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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I picked up a Bolens Versa-Matic 155-02 [1958-1961] not sure of exact year. It has a Kohler K160 [or K161 depending on which manual you are looking at]. I have found that most of Bolens printed material from those days is somewhat inaccurate or was changed by the vendor selling the equipment.
In any case, I am rebuilding it. Why? Because it's cool. Will it be useful when it's done? I hope so, but maybe not. Sometimes the journey is better than the destination.
Here we go.
To catch everyone up, here's what it looked like when I picked it up:
Plant Tire Wheel Automotive tire Motor vehicle


After removing the blower, wheel weights and chains, now in the shop.
Tire Wheel Tractor Automotive tire Vehicle


I'm starting with the motor, currently torn down [to a point]. I'm waiting on a number of parts so I can use the existing motor as a template for reassembly, I also want to fire it up prior to doing a complete restore on it [needs to run first, right?], then I'll tear it back down and do the final painting/rebuild. Then on to the body.
Current state of the motor:
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More to come, if there's interest. Once I get parts I'll post as I go along.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Still waiting on parts, received the new carb and after a lot of page turning in old manuals figured out how it all goes together, waiting on the throttle link [and per recommendation] a throttle stabilizer spring. But most importantly I need the new condenser so I can get a spark.
Here's the old one:

Light Motor vehicle Automotive tire Automotive lighting Automotive exterior


I've never worked on a Kohler engine before and I have only worked on one other motor from the late 50s - early 60s but this governor/throttle setup is very interesting.

Motor vehicle Wood Gas Automotive wheel system Auto part


The throttle pulls back the disc which rotates the governor arm assembly pulling the carb shutter open. The governor arm has a spring [you can see the lock bolt to the right on the bottom of the arm] on the inside connecting the governor arm to the disc, that pulls against the throttle. Very interesting design, the carb shutter lever on the carb has no spring on it.
Looks dirty right? Believe it or not this is after quite a bit of cleaning up, when I received it the whole assembly was a mud ball. It was like excavating a fossil from a stone, you're not really sure what's important and since you can't see where anything is you have to go very slowly an carefully. To me a slow and painful, but rewarding process.
 

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That unit is so cool looking .. nice project.

I see you have a broke stud to contend with ...

Have you looked into electronic ignition for that?

I put electronic ignition in a very old Ariens tiller with a B&S ... works great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
That unit is so cool looking .. nice project.

I see you have a broke stud to contend with ...

Have you looked into electronic ignition for that?

I put electronic ignition in a very old Ariens tiller with a B&S ... works great.
Thanks, enjoying the project so far, exercise the mind, drink some beer, hang out in the workshop, I'm sure most on here can identify with that.
Yep, broke both exhaust studs taking off the muffler, I did get them out [after soaking, coaxing, cursing, and vice-grips]. They came out clean in the end so no real damage done, was planning on replacing them anyway.
Thinking about adding electronic ignition if I have issues with the condenser and points, I have never used one or tried one, is there a certain brand/type you recommend? Would like to have this set up as a Plan B. Any info on this would be greatly appreciated. I did some looking a couple weeks ago but wasn't really sure what I was looking for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Dinked around with the carb and sediment filter. Had to make a new gasket for the sediment filter, but once it was cleaned up it seems to be ok. Going to paint the top part of it the green body color, probably replace the fuel input (original) and see if I can find a new coupling connection. I know I can easily forego toe sediment filter and just put an inline filter (going to do that anyway), but I think it adds to the coolness factor of the motor.
Automotive tire Bottle Table Drinkware Motor vehicle
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I abandoned the sediment filter in the end, it’s way too caked with who knows what an I don’t want to run the risk of contaminating the fuel, maybe another time. Installed an elbow in its stead, will install an inline filter as well.
Here’s the carb mounted up.
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I have received the ignition coil but still need the replacement condenser, the ignition coil was harder to find… and I never hit go on the order for the condenserAnyhoo,started putting it back together.
Motor vehicle Gas Electrical wiring Steering wheel Cable


I couldn’t find any black tape, but had blue for some reason. It’s under the flywheel anyway so it will be hidden.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Finally received the parts.
Reassembled the ignition coil and condenser, ran new wires to the points, new head gasket, spark plug, carb/gov connected, and fashioned a muffler out of a “wrong one” from a previous project. Just need to connect the fuel line and throttle cable and it’ll be ready to drop on the cart to be fired up and proofed out a little prior to heavy restoration work.

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the spark plug line will be shortened later and I’ll have to change the plug cover as well. I really just want to make sure it runs before I really start to invest a lot of time in to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Sorry if I’m boring you with all the similar pix, but, I connected the air filter, throttle cable/control, and carb fuel line shutoff. All i need to do is put it on my cart, connect it to a fuel tank (ready to go) and crank it. Ran out of time and daylight today, maybe tomorrow.

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the throttle control I have for a temp is labeled backward from the way this works soi left my future self a note on how it works.
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ill let you know how it runs or doesn’t run in the next couple days.
 

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I'm trying to think of the last piece of equipment I operated with a rope wind pull core .... Then I realized it might have been my father's gas powered reel mower.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I'm trying to think of the last piece of equipment I operated with a rope wind pull core .... Then I realized it might have been my father's gas powered reel mower.
We had a couple tractors on the farm with a crank start, but I don't think I've ever had a piece of equipment that had the rope start, had one with a spring wheel crank start quite a while back. I'm planning on starting it with a drill on the flywheel nut just to get it going, but in the end it will be a rope pull machine.
 

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I'm trying to think of the last piece of equipment I operated with a rope wind pull core .... Then I realized it might have been my father's gas powered reel mower.
We had a couple tractors on the farm with a crank start, but I don't think I've ever had a piece of equipment that had the rope start, had one with a spring wheel crank start quite a while back. I'm planning on starting it with a drill on the flywheel nut just to get it going, but in the end it will be a rope pull machine.
All my outboards dating from 2004 back to the 1920s have had wind-the-rope slots/hooks in the flywheels. It was needed when setting the timing on the pre-electronic ignition ones with the recoil start removed, and was also VERY handy if you were off somewhere far from home and the recoil starter broke. Had that happen a couple of times with 1950s vintage motors.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Mounted it to the cart and fired it up, boom, runs nice.
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I am getting white/gray smoke from the top end, I think it’s just moisture/gek burning off as the motor warms up. Other than that it runs very smooth. It has great spark, I kneeled against the remote shutoff line and felt how nice of a burst it was getting.
On to the next step, tear it back down and clean it up.
 

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@Northeast Dave,

That is something I think I will make in the spring ... a rolling stand for engine mount and testing ... I currently use my Black and Decker old Work-Mate table, but its to high, and not on wheels ... yours would be to low for me, but in the middle some where would be great... :) It would also make use of some of the lawn tires I have around .... :)
 
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