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  1. Winter 2020/2021   I bought my Conquest new in 2001 and for the most part I’ve not done anything other than regular maintenance to it or the Vanguard 16 hp engine. Oh, I’ve replaced a starter once, replaced valve cover gaskets twice, but otherwise it’s oil and filter every 50hrs, air cleaner 2-3 times per year, grease the front axle pivot and other fittings, and that’s about it. With 750+ hrs she’s started leaking oil (I think) around the crank seal and #2 valve cover. Oil was collecting on the mower deck and I noticed the loss on the dipstick at each startup.  So I’ll take you through what I found and most of what I did. While the engine was on the workbench I developed a sever pain in my hips so progress was pretty slow. I am blogging this on Sunday, March 21 and its beautiful 71* Missouri day. But, I am playing catch-up cause I started the tear down several weeks ago. 

     Hood pops off the Conquest without any bolt removal. Just disconnect the light wiring harness and lift up with the hood open.  I've owned this machine for 18+ yrs and never knew that. 



    Electric clutch removal is cumbersome but not tough. Disconnect the wiring harness, take the center bolt out and drop it off the shaft. Dirt and grime build up 



    Unclipped air cleaner cover and removed the filter to reveal nuts & bolts that hold SSM ly onto carburetor.



    Air cleaner assembly removed. Air is supposed to move across the heads and fins to keep dust & dirt out but it looks like the engine has probably been running hotter as the buildup is worse than expected. I do blow compressed air around the heads couple times per year without removing tinwork but apparently I wasn’t getting the job done.




     The grand reveal under the blower housing: yuk! Tore it down none too soon. Fins were clogged/packed with oil soaked dust and dirt. Vanguards are known for leaking oil past the valve cover gaskets and I've had problems with one cylinder. Pretty easy to see which one..



    Spark plugs look fairy good so the engine is operating fairly well for this age.



    I was surprised to find the head gaskets didn't seem compromised and no real buildup around them. So I decided to clean up the fins and not pull the heads. Here you can see the buildup around the spark plug holes



    My engine stand was an old Cub Cadet front wheel salvaged from a machine I bout to scrap a few yrs ago. Really worked good for me as I could rotate the engine a full 360* to inspect everything. I found the sump gasket was seeping a bit so that, along with the crank seal may be most of my leaking problem. 


    @s_stephen has cautioned me to check Vanguard valve clearance so while on the bench I simply followed instructions by inserting a ✏️ into the cylinder through the plug hole, measuring at tdc then 1/4” past tdc. D618DBB3-E5BC-44E8-BCB8-A8E5FACF145E.thumb.jpeg.6d6ea46063e9dad85aac860efc3dc03a.jpeg5D3DF49D-FB2A-4500-A2A7-105DD92E67AD.thumb.jpeg.318b83ebbae1827aeef9798654db4a79.jpeg

    New sump gasket was the most expensive part ($30+) replaced plus there was an o-ring in the sump gasket that added a bit more. This picture is after assembly with only a bit of the red colored sump gasket showingAB218912-580A-421A-92C1-C6B077EC08E4.thumb.jpeg.95858ea9cefe62cf7097bf4c7889b6d0.jpeg 

    On reassembly I forgot the governor spring orientation so with the help of my @Chris727 pictures I got them rightD3A5262C-3BC5-4B09-ADFB-15C9E4D55547.thumb.jpeg.ab1d020361588a3bed11d62112fd29c4.jpeg93863DEA-F6CD-491A-8BAD-0C4AEC074C27.thumb.jpeg.77736e670a019ed8bb5b65e0fef215bf.jpeg5CDD6276-5388-4790-81C3-B50D24CC615E.thumb.jpeg.e1fc897ce848f34bedc22df24693920a.jpeg04497804-638F-46DD-B257-4DD03E4F153E.thumb.jpeg.364ddcb3391cadffcd8f420fccd18219.jpeg
    When I put repowered the Sovereign I followed @PhanDad instructions to cut holes in the blower shroud and place covers over them for future cleaning. Although I like the feature on the Command, it is not as serviceable as I'd wished because the covers are so close to the firewall on the Sovy. Should be a big + for this vertical engine though so I set about drawing, cutting and jabbing inspection and clean outs hoping I can avert future buildup problemspop





    While underneath replacing the electric clutch it's a good time to grease the front axle pivot. I've been lucky so far that this wear point is still fairly tight. 




