Jack D. Davis, Metalsmith, retired

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1971 or 1972 Wards/Gilson Garden Tractor re-build

On October 29th, I purchased this old garden Tractor, a 1971 or 1972 Montgomery Wards Hydrostatic 14, for a Winter project. The model year is confusing. Engine is dated 1971, but the hydrostatic filter indicates a 1972 model. It is in rough shape, but in good running condition. The engine starts quickly and doesn't smoke and the hydrostatic transmission works. It has a hydraulically lifted blade on the front that should be handy for maintaining our gravel driveways. There are some missing parts (headlight, air cleaner, control knobs and lots of bolts, screws). My goal will be to re-build it as necessary and to make it look decent, too. I'm not trying to restore it to its original colors or to necessarily use original parts, but will where it is feasible. I'll also make a few attachments, like a drag for the driveways and possibly a bucket for moving gravel and mulch around the yard. A dump trailer is another possibility. It will be a work horse, not a show horse.

CL Ad photo
LSR in trailer  Engine 
   
   

Last two photo's are with seat and control cover removed showing the hydrostatic drive and hydraulic lines, valve and piston. I've removed the hydraulic lines and taking them into town today to have new lines made up. I've ordered new filters (transmission fluid and air) and a complete service and parts manual. Ready to get serious.

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11/02/11 Hydraulic lines and filter replaced. Ready to replace lost fluid and test.

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11/4/11 Added fluid today. Started and tried the lift hydraulics. It didn't work well. A tractor forum member says it probably has air in the system. In the act of purging the air, the battery slid into the starter motor belt and sliced a nice gash in the side of the NEW battery. Tomorrow, I'll be buying another new battery. The battery hold down is one of the missing items. I'll make one, then I'll fasten the battery down before I start the tractor again.

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11/6/11 Picked up new battery (again). Making a battery tray and hold down today. Began painting engine with high heat black. Repaired loose steering. Reworked accelerator cable connections. The stainless tray was something I had on hand and it's a perfect fit for the length of the battery. I'll cut it down to fit the width. Stainless tray cut down and mounted, with thick rubber pad in the bottom to keep the battery off of the bolt heads. Yes. That's a zip tie that I plan to use to hold the battery down. Quick easy and strong. It's beginning to take shape.

 
 

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11/7/11  I removed and painted the gas tank and one side of the seat today. Then I spent time scraping little stickers off. they were stuck everywhere. I painted the starter motor, too. Scraped paint off of the dash. It is aluminum. I think I'll give it a dull brushed finish.

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11/8/11  Fuel tank painted and set in place along with the new battery in the stainless tray. Air cleaner cap also painted. Air filter is ordered. Ordered new rear tires from eBay seller.

  

  The under side of the seat base shows the mess where the slot for the seat adjustment was welded up. I'll cut this completely out and replace with 1/8 flat bar with new slot cut in, welded to the underside. The top of the seat base shows the misc. metal that is welded to the base through, what used to be, the seat adjustment slot.

 

Seat base repaired with new slot for seat adjustment. 1/8" plate, with slot, welded underneath. Battery and fuel tank fastened down with HD zip ties. Foam pad between tank and battery.

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11/9/11  Seat base painted and rear wheels painted (yes there is paint on the tires, but new tires are coming). Began painting frame. Colors are (basically) horizontal surfaces black hammered and vertical surfaces silver hammered with yellow accents. Removed dents in one rear fender. Rear fenders will be black hammered.

    

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11/11/11  Made lots of progress today. Removed the hood and replaced the piano hinge with a new stainless one that I had on hand. Removed the dozer blade and associated parts from the front....and in the process, found that it was not installed correctly. I'm hoping that was the reason the hydraulic lift was not raising the blade more than 2" off the floor. Time will tell. I'll paint all of the parts first. I was worried about removing all the loose and chipped paint from the grille and rear fenders. Tried several methods, then remembered I have a needle scaler. Hooked it up and the paint chips flew. It took all of about 10 minutes to remove all the paint from the rear fender. A little longer for the grille due to all the nooks and crannies. Grille is primed. Fender is bare. Cut a piece of expanded/flattened and tack welded it into the upper hole in the grille. I'll try a heat gun on the decals tomorrow.

 

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11/12/11   Finished removing paint on the other fender, sanded, primed and sprayed three coats of Black hammered on the fenders. Repaired and primed the hood. Heat gun did remove the decals and acetone cleaned off the goo.

