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PeacemakerJack

The "Iron Horse" Restification--Dad's 875

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Love the photos.

I will follow this thread!

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Can't wait for the next installment. A venerable old Horse, deserving of have its story told.

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We all love these stories and pictures. This will be good!

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:WRS:   It is always interesting to hear the back story on a family treasure :wh: . Too many of us have no idea who loved our :wh: before we adopted them. This is a family of brothers and sisters that support and encourage one another in our hobby and lives.   :text-coolphotos:      :text-goodpost: 

 

:text-welcomeconfetti:

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Thanks for all the positive comments and eagerness to hear the story.  I hope you'll enjoy hearing as I enjoy telling it.  It is fun to reminisce about things that conjure warm and positive thoughts and feelings in our hearts.  The story of the Iron Horse does just that for me.  It is so much more than the tractor though.  The tractor is just a picture of the really important things in life.  The Wheel Horse tractors of that era were built to last much longer than just a few years if properly taken care of.  They were built in a time when pride mattered and people were willing to pay a little more and be a brand loyalist if they knew for sure that they were getting a quality product for a fair price.  There was pride and care taken to develop and deliver a machine to the customer that wouldn't tarnish the company's name.  Today it seems like the bottom line is all that is important in the market place.  "How cheap can I get it.  If it handles the task today than it must be ok.  If I have to throw it away and get a different one in a few years, oh well than that is what I must do!" seems to be the unverbalized thoughts on many peoples minds.  I personally, as a "young" man of 36 years old don't subscribe to that modern philosophy!  So pardon me if I tend to be sentimental about a garden tractor that has been in my family for nearly 40 years!  I am happy to report that my parents marriage is strong and enduring 40 years and counting.  They had two sons who are alive and well.  I married my sweetheart almost 15 years ago and God has blessed us with four beautiful children. My parents have been faithful in the ministry that God called them to nearly 35 years ago.  I am busy in my construction business and active in a youth ministry today! My parents have lived now in two homes since I was born and the house they live in today is on my grandparents homestead land.  Why do I say all this?  What does this have to do with a GT restification?  Everything!  I want to help you understand the things that are really important to me are more than a machine.  However, this machine has been around and working hard simply and "quietly doing its business" while everything that you just read was happening.  I'm proud that my dad invested in a machine that has stood the test of time.  For me, its a time capsule that takes me back to relive many of these events...

 

SO...where to begin?  It has been said that you can take the boy out of the country but you can't take the country out of the boy.  My father grew up on a small dairy farm just west of Oshkosh, WI.  They had several Case tractors but when it came time to purchase a lawn tractor, Grandpa purchased a small Wheel Horse.  I know a picture exists of it somewhere but I need to locate it first and I'll post it.  Anyway, my dad met and married my mom and they moved in to an apartment in town.  It drove my dad crazy being so confined.  So, in the spring of 1975 they purchased a house on an acre of land out in the country.  Dad had gotten a job in the previous year working for Chief Equipment, an IH farm implement dealer in Oshkosh, as a service technician.  When the lawn began to grow dad found that it was more than exercise to push mow an acre of land!  He began to long for a riding mower.  Working at the dealership he saw the new line of Cub Cadet GT's and was smitten (I know---sacrilage!) but his budget wouldn't allow it.  Then one day, mid summer 1975, a local traded in a 10 year old 875 Wheel Horse.  After they cleaned it up, they were asking $500 for it.  That was still a little pricey for dads budget and so he let them sit on it.  It stayed around all summer with no one serious enough to take it home.  He began to talk to one of the other veteran technicians about it.  That guy told dad that he would look into it for him.  He looked in the books and saw that they needed to get at least $300 out of it to make a little profit.  Dad offered them $300 and became the owner of the Iron Horse!  In those days, dad only had a 1970 Chevy Nova and a 1971 Kawasaki 500 Mach III motorcycle.  Neither was equipped to haul his new possession home!  He received permission from the manager at the shop to borrow a work truck and trailer for an evening to get his purchase home.

