No, I'm Not into GARDEN TRACTORS


| August/September 2000



Tractor

130 Wimbledon Crescent SW Calgary, Alberta, Canada T3C 3J3

That's what I told the fellow that ran the antique and yard ornament business that I visit once in a while. 'But I brought it in because I thought you were interested in old stuff,' he said. I replied that I was looking for old engines, the kind with big flywheels that weigh lots, used by farmers to pump water and other chores. Besides, I thought, the price was a bit steep. So it sat in his storage yard.

Every once in a while, I would stop in and see what sort of good stuff he had in his antique shop. Over the next two years, I bought a Briggs and Stratton WMB and an AP engine off him. All the while, the little garden tractor sat in his yard. Poor little thing, sitting there in the cold and the snow. It sure gets cold in the wintertime here in Calgary; sometimes it can get to 40 degrees below zero. Fahrenheit or Celsius, the scale doesn't matter when it's that cold! All covered with snow, amid the old rusty pumps, plows and other junk. Actually it was not in that bad a shape. It looked complete, all rusty with traces of green paint and yellow paint on the wheel hubs. Further inspection revealed that it was a Bolens Handi-ho garden tractor. It had two tractor wheels in the front, and a small plow behind with two wheels. The front of the tractor was cast iron with the name 'Bolens' cast into it. Over the engine was a metal shroud going to the gas tank. The engine was a small Briggs and Stratton Model 6F. The engine had no compression and a very feeble spark-but it still ended up sitting in his storage yard.

Springtime finally came, the snow melting as it warmed up. A lot of people started thinking about yard work and growing gardens. I stopped by the antique shop like I normally do once in a while to look at all the good stuff. The owner approached me, and after the usual greetings and formalities, asked me to make an offer on the garden tractor. (Must have seen me looking at it.) He needed it cleared out to help make room for concrete yard ornaments of which he was expecting a large shipment. I said I was not sure, since I was not really into garden tractors. Finally he said a figure, and before you know it, I said, 'Sold!' Money exchanged hands. I went home to get my trailer, and in a couple of hours, I had the tractor home and unloaded. For a small tractor, it sure seemed heavy. Now it sat in my garage.

Spring turned into summer. With summer came holidays and other good things. The tractor sat in the garage, with stuff piled around it. The fall came and we decided that perhaps we should make some room in the garage so the car could at least be put in one side of our double garage. Actually it was not as bad as it seems; most stuff I was able to put away without any problem. There still was the matter of a certain little tractor. It did take up a fair bit of room. By unbolting the plow, I could put that outside and keep the tractor in the garage. It had spent enough winters outside anyhow.

Around November of that year, I was out in the garage, finding myself staring at the tractor. It would not take much effort to take the top cowling off, and the cast iron front, and the engine, and the wheels, and the drive sprockets, and so on. Besides, my kids had asked several times when I was going to repair it. So next thing you know, there were tractor bits all over the workbench. Well, if it's already half apart, I might as well keep going and restore it. It can't be that bad to work on. So the decision was made to go ahead with it, even though I had started on an International 'M' engine a month earlier. The International needed to have its piston soak in oil, anyhow.