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11/13/11   The hood is painted three coats of black hammered and installed. One problem; the exhaust stack gets too hot and blistered the old paint. I don't want this to happen again, so I'll be putting a side discharge exhaust in its place. I could make a heat shield, but I think the side discharge will look better and maybe work better, too. Still lots of cleaning, masking and painting to do as you can see by all the blue still showing. New tires should be here in the coming week. While the old tires are off, I'll clean and repaint the wheels in and out. I'd like to fill the rear tires with a liquid, but I'm not sure how to go about doing that. Maybe some silver or silver and gold striping will set it off.

 

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11/14/11  Started some assembly today. I tried and tried some more to remove the muffler. It is STUCK. I guess I'll leave it stuck and make a heat shield to protect the hood and just hope it works. Notice the new headlights (actually driving lights). 2" diameter and very bright. I doubt I'll ever use them, but they should light my way, should I ever get lost. At least the circuit isn't wasted (or won't be when they are hooked up). I also tried to remove the steering wheel with the same result. I'll have to polish the dash through the wheel. Then I can mask and finish the painting  around the dash.

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11/15/11    Finished dash panel and painted. This concludes the painting, except for some touch-up, on the tractor itself. I ordered some 1/4" yellow striping tape to accent certain areas. Heat shield to protect the paint on the hood, from the exhaust, yet to do. A pad for the seat is also in order. Tires should be here soon and the wheels will be finish painted before the new tires go on. Lights all hooked up and working. New knobs on the levers.

 

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11/16/11   Spent most of the day chipping, priming and loosening frozen rods and pins in and on the blade hardware. I did get the taillight installed and working and the heat shield made and installed. The front tires came in today. Still waiting for the rears.

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11/18/11   Today, I tested the tractor outside at top speed for the first time. Ran beautifully. It will spin the wheels when pulled from full forward to full reverse and vice versa. I still wasn't satisfied that the lift system was working properly. It lowers smoothly, but is slow and jerky raising the blade. After running it, I checked the fluid and it looked OK....at first. After sitting a short time, it had gone down. So I raised the right rear wheel per instructions and started adding more fluid. It took it very slowly...no more than a couple of tablespoons at a time. I was astonished that I was able to add 1-1/2 quarts of fluid.....after I thought it was full. Tomorrow I will test again.

Standing in front of the heater and looking at the front of the tractor, I noticed the front wheels were looking strange. One was aimed South and the other was aimed SSE. Not right!. I pulled the tie rod and lengthened it about 6 full turns...put it back on and it had some toe-in. I felt it was a little bit too much, I shortened it one turn...perfect (at least to my eye). Both wheels have a very slight toe-in with steering wheel centered.

I did install the freshly painted lift hardware in front and finished scaling the blade and got it primed. Rear tires came in today.

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11/19/11   Painted the dozer blade today. Three coats of yellow. then watched football.

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11/20/11  Removed right front wheel then removed tire. Inside was a heavy coat of rust and scale. Started search for new or good used wheels. Cheapest new was $115. Used were a week or so out and by the time I paid for new bearings and freight, I was nearing the new price.

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11/21/11  I decided to try to salvage the old front wheels. I removed the left front and the wheel was in better condition than the right one. I scaled the rust with my needle scaler, cleaned and began painting. One coat of Rustoleum primer and three coats of Rustoleum yellow safety inside. Purchased tubes since I'm sure tubeless tires would not seal against the pitted surfaces. Ordered complete set of new bearings.

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11/22/11   Finished painting the front wheels. Drying overnight. Tomorrow the tires/tubes go on. I had ordered some yellow striping tape to add some contrast. It came in today and I applied it. It looks good, but somehow I don't think it is striping tape. It looks and feels more like masking tape. Just not sure what it is. I'll leave it for a couple of days while I think about it.

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11/25/11   Got the front tires/tubes on the rims and back on the tractor. Tested the hydraulic lift under down pressure (lifting the front of the tractor by the blade) and found that it leaks. Not coming from the fittings, so off it comes. Yellow tape is masking tape. Not what I wanted, at all. Peeled it off. Now I need to find some real "striping tape" to finish it off. Removed the rear wheels/tires. Wheels are in good shape. No rust at all inside the tire area. Surface rust behind. Cleaned and primed. Tomorrow top coat in yellow.

