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Discussion Starter #1
I say venerable 'cause I've got a 1966 856 thats still earning it's keep. Even after loaning it out to some demoltion minded relatives who promptly ran the deck out of grease which locked it up and then let it sit under a deck for about 4 yrs..

Yeah, shame on me.... :tsk:

Yet even after all that abuse and a 4 yr sit, a new battery, rebuilt carb, drained and cleaned out fuel tank, new inner tube in right front tire and unjamming a stuck exhaust valve, the venerable ole WHeel Horse starts right up and performs it's utility role just like it did nearly 40 odd yrs ago.

Sometimes I get more excited wrench'n & playing on it than the practically new BX23!

Funny, when I put down $500 to buy it from a Wheel Horse dealer back in 86 I thought I was giving way too much for a 20 yr old L&G tractor. Even considering it was a one owner whose decendants brought it back to the dealer where it was bought & always had it serviced because they didn't know what else to do with it when the original owner died. It was in mint condition and I could tell it was kept up right.
I had just aquired alittle over 4 acres of a former small farm that we were going to build on within a few yrs and I needed a small tractor that would do more than just mow, and after checking out what was out there for the same $$$'s I went with it. And man, I do believe I made a good deal :bannana:

Since reclaiming and resurrecting it, I've been adding OEM implements and other mods to it and it just keeps on keep'n on! I'll post some pic's later on if'n anyones interested.

Volfandt.
 

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hello there- seems like you have a high regard for these stout little machines and the work they can do. I even have a seems about the history of the whelhorse co. I just came upon a little Raider/12 a couple of months ago, its in pretty sad shape, and I just have it covered up behind the garage right now, but it will come back to life. I'm in the process now of getting manuals for it so I can see what I need. I'd really like to get a bigger one -like the gt-14/16 or 800+ series w/ hydraulics that I could completely restore. My brother-in-law lives over in the western part of Penn. (lots of farms up there and antiques, and he's keeping an eyeball out for me. I'm down in central Va. and seems they are few and far between.
Anyway-good luck!
Tks-
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Don't sell that 12hp short. I've pulled an 85 Ranger pkup up hill w/my 8hp 856.

PA seems to be the home of old Wheel Horses. Go to ebay and 90% of 'em are there.

When I reclaimed the 856 and tried to start it up, the points were so corroded that they wouldn't fire. After finding a good spare set I had changed out probably 15 yrs earlier, I finally got spark but it still wouldn't run. Ends up the exhaust valve was stuck open. After soaking it for 24 hrs in PB Blaster and alittle elbow grease I got it workinng again. After I cleaned out all the carbon it looked so good that I put on a new head gasket and put it back together. 23 hrs later it's still running strong.

After getting it running, one of the 1st mods I did was change the dash out for a later model one. It bolted right up.
 

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Them old Wheel Horses keep on running, and parts and accessories are easy to get on Ebah, toro dealers are a good source too. Easy to work on also. Nothing agaisnt the Deere fan but for my money wheel horse is the way to go!
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I cleaned the tractor up then gave it a "red wash". I think it liked the shine because it seemed to run better.

I decided to add a Tiny Tach since the new throttle control would run it up way past the red line of 3600 RPM and I wanted to have precise control when I started adding additional engine driven implements on down the road. The K model Kohlers require the 4C Tiny Tach. With no-load the engine reaches 3600 RPM at about 3/4 throttle, under full load it's WOT to reach it.

The stack is an Onan twin muffler and an exhaust extension I found in a bin of pipes at a Pep Boys. It's quite a bit quieter than the std 8hp muffler and doesn't seem to rob any power.
I also added a later model front Attach-A-Matic. Wheel Horse came up with that front hitch type back in the late 60's I believe and it's about th ebest way to attach implements to the front end without needing any tools. Later on I found out just handy it is.
 

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Ah-Ha!! Someone else knows about PB blaster. Let it soak on something several days, and if it doesn"t break loose then, you might as well retire whatever you are working on. I've seen it make old lead-based bridge paint turn gooey, and run. Must have some sort of kerosene base, though, with the smell-if you can stand that-it's time to rock/roll.
Just one person's opinion
Tks- :trink40:

P.S. Sure would like to see more pics of wheelhorse stuff-
 

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Great pics, Volfandt. :fing32: That's a fine example of when L&G tractors (and motors) were "built for stout" as well as being a really well preserved machine. How well does the sickle attachment work?

