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Sams Shop Talk

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About this blog

 Just sharing my little corner  of  lifes  experience and viewpoints on this tractor hobby. Hopefully these little tid bits will help someone out sooner or later.

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I am writing this, not because of a tractor I have bough in particular, though I could write a book full of examples of this idea. Rather I am writing because of  recent "repairs" that  I made to a tractor.

A few days ago I was mowing with my 03 Prestige, a tractor I bought with a dead Kohler 23 which I repowered with a 20hp vanguard. Everything was going along just great when all of a sudden I started hearing some loud clanking and banging.  Fearing the worst, being internal engine problems,  I ran it quickly back to the shop and parked it.  Finished mowing with another tractor till I had time to hunt down the problem.

Well, I got back to the Prestige a few days later and began pulling the deck and checking things out.  Did not find any problems with the deck or belts, no troubles with the transmission drive line, idlers or anything in that area.  Clutch seemed ok, nothing out of sorts there. Opened the hood and looked down onto the engine and found the problem straight away. There under the flywheel screen was the large flanged flywheel nut laying loose on top of the flywheel. Thought to myself, "well, no internal engine problems, but I bet the flywheel magnets are shot as probably is the stator and charging system".  Not so much  from a doom & gloom mentality, but from previous experiences..

I then began pulling the engine shrouding off to get to the flywheel.  While the flywheel did not appear to be loose, it did just lift up off the crankshaft with only a little effort. When I flipped it over to look at the magnets something fell off onto the floor. Thought  probably a magnet or  one of the cooling vanes.  Looked it over and no magnets missing , loose, or banged up. No cooling vanes missing, Stator did not appear to be damaged in any way. Huh?... Looked around on the floor for the piece that fell out.  Found it...." well this aint good!"  Looked at the crankshaft around the half moon flywheel key....  Yep  ..a large chunk of the crankshaft had broken out with one side of the half moon keyway.wah

After the initial despair wore off, I got on the phone with  my son Stephen about working over another potential engine sitting here.  Amidst the conversation , got to thinking, that we could just put the broken chunk  of crankshaft back in place with the key and tighten down the flywheel. Its a tapered fitting so it should compress down and hold it all in place. This given that the break was a wedge shaped piece and the break was pretty clean it should work. Stephen suggested a light coat of JB weld on the broken surfaces, so I did that. Put the flywheel back on and used the permanent bond  "green" loctite on the threads liberally and torqued it all down & let dry good till the next day.  Got nothing to loose by trying this, and don't care if it wont come apart again. Not going to be fixing this engine again anyhow. Just trying to buy more usage time. Fired it up yesterday and mowed with it for an hour with no problems. So far so gooddOd We will just have to see how many more hours we bought with that last ditch repair job.

Think about the above the next time you go to buy a used tractor. While a lot of last ditch repair jobs are readily visible( welded up differentials, wheels welded to hubs,  steering wheels welded to shafts,  and so on and so forth), other repairs like the above just are not able to bee seen. Tends to make one a little more cautious  about laying out  larger amounts of $$$ for tractors that you don't have a verified history of. That's why when I go to consignment auctions to buy  garden tractors, I have a rule.... to pay only parts tractor prices  for the tractors that show up there. That way the only surprises are when the tractor actually turns out to be a good one.

You never know what you are going to really get in a used tractor.....



I recently had the transmission serviced on one of my two prestige tractors. I paid my son to do this in his shop as I was busy with other things and did not want to monkey with it. That tractor had 600 plus hours on it and was beginning to whine  alot at startup and was acting a bit sluggish compared to normal.  Other than that it was operating normally.  With the irregularities and hours on the machine I figured it was time to  service it and  perhaps a few others I have here in use. I am doing the second Prestige myself and sharing the experience here with you.

I chose to buy the Tuff Torq Brand oil.  The capacity listed for the Prestige transmission is listed at just under 2 jugs.


Once drained and refilled, I found that the reality is that I ended up using just under a jug in each tractor.  The difference is probably because the oil in the lines, hoses, cylinders and steering valve dont end up draining out of the system when you drain the transmission.

