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My Baby Alice (B-206)

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I found my Allis B-206 in Colorado and bought it because I liked the square, old-fashioned look and wanted something cool to cut my postage-stamp estate. It did the job, but smoked badly and I wanted to do something about that. It was while looking for information on it that I discovered this website. Baby Alice (BA) was made in the summer of 1970, during the time when Simplicity and Allis Chalmers were forbidden to work together. From this website I learned that BA is a lawn mower, not a lawn tractor (no limited slip diff) ... even the Simplicity Serf had more listed capabilities and attachments made for it than this machine. Reading about what other members had done to their tractors ("Do-it-yourself", "Show and Tell"), I thought I'd try to restore/add some capabilities to BA. Would never have thought of this until I was "corrupted" by this website. From the members here I learned that there are two trains of thought about restorations: (1) keep it pure and (2) otherwise. Since, BA is not a real lawn tractor and would never have any great usefulness in its present form (even restored), I decided that she was to be considered as only a "platform to apply engine power to attachments". This meant to me that anything I could do to improve the platform was both more useful and fair game. So for BA, I fall into the "otherwise" camp. From the website and to remind everyone ... these are some stock pictures of a B-206.

And now for the fun stuff (drum roll, please). These are some pictures of my Baby Alice as she now exists … after about 3 years of work and the completion of multiple small projects.

Removed tired B&S 6 HP ... installed B&S 10.5 HP I/C pull start. Steering pedestal and front grill raised 2 inches for engine hood clearance. The new material added was made by welding 3/4" angle to 2" x 1/8" sheet. Then the angle was cut/notched and the sheet bent to match the bottom of the pedestal/grill. Holes drilled in the top and bottom angles aligned with the old holes in the pedestal/chassis/grill. New longer bolts replaced the older shorter bolts and it all went together easily. Variable speed drive installed ... needed to go a little slower in deep snow. Broadmoor steering gear installed. Old steering was 1/4 turn lock-to-lock. New steering is 1-1/2 turns lock-to-lock ... needed to use snowthrower. Steering linkage repositions from low and inside to high and outside (like a late ‘50s Economy) ... needed for snowthrower clearance. Front bracket (just above steering linkage) and horizontal shaft (below footrest) installed for MTD (?) snowthrower mounting points. Rear transaxle lowered (chassis rear raised) 2 inches for varispeed drive clearance. Ag-lugs for winter snow use. Work much, much better than turf treads and chains. Front axles extended, wheels lowered (chassis front raised) 2 inches ... for snowthrower clearance. Mower deck lift handle installed ... replaced hand lift-chain/rod through chassis. Old method of mower deck installation required you to push the lift-chain/rod up through a hole and then screw on a knob. More than once the knob unscrewed, lift-chain/rod would drop down (couldn't raise mower deck), and I had to walk the yard looking for the knob. Limited-slip differential feature added. Touch up painted: ACE AC Orange and Almond.

Muffler extended 4 inches for mule drive linkage clearance. Had problem with muffler working loose ... black pipe extension would back out of engine block and electrical locking ring. Fixed it by welding electrical locking ring to black pipe extension, grinding slots in ring, then inserting machine screws (1/2" length) through slots and into engine block muffler mounting holes. Now, ring can't come loose and pipe can't back out of ring. Sheet metal green-stain guard installed under front leading edge of mower deck.

Comfort heater (for winter use). In software development, they say that a "documented bug" is a "feature". Since muffler now sticks out 4" further, it is now possible to touch it with your foot. During winter snow removal, the hot left boot/foot now serves as the heat source for a "hot-water" heating system. Any black marks visible on the muffler are from my melted boot. Mulching plate added ... installs with 2 thumbnuts on top of deck. Left foot pedal operates limited-slip differential lock. Left handle operates center PTO for mower deck ... and now also snowthrower.

