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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)

I'm excited to announce the newest upcoming addition to the fleet- a 1971 Bolens 1886-01!!!


Background:
I had been looking on and off for a very long time (we're talking 5+ years) for the "right" Bolens 1886. As I've stated in the past, OPE is generally hard to come by on the west coast for one reason or another. You don't often find something like an early large frame Bolens very often and if you do, it's not rare to see them listed for unrealistic prices. I've always expanded my search nationwide but have usually discovered that sellers generally don't want to deal with the hassle of working with an out of state buyer. Taking a gallery of detailed photos and holding a machine until a shipper picks it up, even if you take care of all the arrangements, is not generally not what they want to do. Not to mention, shipping a tractor like this including any attachments gets expensive real fast.

Recently a Bolens guru on MTF, Steevo, posted an ad for his fully restored Johnson loader. I had forgotten that he was located in Idaho (which borders WA State) so I sent him a message stating that I loved his loader and if I had the right tractor for it, it would already be in the garage. More importantly, I shared my ambitions to find a 1886 and asked him to let me know if he ever came across one near our neck of the woods. His response was not what I was expecting to receive. He stated that he's looking to liquidate most of his Bolens collection aside from one machine he's planning to restore and would sell me his resto-moded (as I call it) 1886-01 with the restored Johnson loader, a Gannon Earthcavator 3-1 box blade/scraper, 3 point hitch, wheel weights and a tiller. This was it.

I had followed Steevo's project threads on this tractor in the past and was somewhat familiar with it already. He completely tore it down and replaced every worn part, gasket, seal, bushing, bearing etc. Being a master craftsman, if there was a particular part he needed that was either not available or up his expectations, he found a way to make an upgraded replacement. For example, the original hydro fan on these tractors are somewhat weak in design so a completely new fan made out of much stronger material was built and balanced to the driveshaft. If a particular rubber bushing could be made out of delrin instead that would last much longer, it was. The tractor also has a modern power plant in it as a well, a 22HP Kohler V-twin. A custom SS firewall was made and every nut and bolt on the tractor was replaced with stainless hardware. What I like is his attention to detail and I believe his upgrades and modifications are tasteful and will greatly benefit the tractor's longevity. I like different and the fact that it's not stock anymore as I may have a few modifications of my own that I think will go along great with this resto-mod. I will get into those details later. The tractor is done mechanical wise and the body work has been performed but just needs to be taken apart and painted which I plan to do eventually. Steve's goal was to make sure the tractor performed accurately before he tore it down to paint it.

I won't be receiving the tractor until next month as Steve is planning a trip out this way and will be delivering it middle to late June. Updated photos to follow then. The ones provided now are some taken during the restoration and also his provided photos and example of what it will look like once repainted.

Why a Bolens 1886?

If you're familiar with my Economy Tractor, you'll know that I purchased it from my next door neighbor who was the original owner and I have many memories watching them use it as a kid. The story is similar and sometime later in my childhood, one of the same family members purchased a Bolens 1220 tube frame. I remember him riding around on it and being attracted by the bold styling and looks that caught my attention. If they hadn't given it away I'd have probably bought it from them. Ever since then, I researched Bolens more and decided I wanted a 1886.

Basic 1886 history:

The "Husky" 1886 replaced the preceding 1477 large frame model and was built with a 3" longer wheelbase, frame and hood to accommodate a new opposed twin 18hp Kohler K482 over previous single cylinder engines seen in LF's past. Bolens built the 1886 for only two years, 1971 and 1972, before the HT series (HT18/20/23) superseded it in 1973 and continued into the 1980's. There were six production runs (series) of the 1886 that had small but distinguishing features that diffentiated one from other. The 1886-01 was the first production run and was the only series to be built in 1971. Some of its distinguishing traits over the other five runs included twin pull choke/throttle cables, a round PTO pull down style lever and no oil filter cut out in the left engine cover. Some of those features began to change when the 1886-02 was introduced in 1972 as did the rest of the series. All six production runs of the 1886 have the same Eaton 12 hydrostat transmission that was built specifically for Bolens. In fact, the rear end even has the name "Bolens" stamped in it.


1886 VS. HT Series
Because I've already referenced the HT series a few times now, I figured I would go into a few details about them as well. The same basic design remained the same between the 1886 and HT series but some of the more prominent design features that separate them are slight increased HP numbers, hydrostat models as already discussed, dash layouts and new features like cruise control. A couple of diesel engine models were offered later on in the HT series but they are pretty hard to find, one in particular being the HDT1000. The "18" designation in the 1886 model stands for 18HP and that goes for the HT series as well ie; HT23 = 23HP. The superseded HT series used Sundstrand 15 and Eaton 11 hydrostat models. There are pluses and minuses to each model. While the Eaton 12 in the early 1886 is known to be pretty bulletproof, it is the hardest to find parts for. The Sundstrand is easier to find parts for but is hard on bull gears due the absence of thrush washers under the spider gears in its design. The last year of the large frame Bolens was 1987 when the company was bought out by Troy Bilt and eventually MTD in 2001 and quality declined.

























