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Al B

Never used Simplicity Sovereign Hydro

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Al B

I have an opportunity to purchase a 2002 Simplicity Sovereign that has been driven a total of 3 hrs.  I am getting it from the original owner who owns 2 others.  I never have owned a Simplicity and it is mint.  He is giving me a snow blade + simplicity dump trailer.  Selling it for $3600.  Is this fair and a good deal?  48” deck cuts fabulous.

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Rylan's legacy

I have seen that tractor on fb, I say it’s your money but the triad engine is a gamble, however it would be really nice to have a tractor that is like new, good luck and keep us posted 

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Brettw

In my opinion, that's a very reasonable cost for what you are getting.  The snow blade and trailer are worth about 200 bux.  However, there's nothing out there at that price point that comes close.  The Triad can be problematic, but if you read up and head the demons off at the pass, you should have years of service out of it.  It seems like a lot to all of us cheapskates here on the site, but it's actually a very good price for a "new" tractor of that quality. IMHO

 

P.S.  Not sure that it's a 2002.  I believe the last year they were manufactured was 2000.  Not that it really matters.

Edited by Brettw
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Al B

I think you are right about the year being 2000.  I am a little concerned about 2 comments with regards to the triad engine.  It’s an 18 hp V twin Koehler engine.  He bought it in 2002 so it probably is a 2000.  

 

 

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dhoadley

I've tried finding some info, with no luck, about the specific modification needed to make the Triad a more reliable engine. Maybe someone who's better versed in research could pull up the article. I seem to remember that there's an oil leak that drips on the cooling fins and, over time, plugs up air flow and... BANG. Good luck, Dave

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Al B

I am reluctant to buy the tractor with all the bad stuff i read about the triad.  Do you know how i can tell the difference between the TH18 Triad vs. CH18 Command versions?

 

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PhanDad
41 minutes ago, Bill725 said:

Command oil filter close to hood

For clarification, the front of the lower part of the hood.

The Command also has a vacuum mounted fuel pump on the left side of the engine near a raised valve cover with oil fill hole/cap.

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Brettw
56 minutes ago, Al B said:

I am reluctant to buy the tractor with all the bad stuff i read about the triad.

I would not be overly concerned about it.  If you read up, I believe part of the problems were leaky head / valve cover gaskets? that lead to dirty cooling fins which led to overheating.  Making sure to watch for these leaks and take care of them if they occur, and keeping the engine clean should take care of that issue.  There are many of these that guys swear by and have had years of service.  And they are a smooth and powerful engine, ahead of their time.  If they didn't get such a bad rap and had the chance to work the bugs out, it could / would have been a great engine, I believe.  If I were in the market and had the opportunity you do, I would not hesitate, but, that's me. 

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BLT

According to my engine records, the last Sovereign builds were for production year 2000, 1693407/ PS and 1693409 and they were built with TH18 engines.

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Al B

All you guys are super in getting responses.  I could not sleep last night because i love the tractor.  I am nervous since i am not mechanically inclined.  It seems you cannot get parts either.  The owner is checking the SN now and we are talking through it.  Great guy and a die hard owner of multiple Chambers/Simplicity tractors.  This is all a shock to me at the last moment.  Will keep you posted....thanks a million everyone.

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ShaunE

 

My belief is that you are getting the tractor in its early staged & it hasn't been abused or neglected yet.  I have one I bought new in dealer inventory about three years ago & before I ever used it, I removed the engine & performed the necessary updated to give this thing the best shot at longevity.  I paid the same price you are considering & mine was sold to me with a two year warranty on the engine & tractor.

@Al B, The following is about everything Al Eden ever posted on here regarding the Triad Engine in addition to what @gwiseman has hyperlinked above.  I have read it several times & have it all in a file on my computer.  Most of us have seen the tractor you are considering  as it was posted here.  @Bill725 & I have discussed these engines every which way but loose. 