Feel free to post about your BX23, too. Our CUT forums could use some more pics and posts if you have time.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks all. I gotta agree about those old K series engines being tough. I'm the 2nd owner of this one and it hasn't been rebuilt yet. When I had the head off and the breather assembly off everything looked in such great condition that I just cleaned itup and put it back together. It spits alittle smoke at startup if'n I choke it too much but quickly stops and runs like a champ. Not bad for going on 40 yrs old. :fing32:

I added the sicklebar last winter and primarily use it to mow a bank in my front yard along the road. It does a pretty good job bit needs some new teeth. I've attempted to sharpen the teeth with a file but since they are seerated(sp) you've got to be careful not to dull them out. I've also run down a few fence rows with it cutting vertical and it took out some branches upto 1/2" thick but it's really not it's foretay. But since it's knocked out the 1.5 hr overhead weedeater chore along that bank it's been a very worthwhile addition. I got it from a fellow that had several sicklemowers and put this one together from two models. The actual sicklemower is the 50" model that is made for the long frame WH's and the frame that secures it to the tractor is off of a 42" that was made for the short frame WH's. Other than vibrating like crazy it works pretty good.

A few pics.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
I aquired this snow/grader blade last fall. This snow/grader blade must have came off a long frame WH. I did alittle modification on the rear quick attach's to get the lift attach rod to lineup with the lift bar of the 856.
From the seat I can pivot to the left and back to center but not to the right. I can manually pivot to the right if need be but not from the seat.

A future mod I have in mind is to move the pivot handle's pivot point from the blades frame to the right side footrest support rod. Then cut a slot in the rod to allow for raising and lowering of the blade. One day perhaps :D

The seat came from Northern and if'n I recall, it was in clearance at $15.95. It's wasn't comfortable, neither was the OEM for that matter, so I cut down a set HArley Davidson solo seat springs and fabed up a couple hinged brackets. It's definitely easier on the ole fart sack :fing32:
 

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Nice tractor, you got it lookin good.

Reminds me of when I was a kid, my old neighbor had one like yours we'd use to plow up our gardens. They also had a newer (at the time) 80's model to mow with. I loved mowing for them and using their old wheelhorse tractors. Or maybe it was the fact they paid me to ride around on their tractors?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Those old WheelHorse's, just like the old JD's,CC's,Fords,Case's,Gravely's etc etc etc and even those old Craftman's were built with longevity, heavy duty operation, well balanced and simple well machined functionality in mind and thats why theres so many of them still running 20 to 40 yrs later. They were also made to accept just about any working implement that one could dream up. Theres over 27 OEM implements that were available for the 856, not to mention other's that weren't an OEM offer.

Case in point.

I just recently added a modified Buick alternator to a quick attach platform that attaches to the late model front attach-a-matic mount I added to the 856 and I use it as a simple DC stick welder. By removing the regulator and isolating the field input from case ground, I'm getting close to the rated 75 amps @ 130VDC which is enough DC wattage to weld up to 1/4" thick steel. It's still a work in progress but it is a functional yet simple DC stick welder. I have about $100 in it.

