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A few questions about my new-to-me Bolens 1220

bolens clutch differential

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#1 fildred13 OFFLINE  

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Posted July 12, 2020 - 11:23 PM

I picked up a Bolens 1220 a few weeks ago which has a briggs 18 horse L head in it. I did a bit of work on the starter and replaced the flywheel ring gear so that I would stop chewing up starter pinion gears after 3 starts. Worked like a charm, greased and oiled everything, did every adjustment the 1220 manual calls for, and now my grass is mowed!

I've never owned a tractor before, nor had I ever driven a vehicle with a choke or a clutch before (my age is showing, forgive me). It's been a learning curve but things are going far so well, and lately all I want to do is go out and work on that old tractor. Maybe over the winter a full disassembly and a fresh coat of paint...

Anyways, a few questions that have cropped up after being over the tractor a dozen times.

1) The clutch-brake pedal needs to be basically floored in order for the clutch to disengage so that you can change gears without grinding. I have not yet confirmed it, but my suspicion is that the drive shaft only stops spinning when the main brake engages at the end of the clutch-brake pedal's travel. I've actuated the pedal while under the tractor, and I can see the clutch move "into" the heavy spring on the drive shaft when the pedal is about 2/3 depressed, but when I'm sitting on the tractor and move the pedal that far or even a bit farther, trying to change gears gives the tell tale CRRRRRCCHHHH sound. This is all indicating that something is amiss, right? Perhaps I need to look at how to adjust the clutch-brake pedal in order to get the clutch do disengage more/further earlier in the pedal's travel?

2) The rear-axle end play adjustment and differential control knob all seem a bit wonky on this tractor - I'm assuming something isn't quite right, but I don't have any other bolens experience as a frame of reference to confirm my hunch.

I attempted the rear-axle end play adjustment this afternoon, but the left hand nut is on so tight that I need to go get a bigger socket just to try to get it to loosen (I am well aware that the book says to only ever tighten hand-tight and to never use a wrench - I got it this way! It's possible it's just sticky, but my guess is someone wrenched this thing down). Regardless of if a wrench was used or not, looking at the nut, it seem like it has nowhere to go - it appears completely seated against the washer that is pressed against the wheelhub. Unable to budge the lefthand nut without a trip to the store, I figured I'd see the right hand nut. I managed to free this one up with a wrench (again, VERY tight), and then I re-tightened by "hand". I had to use a socket to get enough leverage, but I didn't use a wrench with the socket. Sort of cheating on the "by hand" front, but I had no other choice it seemed. Without the socket, hand-tight left the tire basically loose.

During all this tightening, I never once experienced "binding" when spinning the tires by hand. I would spin one and the other would spin the opposite direction. I could hear a gear "clicking" inside, but I assume that when they talk about "binding" they mean just that - the wheels don't want to turn, or turn tightly and only with a lot of effort. Any thoughts on this, does it sound like I'm doing the adjustment "right"? Once I can actually free up the left hand nut, I'll be able to do it more correctly.

Once I had done the adjustment, I put the differential control knob back on the left hand tire, and this thing is extra confusing. If I screw it in all the way, then put the R-pin in, it can't turn more than maybe 1/2 a turn more before it is absolutely impossible to turn by hand. I assume that knob is supposed to have more than half a rotation of movement right? Am I wrong to be putting the R-clip in the hole to hold the knob from spinning out? It was how it was when I purchased the tractor, but I'm learning not to trust that because quite a few things have been out of place or misconfigured so far. I just don't know how tight and loose that control knob should be in order to reach full differential/no differential. As best I can tell just by eyeballing the tires, there is at least some differential visible on turns with the nut where it is now. It just seems like I have no room to actually make adjustments as it is now. Is the only way to check if the differential is free or engaged to just adjust it and then turn the tractor and watch the rear wheels?

I don't have a photo of the pedal to the metal that's needed to disengage the clutch, but I think that's self explanatory. I am including some photos I took of the left and right hand castellated nuts on the rear axle to explain how my tractor is setup at the moment to see if anyone sees a glaring issue.