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11/27/11   Rear wheels painted, tires on and mounted to tractor. AS I learned yesterday, the wheels are reversible so I reversed the wheels for a wider track. I like the way it looks...more like a tractor. It should help in stability on my hilly terrain. Today, I'll remove the leaky lift cylinder so I can get it repaired tomorrow. I also need to repair/adjust the brake band. Final touch up and adjustments will finish the tractor. Implements are next. A drag for the driveway. A dump trailer. A scoop/bucket. Other???

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The lift cylinder did not come out yesterday. The steering column is in the way and it would not come out. The pinion is frozen to the shaft. Thinking about possible solutions last night, I believe I can cut the mounting pin out to remove it and re-weld it after the cylinder is repaired. I did adjust the parking brake and it is holding now. There is a bolt and roll pin missing in the cylinder rocker shaft and the shaft is frozen in place. The hydraulic cylinder was turning the shaft, but I could only move it with a block of wood and a 24 oz. hammer and then only a fraction of an inch at a time. It is soaking in WD40.

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11/28/11   Got the cylinder out without cutting anything. It appears to be welded on one end and rolled on the other. Cleaned it up and re-installed the cylinder and determined it was leaking at the shaft end and not in the fittings. That's bad news.

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11/29/11  Removed the cylinder and took it to my local hydraulics shop. They thought the end was rolled, too, but said they could repair it regardless. That is a load off my mind. I thought I might be stuck looking for a replacement for a 40 year old cylinder. In a holding pattern for a couple of days, until it is fixed.

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12/1/11   Still in a holding pattern. Hydraulic cylinder not done yet. Planning a driveway drag using materials on hand. Also planning a mount for the dozer blade for rear mounting. I think I can make it do several duties, dozer, scoop and rear scraper.

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12/5/11   Got the cylinder back, (no charge) repaired. Installed yesterday and put some finishing touches on it this morning. Yellow pin striping and a stick-on pad on the seat and seat back. A few before and after photos for contrast.

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12/9/11   Today, I built a hitch for future implements using 2"x3"x1/4" tube, 2"x2"x.120" tube, 3"x1/4" flat bar and a 2" receiver tube.

What the tractor looks like from the factory.

The hitch construction.

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12/10/11   Started on the driveway drag/scraper today. Using a piece of "I" beam that I had on hand. A plan that is evolving as I go. Lots of trial and many errors to come. Hydraulics will raise and lower it.

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12/11/11    Got the bell crank and link rod assembled and tested. It raises the drag ~5"-6" off the floor. Nothing fully welded, pinned or bolted yet. Just tacked and clamped in place for testing.

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12/12/11    Welded attachment plates to drag and attached drag to tongue with bolts. Cut and tacked end plates in place for effect. Finished link to hydraulics.

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12/13/11    Today, I drilled all the shafts, pins for clips (hairpins) and added a a tube for the receiver to hold the drag in the raised position. This is so that I can change the hydraulic linkage to operate the dozer blade. I'll need to do something similar to the dozer blade to hold it in the raised position. Then I can switch back and forth without removing either implement just by locking them in place and switching the linkages.

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12/14/11    Finished driveway drag and ready for testing. I added five rippers that fold up out of the way when not needed. I'll test it before I paint.

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12/16/11    I've had trouble with the battery going dead after a couple of days of no action. I tested all the circuits and all are working correctly. I replaced the starter solenoid because the mount was broken, but it also was working. The regulator is working as it should. All systems are as they should be. To solve this problem, I placed a switch in series with the fuse and added a green light to the dash that burns when the switch is "on". This fused circuit goes directly to the regulator through the amp meter. This light reminds me to turn off the switch when not in use, thus killing power to the regulator. This switch disconnects the battery completely and now the battery does not die after only a couple of days. There was another problem, however. If the switch is accidently turned off after the tractor is running, the regulator is turned off and lights (if turned on) are suddenly brighter as the engine continues to run. To correct this, I changed the switch to a DPDT (On-On) and added a second circuit, in parallel,  from the kill circuit through the second set of contacts to ground in the "off" position. This kills the engine if the switch is accidently turned off.

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12/17/11    Today I painted the driveway drag.

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12/18/11    Reinstalled the new drag and tested. I'm happy with the job it does, but have ideas to improve it. A few more teeth and perhaps a bit more weight to make it dig in deeper. The beam does a great job of smoothing. It's just hard for the teeth to loosen up 40 years of settling and packing. I takes several passes to loosen it enough to smooth it out.

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12/22/11    Purchased materials to build a bucket/scoop dozer blade conversion that will work on either end, front or rear. Due to the holidays, I won't get much done until after Christmas.