An example of what it will look like once it's painted.
 

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Wow!! How do I spell jealous?? ;) WOW!!!!! :2th:
Congratulations my good friend on Bolens ownership!! You will enjoy that strong heavy mama!!!!!!!!!! ;):pics::pics::pics::pics:
I am as excited as you are!!! SWEET! Even a sweet Kohler twin!!! :cool:cool
 

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OH BOY!! That is one sweet heavyweight! I'll bet you can't wait until that baby is in your driveway! :ThumbUp: :ThumbUp: :) Congratulations!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Wow!! How do I spell jealous?? ;) WOW!!!!! :2th:
Congratulations my good friend on Bolens ownership!! You will enjoy that strong heavy mama!!!!!!!!!! ;):pics::pics::pics::pics:
I am as excited as you are!!! SWEET! Even a sweet Kohler twin!!! :cool:coo
Thanks Eric! Yeah, the big twins sound pretty nice. I'll be changing the exhaust setup though that's currently on it. That'll be one of the first things I'll be reconfiguring.

That's a cool machine Austen! What are your planned uses for it?
Thanks Mike! I'm hoping this summer to possibly attend a plow day with it, that is if one is going to be put on. I was talking with JustinR from MTF (another member from WA) who collects Bolens and often holds a summer Bolens plow day with his family and any members from the forum who'd like to attend.

http://www.mytractorforum.com/18-bolens-forum/198533-our-bolens-waterville-days-parade-plow-day.html

Cedardaly Plow Day 2012 in Skagit Valley, WA - MyTractorForum.com - The Friendliest Tractor Forum and Best Place for Tractor Information

http://www.mytractorforum.com/27-tr...527-mt-vernon-wa-garden-tractor-plow-day.html

http://www.mytractorforum.com/18-bo...lens-plow-day-july-14-2012-waterville-wa.html

The tiller will come in handy for the garden. I'd like to own a bit of land someday to put the loader and box scraper to use. :2th: Will have to find a mowing deck for it but that shouldn't be a big deal.

OH BOY!! That is one sweet heavyweight! I'll bet you can't wait until that baby is in your driveway! :ThumbUp: :ThumbUp: :) Congratulations!
I'm stoked! Can't wait to line it up next to the Economy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You can use that to dig out for a foundation to build a new barn to hold all your toys. :ThumbUp:
Good point!

Forgot to post a couple photos of the tiller. It includes extensions so it's extra wide.





The muffler will probably get changed out to something like this. It'll be one of the first things that I do to the tractor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yeah, I'm the type that'll buy parts even before he has the machine yet.


Ordered an original style throttle cable to replace the none-factory unit currently on it.

 

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Look at you Austen! I've always admired that machine :ThumbUp: Steevo's work is topnotch, and that's quite a combo. Congrats, my man. I can't wait to see what you do with it. BTW, I know you're changing it, but I just love those "machine gun" mufflers :cool
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Only a week away!

 

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SWEET!! You gonna be playing soon! :)
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Yup! I already have a strong feeling that I'm going to be putting A LOT of hours on it. :pMaybe I'll be able to convince the neighbors to let me re-landscape their yards after I do ours 50 times over. :ROFL

I've always managed to scrounge up lots of little odd jobs to use the Economy as much as possible in the past, and the only attachment I have for it is the mowing deck so this will be a whole different story.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)

It was wonderful meeting Steve and I have him to thank again for the delivery!

This tractor must be seen in person to be appreciated. If you didn't know anything about Bolens, you'd think the engine swap was factory. It runs and performs just like an OEM machine would with no hint or signs that it has been modified.

After it was delivered, I spent the remainder of the day on the machine moving dirt anywhere around the yard that I could!! I have a feeling that I am going to be putting A LOT of seat time on it. It is just so much fun to use and so versatile.

What is it like to use?
As I told Steve, this was actually my first time seeing a large frame Bolens in person. To describe it in one word, "tank." This thing is a BEAST. The sheet metal all around is thick and a lot areas like the hood for instance are thicker than my Economy tractor for comparison.

Probably the biggest thing to get used to is the hydro pedal and the positioning of your foot for the actuation. I'm already picking it up pretty quick but it's a different style then what I've ever used before. The pedal is definitely sensitive to your inputs and is somethimg you have to be mindful about, especially while maneuvering around small areas. Accidentally punch it and you better hope there's nothing in front or behind you depending upon which way you pressed it. The Eaton 12 does not have acceleration valves that smooth out your inputs/power delivery like the later Sunstrand unit and modern hydrostats have so it is unforgiving in that sense.