 

I'd like to say that the first heavy use was something like this...

 

 

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However, back in those days we were having some long and nasty winters and this was the 875's first real workout from my dad!

 

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Mom dads house out in the country! Note the groovy green paint on the house and that Nova in the drive!

 

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This tractor had already seen a pretty tough life in its short ten years but dad needed a work horse and it went right at it.  Now is where I need some help from you guys!  Dad can't remember where that snowthrower came from or even if it was a WH thrower.  Does anyone out there know if that is a WH brand unit.  To me it almost looks like a Cub Cadet unit but I don't know? :eusa-think:   Dad said it wasn't geared right and never did that great of a job moving the nasty white stuff. 

 

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I know this is a fairly early pic because it still has the original muffler on it at this point.  By the next summer dad would add the straight pipe to it...

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You have a great way with words. Wonderful story so far and can't wait for the next installment.

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Just a short post for now. Dad texted me a pic of his data plate and I'm wondering if one of you WH masters can decipher it for me?

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Dad is currently working on massaging the hood and fenders. They have a couple of dents and dings that need straightening!!! I believe there is a story coming about the Iron Horse, an older son leaving it idling in the front yard unattended, and a lonely ash tree (circa 1990)!

Also, any ideas on that snowthrower???

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Does anyone on this forum have the ability to decipher when exactly this tractor was made from the serial number that I posted?  I know much about the story of this tractor as it has affected our lives but there are many questions about tyhe production of this tractor that I have little to no info on.  I would appreciate it greatly if you guys would and could help me by adding to the story by filling in these details as you can.

 

Back to the story...

 

This is where the story is just a little fuzzy!  My dad is now in his early 60's and in all fairness to him, these details are nearly 40 years old!  :royalty-pharaoh:  So, he was convinced that the tractor came without a muffler which makes no sense to me.  However, when I showed him the snow pics, he could clearly see that it had a canister muffler on it at the time.  For reasons unclear to me, dad decided to take the canister muffler off the next spring and replace it with a long straight pipe!  Now that is loud!  Any of you that have ever run a single lung Kohler with a straight pipe, know what I'm talking about.  For those of you from the midwest and old enough to remember, we had some wicked cold and snowy winters back in the mid 1970's.  Dad said he thought the winter would never end and the Iron Horse got a workout.  It's just too bad that he wouldn't have had the correct snowthrower for his tractor.  He probably would have been much happier with the outcome.  Spring time finally came and with it, garden work...

 

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Dad picked up some spring tooth shanks that were extras at work and got busy building himself a "digger".  He wanted a disk too but that never came to fruition.  He had to make do with what he had or could get his hands on cheap back in those days.  He made it a five tooth setup and he could obviously remove the center "tooth" for cultivating which he did every summer to keep the weeds at bay.  We still have this digger and it works just as good as it did back then.

 

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They had a sizeable garden for just him and mom but it wouldn't have been possible without this hardworking tractor.  Dad didn't know that he was driving and working a piece of history so hard!  He just knew that there was a job to be done, and this machine was up to the task of taking care of business.

 

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How tough did dad build this thing.  Here is the Horse and the digger working my garden 36 years later!!!

 

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Some things are just built to last but dad tested his Iron Horse to the very limits.  In the upcoming posts, you will read of blown motors, busted rear ends, dented sheetmetal, and several over hauls.  But that is what needs to be done sometimes when you ride a "horse" to its limits!

