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#1 Bolens 1000 OFFLINE  

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Posted July 27, 2020 - 05:56 PM

Happy to announce theres finally a replacement for the older tubeframe choke/throttle controls !

This is something I have been trying to do for several years

Member 29chev was gracious enough to try his hand at the impossible , With some new old stock samples sent he amazingly hand crafted each of these metal levers which was needed to complete the project

 

Now we can keep more tractors running !

 

DSCN9614.JPG DSCN9615.JPG DSCN9616.JPG

 

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Its always great when people can work together to save these machines !

 


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#2 WrenchinOnIt OFFLINE  

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Posted July 27, 2020 - 06:00 PM

Stew is a very talented man. Kudos to both of you guys for making it happen


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#3 kjmweld ONLINE  

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Posted July 27, 2020 - 06:10 PM

Nothing about that looks hand made. Great team effort to both of you. 👍
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#4 SteveinFL ONLINE  

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Posted July 27, 2020 - 08:28 PM

Great job to all involved! You guys serve the Bolens community well.


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#5 Austen OFFLINE  

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Posted July 27, 2020 - 08:51 PM

Stew!!! You outdid yourself! Looks like a factory OEM part! You da man!!! 10/10 A++


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#6 LilysDad OFFLINE  

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Posted July 28, 2020 - 05:58 AM

I'd like to see a video of Stew making one. He must have one he77 of a shop.


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#7 426tractorguy OFFLINE  

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Posted July 28, 2020 - 05:21 PM

thats amazing!


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#8 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted July 28, 2020 - 06:59 PM

Thank you for the kind words - the metal levers are only a very small part of Brian's enormous endeavor to invest time and money so that parts such as these can still be purchased so that Bolens products will continue to operate for years to come.  

 

 

I'd like to see a video of Stew making one. He must have one he77 of a shop.

Might make for a very boring video as my shop tools are nothing out of the ordinary compared with what many members here have at there disposal. The metal levers are not that hard to make once what I call "the attempt and learn from failure" process has been explored a few times.  The majority of tools that were used to fabricate the levers were hand tools.  A drill press, saws all,  4-1/2" grinder with flap wheel, die grinder equipped with 3" cut off wheel and a 2" 36 grit sanding disc,  and a small shop press were the only "power tools involved in fabricating the levers.  These are fairly common tools that you might find in anyone's shop that does much metal work.  The hand tools used were a hack saw, flat and round hand files, scribe, bench vise, vise grips  (again pretty common tools) guided with a bit of love of seeing things recreated from a factory produced item and a stubbornness that some people might mistake as patience.  A mig welder was used to help create what I will call a "punch and die" to form the bends in the levers, a jig to maintain uniformity in each lever as it was created and a 1/4"-28 thread tap was used to thread the one hole that the knob threads into in the end of the shorter lever.

 

The hardest part of the task I had was finding a source for the 13 gauge sheet metal (odd thickness that Bolens used originally) where I could purchase less than a 4 ft. x 8 ft. sheet in Canada at a reasonable cost.  Spent about three weeks contacting various metal suppliers and was about to give up before I finally found a supplier that had a couple of end cuts they were happy to sell to me.  Perhaps if Brian gives me the ok I will post few pictures of the process that I used to fabricate the levers - seeing is believing.

 

By the way found several methods of how not to make the levers along the journey of learning.  


Edited by 29 Chev, July 28, 2020 - 07:06 PM.

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#9 LilysDad OFFLINE  

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Posted July 28, 2020 - 08:48 PM

 . . . and the plastic molding?


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#10 Dave in NY OFFLINE  

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Posted July 29, 2020 - 03:34 AM

I'd like to see a video of Stew making one. He must have one he77 of a shop.

. In many cases it's more about the ability and ambition of the person than the quantity and quality of the tools needed to accomplish the job. I wonder if Bolens sourced these levers from a vendor or made them in-house? Probably were stamped and formed in a few seconds for each piece. I imagine they might have come from a supplier along with the plastic housing too. That being said, the new parts look great. Kudos!!
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#11 Bolens 1000 OFFLINE  

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Posted July 29, 2020 - 10:04 AM

 . . . and the plastic molding?

