David Bradley Tractor


I have always enjoyed working on and hearing old engines run. As most folks in the sixty's we did not have a lot of money so we kids had paper routes and mowed lawns. My dad had two old reel type lawn mowers. If you do not know what they are, think about a push mower with a motor on it. It started with a piece of rope and really ran well. We used them for hours on end. They finally went by the waste-side and we started getting the mowers that we know today. I had started mowing a lot of yards by now but still did not have the money to buy a new lawn mower. We had an older man that lived near us that had a lawn mower shop in his garage. If I had mowers that would not run he would help me and some of the kids repair them. He helped me step by step to rebuild an old mower that I had. This is where I got started working on my own engines.

My dad brought home a two wheel tractor from work. He had trouble getting it to run and told me to see if I could fix it. To this day I still do not know what kind it was. It had old truck tires on it and its color was green. To make the story short, I got it to run. We used it in a garden that we had. When I got older I always wanted a tractor to play with but just did not have the money or the time.

About a year and a half ago I went with a friend in Illinois to a big yard sale on a small farm. They were letting people go in some of the out buildings. Setting outside were old cars, tools, parts and farm implement's every where. Most of it was ruined. The man that lived there had passed away and left his place to his daughter. I came upon some weeds that had a set of handles that were up in the air. It turns out to be an old David Bradley Tractor face down in the mud with one wheel missing. The motor was frozen and on the back of it was a 1-bottom plow. I also saw two other motors lying close to it. There were piles of tires and rims and I had my son start looking for a 3 lug rim that was missing from the tractor. He found one after searching about ten minutes. In looking, about twenty feet away we found a sickle-bar and a snow plow. Both of them were pretty bad off. The plow was so rusty that it had holes in the blade. One of the other engines that was laying with the tractor was hook to an old concrete saw which most of the tank and the wheels had rotted away.

I could not resist and asked the girl what she wanted for it all. I got the tractor, engines and implements for $35.00. After I got it loaded I had almost regretting that I even went there, but on the other hand I was excited. I did not know when I would ever be able to work on it because I was traveling about 80% of the time with work. I got them home and started to take it apart. I first started with the engine that was frozen. Out of the three engines that I brought home two were frozen. I did not know if I would be able to get parts or if I could even repair this old thing. Here is a picture of the tractor before I started:

This is a picture of the Tractor before I Started

Like I said, I started to work on the engine and taking it apart. I got the flywheel off and found that the coil housing was rusted to the magnets on the crankshaft. That is why it was frozen. I then took the head off and the valve springs were rusted in half. I also took the lower have of the engine-block apart and water ran out of the crankcase. It was amazing there was little rust inside the motor because of the coating of oil and goo. Here is a picture of all of the parts:

This is a picture of the Tractor Parts

I was lucky that all of the engines still had their model and serial number plates. I found that the engine that I started working on first is a Briggs & Stratton Model 19 from 1959. The other engine was a BS Model 14 from 1957 and the concrete-saw engine was a BS Model ZZ from 1945. I found this information by looking at the Briggs & Stratton website. It has the years listed when these engines were made by Model and Serial number. The David Bradley tractor had its serial number plate also. I was a little disappointed to find out that the motors were not original for the tractor. It indicated that my tractor was built between the years of 1951 to 1953. Of course this did not stop me. I was determined to build and restore this thing.

After I got the engine apart and free, I knew that I could get this thing to run if I could find the parts. I again started looking on the Internet and I found two companies that had rebuild kits. I asked for a price quote from both companies and I picked the cheaper one. I bought enough parts to take a chance on rebuilding both the model 14 and 19. I rebuilt the model 19 first and got it to run. It really runs great and I am very pleased with the rebuild. The ignition coil was ruined and I did buy a new coil for it that was very expensive. They are about $90 and I did not find it anywhere cheaper. I tested started the engine by using a battery and old car coil. After I made sure the engine would run I then bought a new coil. Here is a picture of the engine on a workmate:

This is a picture of the Motor

I wanted to start on the tractor itself. I pull the tractor to the garage and started to take everything off of it to clean, paint and repair. Here are some pictures of the work:

This is a picture of the Tractor

This is a picture of the Wheels

Here is a picture of the finished product.

This is a picture of the Finished Tractor

I also cleaned and repaired the snow blade so I can use it this winter if I needed to. Here is a picture of the blade.

This is a picture of the Finished Tractor with Blade

I have had a lot of fun with this tractor. I do not have a big yard. Some of the neighbors ask me what I am going to do with it. I tell them that I just like to hear it run and they might get their snow plowed one of these days.