Reinforcing plate (1/4 inch) added ... after lowering transaxle (raising chassis rear) 2 inches. The thin sheet metal below this plate is to what the transaxle attaches. The vertical 2" x 1/4" angle on the reinforcing plate is used to attach a 3-point hitch. Limited-slip differential lock works by tightening the 2 v-belts attached to each rear axle. When the diff-lock pedal is pressed, the top pulleys (attached to a solid 3/4" shaft) raise and tighten the belts.

A 3/8" brass ball valve replaced engine oil drain plug ... oil changes are now a breeze. Old engine oil plug used to seal end of valve (so I don’t have an "oops"). The 3/8" black pipe oil change adapter is long enough to change the oil with the mower deck installed. The adapter hangs on garage nail ... ends are seals with caps so there are no drips between oil changes. Oil plug, pipe end caps are visible on running board ... running boards are a feature. Vertical bolt attached on inside top of footrest keeps belt out of the way when attachments removed.

Mulching plate has inside fingers to help shred leaves. Fingers are short enough to clear blade. Seat pan was unbolted and reattached using hinges ... got tired of working under there on the diff-lock feature. Broadmoor steering linkage visible.

Found a spare parts B-206 mower deck. It donated discharge guard, new rollers, and new 26" CCW blade. If 1 blade is good, then 2 must be better. Mulching plate fingers visible here. Some fingers are in the same plane as the blades, others are either above or below the plane of the blades. Our soil is really bad (clay), so in the fall I pick up my neighbor's leaves (lawn sweeper) and dump them in my yard. This deck does a number on the leaves. Beginning with about a foot of leaves, I go over the area 3 or 4 times and the leaves are reduced to pieces smaller than a thumbnail and the lawn looks brown. After a couple of rains, the leaves are below the grass top and the lawn again looks green. Idea. If there is no 26" CCW Gatorblade (there isn’t, I’ve checked) ... then buy the next smaller size CCW Gatorblade (a 25" CCW blade does exist, I've checked) and mount it above my new 26" blade. Since current setup chops up leaves well, should work even better with upper Gatorblade. And the lower 26" blade should keep my current width of cut.

Mower deck and new deck lift handle in down position.

Mower deck and new deck lift handle in up position. The handle stays up after it goes over top dead center. Varispeed drive handle reassigned new duty from parts mower deck ... re-bent with 12-ton HF shop press. Varispeed drive quadrant reassigned new duty from parts mower deck.

Transmission shift handle lengthened 2 inches ... because transaxle lowered 2 inches. Ball end knobs for handles (transmission, mower deck, varispeed) from ACE. Find a knob you like, buy a bolt to match ... weld it on ... screw on knob. Keyhole-shaped hole in chassis floor was for old knob/rod/chain deck lift. The Tygon tubing around the left end of the gas tank is T’d off the fuel line under the gas tank. It is used as my fuel gauge. The tubing attaches to a brass “L” fitting JB weld’d just beside the tank filler cap. The tubing also serves as a fuel tank drain. Love it when something does double duty. How does the varispeed drive and limited-slip differential lock work? Like this:

