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| April/May 1999

  • Ten Dollar Tractor
    The Ten Dollar Tractor along with my latest acquisition, a 1960 Wheel Horse.

  • Ten Dollar Tractor

14123 April Lane Warren, Michigan 48093

I have been in the gas engine hobby for about six years. I have several vintage air-cooled engines, a Maytag, and a John Deere Model E hit & miss engine. However, I have always wanted to own one of the big old tractors. Unfortunately, since I do not have a place to store one, I decided to build a smaller tractor of my own design.

I started with a Bolens garden tractor that I found in the city dump. I kept the rear wheels and the rear end and scrapped the rest. I also kept the engine, an old Clinton that was in pretty bad shape.

I first restored the engine. The engine was stuck as well as missing the carburetor and gas tank. After freeing the engine, a quick search of my 'scrap' pile produced a suitable carburetor. I searched for a gas tank as well, but was unable to find one that would work. Thus, I had to have one made. Luckily, I was able to turn to my father, a retired tool and die maker, for assistance. After giving him the specifications, I was amazed when he produced a 'custom' gas tank that he felt would jazz up the tractor a bit. He used an eight-inch section of a stainless steel hydraulic tube and welded a stainless steel cap on each end. I drilled out the necessary holes and adapted it to the engine. After some minor adjustments, everything fit together and the engine ran great.

The next part of the project was to make the frame. The garden tractor was not long enough, so I extended the length by adding a four-foot piece of angle-iron to each side. Again the angle-iron came from the scrap pile. I mounted the engine to the extended frame and it fit perfectly. The next problem was to find a suitable steering mechanism as well as some front wheels.

The problem of the front wheels was solved by a neighbor who gave me a rusty spreader that he no longer wanted. Now a steering mechanism was needed. While at an antique show, I ran across a gentleman who was selling old tools and various miscellaneous items. I picked up what appeared to be some sort of old universal joint. 'How much? I asked. 'Five dollars' was the response. 'Would you take four?' 'Yep' was the answer. I now had my steering mechanism.


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