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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This will be the photo heavy, informative, and hopefully entertaining journal of the refurbish of what possibly may be one of the only survivors of a handful of Bolens 1886 tractors with the Green front mount forklift attachment.

Old Buzzard contacted me out of the blue a couple months ago about this obscure forklift Bolens. Why in the world he asked me, I will never know, but he did, and he hopefully hasn't regretted that yet. If he has, he hasn't told me, but just between me and you I'm expecting to hear it anytime.

As months went by, I nearly forgot about the tractor until he called me and said that the HMS Rainmaker was interested in lining up a bill of lading for a Bolens tractor from the home port to the harbor at Mt. Solon, VA. At first I had my doubts about allowing him to come, since we locals had just survived a monsoon within the past few weeks and we weren't exactly thrilled about another, but I decided to take my risks.

Old Buzzard dropped the machine off one evening. The HMS Rainmaker docked at approximately 4:00 EST while I was knee deep in my full time job at a local tractor dealer and rental store. At 4:00 on that fateful day I was waist deep in a rental skid loader that had been backed into a pole barn. My cell phone rang while I was stretching with a ratchet and socket, holding the upper end of a bolt in my mouth while balancing myself on the two forks of a forklift trying to support a heavy cast iron counterweight as it was lined up onto the mounting plate.

The conversation over the phone with home was futile for both parties. I was still supporting the counterweight, sans bolt in the mouth, and could not leave if I was desperate to. Home still did not quite understand how the peaceful driveway was suddenly clogged with a ship of the line hooked to a tag along trailer with this strange forklift, and how I was unable to leave, but they got over it.

However, Old Buzzard made the best of a nasty situation and was equipped with a generator. By the time I came home, they were probably despairing of ever getting the tractor project complete.

After the brief meet and greet of Old Buzzard and Young Buzzard, the tractor was dumped off the back of the trailer fairly uneventfully. I was impressed by how well it ran and how well it worked.

Old Buzzard and Young Buzzard received the nickel tour of the shop, received the refund of one dime for putting up with it, and resignedly left the tractor to its fate. I suspect Old Buzzard wondered if he would ever see it again.

That left me and Bolens. I had to hurry and get it inside, since I have to admit I was worried about the rain that I knew would come because the HMS Rainmaker was still in the vicinity.

That next Saturday I decided a test operation was in order so I knew what I was messing with. Surprisingly, the tractor did not blow up as I got it going.

To cut this post short, the following are the before surgery pictures.

IMG_6983.JPG IMG_6987.JPG IMG_6984.JPG IMG_6985.JPG IMG_6986.JPG IMG_6988.JPG IMG_6991.JPG

And we do have some reach with this rig:

IMG_6994.JPG

Under the unit, take a look at the hookups for the forklift:

IMG_6990.JPG IMG_6992.JPG

Nice running Kohler, never was a better engine other than all the others I like,

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Lone Bolens sticker!

IMG_6999.JPG

I assume the previous owner was an Exmark dealer, also?!?

IMG_7000.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The first order of operation in my book is the get off the shrouding so I can see what I have to mess with.

I had to get that weight box off the back. Those bolts holding it on proved to be rather exasperating, so I used them as a warning to all the rest of how not to act. After the metal cooled down, the box came off very easy. :thumbs: It is a weight even without weights.

The original Bolens Exmark seat came off first. The tractor said it felt much better after so many years of being demeaned with that thing. The fenders followed.

IMG_7052.JPG

That hydro is exposed for the first time in a few years I'm sure!

I do love shade tree fixes. Someone lost the air cleaner sealing cap on the engine under the cover that forces the engine to intake through the element and decided to make do. The tractor runs better on caffeine!

IMG_7056.JPG

Ben W.
 

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Wow, that thing is amazing. I guess I wasn't aware there was ever a forklift attachment for any garden tractor. AWESOME! :thumbs:

Matt
 
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Looks like you are making great progress!

I love that "Uncle Willie" mod on the carb...best to leave it as is :D :D :D

Just so the rest of the guys know, the plan is NOT to make it look like a new one, but to "refresh" it as it is now.

Repainted in the 'non-standard' paint job it's currently sporting, new decals, and get every thing MECHANICALLY right.

I just feel that it's important to reflect it's history rather than being 'factory correct'.

It will be fun, once it's finished, to take it over to the original owners, and let them see it in it's 'new found' glory.
 

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I will be following this one with interest.

I have one of the 1455's with the Johnson forklift on the back of the tractor and the seat mounted on top of the hood. Clever idea because it takes most of the lift weight off the front axle, but awkward to steer from down between your knees.
 

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... I guess I wasn't aware there was ever a forklift attachment for any garden tractor. ...
There were actually a number of them:

Johnson (the loader folks) made one for the Bolens large frames. It was rear mounted, and the operator sat on the hood.