New mower deck lift. The chain quick link and rod (left side of varispeed pulley carrier) is attached to the new mower deck lift handle. Much easier to use this than the old method of fishing a chain and rod up through a hole in the chassis. Variable Speed Drive. I wanted this capability so I could go slower in deep snow. The varispeed drive capability comes from a variator (double split pulley) salvaged from a 5 hp MW tiller. Counting pulley rotations, I figure I have a speed range of 80%-120% in each gear. Variator and carrier (housing) were extensively cut down to fit in confined space ... but transaxle still had to be lowered 2" to get enough clearance under (over) the transaxle shift lever. It was easy to make the new brackets to hold the brake and transaxle. With the transaxle in its old location, cut both brackets, then mount transaxle in new location. The distance between the bracket cut ends is the size of the piece of metal that must be added to lengthen each bracket. Tack the patch piece in place, disassemble everything and weld it up. This was one of the simpler fixes. Variator idlers were made from 1" black pipe and cheap ACE ball bearings. Variable speed control handle and linkage attaches to left end of variator carrier. Pin on right side of variator carrier is removed to remove carrier. Pin is kept in place using R pins. To install varispeed pulley: --Install carrier (pin it in place. Install R pin keepers, top and bottom of attachment pin). --Using 1 hand, hold idlers open to install pulley sections and v-belts. --Install disassembled pulley (top and shaft). --Install top v-belt (to speed reduction pulley). Use 2d hand to hold carrier up (keep belt slack for next step). --Install sliding center pulley section, push on far as possible. Hold in place with 2d hand while you... --Install bottom v-belt (to transaxle). Hold in place with 3d hand while you... --Install variator bottom pulley section. Hold this in place with 4th hand while you... --Install the bottom carrier section. Use 5th hand to start bottom carrier section bolts. --Release idlers ... and everything else other hands were holding. --Reattach bottom-side tension springs (top-side tension springs were attached before installing the carrier). --Tighten bottom carrier section bolts until pulley sections press tight against belts ... but no too tight. --Turn belts/pulleys by hand while varispeed pulley sections move and idlers take up slack. --Again tighten bottom carrier section bolts to press pulley sections tight against belts ... but not too tight. --Again turn belts/pulleys by hand to allow varispeed pulley sections to move and idlers to take up slack. --Tighten and turn, tighten and turn ... until bolts are tight. It took me over 2 years to get this to work correctly. Before that I tore up a lot of v-belts, idlers, and bearing. Diagnose, disassemble, fix, reassemble, and test ... over and over. After a little practice, I can now take this apart and put it back together in less than 10 minutes ... but hope I don’t have to for a while. The carrier, the varispeed shift linkage, the transmission shift lever, the mower deck lift rod, the diff-lock linkage rod, the PTO linkage rod ... everything is close-fitting and some parts clear each other by only about 1/8". There are tension springs on each end of each idler, but the idler pivot arms are on the backside and attached to the carrier ... I was trying to get as much stuff out of my way as possible. And before I fixed the problem with the idler tension springs popping off, the process of re-assembly was made more difficult by one or more of the back springs popping off when I ran out of hands to hold them on. The current arrangement has been in operation for over 1 year and so far the belts, idlers, bearing, and springs are holding up nicely. The old belts were 40" to speed reducer pulley, 40" to transaxle. The new arrangement uses a 23" belt as the varispeed input and a 27" belt as the varispeed output. The old unused 40" belt was reassigned duty on the diff-lock feature (both those belts are 40").

Limited-Slip Differential. I need this capability so I could "go" in snow ... period. The idea came to me from an old off-road forklift ... press the pedal, lock the differential. Though I'm certain the forklift had an internal diff-lock ... mine is an external diff-lock. The rod on the right side connects the diff-lock pedal to a jack shaft (mounted above, behind, and parallel to the transaxle) pivot arm. The spring near the bottom end of the rod is also attached to the jack shaft pivot arm and pulls it forward (keeps a little pressure to the v-belts and axles). The diff-lock (left) pedal attaches to the all-thread portion at the top of the rod. The pedal height and the amount by which the belts can be tightened is adjusting using the compression nuts on the all-thread.

The jack shaft pulls down on the under seat pivot, raising both upper pulleys, tightening both v-belts, locking both axles together in a limited-slip fashion. Both wheels will lock in snow and ice ... but not on dry ground (one wheel continues to spin, but you can still tell there is more traction capability than before). I tried to think of a more positive locking arrangement (sprockets instead of pulleys, roller chain instead of v-belts, sliding Lovejoy coupling halves on a split shaft ... instead of a pivoting single shaft and pulleys/v-belts). But eventually realized Baby Alice started life as a lawn mower and couldn’t handle a true locked differential in dirt ... so settled for the lesser v-belt, but increased snow-traction capability. As BA’s rear now sits 2" higher and I needed the extra space for the pulleys on each axle, the wheels have been reverse mounted. The wheel offsets now give me about a 4" wider rear stance ... and put my valve stems on the outside of the wheels ... so wheel weights are probably out of the question (but already have some rear weights that work well ... so wheel weight are not really a problem).