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#2 Bruce Dorsi OFFLINE  

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Posted July 13, 2020 - 07:11 AM

:wave: Welcome to GTT.  ...Lots of Bolens owners here!

 

The clutch pedal needs to be pressed all the way down before shifting.  ...The brake shoe is activated to stop the gears from turning inside the transaxle.  ...These tractors should not, and are not meant to, be shifted while the tractor is moving.    ...You select the gear you want to operate in, and start out in that gear.  ...Unlike a car, you do not shift through the gears while you are moving.

 

I can not tell from your pics if you have removed the cotter pin from the left-side nut.  ...If it is still in place, the nut will not turn.  ...It is a right-hand thread, so "rightey tightey -  lefty loosey."

 

The "R pin" is known as a hairpin clip, and does not belong there!  ...The handwheel is normally retained on the threads by a retaining ring in the groove at the outside end of the axle shaft.  ...Someone has drilled the shaft for the hairpin, but that is not correct.  ...In normal operation, the handwheel is unscrewed to its outer position to allow the differential to work properly.  ....When the handwheel is tightened inward, the differential is locked, so both wheels are locked together.  ...This should only be used when one wheel is spinning and extra traction is needed such as when plowing a garden or snow removal.  ....Excessive turning with the differential locked causes a lot of stress on internal parts and contributes to wear/breakage.

 

More than likely, the differential locking pieces are  frozen in place where they should not be. ...Start by removing the hairpin clip and unscrewing the hand wheel outward.  ...If the groove on the end of the shaft is worn and will not let a retaining ring stay in place, you can file the groove deeper with a small file. or drill a hole for a small cotter pin at that location.  ...There is no real stress on the retaining ring - it is just there to prevent the handwheel from coming off.


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#3 Bruce Dorsi OFFLINE  

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Posted July 13, 2020 - 07:39 AM

I don't know if you have seen these before:

 

Service Manual for Bolens Tube-Frame tractors:

https://gardentracto...anual-552875-1/

 

Bolens 1220 Parts List:

https://gardentracto...220-parts-list/

 

After loosening the handwheel, operate the tractor for awhile, while turning left & right.  ....The differential may free-up and operate correctly. ..If all seems OK, use the tractor.  ....When the rear-axle end-play is excessive, the tractor drive will usually "skip" or "jump" when under load.


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#4 426tractorguy OFFLINE  

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Posted July 13, 2020 - 09:31 AM

welcome to the forum!  :wave:


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#5 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted July 13, 2020 - 10:21 AM

Welcome to the forum.

 

Attached are pictures of the clutch linkage as viewed from underneath - they are from a Bolens 1050 which should have the same clutch setup as your 1220.  While the clutch set up on the Tube Frame tractors is fairly straight forward some people find them mysterious and hard to understand as to how they are designed to work.  As Bruce mentioned these tractors are designed to be stopped before attempting to shift gears.  If things are adjusted properly and working correctly there should be no gear grinding when shifting - grinding of the gears is not something a Tube Frame tractor will tolerate for any length of time as it usually results in damage to the gear teeth.

 

Here is a description of how the clutch mechanism works that may assist you as sometimes reading the Service Manual doesn't clear up the mystery entirely.

 

As pressure is applied to the clutch pedal with your foot the clutch linkage begins to pull the rear clutch flange backwards away from the clutch pulley to allow the drive pulley on the driveshaft to rotate on the driveshaft (in effect releasing the clutch).  This forces the rear clutch flange on the driveshaft against the brake plate which has friction material on the front face to stop the rotation of the driveshaft which is connected to the input shaft of the transmission.  As the pedal continues to travel the brake plate moves backwards as it contacts the rear clutch flange compressing the two springs on the two mounting pins. When this happens the brake arm, which is also connected to the clutch pedal linkage by a rod that connects to the U shaped piece bolted to the clutch pedal, should be starting to contact the brake drum on the transmission to stop the output shaft from rotating causing the tractor to come to rest.  The brake drum and arm on the transmission and the brake plate located behind the clutch flange on the driveshaft work in unison to stop the transmission input and output shaft rotation so that gear selection changes can be made easily without any gear grinding.  Periodic adjustment of the linkage is necessary to make sure both shafts stop when they should.  I have pointed out with red arrows four areas that are noted for becoming worn as Tube Frame gear drive tractors age as these areas seldom get lubricated and are often neglected for many years by previous owners and operators.  While each point of wear by itself may not appear to be serious when they are all connected together it can lead to a lot of extra movement of the cutch pedal to get the clutch to release properly. ( please note the brake plate in the pictures has friction material on both sides - there should only be friction material on the front side that engages with the clutch hub)

