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Encouragement for newbies


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When I got my 1989 Sunstar 4 years ago, like any good tractor transaction it came with a parts tractor.  It sat in a garage for 7-10 years before I got it, and sat in the barn the 4 years I've owned it.  I have finally gotten around to looking at it to see if I can get it running.  I wanted to make this post to encourage any newbies out there and share some things I learned along the way.  Prior to buying my Sunstar, I never even owned a riding lawnmower, let alone a garden tractor.  My brother-in-law is good friends with @colincox1 and he suggested a Simplicity.  I am glad I followed his advice!  I had done some basic small engine repair work and consider myself somewhat handy, but this was all new to me four years ago.  If I can figure it out, just about anyone can!

There was no model number/sticker on the tractor.  It had a Kohler Command 20hp original engine.  Using this site and some other research lead me to believe it was a newer model than my '89.  I also noticed there was no locking differential unlike my '89 Sunstar.  So now I had narrowed it down to 93-97. The body was all intact.  There was no ignition and the battery was shot.  I started out by taking off the body and giving it a decent cleaning.  I needed to replace the ignition in the '89 Sunstar, so before I did that I stuck the new ignition in the parts tractor and hooked up a battery.  Nothing.  Seat switch was already bypassed and all of the other safety features were in order.  I assumed it was a wiring issue, and let it sit a little longer.  I did change all of the fluids, filters, plugs, etc. just so I knew the basics were covered.

After some time I started thinking more about it.  After doing some reading I came up with the idea to look at the sticker on the engine (which WAS still in place).  Using the serial number I was able to tell that it was a '94.  Then I looked through various parts diagrams and found the correct diagrams for my model.  I learned that the ignition was a different part number than the '89 Sunstar.  So I got the correct ignition, installed, connected a battery, and I had lights!  A quick turn of the key and the engine turned over!  A little carb cleaner in the carb and it briefly fired up.  A few weeks later I added some gas to the tank and sure enough, it fired up!  Still on blocks, no back wheels, but the transmission seems to work and the engine sounds good.

I had also noticed previously that the steering wheel turned freely.  I was concerned the steering was shot.  I did some research and found that it may still be OK, just turning due to lack of any hydraulic pressure.  After starting up and running, sure enough the steering works!

So now I just need to put it all back together.  After working on my '89 Sunstar this should be fairly easy, and I will make sure everything is cleaned up before I put it back together.  The front PTO looks pretty rusty, so will look at that next.  At this point I may just use it with my 60" blade anyway.

So, what did I learn? 

-Do lots of research.  This site has a wealth of information.  The people here are great and always willing to help out.  I have never felt like a question was a stupid question. 

-Be systematic.  When you run into a problem, rather than just starting to replace things, try to troubleshoot in a logical way and identify the problem with some certainty before ordering new parts. 

-These tractors are built to last.  Fortunately I have not run into any major problems yet, but most things can be fixed fairly easily.  I've installed a new front PTO clutch, replaced fuel line, replaced fuel pump, cleaned and rebuilt the carburetor and all of the basic maintenance.  While it can take time, I was able to do it with my limited knowledge.

-I don't want a newbie to think that any tractor that "ran when last parked" will fire right up the first try.  But don't be intimidated or afraid to take the plunge and try to fix up an old tractor or two!!  It is a rewarding experience and a great family project.  Both of my boys have helped.  My 14 year old knows more about engines that I do, and fortunately has smaller hands so he gets all of the delicate and difficult to reach jobs :) 

IMG_9296.jpg.c8975bcffafd67c7d5de08601ce4df10.jpgThis is a picture of the parts tractor mostly intact


IMG_0243.jpg.835d05274a47dc6277d7ed8d10c7d540.jpgThis is the current state...  Hope to add some finished pictures soon!

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Good to hear it will be saved. Sometimes the “parts” tractor is the better machine. 

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Glad you were able to save her , I've said for years best darn site on the web.

Can't replace the time spent with your boys,.

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