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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello GTT community,

Sorry for the long post here but want to give a thorough intro. I’m currently in the early stages of restoring a 1971 JD 120 and decided it would be a waste not to share progress pics and things learned along the way with people who would appreciate it. I’ve had a hard time finding a lot of info on the 120’s since they were only a two year run, so I hope I can help someone else that runs into the same problem in the future.

Background: the tractor was purchased locally by my grandfather sometime in the early 80’s as a package deal with a trailer. It came with presumably the original mower deck and the original snow blade. He and my father used it to mow several acres of grass every week for decades until after my grandfather passed away and his land was sold. It was also used to plow a 1/4 mile long driveway of snow and was even used to push a lot of gravel around the property. The tractor was always stored outside and was definitely After the land was sold, my father and I continued to use it for mowing/plowing snow over the last 10-15 years, although on a smaller scale and less frequently. The last few years the tractor has sat outside with little to no use and my father recently decided to pass it along to me. The mower has been losing oil quickly for a while now, but other than that it ran fine.

To the best of my knowledge, this tractor has never been tampered with other than my father rebuilding the carb once and some other light maintenance. The engine has never been rebuilt until now and it has never been repainted in any way.

My goal with this tractor is to make it show room quality or as close as it can be to that with my skillset. I have plenty of other equipment to do the things it can do, so I have no need for a worker tractor, although I’ll still subject it to light use.

Pictures to follow
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Automotive tire Wheel Motor vehicle Gas Rim
This biggest challenge so far on the project was getting the flywheel off. We tried a little bit of everything and bent the puller twice because there was so much pressure on it. Finally, after tightening down the puller with an air impact driver, soaking the area where the crankshaft comes through the flywheel nonstop for two weeks while the pressure stayed on it, and then after two weeks smacking the end of the puller with a mini sledge hammer, it FINALLY popped loose. I know flywheels can be stubborn to remove, but I think this one was a record breaker!
 

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Bolens 1053 - 1970?
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Cool project and a tractor with a long history and a meaning for you! (y)
But at the end of the day it is an OLD tractor, telling a story...
so instead of restore it to show room quality - how about cleaning and fixing it, but trying to keep the kind of patina so the tractor can show its age with proud?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Cool project and a tractor with a long history and a meaning for you! (y)
But at the end of the day it is an OLD tractor, telling a story...
so instead of restore it to show room quality - how about cleaning and fixing it, but trying to keep the kind of patina so the tractor can show its age with proud?
I can appreciate that viewpoint, but I am a textbook perfectionist and I really like shiny things. I’m really not the type of guy who would buy a classic car with a patina finish and keep it that way either. With that being said, I plan on keeping everything as close to original as I can. Any parts that need replaced will be replaced, but if an original part can be refinished then I will do so.

And like I said, I don’t have a desperate need to use the tractor, so I can afford to keep it clean. At the end of the day, I know the tractor’s story and this is just another chapter in it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
One question if any experts happen across this thread: did some of the 120’s come from the factory with a black seat instead of yellow? This one has been black since it’s been in my family, so unless the original owner replaced it in the first 10ish years, it must have been bought this way. The seat pan looks to be original as far as I can tell.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Once everything was completely disassembled, we were able to get a closer look at the cylinder. On the side of the cylinder closest to the exhaust valve (which was leaking), there were some light scratches. They were light enough to where you could just barely feel them with your finger nail, but still deep enough to cause a problem.
The good news is that this motor has never been rebuilt, so it was just barely out of spec for a standard sized piston/rings and just barely out of round. If all goes well, we should be able to go with +.010 sized piston and rings and leave plenty of cylinder for future rebuilds if needed.

We’re currently in the process of getting that where it should be before I order the piston and rings. New valves were already ordered since the old ones were questionable at best.

I’ll be posting more pics as we make progress!
 

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Bolens 1053 - 1970?
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.At the end of the day, I know the tractor’s story and this is just another chapter in it.
That's a good point - I like this way of looking at it too.

Sorry, can't help neither with the seat nor with the engine. But I admire your capability and courage to rebuilt the engine by yourself.
I am afraid this is above my skill level.
 

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Nice project. The seat pan looks original because it looks the same as my 1970 140H3 JD. But, not sure on the black fabric part. The 120 was built as a economy model of the 140. So the 120 did not have all the bells and whistles that the 140 had. That maybe the reason for the black fabric. Just a guess, I have no proof of that.

Noel
 

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I'm not a big fan of the K301 lol. Every one that I've had apart needed bored atleast .030 over. Once the rings get worn down the Cylinder likes to wear Egg shaped about 1/2 way down the bore.

Looks like a good straight tractor. Should turn out really nice once you get it done.
They seem to be easier to work on for the most part. I havent had issues with any k series motors. I would rather have that than most motors of the time. Whats your preferance?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
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As mentioned previously, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Every single nut, bolt, and washer is gone over individually. They were removed, degreased, soaked in evaporust to remove rust safely, remaining paint stripped (if needed), cleaned up, and then primed/painted. I know some of the bolt heads may need slight touch ups after reassembly, but doing it this way allows me to be thorough.

For anyone wondering, no I am not using blitz black Deere paint for these black parts. I instead opted to use Rustoleum high temp engine primer and high temp engine enamel. These parts will all have a couple months at least to cure before they go back on so we’ll see how they hold up come spring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
They seem to be easier to work on for the most part. I havent had issues with any k series motors. I would rather have that than most motors of the time. Whats your preferance?
Agreed! I’m still in my 20s and I work an office job, but my dad is a gear head by every measure. I can honestly say I’ve learned more about engines working on this little motor than I have working on any of the other dozens of car/small engines I’ve helped him work on. The further we get into this project, the more confident I feel that I could tackle just about any problem that arises from it. I can’t say the same about modern engines. There’s beauty in simplicity
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
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The headlight bezel (this tractor did not come with the headlight option equipped) was in pretty good shape for the original. It was very sun faded, there was some light scratching on the face, and one of the mounting holes was cracked. The side of the bezel with the small crack also had some tiny areas where the plastic looked like it had been chewed away by rubbing up against some steel. I used JB Weld to fill in the crack and any low areas, sanded it as smooth as I could get it, and then painted the whole bezel using Rustoleum Adhesion Promoter followed by Rustoleum Trim & Bumper Paint. Aside from the light scratches on the face, it looks like a brand new bezel and will look great on the finished tractor.

Yes, I already purchased the full graphic/sticker kit from Hapco so I will put on the Deere sticker on once everything is ready to be put back together.
 

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Nice project you have going, looking forward to seeing the end result.

The further we get into this project, the more confident I feel that I could tackle just about any problem that arises from it. I can’t say the same about modern engines.
Old piston engines and new piston engines are not all that different. Take away the electronics on the new ones and they all go "suck, squish, bang, blow".
 
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