Grease fittings added to front axles and center pivot. Radial, roller thrust bearings added to front axles to ease steering load with snowthrower (learned of them on this site). New steering geometry set according to Ackerman steering geometry. The brackets carrying the snowthrower horizontal attachment rod are bolted to existing running board bolts. The snowthrower horizontal attachment rod is held in place by locking collars. The left running board was partially cut away (then reinforced) for Broadmoor steering linkage clearance. Not having a wealth of these old tractors around here, I’ve had to make do with what I’ve got. All of the brackets, shields, mulching plates, pieces-parts used to modify Baby Alice were designed and then built using a CAD process ... I've heard folks on this site talking about them. For me, CAD means "cardboard (model) aided design". The folks at my local ACE Hardware have come to know me on sight. I spend almost as much time there as do they ... they just get paid. This is probably enough for now ... but here are a few of Baby Alice’s toys and stable mates. I’ll tell you more about them as I get pictures developed.

/r David in Denver

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We can rebuild him....better....faster.....stronger....we have the technoligy..... Not restored, but a custom rebuild, to personal specs. Ain't nut'in wrong with that! Nice work, I like it, and thanks for sharing it!!

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There is alot of thought and engineering in your little mower, I guess you should call it a tractor now. Well done I like it alot, it gives me a few ideas for some improvements to my Serf. Thanks for sharing.

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Thanks all. Pictures of the Simplicity 728.

It’s in good mechanical condition but the motor is very tired. One of the members has mounted a 12 hp on his 728, so I’m toying with the idea of either rebuilding or replacing this engine. Hope one day to find a snowthrower/mounting hardware for it. Next project. Generator and whole-house transfer switch.

The 5 kw generator is powered by a B&S 11 hp that was made in 1978. I am at least its 3rd owner and it must have spent its entire life as a backup generator as it looks good, start easily, runs well, and the gas tank interior is blemish-free. The plan is to mount the generator and a couple of gas tanks to the HF handcart---easier to move into position in the back of the house when needed, and then return to the garage afterwards. I’ve read a book about how the Amish use generators and learned that they run them when they need to do work, but leave them off otherwise. So if needed, I figured I’d run it for a few hours in the morning for the refrigerator, central heat, fix breakfast and then shut it off until the evening when I’d repeat the process for the evening meal. Overnight, the generator would be off. In a test run, the generator’s 1-1/2 gal tank ran for 3 hours (.5 gals per hour); so 10-12 gals should last 20-24 hours and require only 1 trip to the gas station every 2 days. After an outage, any leftover gas would go into the tractor/snowblower or car. I’ve been toying with the idea of using 2 of the plastic 6 gal outboard motor tanks with the built-in fuel connections; but maybe 2 of the plastic 5 gal homeowner gas cans would be cheaper---just need to find a leak-proof way to connect the fuel lines. The hardest part of this project to date has been finding an electrician to hook up the transfer switch---they come out, look, and never call back. Next I’ll try calling a business that specializes in installing whole-house generators; surely they have someone who can connect this switch. /r David in Denver

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      Thinkin' about this old girl.

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    • Dean McFadden

      Dean McFadden

      Good morning peeps! I’m always searching for helpful information with my AC collection. Hope to find out new information and pass on my own experience in restoration. Here are some pics of my babies. I’m still looking for front rims for the 410 so yesterday I put the 310 wheels on took it for a drive. Working pretty good but still needs some carb work. Gotta get the 310 running next. Have a great day!😁

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