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12/29/11    Started on weights for the driveway drag. The 4" square tubes will be filled with concrete and ends capped.

I also started on the bucket/scoop conversion to the dozer blade. The tube across the top is 1" x3/16" round and pivots on three "U" shaped pivot points. The end pivots are drilled for clevis pins to keep the scoop from bouncing out over rough ground.

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12/30/11    The scoop/bucket is taking shape. Bottom is 12 ga. plate. Edges are 1"x1"x1/8" angle. Back of the plate is stiffened with a 1"x1"x1/8" angle with the vertex up so the load can slide out. Front edge is a 1/4"x2" flat bar and will have the leading edge beveled. Two pieces of 1/4"x2" flat bar tie it to the pivot. Everything is clamped together for trial fit.

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1/1/12    Ends cut and beginning to assemble by tacking together.

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1/2/12    All welding on the bucket is complete, except for the operator. That will wait until the mount for the rear is complete. Hopefully I can design an operator that will work for both front and rear. At least that is the plan.

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1/5/12    Finished the bucket mount for the rear today. Mounted the bucket and tested the hydraulics lift. Then I cut a 6" tube for a handle socket (operator) for dumping materials. The handle is not cut to length.....I don't know, yet, how long it will need to be for proper leverage. When the bucket is mounted on the front, a different handle will likely be required......thus the handle is loose and will be pinned in place. Pictures show details of the mount and handle socket. Then with bucket on the floor and raised.

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1/12/12    Finished up painting the bucket/scoop. Tested on the rear with gravel. It works as planned, but traction is a problem. I need more weight. Today, I moved the bucket to the front to see how it looks and how high it raises. Tomorrow, I'll give it a test on the front. I'll need to adjust the operator handles (length and angles) for best operation.

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1/13/12    Tried the bucket on the front today. First with a pile of duff (mulch like) which I moved to a different place. Then I loaded and carried several buckets of gravel to some low spots in the driveway. It worked very well. I will need to lengthen the dump handle so I can reach it while moving. Then I'll be able to spread the gravel, too. I expected the steering to get very hard with a load of gravel, but not so. It was a bit harder, but not so much that steering was hard.

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1/23/12    Standing in front of the shop heater yesterday, wondering what to do next, I saw my hand truck. Then I wondered what it would look like hooked to the front of the tractor. A couple of hours later, I had my answer. Now it's a dual purpose hand truck/tractor truck.

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2/5/12    Repairing the driveway that was badly eroded due to the torrential rainfall we had a short time ago, I found that the hydraulics would not lift a full load of gravel in the new bucket. I have a winch salvaged from my old van and am well on the way to replacing the hydraulics on the bucket with the winch. It will lift 4 times the weight that the hydraulics system will.

First a pulley is installed with clevis pin for easy on/off.

Bracket being fabricated to hold the winch.

Trial fit....It will tip forward so hood can be opened for access to the engine and fuel tank.

Hood open.....and back on the bench, winch installed, showing how cable will look. Hook will be gone and cable will fasten to the bottom of the plate.

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2/9/12    Winch mounted, but not wired. Still waiting for the reversing solenoid/relay. I will need a limit switch to keep the bucket from hitting the winch cover.

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2/10/12    I didn't like the "sag" in the winch bracket when weight is applied. This sag is due to slack in all the pinned joints. To remove it and make the brackets more ridged, I made a bracket (unpainted) and attached it to the frame at each side then clevis pinned the two brackets together. The two lower clevis pins are removed. It worked beautifully.

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2/11/12    Added a stop bracket under the winch to keep from damaging the winch while blade/bucket is bouncing around. A limit switch will be added to prevent stress to winch and cable when it hits the stop.

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2/14/12    Added a strap to back of blade that contacts the stop plate under the winch. This strap also contacts the limit switch which I mounted to the side of the stop bracket. This limit switch is a car door (dome light pin switch) switch that goes to ground when the door is opened, completing the circuit. In this use the circuit is closed while the blade/bucket is down and opens as the blade contacts the stop which stops the winch before it is over stressed against the stop. Then I made a toggle extension for the control toggle from aluminum round stock and painted it yellow.

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2/29/12    I added teeth to the edge of the bucket and a hook to the right foot rest to hold the dump handle down. This holds the bucket open so the blade can be used to push the material into a pile for loading.

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3/1/12    Complaints from bystanders that my tractor was too loud......made a new muffler/stack from materials already on hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last modified: March 03, 2013