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Mystery 2 wheeled tractor

10015 Views 27 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Handsomeryan
Sorry for the poor quality picture and lack of supporting details but I feel certain with as many knowledgeable folks as we have here someone may still be able to identify this.

I went to a guys house today to buy some tires for a lawnmower I'm trying to get back up and running and I saw this sitting in the woods. I asked him about it and he said he picked it up at an auction a while back but lost interest before doing anything with it. I looked it over but only snapped the one picture. It has a B&S motor which spins freely and feels like it has at least some compression. The gas tank looked pretty clean inside as well. There was a name/model placard on it but it was so faded I couldn't really read it. I belive the wheel weights are home made.

So a couple questions:

#1) Can anyone ID who made it (and roughly when)?

#2) How hard/expensive should it be to find parts to get the motor back into working order? I'm more interested in using it in my garden than restoring it as a show piece but I have no concept of how difficult it is to find gaskets, an air filter, or a carb rebuild kit for a motor that old?

Any help is appreciated.
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***UPDATE:*** I emailed the owner of the tractor in the pics below and he identified it as a Simplicity.

After a little research I have narrowed it down to likely a late 50's although I'm still not 100% sure on the model.

Original message:
I found another picture of what looks to be an identical tractor on someone elses webpage but he did not post any info about what it is either. These pics are not mine, I'm just posting them because I believe this is a similar model.

Since this thread is still getting page views I'll continue to use it as my own personal diary to collect my thoughts about this tractor...

Dear diary,

I'm still interested in this walk behind but I'm still trying to make an informed decision about what the actual cost will be to get it running and get the attachments I'm interested in for it.

The only attachment it comes with looks to me to be a potato plow or middlebuster plow. Since I have strong doubts that the tractor has enough weight/traction to break new ground with that type of plow and I don't really grow enough potatoes to need a mechanical plow to lift them I'm not sure what I'd do with it? I could not find pictures or information about simplicity even making a plow of that style? Being very new to this and very naive about these things I'm hoping that maybe this plow is some rare/valuable attachment that others would be interested in trading for more common attachments that I might actually use.

The way I envision using this would be to pull a moldboard plow to turn over the garden then using a set of cultivators to further condition the soil and help keep weeds down. Both of these seem like they should be pretty common attachments but I'm having trouble finding them. Being new to "the community" I'm sure these are out there I just haven't found the right people yet.

Enough rambling. I'm going to think on it for another couple days then maybe try to schedule something to go back over to the guys house and take another look at it. Several people have told me that the Simplicity walk behinds were very well made and that it should be worth fixing.
I would get it. It looks pretty solid, and those old Briggs were pretty good engines... Normaly you loose spark becouse the pushron that works the points sticks..

As for atachments.... you will find that once you get into a odd ball tractor, you start getting more invalved in whats out there.... I would get it, get it running, and you will be suprised what you come across.
The good news with attachments for those old Simplicity walk behinds is that:

They made them for 30 years+
They made millions of them
They're everywhere

Here, the walk behind moldboards and cultivators can be had inexpensively. Im going to grab a sicklebar for one this week for $25, 10 minutes up the road. The attachments fit all models, and are often easy enough to ship. I will have to look to see if we can pin down a model, as Im not all too familiar with them yet.
The engine would sell on ebay.
People wants them for restore vintage tractors.
New clones are selling cheap.
So you could have a cheap running unit with no problems.
So I picked this tractor up yesterday! I only paid $50 for it. I'm not sure if that is a great price or not but just looking at it in my workshop will bring me a lot more joy than $50 in my wallet would have so I didn't even try to haggle. Based on the local craigslist pricing for sleeve hitch attachments I feel like just the plow was probably worth the asking price without even factoring in the value of the tractor and motor.

I was kind of busy with other stuff yesterday so no new pics to share yet but I'll get some shots of it and post them eventually.

So far I'm in love with the thing. It is an absolute beast. That B&S model 19 is huge and the tractor must weigh ≈400lbs. I was also very relieved to see that this model appears to use a standard sleeve hitch rather than some proprietary design which should make finding or even building other implements for it a lot easier.

I know the gas tank needs to be cleaned out but it actually looks remarkably clean inside considering its age and that for at least a part of its life it was stored outside. I was also told "I had it running but the carb leaks". Pretty much any time I buy something I just assume I'll need to rebuild the carb though. Tires are a little cracked but seem to hold air and have plenty of tread left. Wheel weights look to be homemade from (automotive?) flywheels with (crude) torch cut outs for the valve stems. Not 100% "factory" looking but they'll do the job.

I'm on the fence about leaving it "as is" with the surface rust adding to the "old garden junk patina" or taking it all apart and repainting it to look new again. I know a lot of stuff actually loses value if you "restore" it because collectors want old stuff that looks like old stuff. On the other hand, I bought this for me and not to sell so I guess I need to decide what I like- old looking or shiny and new.

