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Garden Tractors and Parts on eBay

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Fellow collectors working together

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#16 Kster526 OFFLINE  

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Posted July 30, 2020 - 09:06 AM

well done on those, great craftsmanship

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#17 29 Chev ONLINE  

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Posted July 30, 2020 - 09:22 AM

Finally found a way to create the bends that didn't mark the metal much and produced the type of bend I was hoping for.  I made a punch and die set up for my small 10 ton shop press out of some steel and the mig welder.  The pictures show how it works - not really hi tech but it allows me the ability to control where the bends go precisely as each bend is formed using hydraulic action slowly bending the metal the same as presses are used to bend regular steel to form angles.  The two round edges of the die are as close together as I could get them and still have room to form the bend to obtain the tight spacing required for the second back bend.  I learned to not drill the end hole in the short lever to create the thread until after it had been bent - found out that if I drilled the hole first the metal would misshape where the hole was and I would have to redrill it again.  The second back bend location was marked using a bent sheet metal piece to accurately locate the second bend in relation to the first. The bend at the end of the lever was marked by measuring inwards 3/16" from the hole location and marked using a small square.  The punch and die also produced the right angle bend at the end of the long lever with out interference from the other bends since they extended out past the punch and die.  I was happy that I had mastered the bending process but I still needed to make a decision of whether to try and make the levers and spend $85.00 to purchase a small piece of 13 gauge sheet metal or stop and cut my losses. At this point I had estimated I had about $20.00 invested in the steel, consumables (welding wire, gas ,electricity, air compressor use, sanding and grinding abrasives, etc.) and a lot of my time.  Please note I a m not complaining but point this out as these are factors that any intelligent business person must look at since they affect the pocket book and whether or not a venture such as this is worth pursuing.  On the other hand I had gotten the impression from Brian that he had tried a several other people to try and get the levers made at a reasonable cost without much success.  If you read his first thread he used the word impossible to illustrate the challenge of getting the levers reproduced.  While virtually everything can be replicated the challenge is that they must be replicated so that the end selling price must produce a return on investment for both the maker and the seller and still be reasonably attractive to a potential buyer who may have a need for such an item - a very fine line to walk.  Since the levers only fit several models of Bolens tractors the replication numbers would never be high enough for most normal specialty manufacturers to consider making - even those that say they can do short runs of specialty metal items. At the same time I felt Brian was viewing the levers as the last stumbling block on his way to offering a complete assembly to try and satisfy the wants of the Bolens community so I had to make a decision keeping this in mind.  

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1 Blank Marked For First Bend.jpg
  • 2 Punch And DIe.jpg
  • 3 Blank In Position To Start First Bend.jpg
  • 4 Starting Bend.jpg
  • 5 First Bend Formed.jpg
  • 6 After First Bend.jpg
  • 7 Template To Mark Second Bend.jpg
  • 8 Line For Second Bend.jpg
  • 9 In Position For Second Bend.jpg
  • 10 Starting Second Bend.jpg
  • 11 Second Bend Done.jpg
  • 12 Second Bend Done.jpg
  • 13 Second Bend Done.jpg

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#18 29 Chev ONLINE  

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Posted July 30, 2020 - 09:50 AM

Thought about things for a day or two and decided that for the venture to move ahead I needed a quicker method to create the blanks.  Made a punch and die after viewing some pancake dies in videos where people were using them who made jewelry to stamp out metal shapes.  I tried the punch and die using some 16 gauge steel and it worked but required a lot of force and at least two attempts after repositioning the push location of the press to shear the 16 gauge metal.  Tried it using the heavier metal approximating 13 gauge and after several attempts  I was able to shear a blank but my little 10 ton press would have to be upgraded to a much heavier unit for it to be used with any reliability.  This would have meant more expense and I was concerned the edges of the punch and die would quickly loose their cutting edge. To use such a punch and die for the longer lever would have presented a few more challenges so it was back to trying another plan to create multiple blanks in a more timely manner.   