I had those made


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#12 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted July 29, 2020 - 04:14 PM

With Brian's permission I am going to post some of the first steps I used during the first attempts at making the levers for those that are interested.  Since the levers were originally made from 13 gauge steel (.094" thick) which was proving difficult to source I initially used 1/8" flat steel (.125" thick)  and sanded the steel thinner to get close to the correct thickness.  I used a sheet of paper that was formed to conform to the sample levers that Brian sent me to draw out a pattern that gave the hole locations and the approximate outer shape of the lever.  The paper was then unfolded, cut and laid flat to establish what the shape of the metal would need to be before any bends occurred.  Once this was done the shape was transferred to some light cardboard and then to some 20 gauge sheet metal so that I would have accurate patterns for both the long and short lever.  The hole locations were marked into the sheet metal as well as the outer shape with a scribe and cut a blank out of the steel I had on hand to see how it looked.  After several attempts at tweaking the sheet metal patterns I had the hole locations and shape after rough cutting the blank to where sanding down to the scribe line and a bit of hand filing was giving me an acceptable blank.  The metal patterns provided an accurate reusable reference to consistently obtain a blank that was close to the final size required so the outside could be finished by hand after sanding and grinding down to the scribe line.  The hole locations were centre punched at the same time as the outer shape was scribed out and I found the process worked but was very time consuming - took about an hour and a half to produce one finished blank and the blank would still have to be bent.  At this point I was happy that I could produce a blank but as I explained to Brian it was going to be very labour intensive making them very expensive to make. I had also made a go - no go jig that established the width and shape were going to be reasonably uniform and I could also mark a scribe line where the initial bends should be as shown in the last two pictures.  The lever was hand filed so it would fit into the jig and the jig also ensured that the bend s would occur in the correct direction as a backward bent ( mirror image) lever would be bad.  For those who have never tried to bend 13 gauge steel let me say it is not an easy material to bend cold and achieve a nice crisp bend.

Attached Thumbnails

  • .5 Sheet Metal Flat Blanks To Use As Patterns.jpg
  • 1 Piece Marked Out Using Template.jpg
  • 2 Pilot Holes Drilled.jpg
  • 3 Outline Rough Cut With Hack Saw.jpg
  • 4 Blank After Grinding and Drilling.jpg
  • 5 Blank Set In Go No Go Jig.jpg
  • 6 Bend Lines Scribed On Blank.jpg

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#13 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted July 29, 2020 - 04:42 PM

Here are some pictures of my first attempts at duplicating the bends in the levers to create the offset where the throttle cable connects. Initially I used my homemade sheet metal brake and forming the first offset bend for the throttle cable could be done in it but to get the second backward bend to finish creating the offset was impossible because of the narrow offset which is about 3/16" if memory serves me correctly.  Add to this the fact the first bend in the long lever for the offset was in a different plane to the bend at the end and I knew I had to come up with a different plan.  I constructed a small sheet metal brake that had openings at one end so I could perform the offset tight bends and the different plane bend at the end but I could not get consistent and crisp results that I liked so at this point I more or less told Brian that I wasn't going to be able to produce a product that I would feel comfortable with and that he would be happy to offer for sale as you can see by the rounded bends in the three pictures that I sent him.  I suggested he check and see if someone could laser cut the levers to produce economical blanks and that maybe he could find someone who could produce accurate  and consistent crisp bends which he understood - probably why he used the word "impossible" in his first post.  Over the next week or two I did other projects while my brain kept wandering back to the levers trying to come up with ways to reduce the production time of a blank and also how to bend the 13 gauge metal and set the levers on the back burner.  I hate to admit defeat as for good or bad stubbornness (and perhaps stupidity) are part of my nature.  It was about this time period I finally stumbled across a possible source for the 13 gauge sheet metal located in Ottawa, Ontario so I sent them an inquiry and when they responded they would sell me any quantity and it was priced per sq. inch plus shipping I thought about stepping up to the plate to have a second go at making the levers.  Up until this point the only sheet metal source I had found was for a piece of 12 gauge that measured 24" x 48" and it was priced at approximately $175.00 plus shipping which I had ruled out as too much money to tie up in a piece of steel that would be of no use if I could not make the levers the way I wanted them to look.  

Attached Thumbnails

  • 2 One Of Many Attempts To Duplicate Bends On Short Lever.jpg
  • 3 First Attempts At Long Lever.jpg
  • 4 Bends Not As Crisp As I Would Like.jpg

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#14 LilysDad OFFLINE  

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Posted July 29, 2020 - 06:52 PM

One suggestion; if you can cut out more than one blank at a time, it's more profitable. Perhaps a stack of blanks cut out with a plasma cutter, using a guide plate or some such. Or maybe a pantograph on the P. Cutter with a drawing.


