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Steel-Wheeled Garden Tractor
Arlen Fowler has been collecting and restoring garden tractors, tillers and riding lawn mowers for more than 40 years. Most restorations he brings back close to original new condition. Back in the 1980’s, he found a 1967 Wheel Horse riding mower with a rusted-out frame. “It was a sorry looking tractor, especially since it didn’t have a motor,” says Fowler. “Still I paid $20 for it and brought it home and put it in my barn, alongside a lot of other old iron that needed restoring.”
    In 2009 Fowler’s 19-year-old grandson was looking at the old tractors in his barn one summer day and suggested that his grandfather do something really unique with the Wheel Horse frame. “Why don’t you put steel wheels on it?” he said to his grandpa. Fowler says he thought about the idea for about 10 seconds and agreed to give it a try if his grandson would help. The two of them went to the scrap yard where they found two 24-in. wheels from an old walk behind tractor. They brought them home and adapted the hubs to fit the rear of the Wheel Horse frame. They found smaller steel wheels from an old utility cart frame and adapted those to the front axle.
    Fowler says he and his grandson spent a few weekends mounting an 8 hp Briggs & Stratton engine on the Wheel Horse chassis. “It has a 3-speed transmission and plenty of power,” Fowler says. Although the tractor runs fine in its current state of restoration, Fowler says he and the grandson intend to install new motor controls, sandblast the frame and wheels, and paint it.
    “This is definitely a retrograde restoration,” says Fowler. “Most people want garden tractors to look like new, with original wheels and new rubber tires, but we decided to give this one a real unique look with the steel wheels. It will definitely turn heads when we get it parade ready, hopefully sometime early in 2015.”    
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Arlen Fowler, 5007 East Route 14, Crystal Lake, Ill. 60014 (ph 815 459-3320; arlenfowler@earthlink.net).

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2015 - Volume #39, Issue #1