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stevenj

New Old Sunstar - What to do now??

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stevenj
I recently acquired an older 1987 vintage 20 hp Sunstar 1691018 with a 48" deck for $500. PO stated that he replaced the mower deck spindles and a couple of pulleys last year. The paint is not original and the hood has the requisite dents that every Sunstar I've ever seen has. http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ih=002&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWN%3AIT&viewitem=&item=120102401337&rd=1&rd=1 The tractor starts fast and seems to run ok. I checked the compression and got 105 & 110 psi in the two cylinders. Last weekend I ran it around the yard pulling the lawn roller and it seems to work fine. Yesterday I decided to pull the deck off and inspect it. The rear roller bar and rollers will need replacing. The PO cut the roller bar in the middle and removed several rollers so that there are now two short roller bars. I've never seen so much caked on grass under a deck before. After that I decided to clean the rest of the tractor. After I scrapped all the grass and dirt off the frame rails and bagged it up with what I scrapped off the mower deck I probably had a good 30 lbs. I decided to give the tractor and deck a good powerwashing to clean it up so I could do a thorough inspection. Found that the fuel pump was loose and oil was leaking out but other than that the engine looks to be in pretty good condition, no other oil leaks. Pulled the engine and found that all 4 engine mounts were destroyed. Driveshaft seems to be ok, joints are tight and move freely. The hydro linkage and brake linkage will need some adjustements and lubing to get them in top shape. Now for the bad. The front wheel bearings seemed a little loose so I pulled them and found that the PO had drilled the spindles and used a cotter key to retain the wheels instead of using the c-clip. The bearings are loose and at some point they must have been pretty bad because the bottom of the spindles are worn pretty bad. Even if I replaced the bearings, they would still have a lot of radial end play. The axle didn't pivot at all so I decided to tear it apart. I found that the spindles are worn pretty bad at the kingpins also. I don't think that the axle pivot pins had ever been greased. I was able to get the pivot pin for the LH axle out but it took a lot of beating with the hammer to get it free. The RH axle pivot pin is frozen solid. The axle will not hardly pivot at all. I've tried beating the pin with a 4# sledge and a brass pin but was only able to move it about 1/32". The pin has to be frozen into both the frame and the axle end since it won't pivot. The rest of the axle hardware is also worn. Any tricks on how to remove the pivot pin? Now, here's my question. I priced out the majority of the parts I think need replacing and it comes to about $400. Do you think I should rebuild it so that all the slop is gone or just re-use the parts and live with all the slop in the kingpins and wheel bearings? I've never had a Sunstar before and I'm still not sure how the front axle pivot mechanism works. It appears that the later Sunstars had a slightly different pivot arrangement and the front wheels used automotive style tapered roller bearings instead of the ball bearings that my unit uses. Does anyone know if I could use the later style spindles with my old cast axle ends? I think I'd have to upgrade to the new front wheels also, but I can get new wheels with bearing for $22 each over the price of new bearings for my wheels. I just don't know if they will fit my cast axles. I really don't want to sink a ton of money into this tractor unless it's worth it. Any thoughts? Are the Sunstars that good of a tractor that I should invest the money. What are the going prices for an early Sunstar in good mechanical condition?

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RayS
If it was mine I would fix it. If it will cost you $400.00 it still sounds that the engine is good and that you will get plenty of years of service out of it. Besides that you can always find a replacement engine or rebuild your if you ever have to. I will provide a link to a place that is going out of business and you can check and see if they have the parts that you need. They are selling their parts at their cost to get rid of them. http://andserv.com/

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Michiganmobileman
Well if its that bad i could probably come and get it:D:D. But seriously I would like to eventually work my way up to a sunstar. Appears to be a great unit to have. Its always interesting to work on someone elses lack of work (PO's lack of maintenance in your case), I adjusted my linkage this weekend to specs from book and apparently this had never been done before as it seems like a different tractor now. Take it one step at a time, will cost a little but should be well worth it in the end. And if not I can still come and get it from you;) Greg

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ambler
Steve I'll just have to come and get it before you hurt yourself. If the engine and tranny runs good fix the front end with new parts. Then you know what you have. PS get the service manual. I believe it says drive the pins out from the rear. keep spraying it with Kroil.

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WITom
I'm pretty sure the new style spindle would work. As for spending the $$, that's a call you will have to make. Once fixed, with care the tractor will last you a long time. However, if the rest of the tractor saw neglect like this, makes me question how well the motor was taken care of. In fact, that would be MY deciding factor on spending the $$ - if I felt the motor was sound, I'd do it. If I had so much as a hint that the motor wasn't sound, I'd part that baby out and look for a better one.

