Family Favorite: Grand Haven Garden Tractor

A Michigan family holds on to a Grand Haven garden tractor for 70 years.

| November 2018

  • Grand Haven Garden Tractor
    The 70-year-old Scholtens family Grand Haven garden tractor with a newer Briggs and Stratton 10 hp engine.
    Photo by Jerry Mattson
  • Grand Haven collector
    Grand Haven collector Sam Scholtens.
    Photo by Jerry Mattson
  • Grand Haven tractor
    Sam’s Grand Haven Model AV8, serial No. 132.
    Photo by Jerry Mattson
  • Grand Haven tractor
    A Grand Haven Model CC, serial No. 807.
    Photo by Jerry Mattson
  • Grand Haven tractor
    The front end on this Model BC (serial No. 319) is frozen up.
    Photo by Jerry Mattson
  • Grand Haven tractor
    Sam and a friend built this blade attachment hardware using promotional literature as a guide.
    Photo by Jerry Mattson
  • Grand Haven tractor
    This Grand Haven Model BC has the original Briggs & Stratton Model ZZ engine on it.
    Photo by Jerry Mattson
  • Grand Haven tractor
    An early ad for a Grand Haven garden tractor showing a front blade being used as a snowplow.
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  • Grand Haven Garden Tractor
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  • Grand Haven tractor
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  • Grand Haven tractor
  • Grand Haven tractor
  • Grand Haven tractor

In 1948, Albert Scholtens bought a new Grand Haven Model CC garden tractor (serial No. 910). Seventy years later, the garden tractor remains in the same family, although it is now owned by Albert's son, Sam.

Sam's grandfather and father raised onions in "the Grant muck" — once a marsh near Grant, Michigan, drained to create farmland — for many years using the Grand Haven for cultivating and other tasks. "Before that, Dad used a Bolens Huski walk-behind," Sam says. "He was happy when he got something he could sit on."

The small tractor was designed by Ben Poll in 1941. He and his two brothers owned Holland Transplanter Co., Holland, Michigan, where a few tractors were built. Prior to World War II, Grand Haven Stamped Products (now GHSP) bought the rights to the tractor. The Grand Haven, Michigan, metal-stamping plant manufactured about 1,400 of them between 1946 and 1953.

A photo of Albert shows the GH in hi-crop configuration. A "duster" attachment on the rear was used to spread a powdered insecticide on plants. Dave Mitteer, an engineer at GHSP, said the company never sold rear wheels like those shown in the photo.



In fact, the wheels were custom-built for Albert, who needed a way to elevate the tractor. With 4:00x36 Firestone Implement tires, the wheels have flat centers made from 1/4-inch diamond plate. Spacers 8-1/2 inches wide helped the wheels clear the ends of the drive shafts. Modified front spindles kept the tractor level. Ingenuity was, and remains, a common trait among farmers. Sam still has these wheels and spindles in storage.

Building a collection

In 2008, Sam decided to get serious about restoring the old Grand Haven. He replaced the tired 8 hp Briggs and Stratton Model ZZ engine with a newer 10 hp Briggs and Stratton and repainted the tractor. That was the beginning of a collection of Grand Haven tractors that now numbers seven. The original garden tractor is one of four in Sam's collection that is in running condition.



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