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