Al-                                                                                                                                                        I think you are heading in the right direction. The early TH’s had some problems with the cam timing gears and the belts, with failures occurring in as few as 100 hrs if the units were ran in sandy or abrasive environments. I think 75 lbs. sounds low for compression, if the timing is off one tooth, This is an option, Kohler brought out a kit with new materials for the gears etc, and this really fixed this issue. The kit contains new gears, belt and oil pump assembly. One thing if you are setting the tension on the timing belt. NOTE It says to tighten the belt to 35 (I think) inch pounds with a torque wrench in the square opening in the tensioner arm and lock the bolt to hold it. DO NOT CONFUSE THIS WITH FOOT POUNDS OR YOU WILL HAVE A BROKEN SHAFT ON THE OIL PUMP IN LESS THAN A COUPLE OF HOURS!! I have observed this. There is a tool to set the timing with, but it is no big deal to do it without. Basically the locating holes have to be in a straight line when the crank pulley is aligned with its mark. The Kohler service manual covers this very well. By the way these kits are quite reasonable and if you have trouble obtaining one if you need it , let me know. Our distributor has them.

Next I would put full synthetic oil in the engine. Check the cylinder fins for oil film and dirt. The valve cover with the fuel pump if prone to leak along the bottom edge. This oil them migrates down to the fins and dust collects on them. Then the engine overheats, and eventually the heating and cooling of the aluminum the aluminum doesn’t return to the original size. Then the sleeves come loose. I believe the lost foam castings are more prone to this than die cast castings. They are less dense.

We no longer use the gaskets. We use silicone material and coat the top of the head with a thin coat. Next we coat the inside edge of the valve cover with about a 1/8 inch thick of silicone. Then we let it “skin” up and then put the valve cover on and the screws in. We think this seems to work well, especially if the valve cover is warped from the actuation pressure of the fuel pump.

Next I would rework the PTO end of the air cleaner to allow the dirt to blow through instead of being trapped around the filter. We cut “mouse holes” in the cover , These air cleaners are very prone to getting packed with dirt and chaff in very little time. The cooling fan blows air into the air cleaner and the dirt can’t blow on out. This fixes this problem. My night guy went from buying 6 air filters a year and cleaning them every mowing to using one all year. Don’t cut all the way to the top or you will lose residual strength in the cover.

We have a number of these engines out that have a lot of hours on them, and we have seen a lot of failures.. They had a lot of great engineering firsts, and me being an old race guy was very excited about them when they came out. I believe with minor changes and with the technological advances that have occurred in the lost foam casting process that this could be built today and be a very reliable engine.

We sold a brand new one last month to the city of Danbury Conn. Kohler referred them to us for help with a “Sand-trap Rake” using a TH with an internal splined crankshaft. While trying to run down a Command with a spec # that would have the needed closure plate and crankshaft and the other items that would have needed to be changed. Working from pictures and measurements. I ran across a brand new TH, and a number of short blocks for this application. The original engine has lasted for 12 years and gave good service. If the new one goes for ten years, the unit will probably be replaced by then. It saved them a lot of work doing something that they had little experience with and we probably would have added to the value of AT&T stock.

The Kohler TH engine was a very high tech engine when it was announced. It won the Wisconsin Governors Award for technological advancement in the small engine field. It was designed using a revolutionary casting process called lost foam casting. It is a process where the molds are made of a foam, similar to Styrofoam. When the aluminum is poured in as it chills the mold is vaporized. This allows very intricate castings to be made. When you look at the block of a TH you will notice the mottled appearance that looks like smooth foam. This type of casting is not as “dense” as die cast, and actually is somewhat porous. These castings are coated with a sealer to prevent weeping. Rumor has it that the same people that made GM Saturn cylinder heads were casting the blocks. Again rumor that they told Kohler that they weren’t using high enough quantities for them to mess with and Kohler had no supplier. Again rumor is that they had to go to Italy to find a vendor to make the blocks. This created a shipping cost and delivery time issue. Again rumor that after the Italian move, Kohler receiving inspection rejected a high percentage of the blocks, creating production schedule issues. Again I want to say this is rumor as I have no hard or direct named sources of this information.

