Live Auctions

Free Horse with House: 1987 Wheel Horse 252-H

Keep an open mind with this one! This 1987 Wheel Horse 252-H is now 30-years old and it was found in a barn, or a shed, actually, under a cover. Plus, this tip was sent in by a Barn Finds reader so there are fans and collectors of these vehicles out there among the Barn Finds family of readers. This one is on Craigslist with an asking price of $900 and it’s located just northwest of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Tractor collectors know Wheel Horse as being one of the finest names around. The company started in a garage in 1946 and they were booming by the mid-1950s. They were eventually bought out by Toro in the late-1980s but at one time they even had their name on snowmobiles (who didn’t?) and snowblowers, or snow throwers, as they called them.

But, the company was famous for their lawn tractors. This example was purchased and used by an elderly gentleman who was meticulous with maintenance, according to the seller. They purchased the gentleman’s home and the tractor, stored in a shed under a cover, came with it. There are a few normal wear marks but it’s in amazing condition for being 30 years old. There’s no way that I was in this fine shape when I was 30. This tractor has a hydrostatic drive and “all lights, PTO Switch, Volt Meter, etc. are in perfect working condition. Battery is strong. Flip up seat is in perfect condition with no rips, tears, etc.”

This one has a somewhat unusual motor, or it may seem unusual to see a 12.5 Kawasaki under that hood. The seller says that everything works and this tractor is about as close to new as you’ll ever find. I know that this one isn’t the usual Barn Finds fodder, so to speak, but it’s 30 years old now and it’s a tractor (ok, a lawn tractor). Are there any small tractor fans out there?


  1. Howard A Member

    Ok, this, even I will admit this is a bit of a stretch for BF’s, but what the heck. Adequate is all I can say. Wheel Horse used to be a top notch tractor, on par with IH Cub Cadet or Simplicity, but when Toro got it, they pretty much slapped the name on a mediocre Toro tractor, which, like I say, is ok.( more of a glorified lawn mower, really) When I was in NY last summer, the rural towns dump had a junk pile the size an Olympic swimming pool ( and 30 feet high) FULL of tractors like this.( in various stages of disrepair) I took many parts for my friends other tractors, as many parts interchange on these cheaper tractors. This, as far as I’m concerned, was a Wheel Horse tractor.

    • Woodie Man

      Howard…love your pix of the older Wheel Horse. If it’s got wheels and it’s found in a barn…..what the hey!

    • G 1

      Early ones (with motor between legs) tipped over backwards. The only thing good about a Wheel Horse was a Kohler engine when they used them. I’m talking about the ones made from about 1968-1996 before Toro bought them out. The machine itself was crude and tinny. A drive belt (not shaft) 12′ long, a frame that would brake where it bolted to the trans.. The implements were of the same stature. I’ve worked on and owned many (a lot of them in my area) because they were cheaper then a real tractor (Simplicity, Cub Cadet before MTD, John Deere and a few more) but better then a big box store type.

  2. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    I felt like it qualified because it’s 30 years old, was found in a barn, and is in excellent condition. What does everyone else think?

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Jesse, I think it’s a tad weak on the collectability factor, it’s just a glorified lawn mower. Like I said in my post ^, these are “throw away” tractors. Unlike the Wheel Horse in my link, this has a pressed steel frame and universal drivetrain. I’ve worked on many of these, Sears, Toro, MTD ( which I think is Murray) and they are all pretty much the same. When it comes to BF’s, the sky is the limit. Keep ’em coming.

      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Throw away tractors. To a tractor collector I bet this is a nice find. An unusual connection is a lot of the vehicles we covet today were throw away rigs in the day. Take care, Mike. GBP by 10 Sunday!!!!!!!!!!!! Take it to the bank.

    • Glen

      I have no problem with this ,I just think it’s over priced. I only buy something like this to use, so I wouldn’t spend that much for something this old.. It does look good though. Having said that, a good quality new rider costs significantly more than this.

    • grant

      Well, I think it’s your site and you make the rules! Although, and this is just a pet peeve of mine, the term “lawn tractor” to me is synonymous with “pet parent.” It’s a lawnmower…

  3. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Nice mower, how many hours on the clock? Anyway, a little off topic. What is going on with the photos? I don’t know if they are called cropped or what. They are showing up all over the web. I hope it is just a fad. I did not see them in the ad. Am I missing something with the fuzzy edges? Thanks for any advice on this, Mike.

    • Scotty Staff

      Hey, Mike! The photos were verticals which don’t show up too well on this format, so two of the same images were sort of combined in order to get them into a horizontal format. A necessary evil; hopefully it doesn’t ruin the experience! Any time that you see that on this site, that’s the reason. Thanks for the question!

  4. Ed P

    This is a good example of how good maintenance pays off. To many lawn machines die early due to abuse and lack of maintenance.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Ed, very dependable units, will cut your lawn for years with proper care. I attended an auction every Friday in Saugerties, NY, last summer and stuff like this came through, almost every week, and every one, the guy said, “works, but carb “gummed up”, runs poorly”. My friend bought a few for family and friends, cheap, $2-300 bucks, nobody was bidding on them, I’d take the carb apart, and most times it was a deteriorated gasket or O ring from ethanol fuel.