Thanks to Steve's work, the tractor feels tight all around and does not have slop or play anywhere. All the bushings, seals, bearings etc etc have been replaced. In other words, when you go over bumps you don't hear or feel any looseness in the machine. I can't over emphasize enough how heavy and planted it feels.

I know this is a very broad comparison, but the last loader I used was my relative's Case backhoe. You'd think something like this would feel a lot lighter in comparison, but I kid you not, if that Case was on a smaller scale it would feel exactly like this. The tractor has a very indestructible feel to it as if it belongs on a job site. You almost feel like you're operating a piece of heavy construction equipment as the loader does not ever overcome the machine in anyway.

The Kohler 22HP v-twin runs smooth and has a lots of power. The hydraulic system, especially, likes higher rpm's in order to make quick transitions.

Having the hydrostat operation definitely goes hand-in-hand with the loader.

The steering requires a good deal of muscle. There is no play in it.

The rear hydraulics provide almost enough down pressure to lift the back of the tractor off the ground via the Gannon like the loader will to the front.

The tiller attachment points have been modified so that it can mount to the 3-point hitch which is pretty cool and convenient. Bolens did not design their tillers to work with the 3 point hitches. The modification simply allows you to not have to remove the 3 point hitch each time you want to use the tiller. The rear of the tractor frame rails have also been extended 6" so that it can accommodate the later style HT series 3 point hitch.

The hydrostat is loud but is a normal trait for the Eaton 12. It is louder than the engine, especially as you increase the RPM's.

The Carlisle Tru Power tires are amazing. There is either full on traction or no traction. There's never any in between.

Bolens vs Economy Tractor:
I thought it would be fun to do a little comparison between the two. They really are two completely different tractors. The Economy is gear driven while the Bolens is hydrostatic. The Economy has an electric PTO vs. the tension system in the Bolens. You really sit "in" the Bolens while you feel like you sit "on top" of the Economy tractor. The Bolens definitely has the Economy in terms of hydraulic technology by having all the ports and front/mid/rear controls. The Economy Tractor setup is much, much, more archaic in design and limited. You really cannot operate more than one attachment at a time on the Economy vs the Bolens you can run two or maybe even three at once.

In terms of size, I was expecting the Bolens to be smaller than the Economy which I consider to be more of a small compact utility tractor than a GT. They are pretty close. The hood on the Bolens I think might actually be a hair taller than the Economy but I haven't measured.

The Economy has better turning radius.

The brakes on the Bolens work really well, better than the Economy.

You can steer the Economy in most situations with one hand, you cannot with the Bolens.

Despite being older, the Bolens feels a lot more modern than the Economy. I think it is mainly due to the modern characteristics of the newer tech Kohler engine and probably the much more advanced hydraulics system.

I will say that it's pretty cool to have the opportunity to own two different tractors that are designed in completely ways.

Anyway, what an exciting day. I've dreamed of the day I'd own a Bolens large frame for a very long time and I'm glad I waited this long to get this particular one. I am looking forward to giving it a total esthetic make over. Possibly this winter I will take it apart and either have it powdercoated or painted. That is if I can withstand not being able to use it for a while!



Preparing to unload the HEAVY tiller















 

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Wow!! It makes my 1256 look TINY!! You a kid on Christmas morning!!��
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Thanks guys!

The first order of business is still to change the exhaust setup. I've been doing a lot of examination in terms of options. I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to get away from a stack setup. Simply put, there was a reason why you had to flip the stock exhaust to a stack position when you installed the Johnson loader. The exhaust of pretty much any other setup is going to run into clearence issues with the loader arms one way or the other. Even if I were to run one of those small Arnold pepper shaker mufflers on either side, the flow of the exhaust would still be trapped pretty much be trapped at any angle except straight up or down. I don't want it pointing to the ground as it'll stir up dust.

Having said that, I will probably go to a stack setup like the muffler below. In the meantime, I'll keep researching my options. I'm just not a stack guy but if that's the only option, that's what it'll be. If you have any suggestions, let me know.



Super stuff there Austen. You're going to need a much bigger shed!
They're in the garage, but yeah they do take up a lot of space!

Oh boy! I can tell you're having the time of your life! I bet you can't wait to put that thing to work!
It's SO much fun to operate! It's as fun as motorcycle riding.

Wow!! It makes my 1256 look TINY!! You a kid on Christmas morning!!
These old Bolens are sure neat tractors. :2th:
Few pics from under the hood today if you can excuse the dust.



 

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Nice score Austen! That thing IS a beast! Don't forget to jump off it and eat every now and then. You'll need to keep up your strength for all that seat you'll be enjoying.:cool
 
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