    Just a picture of the model, serial and pkg numbers from the frame. As I've said, bought it new in 2002 and never been sorry of the purchase. I coulda bought the older style Landlord with Kawasaki engine for a little more $ but I opted for foot controls and styling over heavier transaxle. 


    While the engine on the bench I took the mats off the footrests to clean up some rust and repaint. This is the 2nd time for repaint on the right footrest. Powder coat orange has bubbled and moisture collected under the mats caused erosion. Those darn christmas tree plugs are odd size; ordered new ones off Amazon that were a little short but think will do the job. Had to finish out with some from higher $ ones from the hardware store.  



    Remember this paint can buy  @Chris727 ? Does just what I needed and matches well. 




    What I didn't show new lower crank seal (that I messed up and had to get a 2nd), exhaust and valve cover gaskets.

    Monday, March 22, 2021 I filled the gas tank, cranked the engine (forever it seemed until gas flowed into the carb) and it purrs like a kitten. Replaced the hood and hooked up the headlights and everything works as it should. With all the leaves that have fallen over the winter I am going to leave the gators on the deck to crush 'em as soon as the yard is settled enough to run over. 17E53B7A-7FD7-46C7-BE7B-419A179E44E4.thumb.jpeg.0b6720f4e2d15e6dd226f613ef86943c.jpeg

  2. Tired Iron's Shop

    Post Office delivered the control rod for my Sunstar the other day. I purchased it from Jack's Small Engine and have to say I was not impressed. I ordered what I saw as "In Stock" where the parts I ordered were in fact not in stock and had to be ordered. So, it took much longer for the part to arrive than I was expecting. I had thought about rebuilding the old control rod, but I abandoned that idea because the control rod cost $27. The surgery was short and simple (about an hour), no other surprises when replacing the control rod. I greased the front U-joint while I had the covers off.

    Now if we can get it to warm up here in southeastern WI so I can mow the grass again. It is very deceiving to look out the window and see things greening up and it is only 44 degrees.

    control rods replacement.jpg

  3. Wendell Bragg

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    Been sitting around for 5 years and finally coming to the top of the Queue.  Saw it on craigslist and immediately called at around 8PM.  It was located about two hours away so I asked the guy if he would hold it for me.  He said no, as he had other interested parties.  I asked if I could come up that night.  He said, "You want it that badly"?  I said, "Yeah, I have been looking for one."  So he said he would hold it.  Got it the next day for $350.  It came with a 5 ft deck, front blade, rototiller and a vacuum system but no gas tank.  

    When I brought it home, I got it to fire by squirting fuel into the carb.  I added a gas tank but now it won't run and the starter seems to have died.  I tried to use an impact drill to turn it over for a compression test but no.  Rather than start throwing parts at it, I decided to repower with a Predator 670 Honda clone.

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  4. Mark Denison

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    I bought my 620 new in Nov. 1974. I used to do a limited amount of custom garden plowing/tilling for fellow Church members, friends, & neighbors. I also mowed 2-3 acres for the 1st 25 years until the mower deck was too rusty to continue. I repowered it in 1999 with a 22 HP Kohler Command, before there were repower kits to my knowledge.

    Almost two years ago, after extensive use of the Simplicity 48" tiller, apparently one of the bearings seized so suddenly (after I switched the rear PTO off), that when I tried to switch it back on again a few minutes later, it instantly killed the engine "graveyard dead".

    Can I replace the short (rear) shaft, it's two bearings & whatever else is necessary, just by removing the seat, top cover, & transaxle cover? Is it likely that I'll have to also replace the long shaft & it's gears & bearings?

    I may have availability for used parts nearby. I haven't called Sandy Lake yet.

    Thanks for whatever advice anyone can offer.

  5. Mike_H
    Latest Entry

    I've been wanting a way to move dirt with my tractors since I got them.  Building a loader isn't in the cards...yet.  Simplicity however made a grader blade for their tractors that by all accounts works pretty well.  I've been meaning to build something for a while anyway and since grader blades are pretty spendy for what they are (300 bucks or so), I decided to build my own!

