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    Thread: Vintage Mower: Mini build thread

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    1. 10-01-2012 02:14 PM #1
      I tend to flip through craigslist on my phone when I have a free moment; the other day I came across this: ( excuse the hipstergram photos)

      I contacted the seller (contrary to my recent c list experiences, this guy was NOT a whack job… nice change of pace). He began to tell me that the tractor was in his family since he could remember. He ended up with it roughly 8 years ago, at which point he had it running and installed a new drive belt. The owner soon after moved to a townhouse and kept it in the garage for permanent storage. Long sorry short, one dean electric guitar later, I had the tractor loaded on the trailer and on its way home.

      Conducted a little research and came up with the following: Model number 131.8220, manufactured by Sears / Craftsman in 1963, 1964, or 1965. I can not pinpoint the date exactly. It’s a single blade 26” cut. 4 or 6 hp Tecumseh vertical shaft motor with recoilless pull start (wrap a rope on the flywheel pulley and yank). Magnesium (most likely) or aluminum deck, steel tube frame, and fiberglass body. Non-pneumatic tires.

      I have been able to locate pictures online showing this tractor in red/white and blue/white, but not the silver/ white it is. Paint appears to be original, no signs of any other color, even when removing bits of the frame and inspecting.

      Tractor is complete. I had it running (albeit rough) within an hr of getting it home; motor/ carb will be serviced.

      The plan is to completely disassemble the tractor, re build the differential, gear box, steering, etc as needed. Repaint frame, wheels, deck and motor in original colors (if it wasn’t for the surface rust that’s starting to get worse, I would leave it but I want to preserve this thing) Take the polisher with a cutting pad and a heavy compound to the fiberglass body and see how well it cleans up; its gel coat so I don’t want to paint it if I can avoid it (original stickers too).

      Once the tractor is finished, I plan on actually using it regularly on about ¾ acre

      This is where I am at so far with it:

    2. Senior Member PowerDubs's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jul 22nd, 2001
      10-02-2012 05:03 PM #2
      Cool mower.

      There are exploded diagrams of the entire thing on Sears website, in case you need to see what goes where.


    3. Member barry2952's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jun 13th, 2007
      Farmington Hills, MI
      10-02-2012 05:37 PM #3

    4. 10-03-2012 02:31 AM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by PowerDubs View Post
      Cool mower.

      There are exploded diagrams of the entire thing on Sears website, in case you need to see what goes where.
      Thanks for that. Sears parts source was one of my first stops when I found the model number on the machine; cool to see they bothered to digitize the diagrams for such an old piece of equipment. Only reason I thought they may have it: needed parts for my 70’s Craftsman belt sander and it was listed when I did the search earlier this year. Cool to see they stand behind their product as long as its economically feasible, and still provide the info past that point.

      Well this resto went way way quicker than I expected. Got sucked into the black hole that is the garage over the past few evenings and ended up just about finishing this mower.

      I removed the cover under the deck to find all the pulleys in good shape, to my surprise the shaft bearings were all play free, belt looked almost new. I pulled the blade and ground a new edge and re installed. Gear box inspection cover was removed; no signs of wear that I could see, grease still looked fresh.. toped off and replaced cover. Rear differential also checked out fine. Removed the carb and the flywheel: cleaned, adjusted points, disassembled, cleaned carb and returned to factory start settings. Blew out air filter, cleaned inside of fuel tank, serviced steering linkage and rear pillow blocks.

      Everything was disassembled, degreased, ground, sanded, smoothed, prepped, primed, and painted in factory colors (or as close to as what I could find available) Tractor was then re assembled, engine was run and final adjustments made on carb. She runs like a top!

      Next on the agenda: Reconditioning the fiberglass body, making a seat pad, fitting tire chains to the rear wheels.

      From what I can see by looking at this picture, It looks like a vinyl covered, foam pad was upholstered onto the metal seat fame. 2 tone, one being the frame color and one being the body color. Plan is to reproduce this as closely to the photo as I can using a silver grey / and white combination (with help from the seamstress in the family of course).

      The body is a tricky one. All the original decals are there, and it looks like a gel coat over fiberglass, not paint. Ill do my best at cleaning it see how that goes, then maybe a light sanding on the bad stains if needed. Worst case scenario I need to paint to get the right finish, I will mask the decals off (shifter, blade on /off, motor control, and model number) as I will damage them trying to remove.

      Tires are an odd size; I could not find chains that will fit off the shelf. I ended up bidding (and winning) on a 42lb box of random tractor chains on eBay; I will use these to make a set for this tractor. I want to use this mower, and that’s not going to happen unless I can get traction in the yard… hard, smooth rubber/plastic tires are not going to cut it.

      That’s it for now. Thanks for checking it out.

    5. Senior Member FlashRedGLS1.8T's Avatar
      Join Date
      Apr 17th, 2001
      10-03-2012 08:10 AM #5

    6. Member sortadelux's Avatar
      Join Date
      Sep 1st, 2011
      E320 wagon, Mustang GT
      10-03-2012 02:53 PM #6
      This is awesome! I do believe that we will need to see some video of it in action when the time comes.
      "Never attribute to maliciousness that which can be attributed to stupidity."

    7. Member barry2952's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jun 13th, 2007
      Farmington Hills, MI
      10-03-2012 03:14 PM #7
      This would make a great color combo.

    8. 10-03-2012 09:52 PM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by sortadelux View Post
      This is awesome! I do believe that we will need to see some video of it in action when the time comes.
      Thanks!! I wish I would have thought to do this; I had it out for the first time today. I cut roughly ¾ of an acre, hills, slopes, dips and quite a few trees to mow around. I was truly impressed with how well this machine operates. I would figure it more of a novelty just by looking at it, but it had no issues pulling me up steep banks through 6” grass without bogging down… hard to believe how well this thing moves. If i can snag the fiancée away from her current decorating project, ill have her shoot a vid of me pulling some hills.

      For now, I have a quick vid of it running right after I got it together:

      I was thinking the near slick rear tires would be an issue with regard to traction, surprisingly it was not much of an issue. I used to run a baby National triplex reel mower (another cool death trap) and you had to lean our body over the wheel that was slipping and you would power through anything. Sometimes you just have to rock side to side… manual traction control. This Craftsman is the same way. Its geared so well it will pull the front end off the ground if you put too much weight over the rear axle going up a hill; no shortage of torque. I am guessing the mow speed is around 4 to 5mph. Going to see if I can pull a yard trailer with it next… it has a hitch factory installed.

      The bigger limiting factor was the tendency for the mower just to push straight through turns; the front wheels did not bite in. Large to moderate turns are not an issue, but going full lock around a tree was tricky. Im thinking chains on the front wheels would solve this

      Quote Originally Posted by barry2952 View Post
      This would make a great color combo...
      Awesome color scheme. I was trying to keep this one original as I could. I do have the bug though, I can see picking up another similar mower (actually a few on ebay right now) and going that rout with a built motor, quilted vinyl seat, and baby moons.

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