When this engine came out, I being an old race guy thought heaven had opened up. Only one casting for the block, cylinder heads, intake manifold and crankcase. No bolts, no gaskets, overhead cam design, what more could I want. I was excited and thought this was the power of tomorrow today. It was at the time. It was supposed to come out in a 20 hp version soon. What more could I want. I started to develop a re-power kit using this engine for the 7100 family. I presently have the tractor with the first kit I sold and the TH is still running well after over 10 years of use. It was running great when I traded for it.

Next I started to hear rumors of failures. These became disconcerting for me and I needed to know what was happening. I couldn’t get up the chain of command through my sources. Those of you that deal with companies know that getting by the switchboard in a company is often a tough challenge. For information I again went to the “EXPO” one of the worlds lawn and garden shows, held in Louisville Ky. The first one I went to there were over 900 vendors and about 20 acres of outside displays of equipment that you can usually run or drive etc. A real

show. The top execs, of most of the manufacturers usually are there and walking around surveying their competition’s newest products and asking attendees about their products. These people could find out much more by talking to their tech service reps about what kind of calls and warranty issues they are dealing with. I searched the head of the Kohler 2 cyl engine programs and after 6 hours of tag, we got together at the Kohler booth. I told him that rumor was that the engine was going to be discontinued. I wanted to know if this was true, because I would switch to the Command. He answered my questions and said I would be able to sell it for a couple of years yet. I went home and switched to the Command.

The lost foam process does not lend itself to casting the cylinder sleeves into the block, thus the sleeves were pressed in. The engines started to fail with sleeves dropping and massive destruction. I think there were several things that contributed to this. The engine had a very good cooling fan, and tended to collect a lot of chaff etc. They were terrible for plugging the air cleaners. The fan blew cool air directly into the air cleaner box, this packed chaff around the air filter. In dirty mowing one would need to clean the air cleaner every couple of hours. The air filters had the same square inches of filter as the Commands, but a lower overall height. This was accomplished with deep pleats, but they packed worse. I had a part time night guy in the shop and he had a new Sovereign and he used about 6 new air cleaners a year, plus all of the pre-cleaner cleanings every couple of hours. We took the cover off the air cleaner and cut 2 “mouse holes” in the PTO end and this let the chaff blow right on through. He went to 1 filter a year and is still running this unit with the original TH. I sent this to Kohler tech service people I knew. The engine was close to being discontinued and not worth implementing at that stage of the game. Next the cam/valve covers were wide and shallow. They were prone to leak especially the ones with the fuel pump in them. They should have been designed with more fasteners. The oil leaked down inside the cylinder covers and the fins then plugged with chaff sticking in the oil. This in turn caused over heating and this would loosen the sleeves. Kohler went to pinning the sleeves in the block to help with the problem, Then the pins came out and caught on the pistons. More grief. The oil leaks were probably only one factor in the sleeve problem. Personally I think the ones with sleeve problems failed with low hours and the engines that are still out there running will likely never have a sleeve problem. Press in sleeves in dissimilar metals present many problems due to different expansion rates. This is probably true when you have new less dense castings than previous castings were. We had a couple of engines we sold drop sleeves, and had the warranty replacement for one weep oil through the crankcase do to inadequate sealing. (note: If you have a car head made with lost foam and you ever have it hot tanked, it has to be resealed or it will leak through the porous casting) There were more issues than can be covered in this post.

One day I got a call from my Kohler distributor asking if my 7100 kit would re-power a Sovereign. I said I will call you back in the morning. I got my night guys tractor and noted the needed changes and rewrote these areas in the procedure. The next day I called them and said I have you covered. They had a tractor in Southern Missouri that had its 3 failures and Kohler had no engines or blocks. I sold the kit with the engine to Kohler along with several more for TH warranties. Then Kohler decided to provide the engines, but not the kits. At this time Simplicity was concerned with their customer feelings concerning just buying a new tractor and having to pay for the kit. Simplicity stepped forward and paid for our kits when Kohler provided an engine. We would ship our kit to the dealer doing the warranty and billed Simplicity for the kit and shipping. Even today some Kohler distributors are looking for the Simplicity kit for the Sovereign TH conversions. The fact is there never was a Simplicity kit. It was our kit. Kohler wanted Simplicity to design a kit for them, and Simplicity took the stand that I had the kit and they were comfortable with it and did not want to spend any money to re-invent the wheel. This when they picked up paying for t he kits. I cannot say enough good things about how good Kohler has been to work with these last years. We follow their requirements for engine specs, cooling tests, muffler and EPA requirements. They are big enough to serve you and small enough to know you. Some of you have had our kits put in under warranty. You know how carefully I had to walk to not be in the middle of company warranty issues. It had to be Kohler Simplicity decisions and I had to remain a bystander because of my ethical views.

