Garden tractor acquisition

Mower trouble? Are 2-cycle engines the bane of your existence?
kevm14
Posts: 13795
Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:28 pm

Re: Garden tractor acquisition

Post by kevm14 » Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:47 pm

Called the guy with the engine. Nice guy, older.

Engine is clean, no oil leaks, he thinks it might even have a new carb. Nothing wrong with it.

I couldn't help myself so we ended up talking about engines and tractors for 10 minutes. He thought that the 18-19hp Briggs opposed twins were the best engines they ever built. They really are workhorses. They are not fuel efficient but that doesn't really seem to matter much at these power levels.

We talked about lawn tractors and stuff and he did think that the standard Home Depot stuff is garbage, even the "John Deere" stuff. He did like the real Deere's. I told him about my stuff and he was like, yeah those are good. He said...do you know how much those would cost if they were still offered new? Funny, I tried to make that exact point a while back. Hopefully I can pick this thing up tomorrow morning. I'll probably offer $125. I would assume he'll take it.

kevm14
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Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:28 pm

Re: Garden tractor acquisition

Post by kevm14 » Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:50 pm

To start off with today was like 70°F. Wunderground says 63 was the record high so....wow.

But yeah. Got there almost exactly at noon as we had planned. Looks like he sells small engines and stuff like that on the side. Not just sells but fixes and sells if necessary. He had a Kawasaki twin, a couple of other Briggs V twins, a Briggs single and so on. We discussed small engines and he again repeated that he thought the 18-19hp Briggs opposed twins were their best engines. He qualified that though. The lower power ones are good, too, like the 12.5 hp ones. But what happens when you get above 19 hp that I figured out recently? Step change to 46 cid and 20+ hp. Turns out those are not known for reliability. The inherent design is just too stressed for that output I guess, so they don't last. Not sure exactly what fails but I could totally see that. So he likes the 18-19 because that is the most powerful before they stepped to the 46 cid. That actually makes sense and I think I have heard that before. Anyway I think this was their signature engine up until the Vanguard OHV V-twin.

Sounds like he spent a career doing like industrial/commercial/municipal water mains and stuff. Now he said part time all he does is fire hydrant service, installations, repair and replacement. Quite a niche job. Said he serves most of New England. He had a couple of antiques in his garage next to the engines including one that I guess was 100+ years old and worth like $1500. Everyone has a hobby, or should I guess.

After chatting for a while we poked around the engine. He claims this thing is ready to run as it sits, aside from bolting it in and hooking up fuel and wires and stuff. And he meant it...air filter, plugs, seemed like a new carb, even the oil. Kind of a change from what I usually buy. It was also unusually clean BUT not power washed, at least not recently. He had 2 extra starters with it, and even gave me the mounting bolts which match the engine (he said Briggs has used some different sizes, which I guess the manufacturer can spec), so I have the right bolts even.

Finally I said....I'm interested. Would you take $125? He said, no, buck and a half. I sort of slumped a little but he was firm. Driving 100 miles and showing up in a Cadillac isn't necessarily the best position for negotiating. So I sort of kicked the "dirt" on the garage floor for a while and eventually said, yeah, OK, $150. I had withdrawn $150 from the ATM specifically for this reason. So I reach in and grab my $150. He goes...oh, you were planning on $150 I see. I sort of quickly shot back, yeah well that was your asking price so yeah I came prepared to pay up to that. His response is where things took a slight turn. He said "No, $175 was my asking price." Now, I went out of my way to look at his other CL listings by searching for his name in his town. He was selling one other engine. I also remember on the phone when I initially inquired he said "which one" so I knew to look. The other was a Briggs V-twin. Asking price? $175.

So what does this mean? It means I think he knocked off $25 in his mind by asking for $150. So I showed him the ad and he's like...oh yeah, that's the other one. So I learned an important lesson. Verbally review (or ask again) the asking price BEFORE making your offer. You never know. They could say a number lower than their CL ad which is a win. But if they say a number higher, you have proof. I probably lost $25 because of this subtlety. Interesting.

With that slight awkwardness out of the way, we went to figure out how to get it in the car. Right away he was not impressed with the trunk opening on the STS. His exact words were "big car, small trunk." He should see the Alpha cars if he thinks this is bad.

But yeah this thing is a beast so we tried a bunch of things. Eventually I ended up removing the panel that covers the spare tire, putting my box down on that with the contractor garbage bag in an attempt to catch oil if any spilled. Scratched up my bumper a little and the plastic trim inside the trunk. Also had to remove the air filter housing from the carb. Even then it barely fit.