The guts:
The 75 Amp Delco Remy alternator came off of a 84 Buick Regal. Found it at a local junk yard for $20. They threw in the alt adj bracket as long as I removed it from a 70's model Ford and not them.
I removed the regulator and exciter diode array and rewired the field input so both brush leads come out of the alt instead of one side grounding to the case. They are both isolated from case/frame ground by useing the insulated screws.
When I added those JC Whitney head lights 15 or so yrs ago, I ran a switched hot and separate ground to them and used barrel quick connects so I could easily remove the hood and unplug the wireing. These same wires is where I pick up the necessary 12V for the alt's field input. I used std welding lead quick connects, one bolted to the Battery output terminal of the alt and the other bolted to alt frame ground. This is the output. I also mounted a weather proof outlet box and wired in a std AC outlet in parallell to the output to power tools that have internal brushes/armatures such as a drill, grinder, sawsall, radial saw etc., it'll even power std AC light bulbs. Only problem I encounted was that the only way to control alt output was via engine RPM. Low RPM = hot engine and since the 8hp K181 is designed to run all day long at 3600 RPM under load I wanted a better way to control alt output. I got a 150v 0-3 ohm 8 amp rheostat off of ebay for a couple $$'s and it seems to do the trick. I've recently won a 0 to 150VDC volt meter that I'm awaiting recept of and I'll be bolting it up up arrival.
With the rheostat turned fully CCW, there isn't enough voltage getting to the field to load the engine down. Since it seems to be a linear rheostat, the more I turn it CW, the more voltage it passes to the field and this is the control I looked for. When I get the meter mounted I'll have pretty good control. I also added a 10amp fuse on the field input before the rheostat for protection of the tractors electrics.
I mounted all this on what was a later model WheelHorse seat mount, added a couple of brackets to support the 1/2 round stock that snaps into the attach-a-matic. The weight of the unit is what keeps the belt taught.
When I 1st fired it up, the std WH accessory drive pulley's diameter was too small to turn the alt at a high enough RPM to produce over 80VDC so I went out and found a 6" pulley that just barely has enough clearance to slide onto the engine shaft. It is enough though and it spins the alt plenty fast enough now.
At this time my welding pretty much sucks as I'm experimenting with what rod works best at what voltage on what size steel. It's been way too many moons since I was formally trained in stick welding but I'm having fun in my quest in bringing those long forgotten files back into working memory.
A few pics.
 

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Great project write up Volfandt!! :fing32:

It always amazes me how creative this group is. Makes me want to go out and make something. Course it would be better if I just finished the pile of other projects I got started and didn't have time to finish :bonk: :bonk: .

Andy
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks, as my Mrs is known to say "don't encourage him" :D

When the bug hits, it hits and I gotta learn to stay away from ebay :D

My original deck was pretty much trashed when I got it back from my destructive minded relatives. All the bearings were shot and the cancer of rust was already too far along to stop it's devastating spread so I stripped it down, kept what was good and round filed the rest.
I figured it was now retired from finish mowing and since I had gotten the sicklemower, it would be relegated to working that and as a little utility tractor. That is until I saw a 36" deck on ebay that just would so happen to fit it!

So yeah, I won it. It was in very good shape with no rust. All the bearings were very good, the belts were in good shape and even the blades were fairly new. Only blemishes were a couple of holes in the front near the front hanger bracket. My guess is those blades got tangled up with something hard enough but also loose enough to bust right on through the sheet metal. Whatever it was would have trashed the blades and bearings too so since the bearings & blades that were on it were in excellent shape some one had to have definitely serviced it.
All I had to do was bolt on a temp patch to cover those two holes and test then it out.
When my welding skills progress enough, I'll run a few beads along it then paint it up to match. But right now it's OK to use as is.

I've got mounting and dismounting the sicklemower down to a fine art now. I remove the engine to main pulley belt, remove the 4 nylock nuts/bolts that secures the main frame to the tractor frame, unclip the two rear supports, lower it onto a dolly, disconnect the lift chain and helper spring and it rolls out pretty easily for storage. I reuse the same 4 nylock boltd/nuts to secure the deck's front mounting quick attach bracket, hook up the lift rod and pop it right on up & in. I figure if I were to tack weld those nylock nuts onto the inside of the frame that I could knock out all kinds of time and labor out of changing these implements out. Wonder why Wheel Horse didn't go that route?
You've got to drop either mower to snap on the grader blade....

I finally ran the finish mower last night, basically just mulching up leaves since the grass hasn't grown enough to cut and the sound of that 8hp K181 slinging that 36" twin blade deck with metal gears and dual drive belts bought back all kinds of good ole memories. It was like, man, this is what a mowing machine is all about. Shear raw unrefined power unleashing it's devastating attack upon all that would find it's unfortunate self beneath those slinging blades :D :D
It had been 6 or 7 yrs since I had run a finish mower on that 856 and after 20 minutes or so of beating those leaves & stray clumps of grass into submission, I realized why I went to newer and more refined machinery :D
Thing is, I find that I've been needing these shots of raw power exposure more often than not anymore. It does a body well to climb on board one of these old machines where refinements haven't worked out the pure grunt force! :D It puts things back into perspective.
I guess thats why I keeps it around :D

I doubt I'll be doing much finish mowing with the WheelHorse but it do look good with that deck hanging on it and it'll be ready to go when a shot of adrenaline is needed.

