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I just bought a 1956 Farmall Cub. It runs very well, seems to have a minor issue with idle idle speed, and requires choke to start. I have some experience with larger Farmalls. I wanted a 1956 to match the styling of my Farmall 200. My other tractors are an 806D, 460D, 656D and a little Allis 5020D. I am pretty used to working on old tractors. The Cub has a fast hitch and an IH belly mower. I noticed that there is a white antifreeze residue along the bottom 3/4 inch of the radiator. The previous owner said he had thought about replacing the radiator but that it lost very little water and he had used it this way for 17 years. I poked around on this site and saw that the cub has an unusual radiator arrangement that uses the bolster for the bottom tank. I also saw that the bolster casting has frozen and broke on many cubs. I had seen no evidence of any problem with the bolster before I bought the Cub, but reading this, I began looking very closely. I found what may be a brazed or welded repair underneath the bolster. I would like to believe it's a casting flaw but I really don't know yet. When I looked closer I found that the radiator gasket was sealed with something that looks like silicon. Which is a little odd. I know that there has been no repair in the last 17-18 years and that the radiator has not been removed in this time. I also found that the drain plug has broken off and that a small screw has been installed into the back of whats left of the plug. The little tractor is serviceable now and has been mowing 5-6 acres reliably during it's stay with the previous owner. I plan to completely restore it in the future and use it to plant my garden and maybe some mowing now. I have 5-6 acres to mow too, but i have bigger tractors that will most likely get that job. I also belong to the Red Power site and participate frequently there about the larger tractors. I noticed that this site is very active with many people who have considerable knowledge about Cubs. So I wanted to describe this little tractor and my concerns and ask for any opinions anyone may have as to what i will need to know or do to make this Cub right.
Welcome to the Forum. You'll find a lot of friendly and knowledgeable Cub lovers here. As you are aware, it's not uncommon for the bolster to have a freeze crack, but it's commonly along the front edge where the grill sits. If your's is on the bottom, that may well be a casting flaw or mold seam. Partial or full choke to start is normal and will vary from tractor to tractor. The silicone type sealant may have been used because a cork gasket wasn't available or was leaking. If you ever have the bolster off, you can probably use heat to remove the broken drain plug, or drill and retap. If you spend some time browsing the tool bar above, you can find all the manuals, plus a wealth of other info. Feel free to post other questions as they arise.
"We don't need to think more,
we need to think differently."
G'day to you and congrats on your 1st Cub acquisition. I think you may find that these are pretty darn addictive
Can't add much to what Bob said so...
We have lots of resources for our members, suggest as I do with all new members that you take some time, a cup of coffee and a comfy chair and read the info in the following links.
Thanks Bob and Rudi for the warm welcome. After writing yesterday, I removed the grill and found a weld just underneath the bottom of the grill. The bottom of the grill covers it and the grille does not sit down in the casting correctly because of the weld. I wish I had removed it before I bought it. The previous owner is knowledgeable about tractors, and had it for so long (17 years), that I thought any problem like this would have been caught years ago. I am curious about this problem with Cubs. How do so many Cub bolsters freeze and break yet there are not so many Cubs with blocks cracked from the same freeze? I would think the block would break too.
Can anyone direct me to the best information about changing the bolster. The bolster does not leak but the tractor apparently loses about a quart of water in mowing about 12 acres. It may be a very slow radiator leak (the previous owner thought so) as there is a 3/4" band of antifreeze residue along the bottom of the radiator. It may also be that the radiator is not sealing completely against the bolster. I will power wash the bottom of the radiator and watch it this spring. I have a one row corn planter for it and plan to plant my large garden with it. I planned to do a complete restoration eventually. If I can use the original bolster, I would want the weld along the front edge to be smoothed out so that the grill fits exactly right. But it is quite possible that in grinding down the weld, I could go through the weld and create a leak.
When folks change the bolsters do they move the serial number plate to the replacement bolster? Is the serial plate rivet pattern the same on all Cubs? Are all Cub bolsters the same or would i need to look for date codes etc.? I do know where there is a a bolster nearby for a lowboy which is probably close to the same year (1956); however the price for that bolster seems pretty high (over $250). What is a reasonable price for a good bolster? Is the lowboy bolster the same and/or is part number the same?
On a different note the serial number is 198003 J, which is very late in 1956. My research shows that it would have had a white grille and white background on the hood like the 450,350, 230 etc. I can't find any evidence of the white. Could have this tractor been entirely red?
To, $250 seems high to me- like 2x high.
It is possible to pop off the plate with a putty knife that has been notched to give a pocket for the rivet. Even then the success rate is not 100%
There are casting dates on the major cast parts including the bolster. The same bolster will work throughout the Cub production but if you are fussy about the dates then you may need to be patient. I have heard of a lot more cracked bolsters than blocks so that must mean something.
Bolsters are not difficult to change, but you will need to support the tractor as the front axle comes off too. My biggest concern would be the radiator. A fragile radiator may get by, but once you take it off, it may not be worth putting back on. I had one that just kept cascading from one problem to the next until I re-cored it.
54-56 Cubs had red grilles. The changeover happened in 56 to white, but anything on the cusp was not always consistent until they had used all the inventory.
This site has some model information: http://www.atis.net/CubFAQ/cub_faq.html#q3 There, it is stated that the white changeover happened at 197825. One thing you know for sure is that grille was off and a repair was done. Who knows what else happened in the last 50 years.
I would be careful about powerwashing the radiator. If the radiator has been weakened, the pressure could make things much worse. I would just use a brush and water to clean her off.
I would try to grind it down anyway. If you do go into the original crack, you are no worse off, because you were going to buy a replacement anyway.
The residue at the bottom certainly suggests a leak, but are you sure the radiator is not overfull to begin with? The coolant expands as it warms up, so the "cold" coolant level on a Cub is typically just above the level of the tubes. Lots of Cub owners (self included) have thought there was a problem because we'd fill the radiator to the top and it would be blowing off through the overflow tube as she heated up.
Eddie - a 1959 International Lo-Boy named after my father in law, who who bought her new.
Tom, If you click on "manuals" in the tool bar, you can find the Blue Ribbon manuals. The GSS-1411 is the service manual that IH mechanics used as a reference for disassembly, parts replacement, and reassembly. If you want a paper version you can download anything here or buy them from TM Tractor (forum sponsor at the bottom of the page), or Binder Books. Both sell authorized reprints. If you find you need a replacement radiator, there is one on eBay made in Ireland by Clancy that is the best quality and best fit. Recoring is usually more expensive than a new one. If you replace the bolster, it may be safer to center punch the rivets on the SN plate and drill off the heads. Prying can tear the corner unless you are very careful.
"We don't need to think more,
we need to think differently."
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