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Wheel Horse Kid

1961 Wheel Horse Suburban 401 Preservation

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So, I am kinda tossing around an idea in regards to my Suburban 401 and would like to get some input from you guys about it: My thought is this: Keep the tractor's patina rusty look, but make the tractor basically new mechanically and replace any worn out parts (fuel lines, springs, trans seals, shifter boot, etc.). I would basically have a new tractor mechanically, but still have the 50 year old tractor look that to the untrained eye looks like it is ready for the junk yard. I have seen guys do this type of things with cars and it usually turns out pretty good, plus it would be a money saver for me! You know what they say: It took 50 years for it to get that way, so why screw it up now! LOL! Any input or opinions would be appreciated. Thanks, Taylor
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I've done that with my b-80 my wife and kids call it the Franken Mower and its what I've used for all my mowing replaced all fuel lines put a carb kit in shifter boot coil pretty much all the basics I could park it in a junk yard and nobody would even give a second look even left the wheels rough looking

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Taylor, that is exactly what I would do. Keep the patina look, I think you'll enjoy the tractor more. It looks pretty cool as it is, you'll save money and you won't have to worry about scratching it.

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Thanks for the input Slammer and Ken! I think I am going to go ahead and do a preservation instead of a restoration as there are just so many benefits to doing it this way (some mentioned above), plus, I do like the original look...Be sure to keep checking back for updates on my preservation! :) By the way, nice tractor there Slammer!

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I would not clear coat it myself, nor would I paint it either. Make it right mecanically then have fun running it. You could always repaint it later too if you change your mind or get tired of the rust someday. Personally I like the way they look in their rusty workin clothes myself.

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Plus, once restored, they all kinda start looking the same.

That patina is what makes them different from all the rest.  :twocents-twocents: 

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I would not clear coat it myself, nor would I paint it either. Make it right mecanically then have fun running it. You could always repaint it later too if you change your mind or get tired of the rust someday. Personally I like the way they look in their rusty workin clothes myself.

 

 

Plus, once restored, they all kinda start looking the same.

That patina is what makes them different from all the rest.  :twocents-twocents: 

 

Thanks for all the info and advice guys! I really appreciate! The Suburban project has kinda been put on hold lately as I have had a lack of funds and a busy schedule has gotten in the way...I have gotten a little cash saved up now and with winter coming, I should get a chance to get back to my wheel horse projects.

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Hey Guys,

 

Sorry for the delay of an update on the 401. Life has been hectic lately, but I did get a chance to work on the 401 this last weekend.

 

Here is my update (Sorry if it is a bit long):

 

So, after about a month or so of debating with myself, I have finally decided to for sure go the "preservation route" instead of the restoration that I was originally going to do to the tractor. Since I got the tractor, the rusty/patina look has really grown on me. At first, I did not like it, but now I really do. I think it really gives the tractor character and like I have heard people say on here and other places, they are only original once and so many of these RJ's and Suburban's are restored, so I think having one in original condition really would stand out (Plus it will save me LOTS some time and money).

 

With that being said, here is where I am at with the 401:

 

I took the original engine apart the other week and to my surprise, it has been rebuilt! One could never tell this from looking at the tractor. It has a .10 over piston and the values look fairly new too. The cylinder wall looks very nice too. Not sure how it will run, but these are all good signs! :) Had my dad refurb the head for me and bought a new head gasket for it and now it is back together. Took the carter carb apart and it needs a rebuild badly, so I will be getting a rebuild kit for it this week. Also, going to pick up the correct spark plug too and stole a new air cleaner off of another 4hp I have. Found an 8 hp air cleaner cover I had that I may put on, but may get a 4hp instead. After that, going to finish up the engine and put it in the tractor and see how it runs and go from there.

 

Worked on the trans a bit too and it is going to need some major help. Basically think I am going to have to rebuild the trans. I got the drain plug out and pure water came out of the trans (never good). The trans seems to roll ok, but does not shift all the best, so I am not sure what kind of damage the water has caused. Also, after getting the new fluid in, I found out the seals leak REALLY bad and also the bearings are shot. I bought a nice set of hubs a few weeks ago that I will be putting on the tractor when the trans is done. Trans will also need a shifter boot.