These were good engines when conceived and were a giant leap forward. The problems were probably too much technology too soon. The lost foam concept was excellent, but incorporating a really new process with a very advanced design, overhead cam, one piece block and top end were too many variables. The engine was good for emissions because of no head gasket and the thermal issues of residual fuel at the top of the cylinder above the top piston ring verses the lower cylinder temp in an engine with a head gasket. It had few bolts to deal with and few gaskets to leak. It was in theory the engine of tomorrow today. I feel if the lost foam technology had been as far developed then as today, the production problems could have been solved and it could be one of the greatest engines on the market. I still feel Kohler needs to be commended for going with it, and am sorry it turned to be their Edsel. These are my thoughts regarding the TH. When I first saw it I could see it being turned about 8000 rpm in a puller engine. Too bad, so sad.

 

 

Edited by ShaunE
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ShaunE

Pictures of some of the updates performed.

-Oil drain moved to the other side & the engine mounting plate notched to utilize the existing frame hole.  It's a 45 degree street elbow & a Kohler quick drain.

-Mechanical fuel pump removed & an aluminum  block off plate installed & a 90 degree barbed fitting with a sintered bronze filter pressed into it to reduce oil in the impulse line.  I chose to use an impulse fuel pump vs electric.

-OEM air filter assembly completely removed & replaced with an aluminum plate.  This way the tallest Command air filter can be used & it's much cheaper than the OEM Triad filter.  This is @Bill725's design.  It works fantastic & is very easy to keep clean.  The Stainless Air filter cover is just added decor as it's a 75th anniversary machine.

Most don't like the Triad as they have been bitten badly by them.  I have not.  It's smooth, quiet & very fuel efficient.  With these updates, routine maintenance & cleanliness, this engine should last you 20 years.  But be aware that most parts for this engine are NLA so it's a good idea to pick up good used parts as you find them.

 

 

Triad Oil Drain.JPG

Triad Fuel Pump.JPG

Triad Air Cleaner.JPG

Edited by ShaunE
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Al B

I am blown away by the support everyone has provided.  Being new to this site has been a pleasure and i want to thank everyone.  I am picking up my Simplicity Sovereign Thursday after work and will be sure to share and contribute on this elite site.  Looking forward to learning more and joining the Simplicity family.  Oh btw,  this is coming from a former JD guy from a few years ago.  I  donated my old JD 325 Garden tractor to our church years ago and now I am moving into a new house with 3 acres of beautiful hilly property that needs a lot of lawn and garden care. 

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Wilbur643
On 5/15/2019 at 6:26 AM, Al B said:

I am blown away by the support everyone has provided.  Being new to this site has been a pleasure and i want to thank everyone.  I am picking up my Simplicity Sovereign Thursday after work and will be sure to share and contribute on this elite site.  Looking forward to learning more and joining the Simplicity family.  Oh btw,  this is coming from a former JD guy from a few years ago.  I  donated my old JD 325 Garden tractor to our church years ago and now I am moving into a new house with 3 acres of beautiful hilly property that needs a lot of lawn and garden care. 

I have a 75th Sov with the triad, it has about 600hr on it, it belonged to the dealers wife. Three thing you should do now especially since your going to be cutting 3 acres. Do the air filter cover mod that Al suggest, change the oil to full synthetic and change the oil filter to the larger one, I don't know the part number of the oil filter but I'm sure you can do a search here and find it, it hold about another cup of oil if I remember. Make sure you keep the engine clean, especially when cutting that much grass, I use my yard blower after cutting. These thing have their problems, but heat is the main problem. I know that replacing things on a brand new engine sounds counterintuitive but down the road a little you my want to do the cam covers (valve covers) and fuel pump mod.  

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