Allis had one that was rear mounted, but the operator drove it like a normal tractor.

You can see pics of both of those here:

http://gardentractortalk.com/forums/topic/19938-bolens-forklift-video/page-2

The GE Elect-Trac had one:
http://www.myelec-traks.com/shop.html

There was a Danco made one for the Cub Cadets:
http://www.onlycubcadets.net/forum/showthread.php?t=13585&page=2

I wouldn't doubt that there were others, plus a whole host of home made ones.
 

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This will be fun to watch! I'm tagging along here! :watch_over_fence:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
There were actually a number of them:

There was a Danco made one for the Cub Cadets:
http://www.onlycubcadets.net/forum/showthread.php?t=13585&page=2

I wouldn't doubt that there were others, plus a whole host of home made ones.
I'd say that front mounts would be considerably harder to find since rear mount gives itself more utility as a forklift and thus more customers. I might be wrong, though.

I'd like to find record of the Green Mfg company that made this forklift, though, and find out if they made anything for a tractor beyond Bolens. How well designed this is, though, seems to point towards either practice or experience.

Ben W.
 
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There was a lot of cross hiring special order and small business situations back then also.
Say a guy works for a Forktruck company, decides to build one for his Bolens, it works so well he sells more...
Or Green mfg hires that same guy and he designs and builds a few.
Or Green mfg gets a request to special build this from the people OB bought it from...

I agree Ben, it will be interesting to know more of the story. Good luck.
 

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This is going to be an interesting project.

I'm looking forward to the updates, and final outcome.

I'll be following along.

I bet that thing weighs a bit, when loaded up with rear weights.
 

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We're still not up to date as to where I'm at right now with this project. This post is still detailing days old stale history.

My goal is to get the forklift cleaned up and then see where I'm at. I figure getting that done will be the hard part, the tractor should be easy since information is relatively accessible.

This puppy worked for quite some time as the tilt cylinder on the mast.

IMG_7054.JPG

We can tell it has worked some time since the mast wants to become the leaning tower of Pisa after a couple hours of sitting still due to the poor cylinder leaking down. I think it had the chips against it, though, since it has lived its life as a dust breathing low living part dragging through whatever the tractor crawled through. In fact, it is nearly the lowest point of the tractor, only protected vaguely by the frame rails.

This cylinder is proving to be an issue. So far, no one knows a thing about it locally. There are no tags and no information anyplace else to say who the maker was. Thus, a seal kit will be a shot in the dark. Furthermore, the seals are toast with all the junk that has been in it.

Here is a picture of the beautiful vintage hydraulic oil I have drained out. I have to wonder if this is antique 1970's oil? It may not be, but it sure isn't up to the quality that I would use now.

image.jpg

It smells....wonderful. I have not smelled that smell since I took apart an old Farmall tractor hydraulic unit that probably had next to original oil. The system had been neglected for years. The older oils had a unique smell to it that is not as pungent as what you get today. It is closer to the smell of motor oil (but not exact) and a very liquid consistency.

It also foams when it came out, a sign of el cheapo modern oil or just plain vintage oil. Everything now of minimal quality should at least have anti-foaming properties to save the equipment.

Thankfully there was no moisture in anything yet. I was concerned considering that hydraulic oil loves water and will suck it in over time. However, the tank does not have a breather (which means the system is completely sealed) and what's in it is what's in it.

Ben W.
 

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RED Wild Hogs, Horses & Deeres
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Ben, A good shop can cut that cylinder apart, rebuild it and weld it back together without hurting the new seals. It should last OB the rest of his life.
 
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RED Wild Hogs, Horses & Deeres
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Wow, that thing is amazing. I guess I wasn't aware there was ever a forklift attachment for any garden tractor. AWESOME! :thumbs:

Matt
Matt, John Deere 140's were the base for someones forklift conversion. I will see if I can still find the info on it. It also had a LPG conversion done on the engine. Case also had one done on their 190 model I think. It was done by a Co. in AL., now of course out of business.
 

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One thing to remember is that this forklift lived a long, hard, life. It was a tool, and used like one.

It was used from 1971 up until about 5-6 years ago by a Bolens Dealership/Feed and Seed Store.

It would have been used by who knows how many different people, who may of may not have cared if it was abused or not.

I have no doubt that the "750 lbs. load limit" on the mast cylinder was tested often, and probably exceeded on more than one occasion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ben, A good shop can cut that cylinder apart, rebuild it and weld it back together without hurting the new seals. It should last OB the rest of his life.
That's true, Brian, and it has been done before at the shop I usually deal with. The problem is finding the right seals to make it happen. I am lining up a replacement cylinder before I let them take the old one apart, just in case they screw something up and can't get parts.

Ben W.
 
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