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.
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 good 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.....