Since I want to put it in the garden and work it I'm thinking old and rusty for now but I feel like after I go to the county fair this year and see all the shiny restored tractors I'll want to restore this one too.

Enough rambling about it. I'll try to get some pictures and post them soon. I'll also try to write down the tractor and engine information to post (I know it's a B&S Model 19) for anyone who is curious. I can't wait to get this thing running and go play in the dirt with it!
Congratulations. It does look like a solid machine.

With the engine still being free, I'd bet that it's not going to be too hard to get it running. For $50, you couldn't have gone too wrong. I'm looking forward to more pics. :fing32:
That is the last 2-wheel model Simplicity built and uses the letter W for a name.
1961-62 model 990189
1963-66 model 990214
1967-69 model 990389

Be very careful with the ID plate. The serial number is stamped but the model number is printed and the paint will disappear very easily.

You can download manuals from

The early models use a B&S model 19 and the later a 19d but don't know when they changed.

Awesome! Thanks for the great info. :thanku:

I'll be extra careful with cleaning on or around the model tag. I'm at work now but tonight I hope to have a little time to give the thing a better look-over and record all the various #'s on it.
That is the last 2-wheel model Simplicity built and uses the letter W for a name....

Apparently they are extremely rare & valuable. In some peoples minds.
All I know is, if I own it, it is worthless. If I sell it, it is worthless. If I see the guy I sell it to sell it, it is worth a mint.
Camera batteries died so no new pics yet but I did get the tractor running last night!

I took the gas tank and carb off and cleaned them up then used a rebuild kit on the carb even though (other than the gaskets) the internals looked fine. I verified spark and made sure it had oil in it then I decided I should gas it up and try it out. I pulled and pulled on the starter rope but the only way I could get it to run was to continually spray fuel from a squirt bottle into the air intake. I tried every combination i could think of with the choke, throttle, idle, and high speed adjustments. Finally, I decided to take out some of the "new" carb pieces which were slightly different than the originals and after another 30 minutes of tweeking I got it to start and run under its own power!

I put it in first gear and pushed the clutch lever forward and the thing started moving! I ran it through all 3 gears and reverse without any trouble but by this time it was ≈10PM and I'm sure the neighbors appreciated the noise this thing makes.

The engine feels very strong and I think the gear ratios are spot on for different tasks from slow-and-steady plowing to something quicker like pulling a sulky/cart. Now I just need to pick up or make some more attachments for it. I'm thinking the snow blower would be nice as I could compete with my neighbors re-powered gravely that can throw snow from his driveway onto my roof.

I hope I've finally got it dialed in correctly and that it will not be so hard to start next time. I'll try and get pictures and maybe even some video of it running and working in the garden eventually.
Very cool! It's extremely gratifying to get old iron running again, and even moreso when the whole machine functions as intended =]

Neat story you have here...saved another one!
Great find! I do believe that alot of the attachment are interchangeable as someone said. Keep in mind that these tractors were also rebadged and sold through Ward's, so those attachment should work too. I purchased a model L with a sickle bar a couple years ago, and then found a rotary mower attachment later at a yard sale. I live in MI and found them, and you would have a much easier time finding them in New England.
After a bit more tweaking I think I've got the motor running okay. Even though I had run the transmission through each gear to test it I decided I better check to make sure it had enough oil in it. Uh oh- huge crack in the top of the trans case- the thing is 2/3 empty of oil and someone has tried, unsuccessfully, to repair this with blue silicone.

I was pretty bummed but since the transmission is still working I think it can be fixed. I took off the broken piece (it cracked all the way across the top 'ear' of the transmission where the shift linkage comes in) and cleaned it up as best I could. I used some metallic epoxy putty on the "crack" side and some red gasket making silicone on the gasket side then bolted it back in place. It looks okay but I'm going to let it dry for a day or two before putting oil back in the transmission and seeing if it holds the oil in.

If the fix works I need to change the oil in the motor and get to work making a cultivator for it. Still no pictures because I'm lazy and haven't put new batteries in the camera.

If the fix doesn't work then I may try again with flowable epoxy. If that doesn't work then I guess I'll just run it with low oil until the transmission gives out then take off the motor, plow, wheels, and anything else that may still have life in it and junk the frame/transmission.
Dear Diary,

I think the epoxy fixed the cracked transmission case! I poured all the gear oil I had in the shop in last night and while it was not enough to fill the case I figured if the thing ran fine when it was 'mostly empty' it should be okay to run for a few minutes when it is 'mostly full'. I'll pick up some more oil and top it off this afternoon.

So the engine seems to be happy now. Took a little bit to get it dialed in but now it runs strong and sounds good. I think the float needle is still not sealing well and so I turn off the fuel when the tractor is not in use but I can deal with that as I'd rather not tear the carb apart again.