Then I said "well I have a pickup but I didn't want to drive it on a long trip like this," He just sort of looked at me and blinked. He wasn't impressed. Like...you have a real vehicle and you brought this nonsense? Haha. I offered that it was a 99 Ram but judging by the well-used service trucks in his driveway, he wasn't really taking that as an excuse either. After the circus of him helping me load the engine I felt a little better about the $25 that I "lost" at least. He didn't have to help. Not only that but when I was leaving he offered that I could call if I needed anything like questions about swapping it, switching starters or anything like that. Nice guy. Yet another nice guy CL experience. I've had quite a few.

Here it is wedged in.
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Proof of temp. I zoomed in so you can't see the check engine light. Mileage ended up around 20.5 or something by the time I got home.
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Dead WJ that seems to have died halfway out of a parking spot at a shopping center where Ian and I stopped for a late lunch. Seemed to be winching it in park, but he was in the door and turning the steering wheel. Not sure if something locked up.
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Took this opportunity to vacuum my trunk, remove the spare and vacuum under there and stuff. Look how sporty this donut spare is. And it was good that I checked it. Pressure was like 20 psi.
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Check out how clean this thing is. I'm not saying it is impossible that someone could have methodically cleaned this out but I don't think it was this guy anyway. He pulled this off a tractor and sold it for parts. Oh, and no oil spilled on the drive.
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He said this is the Yardman (MTD) muffler. I guess the tractor OEM tends to supply the muffler. It is in very good shape but that makes me feel less confident that it will fit without modification.
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The pulleys are mounted to a shaft so it is one piece. Engine sits nicely on that. He gave me this one but I will likely have to swap because again the OEM specifies their own pulley setup, diameter, etc. But it's an engine stand in the meantime.
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Look at that heatsink thing. I don't believe my 12.5 hp engines have that. Maybe I missed it. But if they don't this is an example of the continuous engineering changes Briggs made over this engine family's life. I guess the 46cid 20+ hp variants at the end were a bridge too far. Otherwise they are very good engines.

Works for me because I think 18 hp is realistically all my machines really need. 50% more power for snow blowing should make a noticeable difference. I may just run out the rest of this season with the 12.5 to gather experience in different conditions but honestly if you read in this thread, I predicted long before I bought anything that 12.5hp wasn't really enough for a 42" blower. Though part of that is because I'm somewhat impatient and unwilling to slow down. But in the video you can see the engine was good until I had to reblow previously thrown snow. That is exactly the scenario that bogged down my walk behind and where I predicted the 12.5hp would be insufficient. Go watch my video again.

bill25
Posts: 2543
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2013 2:20 pm

Re: Garden tractor acquisition

Post by bill25 » Sun Jan 12, 2020 6:15 pm

That looks really clean. Sounds like a good deal! Now you have a 12 HP for a sick go kart???

kevm14
Posts: 13795
Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:28 pm

Re: Garden tractor acquisition

Post by kevm14 » Sun Jan 12, 2020 6:35 pm

Vertical shafts are a big letdown...unless it was connected directly to a differential pointed up. Which I have never seen.

Also I forgot to mention this important point. I randomly decided to check CL and this was the first one I saw in a drivable radius. Zero attempt to track the market and stuff. But I probably did ok. It is unlikely that someone would be looking for one of these in the winter I think. They were not in snow blowers except for some awesome YouTube Frankenstein creations. And I'm not sure how many are on tractors that people are blowing snow with.

kevm14
Posts: 13795
Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:28 pm

Re: Garden tractor acquisition

Post by kevm14 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:37 pm

So for my turbo blower on the Simplicity, the parts are here:
https://www.partstree.com/models/169126 ... -mowers-0/

Takes two bearings, same P/N: 1705897SM

They are sealed type so not designed to be greased. I might want to just replace the two bearings on my turbo blower before the next mowing season. Hopefully it isn't total insanity to take apart to replace. Kinda seems like it is all pressed together though...
Simplicity turbo blower 1691260.png
Might be time for an air chisel and some attachments.

kevm14
Posts: 13795
Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:28 pm

Re: Garden tractor acquisition

Post by kevm14 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:43 pm

I did some measuring. It looks like the muffler may fit through a rectangular open section of the frame.