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#15 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted July 30, 2020 - 02:13 AM

One suggestion; if you can cut out more than one blank at a time, it's more profitable. Perhaps a stack of blanks cut out with a plasma cutter, using a guide plate or some such. Or maybe a pantograph on the P. Cutter with a drawing.

 

Thank you for the suggestion – yes if I could cut more than one blank at a time it would lower production costs.  You mention the use of a plasma cutter (which I do not own) and as a result I am going to go off on a sidebar to point out several things which factor into making an item such as these levers.  It is my hope that it will help educate others about regarding what is involved in reproducing a part such as the levers that are NLA.  Every service or item I provide for someone else (such as a reproduction seat cover as an example) is done with the expectation of making some sort of return on investment which in my world should generate money to pay for the materials involved and my time involved.  I have a charitable side that does things expecting no monetary reward such as making the GTTalk calendar, cleaning up manuals to make them easier to read and posting repairs I do on my own equipment so others may learn how something can be repaired rather than parked and replaced.  I also have a business side to me that allows me to make things such as seat covers so that I can generate a small income (that I pay income tax on) that allows me to continue to own and operate my garden tractors just the same as a lot of other members do by repairing other peoples tractors or buying and selling tractors or parting them out.         

 

While the majority of people involved in collecting and repairing / restoring older garden tractors share a passion and love for the hobby like any other thing in the commercial world we live in the words of profit / loss and return on investment enter into things when parts fabricating for someone else is desired.  While I love to work on and operate the older tractors repair and maintenance are facts of life and while I don’t value my time when I repair or sometimes make items for tractors as one offs for myself when someone else approaches me to make an item such as these levers I have to establish a price on what it will cost to make versus what the person requesting the item is willing to pay.  I have witnessed a lot of people over the years become business owners because they started doing something they liked and had a passion for discover too late that they were providing a service or product to others thinking they were making tons of money only to discover too late that they were working for nothing or at a loss when all the expenses they were incurring were factored in.  Some survived because they got business training or good advise and adjusted their rates and thinking to become profitable businesses but the majority eventually realized too late they had unintentionally become business owners operating at a loss and ended up working for someone to subsidize this or to pay off debts that they had accumulated or worse - becoming insolvent and declaring bankruptcy.

 

Parts providers (such as Brian) not only first have to establish a need for a part but they must also take a very hard look at each item and factor in all the costs before they go ahead investing their money into having a NLA part reproduced.  While it is great to have a passion that wishes every NLA part number available to sell the business sense must be in control so that the item sells to make a profit and return on investment or they will not be in business very long.

 

In the same manner I had to look at the making of the levers in the same light.  When Brian and I first discussed me trying to make the levers I had to determine the quantity of each style lever would initially be desired by him and also try and figure out how much I would need to charge for each lever versus how much I would have to invest to make each lever.   We had established a quantity of approximately 10 of each style so this had to be factored into any investment of special tools I might purchase just to make the levers and here is where an item such as a plasma cutter could not be justified by me.

 

I have thought about a getting a plasma cutter for the last 15 years but to me they are an expense I cannot justify for the few times it might be handy to have.  For most metal cutting needs I use a hack saw unless they are thick in which case my 25 year old chop saw gets set up outside so the sparks don’t present a possible fire hazard.  I find that a saws-all works wonder for cutting long lengths of heavier sheet metal and light steel that cannot be cut using tin sips.  To date these tools have done the trick and since I am on a limited fixed income I have to look at any large dollar item as an investment and ask myself “will it pay for itself”?  To purchase a plasma cutter in Canada and get something at the starter level I would probably be looking at around $700.00 which to me is large dollars for a shop tool that up until now did not require.  Figuring if I made 40 levers (20 of each style) over the next few years it would add a cost of $17.50 to the cost of making each lever that I would have to add on just to break even on a plasma cutter.  Add to this the time and expense to create a guide plate or pantograph so I could cut out blanks quicker on a very low number production and I quickly ruled out a plasma cutter as a viable option for me to make them given the short run quantities involved.

 

I still had to figure out a way to create the bends so they were consistent and crisp and as I stated it was at this point that from a logical business point of view me making the levers was not going to happen until I could make one lever that looked close to being bent the way it was by the factory process.  If you look closely at the first picture of the short lever you will notice the heat bluing of the metal as I tried different methods to replicate the bends.  I would try a method and after I found out it did not produce the desired effect I would straighten the bend back out so the metal was flat again.  This fatigued and cracked the steel so I had to weld the cracks back up using the mig welder so I could try the bend again.  The other option was making a new blank and the welding and reusing process was quicker and a less expensive way of finding methods that didn't work.     


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