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stevenj
quote:
Originally posted by ambler
Steve I'll just have to come and get it before you hurt yourself. If the engine and tranny runs good fix the front end with new parts. Then you know what you have. PS get the service manual. I believe it says drive the pins out from the rear. keep spraying it with Kroil.
I got the Simplicity service manual with the unit, but it's pretty basic as far as I'm concerned, especially compared to the B series/Sovereign or 900 series service manuals. I did drive the LH pin from the back to the front because of the through hole in the pin and because I'm right handed, but the RH pin I initially tried to drive front to back because it's easier for me to swing a hammer right handed. I really need a torch to get it hot and expand everything, but I don't have one. I've been hitting it with PB Blaster, hoping that will eat away some of the rust and wick it's way into the hole. I thought about pulling the grease zerk and squirt some into that hole, but they use press in zerks. I'll just keep working away at it until I get it out. Need to be carefull not to mushroom the head of the pin though. I might unbolt the front section of the frame from the rear and get it into a more friendly position to work on. If you have one of the later model Sunstars that use the taper roller wheel bearings, could you do me a favor and measure the height of the axle where the spindle king pin goes through (top to bottom) and measure the diameter of the spindle on the RH side so I can figure out if the new spindles will fit my old axle ends. The new spindles seem like they require a new steering arm also. PeppyDan had a parts Sunstar on eBay last week. I was considering bidding on it to use for parts, but it was the same vintage as the one I have and I wasn't sure if the parts would have been any better than I have. Figured I'd take the purchase price and cost of gas and apply it to buying new parts. I haven't had the best of luck buying parts or tractors on eBay. I won't come out and say they were misrepresented, because every problem I've ever found was never mentioned in the auction, however, I feel that a part or tractor should be fully described and the apparent condition should be fully described. I'm getting a little gun shy I guess about buying sight unseen.

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comet66
Acording to the parts manual there are 3 different Front Axle Groups for the Sunstar. Two of them take the same spindle. What is the Mfg. number on your tractor? I'll see if I can help you figure it out.

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rocko
Hi, I replaced the old style spindles/rims with later model ones when I was building my loader. They matched up fine however, you would need to get a later model steering link that attaches to the top of the left side spindle as it is tapered where the older ones were straight. Hope this helps. BTW I feel the 20 hp Sunstars with the locking diff. and 2 speed axle are one of the best working tractors out there outside of the 4wd compacts. They are definately worth repairing although attachments are getting pretty expensive lately. Mark

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roma3112
fwiw I have recently aquired 2 1987 vintage 20hp sunstars previously I was a sovereign fdt/rbt man; i must say that i thought the sovereigns were hefty, untill i got my first sunstar with a johnny-bucket. The sunstar is a very well built machine, i have completely gone through both machines and if i had to say so the only thing that i have found that needs close attension is the front end. I think that between what you can reuse for parts and upgrade even if you have to spend some $$$ it is well worth it. I love mowing with my sovereign, but i find that mu sunstar with the 48" deck gives me some more room and it takes the bumps better. Good luck with your purchase

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Ketchamized
Steven, I personally would go on eBay and find cheap used parts that are in good condition. I imagine you could find parts on ebay for $200 or less. You probably should repair everything now. They're nice machines. It may be $400 for new parts, but that's $1,000 dollars lower than today's junk that they sell for $1,400.