    I had an old plow blade laying around the garage that I decided to cut in half for the grader blade.

    I also wanted to add some ripping capability with this thing, so I bought a swisher scarifier from Wal-mart for about 80 bucks.

    Here is the frame I built...


    And the plow mount...


    There are three positions the grader blade can be in, centered, Right and left.
    Here it is with the teeth on one side.


    And finally, all together, and ready to mount to a tractor.



    I used it on a test run over memorial day weekend.  I had a nasty patch of my backyard left over from my barn construction project that was starting to be taken over by weeds.  I tilled it in, then used the grader blade to level the ground back out.  It worked BEAUTIFULLY...


    I will get it painted some day...

    View the full article

  6. I've enjoyed taking some time off and working on the honey-do list and springtime chores, though both are never-ending.  But, I thought it time to provide an update, since it is rainy, and I'm procrastinating going to the garage to work.  In addition to updating the software with new releases, and monitoring my email for "I can't log in" types of things, I have added a few more things to the site:

    1.  In addition to the Leaderboard that came with a recent release of the core software, I've implemented a Top Contributors function.  It shows the people who've posted the most content in specific areas, by week, month, year, etc.  There's been discussions in the Executive Committee about possibly setting up a competition (similar to Tractor of the Month) to reward the top contributors.  I also have a programmer looking at taking this module even farther in what it tracks and counts, should we decide to implement a competition.


    2.  Due to feedback on the member list that I was using, I had a custom one developed and implemented.  There's still some issues with missing data, but the function seems to be working well, and the plug-in that catches missing mandatory info seems to be working;  

    Here's a topic describing it:  https://simpletractors.com/forums/topic/56722-new-member-list/

    Here's a direct link to it, underneath the Membership menu:  https://simpletractors.com/mlist/

    Note that the amount of information displayed depends upon your access level.  Dues-paying members can see more information.

    3. Also based upon requests, I implemented a Member Map that allows you to place a pin on a map identifying the city and state where you live.  (Smart phones will give you the option of using your Location from the phone.)  This could really be helpful in finding people locally who share a similar interest in these old machines. Like most things here, its usefulness depends on the amount of use by others -- and use is optional, since some people are reluctant to share too much information on the web.  

    Here's a topic describing it:  https://simpletractors.com/forums/topic/56732-member-map-added/

    Here's a direct link to it, also underneath the Membership menu:  https://simpletractors.com/membermap/


    Note that if there are multiple members in close proximity, it displays them in a round "cluster" with the number of pins within it shown.  For example, the pic above shows 3 members located near Indianpolis IN.  If you click on that round icon, it will zoom in and show the three individual pins on the map.  


    Then, if you click on any one of the pins, it will show the info on that member.  Here's mine, for example:


    Hopefully you can see the value of this, in trying to connect with others in the local area.  Now, if only we can encourage more people to add themselves to the map.  sm01 

    4  Continuing on that same subject of connecting with other enthusiasts locally, I want to give a sneak preview of a core capability coming in the next major release of the software, due out sometime mid-late 2017.  The new core IPS software will have the capability to create sub-groups and corresponding functions for "Clubs".  Since this entire site is already dedicated to a specific club, this new capability will allow us to then create and support "chapters" within the club, and support those chapters with their own functions unique to them.   Implementing chapters is totally up to us -- should we choose to do so -- but the core capability will be there.  Since this club has always been about encouraging face-to-face meetings with others, there has been discussion of creating chapters since the club was initially formed.  This next release of the software will fully support that -- should we choose to do so....

    Here's a look at their default view of clubs (i.e. chapters) from their development/testing server:


    As shown, each "chapter" could have its own banner for that area.  It would also show a list of the subset of members that are in that chapter, and each chapter would have "leaders" that can act as moderators for this subgroup. (Anyone identified as admin or moderator for the entire site would still have their same access levels/capabilities within these subgroups.):


    We can set this up to control access to these sub-areas or chapters.  See the settings at the top of the list below.  We can also set it up so these chapters can have their own content areas/capabilities from the list at the bottom -- each could have its own forum, gallery, downloads, blogs and calendars to handle their local activities.  If these are set up as either open or public, all club members can see them.  