 

Basically, as far as the rest of the mechanics is concerned, all I am planning to do is replace missing and worn out parts (exhaust/muffler, heat shield, drive belt and guard, choke cable, new rear tires and paint the orginial fronts (which are in good shape), tighten steering, fix clutch, put in new hole plug and fix any other problems I may come across.

 

As far as the "body" goes, I think I am pretty well going to leave it as is for the most part. I think I will paint the wheels and maybe the seat to give it a little "perk" and maybe wipe the tractor down with wd40 or a light penetrating oil, and replace the shifter decal, but other than that, I think everything is going to stay how it is right now. I also thought about putting on fenders and foot rest, but don't think I am as the tractor never came with them and it would kinda kill the originality in my opinion. The hood has a knotch out of it where the hole plug goes and I was going to have it fixed, but I think it adds character! LOL! I may try and fix where the hood dips in from the gas tank if I can fix it without wrecking the look.

 

So, basically my goal with this tractor is to have a tractor that looks 50 years old on the outside, but is new mechanically. I think it should turn out pretty nice!

 

I will be sure to keep you guys updated on my progress and will post pics as I go along. Going to work on this all winter and hoping to have it done by spring time! I am sure I am going to need some help from you guys along the way! LOL!

 

Also, if a mod could change the name of the thread to "1961 Wheel Horse Suburban 401 Preservation" instead of restoration, I would really appreciate it! :bow-blue: Not quite sure how to do it myself...

 

Thanks,

Taylor

Edited by Wheel Horse Kid

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I'd vote for the patina look as well. Another member here coats his with a little motor oil...(salad dressing...you know who you are.. :ychain: ). Gives it a rich deep dark tone, and helps future rusting out.

 

Here's a quick video of my 551 plowing. I had it all apart, but couldn't help myself...(so I know that feeling)  It has been since restored.

 

th_Vid11.jpg

 

 

Below is a video of my 854 plowing 13inches of snow. This is the same tranny as my 551. Don't think I'd worry about the tranny with the 401.

 

th_pics053.jpg

 

Good luck with it and thanks for the updates.

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I'd vote for the patina look as well. Another member here coats his with a little motor oil...(salad dressing...you know who you are.. :ychain: ). Gives it a rich deep dark tone, and helps future rusting out.

 

Here's a quick video of my 551 plowing. I had it all apart, but couldn't help myself...(so I know that feeling)  It has been since restored.

 

th_Vid11.jpg

 

 

Below is a video of my 854 plowing 13inches of snow. This is the same tranny as my 551. Don't think I'd worry about the tranny with the 401.

 

th_pics053.jpg

 

Good luck with it and thanks for the updates.

Hey Chris! Thanks for the info and pics! Sorry for the delay...Somehow your post slipped by me and I did not see it till today. If the "salad dressing" guy you are talking about is Stevebo, I emailed him a couple months ago and he gave me alot of helpful tips. ;)

 

For anyone wondering, I have NOT given up on this tractor yet and plan to complete it this year! Have just been really busy with high school and trying to start my own business lately and have not had much time (or money) for much else. (Just as a side note though, dad and I are thinking about making our first trip to the big Wheel Horse show in PA this year and the 401 will be making an appearance if I can get it done along with a couple of other tractors that we would like to take!).

 

Couple of updates on the Suburban:

 

First, I was able to get a carb kit for the carb about a month ago, so that is done. Also, a couple days ago, I was able to score a NOS belt guard for it from a guy on Ebay so I am really excited about that!!! Have not gotten it in the mail yet, but really looking forward to getting it!!! :)

 

Right now, the 401 is in our shed along with my pulling tractor (which needs work as well), but I am planning on putting the 401 back in the garage once it gets a little warmer  and I get some $$$ saved up and will start working on it again!

 

 

As of now, the plan is still to do the preservation and like I said above, my goal is to have it done for the big Wheel Horse show later this summer.

 

I will be sure to keep this thread updated once I start working on the 401 again.

 

Thanks,

Taylor

Edited by Wheel Horse Kid

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