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1 Die.jpg
  • 2 Die.jpg
  • 3 Punch.jpg
  • 4 Punch And Die Mated.jpg
  • 5 16 Gauge Blanks Punched.jpg
  • 6 16 Gauge Blank Punched.jpg
  • 7 16 Gaue Blank After Punching.jpg

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#19 29 Chev ONLINE  

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Posted July 30, 2020 - 10:38 AM

Since stubbornness sometimes wins out over logic I decided to order a small piece of 13 gauge sheet metal and see if I could make a few of the shorter levers to help out Brian with his quest for a complete assembly option.  I reasoned that if I marked the pattern on a strip of sheet metal cut just a little bit wider than the length of the levers it would save some time cutting out the rough shape using a hacksaw and if I spaced the levers just wide enough a part I could use the hacksaw to do one cut that would divide each lever from the one beside it.  I also drilled small holes at strategic locations to aid in removing unnecessary material that otherwise would have to be ground or sanded away as you can see in the first picture.  To make sure I cut right on the line I clamped a piece of 1/4" x 1-1/4" angle iron in the vise so it extended to one side a bit.  The metal strip was clamped to it using vise grips so the scribe marks on the metal were facing upwards - used a black marker to aid in highlighting the scribe marks.  I tried to clamp the metal with the vise grips so the jaws of the vise grips were contacting metal that would eventually be removed so as to leave minimal teeth marks on the final lever.  Using the angle iron and vise grips it was easy to apply cutting oil and still see where the metal needed to be cut and I could easily reposition the metal as each cut was made.  In the second picture you can see the rough cut blanks and after the sanding and grinding process the blanks were close to the final shape and the pivot holes were enlarged to 1/2" inch as can be seen in picture 3.  The edges were hand filed and then after using the jig I bent the levers using the punch and die in the press.  The end holes in the shorter leavers were then drilled out an tapped to 1/4-28 UNF thread and then the leavers received a final clean up with some brakeclean and compressed air to remove any oil residue.  Each lever was then given a wire brushing and then tried in the housing that Brian had sent along with the lever samples to make sure they had full travel and proper clearance as they swung inside the housing.  Definitely not a "high tech" journey and manufacturing process worthy of a video which shows that sometimes low tech and simple eventually gets the job done.  


After seeing how well the short levers had turned out and reading Brians comments after viewing a picture of the reproduced short levers I used the same process to create clones of the the longer lever version as seen in the last picture.


The other option would have been to abandon trying to make the levers in which case all my time and effort might have been an exercise in futility that ended in expense and failure.  By persevering I was able to perhaps help out a few fellow Bolens members who have been bitten by that evil "Bolens Bug" and at the same time recoup my investment in the materials and some of the many hours  I spent learning what worked and what didn't.  Hope you enjoyed me sharing the lever journey.  

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1 Marked Out.jpg
  • 2 Blanks Cut Out Using Hacksaw.jpg
  • 3 Blanks After Grinding And Sanding.jpg
  • 4 Original And Clones.jpg
  • 5 Longer Original And Clones.jpg

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#20 LilysDad ONLINE  


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Posted July 30, 2020 - 11:32 AM

Wonderful! I've enjoyed your presentation.

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#21 Dave in NY OFFLINE  

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Posted July 30, 2020 - 07:01 PM

Great story about the process, and the levers look great too. Superb job on them!
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#22 Husky OFFLINE  



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Posted August 03, 2020 - 11:01 AM

Absolute work of art. The time and effort spent on these was amazing. I believe they will be worth their weight in gold, great job.

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#23 blackjackjakexxix OFFLINE  



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Posted August 05, 2020 - 09:16 PM

Stew,you have out done yourself again,great job !!!!
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#24 kjmweld ONLINE  

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Posted August 05, 2020 - 09:58 PM

Great Fab work Stew.
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