3280 N. Co. Line Rd. Farwell, Michigan 48622
My story begins on a service trip to Akron, Ohio. While at lunch with the plant manager and talking old iron hobbies, he said his father had an old iron wheel garden tractor or two. We decided to check them out after work. After an anxious 20 mile trip, we drove up a shaded drive to an old farm that had old iron under every other tree. It was like a dream come true. I was introduced to Dad and we started to hunt the tractors. After about an hour, it started to get dark, and we still hadn't found the tractors. They must have been taken to the scrap yard. Disappointment was short lived though, as going back to the truck, behind a chicken coop, I spotted the Bolens. It didn't have iron wheels, but it looked like it had promise.
Looking it over, it was missing the Versa Drive system and starter. The hood was rusted, and the engine had no compression, but the tires were up and looked like they were hardly worn. Agreeing on a price, we pushed it to the truck and loaded it. The service call went smoothly, and I was on my way back to Michigan the next evening, not believing my good luck.
A complete dismantling was in order, and with a can of Areo Kroil, every bolt was removed without breaking. Areo Kroil is manufactured by Kano Laboratories in Nashville, Tennessee, and works well on rusted bolts, nuts, and shafts. Every part was sandblasted, primed, and painted with a good match of DuPont Acrylic Lacquer.
Finding parts was most disappointing. Writing to Bolens, and receiving a good news/bad news letter, I kept the faith. The good news was that it is a 1958, with a 6.6 HP Kohler engine. The bad news, no parts available. After three years at many engine shows, and talking to everybody who would listen, still no parts. Then, at a small engine repair shop not five miles from my house, I found another Bolens. It was in bad shape, but it had the parts I needed. Bringing it home had my wife shaking her head, but a few hours more and the Bolens was moving on its own power. What a feeling of accomplishment!
My Bolens is now 99% complete. I am still looking for the Versa Drive belt guard. I also have a 1921 3 HP International M; a 1926 l HP K Model Stover; and a couple of Maytag '92s'.
I would like to thank George Carr, of Salt River Gas Engine Show, and Gas Engine Magazine for the inspiration to this wonderful hobby.