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Wheel Horse Charger 12

This is my 1970's Wheel Horse Charger 12, Garden Tractor.

This tractor was purchased, used, by my father in the late 70's to early 80's. From what I have found this model is an early 70's Charger 12 with a Kohler model K301S 12 horsepower, single cylinder engine. The tractor has a hydraulic transmission and the optional 42" side discharge rotary mower attached to its belly. The mower attachment uses a Wheel Horse "Mule Drive", that mounts to the front of the tractor, to gets its power via V-belt from the engine. The Charger currently rolls on the factory Wheel Horse tires. I removed the OEM seat because it was severely cracked and weather damaged. I am having a harder time than I expected to find a replacement that will fit without looking out-of-place.

At present (9-25-2004) the tractor will not charge the battery and so it runs fine until the battery becomes too weak and cannot provide power to the coil and sparkplug. This is caused by a bad rectifier and/or a bad stator. Also the Kohler engine needs a new head. The current head has had the spark plug hole drilled and tapped after the threads were stripped. The sparkplug has a spacer/adapter attached to it so that it will fit the larger hole. I will replace the head to eliminate the plug spacer/adapter. The engine puffs a little smoke, so I plan to have the engine rebuilt when the charging problem is repaired. The paint is in bad shape, the mower deck needs to be drilled and tapped so that the belt/pully cover can be reattached, and the deck rollers need to be cleaned/lubed.

Not too long of a list, the paint will be the most difficult as I have found it hard to find new stickers for replacement.
I need to have the body panels sand blasted and painted while keeping the original stickers intact.

These pictures were taken after I had mowed about an acre of yard as a test drive. The Wheel Horse did ok to have extremely dull blades, over 15 year old belts and given the fact that this is the first yard it has mowed in 13 years. Since 1991 the tractor has been sitting, the first half of those years in the back of my parents garage, the second half it sat outside beside the barn. I currently keep the tractor in a storage building, out of the elements and off the ground. In the near future I plan to take the Charger to a local mower repair shop and have the engine, belts, deck, battery and transmission serviced. Then I plan to check on having the panels and covers sand blasted, painted and cleared. Finally a new seat will be attached and I will complete the electrical wiring that I have already started and put the tractor back into regular service.

As with all my "projects" this will be somewhat slow to completion. I have too many "projects" with more being added weekly if not daily, and not enough money. As is the case with most people.

Larry R. September 25, 2004
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Other links:
Wheel Horse Inc. was purchased by TORO in 1986
TORO still produces the CLASSIC series Riding Mower that is largely based on the old Wheel Horse C-series tractors. TORO also places the Wheel Horse name on many of their riding mower products! Go to the TORO website and look at the TIME LINE that shows a bit of history about the TORO company.