 

As Bruce suggested the parts and Service Manual are both good sources of information and I would strongly recommend that you check the clutch adjustment before you operate the tractor much.

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • 2 Main Clutch Linkage Wear Points.jpg
  • 3 Brake Drum And Arm At Transmission.jpg

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#6 fildred13 OFFLINE  

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Posted July 13, 2020 - 11:18 PM

Thanks for the warm welcomes and all the feedback.

I did indeed download the service manual and parts manual for both the tractor and my engine when I got the tractor, and I've done all of the adjustments from the owners manual, save the brake adjustment because the brake pad is basically gone. I'll be ordering a new one and maybe a replacement shoe here soon: https://bolenspartsa...lining-1713777/

Clearly, I'll go through the entire clutch section and differential sections of the SERVICE manual and work through both. I certainly don't want to damage the transmission or differential if I can help it, so safer to get the seemingly differed maintenance paid up front before using the tractor much. Thankfully, these seem to be the last two issues to overcome! And what's more, the "grinding" we've experienced has only been a few quick moments - we knew it wasn't a good sound and that the clutch wasn't disengaged. Hopefully we didn't do any lasting damage.

Thanks a bunch for the thorough description of the clutch assembly's operation. I'll get under the tractor on the next nice day and actuate the pedal and follow along with that description to get a full understanding of how it works. I've already done that, focusing on the brake drum and brake arm, but now hopefully I'll be able to fully follow along with the clutch side of the assembly. Then I'll follow the service manual and make any needed adjustments.

As a side note, once I get the tractor clutch adjusted correctly, I am wondering about proper clutch "procedure." If I am stopped and switch into a gear, is it better for the tractor if I release the clutch pedal slowly, to make a nice easy take-off, or should I release it quickly so that there is not really any time "riding the clutch?" Similarly, when braking, should I depress the clutch slowly (perhaps by only pressing the pedal 2/3rds, and letting the tractor slowly come to a stop before fully depressing the pedal to engage the main brake), or fully depress the clutch more quickly so as to minimize the time of a half-depressed clutch. Obviously from a smooth-ride point of view I want to depress and release slowly, but I want to make sure that is the healthiest thing for the tractor. I realize that at present, 2/3rds depress does nothing for me, but I'm talking once I have it correctly adjusted! This question is coming purely from having very little experience riding vehicles with a clutch. Maybe the few short seconds of slowly depressing/releasing are not really considered "riding the clutch," but I'd rather have someone experienced confirm that if possible!

As for the differential stuff, the picture shows the wheels with the cotter pin still in place, but I had it removed when I was making the adjustments as per the instructions (and common sense, haha!) It sounds like step one will be to get a new retaining ring in place and to "free up" the left hand castellated nut with a big ol' socket so that I can do the end-play adjustment "properly". Meaning by "hand", without torquing it so tight it can never be undone. Then I'll try driving around with the differential control knob all the way out, and I'll play with tightening it down when and if  I ever notice a tire slipping. I will say that the differential control knob seem pretty loose when not tightened all the way down. Which is to say, I bet when the tractor is running, that knob will probably dance around on the threads if it is threaded anywhere but near the very end of its range. Is this normal? It seems like the control knob really only does anything near the very end of tightening it down. So I guess the adjustment of the differential is "mostly it isn't doing anything, until you've screwed it in quite a ways and it starts to engage against the two wave washers. Then it's just a matter of how tight you tighten it, varying the amount of pressure against those washers which controls the differential. Do I have that right? Or is the knob somehow engaging something before it gets near the very end of its travel?