A few pics of the changeover.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
One mod that didn't work out was changing out the std 3 sp tranny w/a 6 sp.
I wanted to slow the tractor down some more when sicklemowing the bank. So I waited & watched ebay and other sources until a freshly rebuilt one came up for bid and then it was game on. I won and it was shipped to my front door a week later.
I had contacted the owner prior to bidding and had him send me the bolt hole measurements and they seemed to be the same as the 3 sp. So I knew it was just a matter of time before I had a granny gear.

The good news was that it bolted right up like we thought it would. Every bolt lined up and both shifters fit and worked in the same hole the 3 sp shifter worked in. I had to drill a hole in the under seat tool box for the rear oil dip stick to clear. Everything was going great until I went to hook up the drive belt. The drive line didn't line up and wouldn't without doing some major modifications to the tractor, tins and pulleys. I ciphered a week on it and after much agonizing, I decided to keep it as close to OEM as I could, i.e. no major irreversible mod's, so I dropped the 6sp and put the 3sp back in. I later found a fellow who had a blown 6sp who needed one and I sold it to him, breaking even on the deal. Last I heard it was working fine for him.

This 1st pic is of the 6sp being jacked up into the tractor. Visable is the hump where the drive pulley shaft comes out. That hump is what pushed the drive pulley out 1/2" to far, which caused the misalignment and basically hosed the deal. The 3sp doesn't have that hump, uses a 1" shaft as opposed to the 6sp's 3/4" shaft and the 3sp's pulley was 4" in diameter where as the 6sp was 6". I could have worked around the differences in pulleys but not that 1/2" hump..... The 2nd pic shows how far off it was. The belt is in alignment with the clutch and engine pulleys. Flipping the pulley around didn't work either.....
After all was said & done there was no harm & no foul. The 856 was only offered w/a 3 sp.There was an 8hp hydro offered in 1966, the 876 but they are few and far inbetween. But yeah, I'm looking......

Volfandt
 

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Volf- that thing looks good-sorry ur changeover didn't work out, but at least you got rid of it. My luck is to keep something for about 14 long and dark months, then find out someone right down the street bought one and paid mucho $$$$$, but that's life. :fing20:
Oh, by the way-isn"t that one those furniture dollies you,ve got your attachment on?? Never thought of that-I've got a couple laying around.
Thkx. for the idea-
:trink40:

P.S.- Can u send a couple pics of the modifacation on the seat springs/as my back gets a little weak from time to time. :banghead3 Again-Tkxs!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
glen27, yeah, thats a cheap TSC furniture dolly. It works out pretty good as I can slide it under the 856 with the implement on then hook or unhook it up. Back-saver fer-sher dude :fing32:
I probably have 4 or 5 implements stowed on dollies around the shop.

The seat mod tain't one of my best but it works and has been working for quite awhile so I guess that makes it alright. Tain't pretty but then again my back ain't complaining :D Those fancy hinged brackets are heavy duty gate hinges. Whenever I go to a hardware store, there are many times that I just walk around and pick up some things that I think may work on one of the many projects I have going on and I picked those up for another reason. Then one day when I was rummaging through some old Harley Davidson parts I found a set of solo seat springs and one of those light bulbs musta clicked on in the ole brain housing group and it wasn't too long later that I had alittle spring to my mow'n seat :D
It was only going to be temporary tho.
Many yrs later I found a later model Wheelhorse seat pan & bracket w/springs on ebay but they were too big for the 856 and wouldn't work. So I used the pan for another project (see welder alternator) and my custom seat has become permanent. :hide:
On a side note I ran the 856 (w/26 hrs on it since refurb) w/the deck on again the other day as a mulcher to get in around the deck & patio and it did pretty good mulching up the leaves. Before that I did some practice welding and I really loaded the K181 engine down for an extended amount of time. Funny, but it seems to have openned up something in the engine as it seems to have more pep! Either that or it's happy to be back home working for me again :D
A few pics.
 

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Having attachments on dollys over a concrete floor is a great way to get them out of the way.

My snowblower attachment dolly has huge wheels on it but my 1000 lb ballast box is on a little furniture dolly with small wheels. I'm amazed it hasn't crused it yet. I've been rolling it around for the past year on that thing. I'll just keep using it till I break it but no signs of fatique yet.
 
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