11404 Hunters Lane, Austin, Texas 78753
Last year, I walked into Ron Shoup's hangar to find him on hands and knees working with a very sad garden tractor. His wife Betty was there to assist. As usual, I just had to join in the fun. Before long we had the little Wisconsin engine running. It sounded great had possibilities.
We looked the unit over and discussed its many problems. One front tire had been flat for a long time. The grill was missing. The battery box had been altered with a cutting torch. The trans axle had problems as it would roll a little, then lock up. It wouldn't shift properly. As I said, it looked bad with long term grease, oil, dirt, etc., all over from front to rear.
Ron had noticed this tractor in Marvin Morrison's hanger at Taylor, Texas, and had asked about it. Marvin indicated that it belonged to Roderick Rorie, who lived in Omaha, Nebraska, and it was for sale. An agreement was reached and Ron loaded it on his trailer for the trip to his own hangar at Kittie Mill Airport near Leander, Texas. This is where I first saw it.
It was the first Bush Hog tractor I had ever seen although other Bush Hog products are very well known.
I love to work with engines etc., so I couldn't resist the opportunity to own another. I popped off and told Ron I'd give him what he gave for it with a little to boot if he decided to sell it. Our hangars are close so I saw the little tractor several times during the following weeks. One day, Ron walked in and said he had too many larger projects that needed attention and I could have the tractor if I still wanted it. We closed the deal.
In all honesty, I was delighted. I ran a little 1965 Sear's lawn tractor down to his hanger. We hooked a short chain and Ron guided it to my place. My fun was just beginning. This little tractor was a joy to become involved with and a real challenge. It is a delight. The more I looked, the more I realized how rugged and sensible its design really was. This was a real 'piece of iron'.
Having taught in the automotive and related fields over 34 years, I had knowledge of this unit's basics, but I also knew I needed more details. Its inspection plate was stamped D4-7, Serial 7061. It was manufactured by the Bush Hog Company of Selma, Alabama, and was sold by the Askew Tractor and Implement Company of Harrison, Arkansas.
A telephone call put me in contact with the very helpful folks at Selma. In a short time, I received an owner's manual which was super. It not only pictured the unit as it originally appeared, but also gave operating instructions, as well as complete exploded views of all parts in the tractor, plus their part numbers. Great!
Cleaning was the first order of business. As I indicated, the tractor was in bad condition. Soaking with solvents, scrubbing with wire brushes, scraping and buffing took considerable time. It began to pay off as I could now see the paint and in some places, the bare metal. A trip to a local car wash with its high pressure hot soap was also very helpful.
Next, I made notes of the assembly, such as linkage positions, items which must be replaced, etc., then a detailed disassembly was accomplished. I had parts everywhere. They were kept in groups and later reassembled by units.
Once I had a list of essential parts to be replaced, I began to obtain them. Small common items, clevis pins, grease and oil seals, wheel bearings, and the like were obtained from Purvis Bearing Company, a local supplier and very helpful folks. I used fresh double-dip seals throughout.
The trans axle was a real concern. The fluid I drained from it filled a gallon jug. Half was water and the remainder was black gear lube. It wasn't difficult to determine where the water came from. The shift lever boot had rotted long ago allowing rain to enter the gear case. The importance of a little rubber boot!
Upon opening the unit, I was expecting serious trouble. To my surprise, the entire assembly had no rust or corrosion. Only one gear, the 1st, 2nd and reverse sliding gear had damage. Half the width of the large gear teeth were worn away. The gears and shafts as well as bearings were in excellent condition.
A call to Selma, and I was referred to a fine gent in Peebles, Ohio, Mr. Mark Seeman. His company has parts available. A very pleasant chat with him, and a gear was on the way. Upon arrival, it was easily installed. The positioning of this gear by the detent shaft and yoke shifter indicated it aligned properly with the other gears. It shifted perfectly.
While waiting for the gear to arrive, all parts were given a final sand blasting, cleaning and priming as needed. A new grill was made, fuel tank cleaned, brake shoes cleaned and all parts given a prime and finish coat of paint as they became ready.
When I first inspected this tractor, I noted that the name, model and other items were hand painted or possibly stenciled on. I really believe they were hand painted. For me to replace this artwork by hand was not possible. At my age, I'm not quickI shake.
I made a pencil tracing of all letters and numbers on the tractor which I took to my friends, Lynn and Dick Smith who own Let-R-Sign Company. Lynn reproduced this artwork in decal application material. It looks original. I was delightedshe did a super job.
The time to reassemble the tractor was at hand. All the components were ready to be installed on the freshly painted frame. It was great fun as all the parts fit easily into place. I continued to learn more about this little tractor as it went together.
Some of the problems in past history were caused by missing parts while others were the result of poor repair practices. Example, springs and spring retainers #S1025 and #S1026 were missing. As these are simple but important items, they were made and installed. Another item that was the clutch release lever was welded to the release shaft. Not a nice practice. The flywheel, clutch plate, pressure plate and throw-out bearing were all in excellent condition. I left them as they were, but made a new clutch release rod to allow correct clutch release travel. All worked out well.
Now, I'm not an antique restorer in the true sense of the game. I make small compromises where necessary, yet outwardly it won't show much.
If you are a real hard-line antiquer and thoroughly familiar with the D4-7, you will note under the hood that the fuel tank is not original, although you will need to look very close. The ignition coil is also not original, but the installation is very professional. The expanded metal grill was installed vertically rather than horizontally as the original. The carburetor air cleaner was replaced with a dry paper tape, as the original was missing. Looks okay.
These changes, though minor, will give the antiquers something to talk about. It makes their day.
To say I'm delighted with this little jewel would be putting it mildly. Thank you, Bush Hog Company! My day is brighter each time I turn the key and press the starter button. In the small tractor field, I'm sure this little unit has made the Bush Hog Company very proud.