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#7 fildred13 OFFLINE  

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Posted July 13, 2020 - 11:26 PM

Oh and I forgot one other question! Finding SAE 90 gear oil for the transmission isn't easy to source locally. I cna of course buy online, but I like to support local when I can. Am I right to assume that 80w90 is fine, and I can just drain and switch over (since I don't know for sure what's in it from the last owner)? Or do I have to order the real deal?



#8 Dave in NY ONLINE  

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Posted July 14, 2020 - 03:34 AM

Look for a GL1 spec. gear lube. Supposedly the newer GL5 type lubes don't play well with brass/ bronze. I find it at our local TSC, last I bought was a 2 gallon jug, states on the label suitable for Ford (9N,2N,8N) tractors. I'm sure there are other sources for GL1 90 wt. , for me the TSC store is close by and they usually have several 2 gallon jugs and even 5 gallon pails of it in stock. Have a NAPA store nearby? They should be able to get or have GL1 90wt.
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#9 fildred13 OFFLINE  

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Posted July 14, 2020 - 09:42 AM

Looks like NAPA will ship sae 90 GL-1 in a 5 gallon bucket to my local store. And that’s good enough for me!
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#10 fildred13 OFFLINE  

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Posted July 14, 2020 - 08:30 PM

Went under the tractor and followed the whole clutch assembly. Thanks 29 Chev, the description gave me a perfect understanding once I could see the parts moving.

I did notice a few things while I reviewed the clutch assembly.

I’m pretty sure the friction material on the brake plate is completely gone. Guess I’ll have to source a new one somehow and get the whole assembly out in order to get the repair done. Hopefully with that complete and the adjustments all done, I’ll have a far more usable pedal. Anybody have a good source for the friction material for that?

The clutch pedal itself has quite a bit of play left-to-right. Service manual doesn’t seem to touch on that. I assume I can just use some shim washers to take the play out? As best I can tell, there is no reason the play should be present.

Lastly, the manual talks about a pedal stop, and it looks like it’s a small bit of angle iron that is bolted in front of the pedal in order to stop the pedal from over travelling, presumably to stop you from applying too much pressure on the main transmission brake. Does anyone have a picture of this component from their 1220? Pretty sure I’m going to have to fabricate or order one, but I’m not clear which holes it bolted to originally. There are a few in the area that look like they could make sense.

#11 Dave in NY ONLINE  

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Posted July 15, 2020 - 03:23 AM

The friction material will be available from Bolens Parts & Supplies ( or one of the the suppliers listed here on the forum) call them or check on EBay, they list parts on there. The slop in the clutch pedal will probably be worn bronze bushings. They can also be found from the suppliers, and/or check EBay. Might be a hardware store item too, depending on the store. Fairly simple job to replace them. Could be some wear on the cross shaft too where the pedal mounts. I have replaced the shaft on a couple of my tractors because of excessive wear where things mount, and probably weren't lubricated for years. If no one responds with a picture I could get one for you later today of the pedal stop bracket. Pretty busy today so I might forget, sorry if I do! It should be shown in the parts diagram that you can download from here.
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#12 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted July 15, 2020 - 10:26 AM

Lastly, the manual talks about a pedal stop, and it looks like it’s a small bit of angle iron that is bolted in front of the pedal in order to stop the pedal from over travelling, presumably to stop you from applying too much pressure on the main transmission brake. Does anyone have a picture of this component from their 1220? Pretty sure I’m going to have to fabricate or order one, but I’m not clear which holes it bolted to originally. There are a few in the area that look like they could make sense.

These are pictures of the clutch stop on my 1050 and 1053 which should be the same as your 1220 as far as the clutch stop bracket and mounting location.  The last two pictures should give you an idea of the width of the bracket as the belt tool you see (homemade tool ) is made out of 1" wide flat steel if memory serves me correctly.  If you need better pictures please advise and I will take some new ones of my 1050.  

