Three Engines, Two Wheels

Garden tractor

Content Tools

RR #1, Box 169 Convoy, Ohio 45832

Ever since I was a young boy I have been fascinated by those two-wheel garden tractors. By the time I was in my latter teens the two wheel tractor was no longer popular and was being replaced with the riding lawn mower and lawn and garden tractor.

I like to go to auctions, and while I was at an auction I spotted a nice two wheel David Bradley with several attachments. I wanted to see how much it would bring. I thought it would sell for a higher price than I could afford, but was surprised and ended up bringing the tractor and attachments home.

A couple of years later I heard of an old two wheeler that was going to the junkyard. Luckily I was able to save its life. This tractor was a Bolens, it was in rough condition, and the engine had several parts missing. The original engine was a Clinton with gear reduction. I had a Briggs & Stratton Model 5S just sitting in the shed. I was able to adapt the B & S to the Bolens with a few adjustments, including using a jack-shaft to serve as a gear reduction. I didn't use the Bolens because I didn't have any attachments so I used my David Bradley to do the garden work. Since I didn't use the Bolens for any work I decided to build a riding sulky so I could ride and play around with the two wheeler. I was able to get another Model 5S B & S and since it was a plaything, I put the second engine on the front of the Bolens. Boy did I ever think that was something! I had a lot of fun with that old Bolens.

After another year had passed I was lucky enough to get hold of another 5S. I repaired the old engine just as I had to repair and rebuild the other two. The third one needed a lot of work. It sounded like music when it started to pop, then it smoothed out and ran like it was meant to run. Then I got this crazy idea to put the third engine on the Bolens. First I thought that was crazy, then I thought what the heck, why not?

I checked the scrap pile and the odds and ends box, came up with the things I needed to extend the frame again and rig the machine for the third engine. It took some cutting and fitting, some trial and error, but it was well worth it.

Adding the third engine made the front too heavy, I couldn't keep the riding sulky on the ground. I attached a wheel to the front of the tractor to support the extra weight of the third engine.

The engines drive the jack-shaft by V belts. The jack-shaft then drives the tractor by means of a V belt and belt tightener. One engine has a V belt centrifugal clutch to the jack-shaft, the other two are pulleys and belts to the jack-shaft. First I start the engine that has the clutch, then open the throttle and with a little help it will start the other two.

It sounds a little different than any two wheeler I have ever heard, but then it looks a little different than any two wheeler I have ever seen.

I will have to keep looking for another B & S model 5S. I could possibly add a fourth engine.

I really enjoy having people ask me about it, and the comment I hear most is 'I sure haven't seen a garden tractor like that before!'