For Prestige (and Conquest) you will  need  one of the tuff torq cylinder type filters. that goes into the lower front of the transmission., and a o-ring for the cap that holds that filter in.  For the Prestige you will also need a spin on oil filter that goes  up under the seat deck at the back of the transmission.



So, heres where I started, the front of the transmission. First step was to blow and clean off all the debris under the tractor and on top of the transmission. Loose dirt is a killer if it gets into the transmission.


I started with removing the plugs on the bottom of the transmission letting the oil drain out into a pan. To the left of the plastic plug there is one plug...


To the back of the transmission there is a second drain plug..


Following that I removed the plastic plug at the front. Just use a ratchet with the square end of an extension.


There is a spring on the end of the filter, and you can grab that and pull it out. This one is pretty dirty.


Once out and oil wiped off the edges and surfaces, I re-installed the plugs at the bottom of the transmission. Then installed the new Tuff Torq cylinder filter


Pulled the old o-ring off the plastic cap , then installed the new o-ring...


Then screwed the plastic cap back in place. I di not get carried away with torqing it on either. Snugged it up enough to compress the o-ring.

Then  I turned to the spin on filter under the seat deck.


Pretty tight in there , but found a filter wrench like this useful.


With this wrecnh I can get ahold of the filter on a slight angle and squeeze into the filter enough to get it grip and to turn to break free. Then just spin off by hand. Prepare for some oil spillage as you have to tip the filter to get it out and around the hose in the picture.  Then just get the new Briggs numbered filter  out...


I filled it halfway up with new oil, lubed the rubber seal up with a bead of fresh oil, and screwed it in place. I have a yellow paint marker that I write the hours on the filter with so I know when it was changed last. As you can see in the picture of the old filter in position above.

Once that is all done , pop the plastic access cap off from in front of the tractor seat and you will find the expansion tank for the transmission there.


Pop off the little rubber cap and get a long funnel and begin filling the transmission with oil.  I filled the expansion tank about a third full several times, letting it slowly drain down into the transmission  between fills. Di this until no more was draining  out of the expansion tank into the transmission.  You can look from the side above the tire to see the oil level in the tank. Helps to wipe the tank clean so you can see better. Will need a good flashlight for this. 


Once it stops draing into the transmission, I started the tractor up and drove it around a bit, working the powers sterring back and forth, running it forward and revers, and working the hydraulic lift up and down. After that I filled the expansion tank to where there is about 1" of fluid in it  with the tractor off.


This tractor was having some stiff steering problems before the oil/filter change. Its working alot better now. That and the transmission is alot quieter and smoother in operation. Going to tackle the conquest next...



My wheel painting method

While it is always best to remove a tire from the rim to blast and repaint, I find that many rims are in good enough shape to just clean up and brighten with a new coat of paint. If the tires are good, heres how I do the masking and painting without removing the tires.


Get a a roll of duck tape. Get the good stuff , not a cheepie with half the stickum on it.. The start with your index finger and push the leading corner up under the rim with the sticky to the tire. Push the sticky down against the tire, but just the width of your finger of tape.  Then just continue around the wheel  with two fingers holding the tape down and the index poking the leading edge down under and against the rim.


When you get around to where you started and get done it will look like this....


I usually have the top of the spray can down  just in the  taped circle and spray short bursts as I go around. Usually put the wheel up on a old garbage can turned upside down with cardboard under the wheel. This so I can easily walk around it as I paint.  Always keep moving as you spray as runs are easy to create painting this close to the part. Get done with one side, peel the tape off, turn over and tape up the other side. If you do get overspray on the tire by chance, just have a rag handy thats wetted with paint thinner and wipe it off before it dries.

You can also stand the tire up and paint with the can vertical, just turning the wheel as you go.

If you use the lay the tire down and paint method, you can also use a piece of carboard  in your off hand outside the tap to help shield the tire from overspray. At least till you get the hang of it.

I usually give the wheels  3-4 light coats, then let dry for a few days before reinstalling on the tractor

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