 

The lack of friction material on the brake plate and brake arm will make trying to stop the clutch hub and brake drum rather difficult which would explain the gear grinding problem.  With new material and the clutch set up adjusted properly shifting gears should work much nicer.

Attached Thumbnails

  • 20 Clutch Stop.jpg
  • 21 Clutch Stop.jpg
  • 22 Clutch Stop.jpg
  • 24 Clutch Stop.jpg
  • 25 Clutch Stop.jpg
  • 12 Hook Holds Tool Keeping Tensioner Away From Belts.jpg
  • 13 Hooks Slips Under Mounting Plate.jpg

Edited by 29 Chev, July 15, 2020 - 10:28 AM.

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#13 fildred13 OFFLINE  

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Posted July 15, 2020 - 09:40 PM

Thanks Chev, that's perfect. I should be able to fab a replacement now. I figured that's where it mounted, but this gives me confidence. I suspect a previous owner was having trouble getting the clutch to release, and instead of adjusting the clutch or putting more friction material on or putting a new brake pad on (or all of the above!) they instead decided to just remove the pedal stop so that they could push more. I only hope not too much damage was done before I got my hands on it.

Having just spent the whole day taking apart the underside of the tractor for a good cleaning and repair, I fully appreciate that idler pulley tool. Might have to steal that one for myself! It's interesting to me that you painted the idler pulleys. Has that worked out well for you? I've got virtually the whole under side of my tractor in the shop right now, including those pulleys. They were one of the few pieces I WASN'T going to paint, but it'll be purdier if I can paint them. I was just worried it would all come flaking off as soon as it ran the first time.

Dave is right about the wear all around the clutch pedal, and I appreciate knowing that the slop isn't some strange design choice. I took the pedal all apart and there were shims and all sorts of mess in there. It was well lubricated at least. A new bushing seems in order so I hopefully won't need the shim stock in the cylinder anymore. Some shim washers or a good sized spacer should tighten up the left-right slop no problem.

When I removed the bearing support plate and bearing from the front of the drive shaft, I noticed that the front of the bearing is non-circular. One wall is literally thinner than the other wall. The other side of the bearing isn't like this. The bearing spins free though and sounds surprisingly good. I haven't cleaned up the parts yet to get a look at the trade numbers, but the part number is 1185587, reference number 204 in the part catalog. I'll include a picture of mine. Is this really wear? Or is this some interesting bearing technology? Whatever it is, I've never seen it before. I'll be trying to figure out if it needs replacing, or if it is fine as-is. It was running quite well, so I'm hopeful this is just bearing technology I've never seen. Or if it isn't supposed to be like this, I hope the drive shaft isn't so FUBAR that a "good" bearing will no longer mate well with it! Guess I'll know more tomorrow once I've cleaned the parts up.

2020-07-15 18.39.03.jpg
 



#14 Dave in NY ONLINE  

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Posted July 16, 2020 - 03:29 AM

I have noticed the difference in the thickness of the material on the snout of the support bearings too. You are talking about the sleeve that rotates that fits the shaft and retained by the washer and nut,yes? I have 2 tractors that have bearings that look like that. One of them is a name brand replacement I bought new, SKS brand if I remember correctly. Must be just how they were made. Possibly from a forging? Maybe came from the land of almost right (China) ?? Dunno. They both function just fine. I'd say, put it back in and run it. Pretty simple to replace if there is a problem with it. Once you have one of these tractors disassembled and reassembled you discover that they aren't really as complicated as you might think when you first take a look up under at the clutch and brake assemblies. Sounds like you are off to a good start on it.
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#15 Bruce Dorsi OFFLINE  

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Posted July 16, 2020 - 07:31 AM

The self-aligning bearing in the front clutch support plate does have an eccentric inner race.  ...In other applications, there is an eccentric collar with set screw which fits over the inner race.  ...By turning the collar, the collar locks the inner race to the shaft.  ...The set screw holds the collar in that position.


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