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Have you ever noticed how some kids just aren't satisfied, they begin to whine, and many adults around them just want to find a way to keep them quiet?  Well in today's story, we will see a bratty spolied kid, a cute little blonde, and "play horse"  that finally did the trick...I think!  :handgestures-fingerscrossed:

 

Mom and dad had some good friends over in the summer of '75.  By now the Iron Horse was set up for mowing and it was doing a great job especially when compared with the alternative, a push mower!  I honestly don't know how my dad didn't go deaf mowing for a little over an hour with a straight pipe but then again, we akk are young and dumb at some point in our lives.  Maybe that is why mom has a hard time hearing today...  Anyway, these friends had a young son about 4 years old that needed to be entertained every second otherwise he would throw a tantrum.  :angry-cussingwhite: We all know what he needed, including my parents but he wasn't their kid.  So, when they had about run out of Aces, my dad came up with the idea to bring out the Iron Horse and give him a ride on that.

 

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Now he seemed to be happy for a little while.  I don't know how you couldn't be driving that thing.  How cool is it to be literally driving a piece of GT history--The very first model of a true hydrostatic garden tractor.  Of course neither he nor my dad knew that at the time.

 

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Please note several things from the get go.  First, the absence of the belt shidle on the motor.  Remember this tractor was only ten years old at the time of these "slides"  and with the exception of the straight pipe it was pretty much original.  Please feel free to chime in and comment on any details of the tractor that you notice from the pics.  On the lift arm there is a metal band at the top.  Dad had attached a cable from the snow blower lift arm to the band and that is how he lifted the blower.  Was that an original design or something that was adapted or modified?  Also take note of the original throttle cable handle out and set.  Next take a gander at the original K181 motor and the way that dad's modified straight pipe exhaust comes straight out and goes up at a 90 degree angle.  The original seat and center caps are still in place and notice how the primary belt guard cover doesn't have any scratches on it. More about all this later...

 

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Right behind him in this picture you see the neighbors rather large garden.  It didn't take long for the neighbors to realize the value of dad's little tractor.  Soon he was doing some plowing and digging for them too.  At this point in the day, the neighbors youngest daughter Tammy came over to see what was going on.  She was a spark plug and in no time flat told that little jerk to slide back and let her show him how to drive a tractor seriously...

 

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Sometimes you just need to say, "Who made who?"

 

I love this photo.  Tammy finally ditched the bum and decided to have some fun.  She looks like she is giving the old horse a workout.  It may have been a working machine but every once in a while day would bring it out to play.  It has earned some rest and when the resto is finished it will be used primarily for playing although I have no doubt that it could keep working for decades to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Smart young man there...

sharing that  :wh: seat.  :handgestures-thumbsup:

Some really great old picts. here.

                :thanks: 

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Very cool story and pics. The thrower looks like a Cub Cadet QA-36 thrower to me. They are not known for working all that well unless you replace the pulley with a small one one to speed it up a little. 

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Wheel Horse never published serial numbers so have recorded a few to see what they look like.

 

147399 - Highest 1965 serial recorded so far

049065 - Lowest 1965 serial recorded so far

098334 - Recorded span of 1965 serial numbers

 

Have five 875 serials recorded so far in the 1st batch of 2 batches of 875's and yours is the 6th

Batch 1 of 2

132052 - high

------------131686 your 875 serial

130994 - low

001058 - 875's recorded in batch one so far.

 

Attachment serial numbers are included in these figures as they were consecutive along with the tractors.

 

Your 131686 serial is 84% through 1965 production.

 

The lowest 1075 serial is 130336 and your batch of 875's followed.

 

Garry

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Ken--It certainly could be a QA 36, especially since dad worked for the IH dealership at the time.  I wish more pictures existed of this setup but the only ones that we have are those posted.  If it is a QA 36, dad must have done some extensive modifications to make it fit and function.  I agree with you whole heartedly on the pulley speed.  If you can't get those single stage snow throwers going fast enough, you are gonna end up disappointed in the out come!!! :no: Thanks for your thoughts
.