Deutz:
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The 18hp engine:
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kevm14
Posts: 13795
Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:28 pm

Re: Garden tractor acquisition

Post by kevm14 » Sun Jan 19, 2020 1:55 pm

Probably had a few inches but then it rained so it compressed down to like 1-1/2" of slushy stuff. Decided to run the machine anyway.

Had two small issues.

First, I had a running issue. Seemed like something was plugging up the jet. Happened about twice. I had to use choke to get it to clear out, and then it was fine. I am trying to remember if I added MMO to this tank. I'm beginning to think that adding MMO to stuff that sits may not be ideal. It can break stuff loose which can clog jets. Of course they always manage to unclog themselves but it's something to look out for. Otherwise the engine ran fine. The oil is still hanging around the halfway mark.

The second issue was the drive belt fell off the engagement pulley (it's like a rocking tensioner pulley). This was happening routinely with the longer belt but I was surprised it happened with this 78" which is 2" shorter than spec. I simply slipped it back to where it was supposed to be and everything was fine. The belt has some noticeable abrading on it already. The engagement pulley bushings seem tired and perhaps that causes alignment to be sloppy, which wears the belt. Not sure. Of course it doesn't help that Simplicity likes to rotate both the drive and blower belts 90 degrees during the path.

It clogged a few times but always just powers through and unclogs itself. I'm sure it would be better if I treated the chute with something to help the snow/ice slip by.

I had to inflate the left front tire a few PSI but the right one was fine so that's not too bad.

kevm14
Posts: 13795
Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:28 pm

Re: Garden tractor acquisition

Post by kevm14 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:15 pm

kevm14 wrote:
Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:11 pm
In other news, I wanted to try the same experiment for a cold start that we did on Bill's big Simplicity. I turned the fuel on and cranked it at full idle, no choke. I let it do that for probably 10 seconds. Of course it didn't start. Then I opened the throttle slightly (as normal) and pulled the choke fully out. It only cranked for probably 2 seconds and fired right up. I don't know if the carb is emptying or if there's some other weird fuel/priming issue. Not sure I'm going to try to fix anything but I may experiment more and see if I can determine anything. I could pull the air box off and maybe check out the fuel situation while cranking or something. Ideally I'd pull the top of the carb bowl off to inspect the bowl after sitting. It would be interesting if the fuel somehow drains out. Not sure where it would go. Maybe on the ground if there is a small seepage somewhere.
Took a while but I got back to this today. It has sat for about a month. Removed air filter and opened choke so I could see the main jet.

Maybe as I predicted, I cranked it with no choke just to see how long it would crank before fuel came out. And it was definitely a few seconds of zero fuel flow. As soon as I saw fuel, I closed the choke, and cranked it again, and it fired up within another few seconds. So that extended crank is some kind of fuel thing. I don't know if the fuel is draining out of the bowl or what but I don't think it can go into the engine the way this carb sits.

I'm not sure I need to try fixing anything though. I don't know what I would fix. I mean I was going to swap to that 18hp engine at some point anyway...but until I do I think this will continue to work fine for me.

kevm14
Posts: 13795
Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:28 pm

Re: Garden tractor acquisition

Post by kevm14 » Tue Feb 18, 2020 7:27 am

Did stuff. Cut up those tree limbs that I had in a pile from the fall.
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No issues with tractor except for a stick that tried to lodge itself in the drive belt.

Even though the steering has a considerable amount more play than my Simplicity, it is still way better than like every 25 year old Craftsman tractor. Part of it is the crappy replacement wheels with the plastic bushings that flex. I like those ones people were talking about at TSC that have actual roller bearings. No real rush though - just something to upgrade when the time comes. Or I'll leave it like this for years, who knows.

kevm14
Posts: 13795
Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:28 pm

Re: Garden tractor acquisition

Post by kevm14 » Sat Mar 21, 2020 1:34 pm

kevm14 wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:37 pm
So for my turbo blower on the Simplicity, the parts are here:
https://www.partstree.com/models/169126 ... -mowers-0/

Takes two bearings, same P/N: 1705897SM

They are sealed type so not designed to be greased. I might want to just replace the two bearings on my turbo blower before the next mowing season. Hopefully it isn't total insanity to take apart to replace. Kinda seems like it is all pressed together though...

Might be time for an air chisel and some attachments.
Ordered two bearings. $15 total from eBay for OEM (made in China now). I probably could have gotten the spec and ordered a quality bearing from somewhere else but I didn't. Hopefully a Briggs branded bearing is not a total POS.

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