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stevenj
quote:
Originally posted by ambler
I believe it says drive the pins out from the rear. keep spraying it with Kroil.
How much better is Kroil than PB Blaster. I've only seen Kroil advertised in trade magazines. Any ideas on where to purchase locally?
quote:
Originally posted by comet66
Acording to the parts manual there are 3 different Front Axle Groups for the Sunstar. Two of them take the same spindle. What is the Mfg. number on your tractor? I'll see if I can help you figure it out.
1691018 I concur about the three different designs. The first design change appears to be to the center pivot pin arrangement. The second design change looks like they changed the cast axle ends and the lower pivot pin and then upgraded the spindles, steering arm, front wheels, and wheel bearings.
quote:
Originally posted by rocko
Hi, I replaced the old style spindles/rims with later model ones when I was building my loader. They matched up fine however, you would need to get a later model steering link that attaches to the top of the left side spindle as it is tapered where the older ones were straight.
I've taken a look at the parts manuals for my unit plus a couple of the later model units that had the Kohler Command engine and have determined the differences in the spindles. I saw that the steering arm on the LH spindle was different, but could not tell if it was tapered. It looks like it only used on key whereas mine had 2 keys against the spindle. I'll also need to get the new spherical rod end for the p/s cylinder to attach to the new steering arm. The nw steering arm has a post welded to it that the rod end drops onto, whereas my rod end has an integral stud that goes through a hole in the steering arm. The cast axle ends are different and it appears to be due to the design of the pin that is used to attach the cross link between the two axle ends. I don't see the need to replace the cast axle ends if I don't need to. I appreciate your comment that you've already done what I'm thinking about and it worked. I envision having a hybrid front axle that uses some of the original parts with the updated spindles, wheel bearings, wheels, and steering arm. The center pivot that the mower deck attaches to is very expensive and I'd like to reuse the one I have, so I'll have to stick with the original pivot arrangement. I'll have to take a closer look at it and see if I can improve on the design, possibly by adding a spacer sleeve between the two holes and using one long bolt instead of the two shorter bolts. This would simulate the revised design that used a single pivot pin. I'm still not certain what purpose the two bolts on either side of the center pivot pin serve, except perhaps to limit the total amount of axle articulation. If mine had been able to articulate, I'd understand the operation much better than I can figure by examining the parts diagrams. Just to confirm, did you re-use the cast iron axle ends from your old tractor when you added the new style spindles and am I on the correct path with my thoughts? I might have to come up to your house and take a look at your Sunstar with the upgrades spindles. The last time I was there, you were still working on welding up the loader. I appreciate all your comments.

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ambler
Kroil is the best and as far as I know only available here: http://www.kanolabs.com/ PS show us some pics, I'm playing with my front end installing power steering in a 1918.

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stevenj
I'll get some pictures this weekend showing the state of dissassembly. I priced out the parts to rebuild the front end with new spindles of the original design and replace all the worn parts and it came to $375. The cost to "upgrade" to the newer design spindles and replace all the worn parts and create a hybrid front axle is a whopping $762. Right now I'd have to say that there is no way that I'm going to sink $762 into this used machine. But, I guess I'll have to think about it. The one thing that suprised me is that every part I looked up was still available. I run into a lot of NLA parts on the Sovereign series tractors.

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ambler
I believe that only cost effective to upgrade would be a donor. I have accumulated to parts tractors for a supply. I'm using them right now to donate power steering and eventually hilo, locking differential to a 1918 I picked up from comet66. This is to install a loader onto this tractor. It appears that loader requires power steering because the rear support bracket won 't clear the manual steering linkage. I'd be interested to see which front end assemblies were used on which 169.... series tractors. I'll check when I get home on which series I have in parts.

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stevenj
Success!!! Was able to remove the pivot pin on the RH axle end. Ended up spraying PB Blaster on it twice a day for about 5 days and was finally able to get it to rotate. Then I kept spraying it and working it up and down until it rotated freely. Then I was able to drive the pin forward through the axle. The end was a little mushroomed from all the hammering so I had to take a flat file to it to clean it up. This the tractor as it currently rests.


The front end is all apart.


The front pivot hole on the mower deck mount is worn. I'll need to repair this. I'm thinking about welding a piece of 1/8" material to the back side. Also found some cracks along the welds that attach the front and rear plates to the round tube that will need to be welded up before reassembly.


This is the axle link and the front bushing for the mower deck mount. The hole is elongated vertically. The hole appears to be tapered (front to back) and measures 1.380" to 1.440" vertically (depending on what side of the link you measure and 1.285" to 1.330" cross-car. The bushing measures 1.245" diameter. Having never worked on a Sunstar I don't know if that is how the center link is supposed to look like or not. If anyone has one that they could examine and report back, I'd appreciate it.


It appears that the mower deck mount pivots off of this assembly.


Both spindles have major wear. This is the LH spindle showing the wear at the inner bearing.


For whatever reason the PO decided to drill the spindles and use cotter pins to retain the bearings instead of the snap ring.


The RH spindle king pin is severly worn at the upper bushing.


And the bottom of the RH spindle is pretty rough also.


I think I'm going to replace the spindles and kingpin bushings with new parts of the same design level to minimize costs and not worry about any upgrades. The two front engine mount pads are worn down. Not sure what I'm going to do here. Leave then alone or build up the area with weld and grind them flush. Any thoughts?



Here's the deck. The PO cut the roller bar and made two short ones. The mounts are all loose with jerry rigged fasteners so the roller bars twist back and forth.


The deck shell is rough and rusty but the spindles and pulleys appear to be newer and they seem smooth and quiet.


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