 

Craig--Sometimes being a "backseat driver" isn't such a bad thing!!! :laughing-rofl:

 

Garry--Thanks so much for that information.  I've been dying to get more info on this tractor.  I'd appreciate anything that you or anyone from the site can tell me about the WH 875 and 1075 tractors.  I read somewhere on the internet that the Sunstrand Corporation had acquired one WH and Two Cubs to integrate their hydros on to.  Can you confirm or deny this info? :eusa-think:   It was stated that when their designers had the fab work done that they sent their proposals to the corporations for approval.  The story goes that the WH design was closer to a sellable unit and didn't take much to put it into production and so it hit the markets about six months before the Cub 123 (their first hydro).  Again, I don't believe everything that I read on the internet but just curious to see what your thoughts are. 

 

Now I'm going to break the thread into two parts, The Story and the Resto.  This way you will see the progress on the resto while reading the rest of the story...

 

The Resto:

 

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As with any good restoration, disassembly starts first.  Cataloging parts, fixing broken items, removing unwanted previous add ons, and figuring out what needs to be replaced.  We have chosen to use a bunch of ziploc bags and a sharpie marker to keep the fastners organized.

 

Several items that we know are missing that we need are the hood ornament, a good condition steering wheel (this was chewed by a dog about 30 years ago!), the latch cover (also chewed by the same dog), lift arm handle cover (you guessed it, chewed by the same dog) and likely some steering componentry.  Anyone who can help us with locating these items, we'd be thankful to you!  I'm sure we will see some more items as we move forward.  I'd also like to get my hands on a decent condition RM-425 mower deck for this thing too. 

 

 

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I now know what my next tractor is going to be, either an 875 or an 877. I love the short frame tractors and the fact that its an 8hp with a hydro is something that has always interested me. Now I just need to find a nice one!

 

Can you fill, sand and repaint the wheel to fix the bad dog bite marks? Finding a good two spoke wheel isn't easily accomplished, not for me anyway.

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I HAVE 3 857 HORSE'S,,,,, THE ONLY WAY ONE WILL BE TAKEN   FROM ME IS  IF SOMEONE  HAS TO PRY MY COLD FINGERS OFF THE WHEEL

ONE, IS BEING RESTORED AS YOUR STORY UNFOLDS. CANT WAITE TO FOLLOW YOUR PROGRES

ARMY TANK TOUGH....WILL NEVER LET YOU DOWN

AS SOON AS I CAN LEARN TO POST PICS I PLAN ON FOLLOWING MY OWN BUILD BEHIND YOURS ,,,,

 

VERY BEST OF LUCK...

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Ken--I couldn't agree more on the "short frame" tractors. They have a really cool look and stance.  The new sheet metal design really gave the tractor a timeless look.  It was such a leap forward that none of the other Garden Tractors had in 1965.  Case, Bolens, Cub Cadet, JD, and the list goes on, they all had an older look to them at the time with design elements like round fenders and dated looking hoods.  50 years later we can look back and reflect on how cool all the different designs were but at the time Wheel Horse was light years ahead in the look of their tractors.  To say these little tractors are durable is the understatement of the century!  From 1983 when dad repowered the Iron Horse to 2000 when he took it out of active duty as a lawn mower and then only used it for plowing and snow blowing, that little tractor did its job without hardly ever breaking down.  I spoke with my brother on the phone the other day and we got talking about the restoration and he said he didn't recall it not starting or funcioning as needed during that time period.  Now that is reliability!  Regarding the steering wheel, that certainly is a possibility.  Most of the bite marks are centralized around the hub of the steering wheel.  The nice thing about dads tractor is that it has been stored exclusively inside since 1975 and so there realling isnt any sun damage on anything! 

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POR-15 2 part epoxy putty is great for restoring old cracked and chipped steering wheels and lots of other components on these old horses. Keep posting the great pics, love it.

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The Resto-dad's been out of town for several weeks and I've been quite busy with house building but we finally got to removing the front tires. Dad purchased a set of 23-8.50 Tru Powers for the back about a month ago. To complete the "lil tractor" look he would like to run a set of Tri ribs on the front. However, we can't seem to find the factory replacement size tire for the front. What do you guys recommend for an alternative size that will look good in the Tri rib style?

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