Even though it rained yesterday and my garden soil is more clay than anything I couldn't stand it and had to go try to play in the dirt. I drove the tractor up the hill to the garden in 2nd gear which is about an ideal walking speed. I stopped at the edge of the garden, shifted into first and lowered the plow. It began to dig in but before long the heavy wet clay proved to be too much for the furrowing plow and the tires slipped. It was an admirable effort though and I honestly believe if it had been a little dryer or a moldboard plow rather than the "middle buster" it might have actually worked! I can't believe how much traction these old ag tires get even with only ≈400lbs weighing on them. I did discover a homemade "tray" bolted up under the frame full of old lead weights. Not the most elegant solution and probably devised by the same person who made the flywheel wheel weights but it works so I'll leave it.

With the engine running right and the transmission seeming to be okay as well I am very excited to play with this thing in the garden when things dry out a bit.

I did fabricate 2 gaskets for it. The cork gasket that goes between the air cleaner and the downtube coming into the carb was worn out (looked to be original) so I cut a new one using a circle cutter and a sheet of cork gasket material. I also free-handed a small cork gasket to stop a leak from the glass fuel filter bowl. I know both of these gaskets are available for purchase but the entire roll of gasket making cork was less than just these two gaskets would have been and I've got enough left to make a dozen more.

Still no pictures. I have got to get pictures!

You could add a set of tire chains they really do help in the garden , of course with a new set of tires you could fill them with WW fluid as well .
Finally- a picture!

This is me (yes, I really am that bald) running a Brinly 10" moldboard with custom made hitch through what is to be my new garden. I ripped up the land here last summer and cover cropped it with buckwheat followed by rye. This will be the first year growing real garden crops on it though.

The standard sleeve hitch that came with the plow did not fit as it was only ≈3" and I guess the simplicity hitch is like a 4" sleeve hitch. I decided to weld up a new mount for it using stuff I had laying around the workshop and while the hitch I made works, I think I need to re-make it and offset the plow another couple of inches to utilize more of the 10" of plow I have there.

I did run across another problem that I need to figure out- The motor runs strong for a while but as it gets hot it starts running rough and ultimately dies. You can't restart it until it cools down and it seems to be ignition related as the compression and fuel delivery seem to be fine but I don't see much if any of a spark during this time. I think i read somewhere about a heat-related ignition problem common to Model 19's but I don't remember where I read it or what the standard fix is. I guess I'll do some more research and see what I can figure out as I love the tractor and if I get a better plow mount made and keep it running I think it'll be a force to be reckoned with.

Still sketching out ideas about cultivators to build for it but it looks like I have enough other Model W related projects that cultivators are on the back burner for a bit.
Sounds like the ignition coil is breaking down when hot. Have used the aftermarket replacements with success.

The original clevis hitch is not welded to the plow frame at 180 degrees or 12 o'clock.
Park the tractor on a level surface with the left wheel on a block of wood as tall as the depth you want to plow. Now sit the plow behind the tractor on the same level surface. That is the tilt you want in the eyes of the clevis hitch. From the operator's position the hitch pin will be at 11 o'clock relative to the plow frame.
This is also a good way to set the initial plow angle using the crank. It should fit the tractor hitch with the plow bottom sitting on the level surface. If in use you find you are not getting the desired depth tip the point of the plow down 1/2 a turn at a time till you get the desired depth. This is called the suck. If it is too deep bring the point up 1/2 a turn at a time.
The bottom of the furrow should be flat and level with the landslide (angle iron behind the plow point) sliding on that new surface.

Thanks for the tips Garry. :thanku:

I did weld the new hitch at a slight angle although it was done by eyeball and not with a protractor so I'm not sure exactly what angle I ended up cutting it at. The plow actually tracked pretty well and other than flopping from side to side when I pulled it out of the ground and walked the tractor around the outside of the garden to line up for the next pass. It did a surprisingly good job in the dirt. My rows were not terribly straight as they relate to the edges of the garden but I think that was operator error and not tractor or plow shortcoming.

I'll look into ordering a new ignition coil and putting it on.

Here is a picture of the 2012 addition to the garden after plowing.

There is another similar sized garden just out of frame up the hill that was the garden last year.

Here is a pic of what I threw together for the hitch. The 'loops' are 3/8" round stock bent on a compact bender and welded to a vertical piece of 5/8" round stock. You can't really tell from the pic but there is another 3/8" steel "U" shape that is long enough to loop around both the screws on the plow frame. Excuse the poor design and crude welds- I was racing the weather to get everything plowed before it rained and a usable mount now was worth more to me than a well designed hitch after the soil was wet and heavy again.

From this pic it kind of looks like the plow 'frame' comes in at a 90° angle to the back of the tractor but it actually does have some angle to it. The holes you can see where the u bolt that should hold a coulter are almost perfectly level when the tractor and plow are parked on a flat surface.
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