    Here's a glimpse of what those chapter sub-areas could look like:


    I'm showing all this to prompt your thinking about the possible creation of club chapters, and to hear your thoughts... 

    5.  Continuing with the sneak previews, the next major release of the software will also include many more small enhancements -- I'm not sure what all yet, since they are slowly providing previews.  For example, instead of just the Like button, there will be other Reactions that can be provided for a piece of content, such as a topic or reply


    Meanwhile, I need to get back to working on cleaning up the rest of the old Simple trACtors content and republishing it.  I just wanted to provide an update on some of the recent changes and a preview of what's coming.  

    Let me know what you think of creating club chapters, please!



  7. Incey

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    Gidday, this is me testing (myself) to see if I can create a blog!

    My tractor came from a massive but neglected collection covering about 20 acres, of all sorts of farm equipment.  The Simplicity looked very sorry but seems pretty well complete, except for parts of the engine - a Briggs 23D-FB.  I will return to the property now I know what I am missing.  I will be looking for a complete air cleaner, the starter motor and voltage regulator and the wiring.  I need to find out exactly where the battery fits, and to buy the correct size battery.

    I am in the process of dismantling everything, to clean up and to get sandblasted, in readiness for painting.  Still to dismantle are: - steering wheel from steering column, grub screw proving difficult to loosen, may need to heat carefully without damaging the hand grips, - lift lever and shaft, will need heat to get apart, - transmission group, not anxious to touch yet, - differential, not anxious to touch yet, - bevel gear assembly, not anxious to touch yet.  These latter parts will be considered after seeing how easily they turn etc, without too much slop.

    Hood needs piece welded in where previous owner cut a hole for fuel tank lid.  Need to find grill and grill side bars.  Need to find decals/ornaments.  Need cover for front PTO shaft.

    Need a complete seat cushion.

    Need to replace front wheel bearings etc.

  8. Tractor Boy's Blog

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    Latest Entry

    Hello All, just a little announcement here for those of you who don't know that I have a YouTube channel covering Simplicity Garden Tractors be sure to check it out at:


    Thanks for all the support! Have a great Day!

  9. Mark Denison

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  • Blog Comments

    • Paul M.Murphy

      Report ·


      Thanks for the encouragemnet Gene!

      I try and follow what you fellows are doing and I enjoy the photos you post !


    • gwiseman

      Report ·


      10 hours ago, Paul M.Murphy said:

      Nice photos helps a newby to learn something. You guys sure know your equipment I wish I was 

      as techy as you guys are. Unforunately I'm the only one in my area that enjoys Lawn & Garden 

      tractors other than the dealers.

      Keep up the good work


      Thanks Paul. I learned a lot from Dad and my Uncle Clarence who were both farmers. Uncle Clarence was  also a mail carrier and spend many a night in his shop while Dad and he swapped out VW engines so he could carry the next day. A lot is learn as you go and almost anything that can be done to a Simplicity or Allis has been done on this site. Good luck. gene

    • Paul M.Murphy

      Report ·


      Nice photos helps a newby to learn something. You guys sure know your equipment I wish I was 

      as techy as you guys are. Unforunately I'm the only one in my area that enjoys Lawn & Garden 

      tractors other than the dealers.

      Keep up the good work


      • Like 1
    • gwiseman

      Report ·


      Just the bottom seal, sump gasket, and valve cover that found leaking. 

      • Thanks 1
    • PhanDad

      Report ·


      11 hours ago, Chris727 said:

      The access panels are a nice upgrade. Looks good. 

      I agree 100%.  

      Was the top crank seal leaking as well as the bottom seal? 

      I've never messed with a vertical shaft engine, but I would have thought with the air blowing down, a valve cover leak wouldn't be as bad as with a horizontal crank engine.  I'm surprised to see so much oily debris at the top and center of the fins.  I guess the oil migrates by capillary action.

      And as you would expect, it appears the debris is more "dust" and fine particles than I found in my first 75th Command which was installed without a chopper screen.  


      • Like 1