. As with all of my projects, I did it with pocket change and budget leftovers. I never go into debt for a hobby. I tore down the 1949 model, and proceeded to sandblast, prime, paint, repair- until I had a complete tractor. I did upgrade the Briggs & Stratton motor (1hp) to a newer 3hp motor.
It was difficult finding parts until I found Bob's Small Engine Repair- he was a great help with all the right parts. But, I wanted to keep the original carb and intake- it looked so cool, plus the gas tank on the new motor would not fit under the hood. And, I wanted to use the old gas tank too. So begins the fun of modifying- and the trial and error that is involved. It ran terrible. I made an adapter for the intake manifold, as the screws were 90 degrees from where they needed to be for the new engine. I had to scrap the adapter, as the engine would run great so long as it had no burden on it whatsoever.
It could not even pull itself- the lengthening of the intake with the adapter took all the engine's torque. Bob found me an acceptable intake manifold, and I also had to modify the carb, drilling out the holes on the jet to provide enough fuel for the bigger engine. Finally, I had a good tractor that would pull itself and cut through the dirt. Success! I made video episodes of the whole project, received lots of advice from members here, and had a bit of fun along the way.
Now, I have this great garden tractor, and I planted my first garden in 30 years with it this past spring. I used all heirloom seed so I can keep replenishing it, and had some measure of success. Now it is time to plow it in and start getting ready for a fall garden- yes- in southeast Texas, we can grow 3 times a year if we plan it right. And now I have the coolest tractor in the neighborhood to help me with it. A 1949 David Bradley! Thanks to all that helped make it possible, and fee free to look at the video series I made of the complete restoration project. Check it out at www.theamericangarage.net
- Mar 28, 2014 04:24 PM
- by sdevine
"THIS IS TRUE", and kinda long.....I made some decals a few years ago for a Bush Hog D4-10 garden tractor. Knowing I wasn't even close to restoring mine, so put the decals on ebay. They sold & I was excited.....then I saw buyer had a Bush Hog Corporation email address. OH CRAP.....figured I was in a heap of trouble for copyright infraction! I was sweating bullets!
So I emailed the buyer, and was SHOCKED to find out they were doing a complete restore on a D4-10 garden tractor. They bought MY decals to go on their restore! I asked why they wanted my decals when I know they have much better in-house graphics. She said they were getting as much public involvement as possible in the restore & stumbled on my decals, so they bought them. I was thrilled, but it got better! It was to be displayed at the Louisville National Farm Machinery Show Feb of 2007! That's just a tad over an hour's drive from me.
It still got better....it was a few months till the show and they called me on the phone & requested I be sure to come to the show as they wanted to meet me....and I them! Then they asked if I would make more decals for the 42" Trail Mower & others for a cultivator & turn plow. I told them email me sizes they wanted & I sent the extra ones free of charge.
Then I get a big box from them a couple weeks later. Inside was a Bush Hog winter coat, hat, Bush Hog pen & penlight set, 2 different die cast scale Bush Hog mowers, T-shirt, and more. But the best part was a cast emblem NOS "Bush Hog" that goes on the D4-10 front grille.(you can see in pics) They knew I had everything for a complete restore except for the emblem.(We had corresponded a lot during this time), so they had extra & wanted me to have one. The President of Bush Hog Corp. thanked me personally at the show. I had the flu, but HAD to go to the show....only my heart stopping would have stopped me from being there. The smaller guy is Dawson H. with whom I did most of my emailing back & forth. I'm the taller fat guy! LOL This was such an exciting few months of events. I still keep in touch with Dawson from time to time.
OK...I've talked enough, so here are the pics! It's one awesomely restored garden tractor!
You can find more resources on the Bush Hog garden tractors and their implements in the Bush Hog Tractor Forum and also the Bush Hog Manuals section of the site.
- Dec 29, 2014 06:35 PM
- by olcowhand
I had this 1650 garden tractor for a few years, but never had much call to use it since I had so many others. Then my nephew asked if I had a heavy duty garden tractor I'd sell. I decided to let it go. He asked if I could restore it too, so shot him a cheap price for all. Basically I broke even $ wise & gave him my labor. He's a good nephew & never asks for any help on anything, so he's deserving of a big favor. If you knew some of my other nephews, you'd know just how deserving he is! LOL
Anyway, this is how she started out:
Mechanically she was ready to go.
I changed the color scheme to more match the full size Massey tractors. I think the flint metallic gray chassis looks better. There is a sticky thread with the Massey Ferguson paint codes and color schemes in the Massey & Snapper tractor forum.
Here's the red sheet metal painted. I used OE Massey enamel, with high quality wet look hardener.
Here she is completed & ready for him to pick up. Was an 8hr one way for him to come get her, but for some reason he didn't mind a bit! It's gonna make him a great garden tractor for sure!
I also let this rear 3pt mower in with the sale as I hardly ever used it. I built it from a Yard Man rider's 52" mower deck. He got a heck of a deal, tractor like new, new tires all around, with rear mower for $1550.00. BTW...I made these decals myself too. Had the wife help me when I overlaid the colors. Extra hands help a lot!
- Dec 30, 2014 06:36 PM
- by olcowhand