      • Ed P

        My 15 yr old Sears tractor gets gum in the carb. I’ve cleaned and rebuilt several times. Our great gas seems to be the culprit.

      • Mark S

        I have an 18 year old push mower that has never had the carb off of it. My trick is to run it until it stalls so there is no fuel in the carb. I do this every fall before storing it. Every spring it starts on the first pull on fresh gas. Than I sharpen the blade clean the air filter foam and change the oil. I alway add a little Lucas engine oil stabilizer and it’s good to go.

  5. Coventrycat

    If it was from the 50’s or 60’s with some neat styling maybe, but don’t think it really belongs here. It doesn’t even have a cup holder. Besides, it makes me think of work; cars, bicycles, and motorbikes makes me think of fun, like this site.

  6. M/K

    She thinks my tractors sexy!😂 did that song run through anyone else’s head?

  7. newport pagnell

    I wish Honda was still in the lawn tractor biz. These were 4WS/4WD well built tractors. I’m looking at a John Deere now X394-X594 4WS.

    • Glen

      I have the JD X304, which is 4ws. It’s a handy feature.

      • newport pagnell

        Yeah,didn’t want a zero turn.

  8. Rock On Member

    Coventrycat. This was built before the days where everybody has to walk around with either a cup of coffee or a water bottle in their hands.

  9. Howard A Member

    Or, now don’t laugh, there’s always this. A club in Wisconsin holds lawn mower races 2 towns over from me.( Fifield, Wis) I naturally was skeptical, but I had a lot of fun watching. Some of these mowers ( must have a deck, but the guts can be removed) really go. ( we don’t have that accent, but this was the shortest one, you get the idea)

  10. hhaleblian

    Give me a 3 cylinder diesel Kubota

  11. JACKinNWPA Jack NW PA Member

    Well here is a similar ( wee bit customised ) Wheelhorse “Workhorse” from 1983 and it gets used every summer all summer long to mow my 1 acre yard. if this one was closer I would snap it up for the asking price.

    • newport pagnell

      Zoomies! Nice!

    • Ed P

      Big block 454. More power. Grunt. Grunt.

  12. George

    It takes all kinds. Part of the fun of having an old mower is keeping it running.Gee that’s the same thing I say about the cars in my barn. it is hard to find an old WheelHorse around here, but modern day John Deeres are every where.
    Even the different links on this thread are cool

  13. TJP

    Bummer :( , I just called and it was gone 1/2 hour ago. The seller said he has had it on C/L in Minneapolis for 6 months with no takers. As soon as it hit BF his phone started ringing. I would’ve bought it in a nano second :(

  14. DRV

    Good Job BF! Injecting odd interesting stuff keeps interest in the sight in my eyes. Variety is the spice!

  15. Rock On Member

    I just purchased a 42 inch Husqvarna with a 22 hp twin cylinder this past summer. The dealer said to only run premium unleaded in it to avoid the gumming up problems. No ethanol in the name brand premium fuels.

  16. GearHead Engineer

    For what it’s worth, I have no problem with this being posted on BF. At least I’m OK with an OCCASIONAL post like this. The thing is in immaculate condition, which is highly unusual for a 30 year old lawn tractor.

    I like all kinds of things with engines.

    – John

  17. Mike H. Mike H

    Amen brother!

  18. Pleiku Pete

    Seeing that we are talking off the wall, I posted this Craigslist ad when we were trying to empty out the house for the big move to Florida.


    1972 Sears Roebuck Wheel Barrow

    Original owner, never used in rain or snow.
    Garage kept and never left out overnight.

    Original maroon paint outside, perfect patina inside.

    Original equipment tire, no cracks, 99% tread remaining.
    No test pilots please, serious buyers only.

    First to see will buy!

    $25 (Does not include title & reg.)

    Still cannot figure out why I did not get one call!

    • Ed P

      It is to hard to register at the department of wheelbarrows without a clear title.

  19. Mark S

    Nessy I thought the same at first but after reading some of the comments I feel that it is ok to be hear. It’s old it’s got wheel and it’s got an motor. Further more we have an oppertunities to talk about such things as fuel issues and that is something our vintage cars suffer from. So I’m going to give this post a pass.

  20. smittydog

    Only takes one riding mower, (it’s not a tractor because it doesn’t have a frame!) on here to stir up the pot!

    • M/K

      Lots of tractors have no frames look at some old Ford’s and John deeres. Always amazed me how it seems everything is just bolted to the engine/transmission/rear end assembly.

  21. Mark P

    Thirty years old this year. Found in a shed a few years ago. Used to like working on cars. Now it’s these, have a few.

  22. Slag

    I have a 1964 Wheelhorse Hydrostatic. I have been using it for landscapingredients and plowing snow. Bought it new. Absolutely no problems with engine or drive train, except normal PM.

  23. Tom Hall

    Nice shape – likely worth $900 because of the condition but not of the collectible Horses.
    Don’t take collecting Wheel Horses lightly. It’s a big deal. This show is to Wheel Horses as Carlisle is to cars – surely on a smaller scale but they come from all over the country and beyond:


      Tom Hall,
      You are quite right, the Wheel Horse show is a big deal. I have not missed attending for at least the past 12 years. It’s a great show and a whole lot of fun. I have made quite a few new friends through collecting these tractors. If this tractor would have been at one of the shows it would have been sold the first day it was offered.

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