Submitted by: Jim Bollinger
My project was the restoration and modification of a '67 Wheel Horse L-157 Lawn Ranger for my son’s Christmas present. He is 2 1/2 years old and LOVES tractors. He always asks when he will be big enough to have his own tractor.
The L-157 was a very small riding lawn mower, making it the right size for small child. It took me almost a year to find one! 1967 was the only year the L-157 was made so it is very rare. I found one for sale a week before Christmas but it was in sad shape; it had no engine, the transmission was full of water, and the sheet metal was badly damaged.
Obviously a lawn mower is not safe for a two year old, so a large amount of modification was necessary. The mower was disassembled, the mower deck removed, and the transmission rebuilt. I used my Lincoln Electric POWER MIG® 140T wire feeder welder (current model is POWER MIG® 140C) and Tomahawk® 625 plasma cutter to fabricate a new motor mount. I also used the 140T to weld all the cracks in the sheet metal.
I cut the front axle and widened it by 2 inches to make room for "tractor" tires. I welded the axle with my Lincoln Electric Invertec® V205-T AC/DC in DC TIG mode with 309 filler metal.
The factory foot rests were made for an adult, so I made running boards and fender skirts to keep small feet out of the tires. I used aluminum tread plate for the running boards, cut to size with the Tomahawk® 625 and welded with the V205-T in AC TIG mode using 4043 filler metal.
By this point I had the hood painted and realized that it was looking pretty good. I decided to fabricate a small bumper out of 1 x 2-inch square tube to help protect the hood from accidental "bashings". I welded the bumper with my V205-T in DC TIG mode using ER70S-2 filler metal.
With everything starting to come together I was pretty pleased. But something was missing . . . an exhaust pipe! I used 1/2-inch tube to fabricate this part. Some of the tight bends were formed by making multiple miter cuts and TIG welding them with the V205-T.
After a week of up all nights I finished it Christmas Eve afternoon. The end result was one very happy little boy Christmas morning.
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