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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was hoping to buy a 318, I've heard so many good things about them. But I found a 317 that appears to be in great shape. I'm going to go look at it tomorrow. It comes with the mower deck, snowblower, snow plow (2 way), chains (no weights) and rototiller. I checked the serial number and it is a 1979 model. It does have the original Kohler series 1 motor. The motor is what is concerning me because I've heard they can be bad. The seller has had it for three years (came with the house when he bought it), always on level ground during that time. I have level ground, want to mainly use it for snowblowing my 900' long driveway. I would mow half of my five acres once a year, other than that I won't be using much. He said he would take $1200 and that is with delivering everything to my house.

Does the snowblower on these tractors work okay for removing snow? Wet heavy snow in the spring?

So, is this potentially a good deal at $1200, or should I be concerned that the engine might need replacing somewhere down the line. I heard this could run about $2000. The seller does say that the tractor starts right up, runs great and idles great.

When I go look at this tomorrow what specifically should I take a look at? I know to check the oil, overall condition, take it for a spin and so on. But if these 317's are prone to specific issues I would like to at least take a look to see if they are present on this tractor.

Oh, last question. Are availability of parts okay for these tractors? Engine parts for tune ups?



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If it truly has a series 1 motor, keep it full of oil and keep it flat. The 49 blower works good, it likes snow and does a better job if you can keep it fuller. For heavy wet snow add rubber paddles to the center of the auger and it will do much better. Keep the chute smooth. You could also us a speed up gear. $1200 is a very good deal in my area. You'll likely want a set of cast iron wheel weights.
 
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Several years ago, I had a 318 with a 50" mmm and snowblower. Sweet tractor!!
Concerning the engine. Yes, the Kohler is a good engine. You didn't mention how many hours are on the engine. Keep it full of oil and level and you should be fine.
The snowblower. These snowblower are actually snow throwers (single stage), so they rely on speed of the auger thrower and light snow. In my experience, in wet snow, they can work OK if you spray the chute with no-stick spray and keep the snow moving though it. If you have just a little bit of snow, use the blade.

Actually, the snow throwers for the 300 series tractors were not popular. When I was trying to find one for my 318, I looked a long time to find one.

The $1200.00 is an excellent price for this tractor with all those attachments. Barring nothing bad wrong with it, I would jump on it.
 

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I'd agree the the above posts - If it runs well, does not smoke, and you are happy with it then grab it. Price seems very fair.

Worse case scenario - use it til the KT-17 dies and repower it with a Vanguard 18.
 

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that 317 looks very good and well cared for. for 1200$ its a no brainer snatch that baby up asap:greentractorride:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks guys. I'm headed to look at it a couple hours. The seller initially listed it at $2700, we talked and I told him he was over priced especially considering that it had the series 1 motor. A few days ago he dropped it to $2000. Last night he told me he would take $1200 and he would deliver it. So it sounds like a good deal.

I have five acres, the three acres in front of the house is all flat, the rest of the property behind the house is a very steep hill. Too steep for the tractor. We don't mow it as its too steep. The front is pretty level, it might change one or two inches in height every 100 feet. We have a lower driveway that is on a slight incline but never use it so there is no reason to clear it of snow. I'll be sure to keep it full of oil. I think I read 30wt?

Is there a place to download the manuals for 317 and its engine? Thanks again, I'll post again after I see the 317.
 

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Good advice above except the part about blowers not very popular. They are that popular nobody sells them.

You can clear 30" of snow with them, the first pass is slow going 3 passes every few feet. After that just keep chewing 18" of the side of the opening pass. A series I is fine even on hills if full to the line, its when your at the add line and side hill you hear the skwauk of death

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Well, I'm back from looking at this 317. The first owner of this house built it in 1977 and bought this 317 and attachments new in 1979. The property is 1.5 very level acres. The seller is the second owner of the house and the 317 came with the house when he bought it. The tiller was used in 1979 to level the dirt, was hardly used since then. Everything was always stored in a heated garage. Here's what I observed;

The good:
The snow blower is in excellent condition!
The mower deck is huge, three blades freshly sharpened and hardly used.
The plow blade is a four way hydraulic blade (he initially told me two way), looks hardly used, the hoses still look new.
The tiller is also in really good shape. Some surface rust, also hardly used. Tines are in really good shape.
Owner's manual look new.
Tires look new.
The 317 look good overall. Some paint missing here an there but no rust.
It started right up without hesitation.
It idled smoothly and ran at full throttle fine.
The engine just sounded good.
The 1.5 acre yard, house and shop were very well taken care of, looked like a nicely maintained park setting. The shop was clean and organized. I say this because it makes me feel that he takes good care of all his equipment, the 317 included.
Hydraulics worked, there didn't seem to be any creeping when I left the blower in the raised position

The bad:
It has a Series 1 motor
On start up there was a puff or two of smoke coming from the engine.
While running at idle there was light smoke coming from the engine
While running at full throttle there was a fair amount of smoke coming from the engine
Under load there was more smoke from the engine.
The air filter looked clean but there was a lot of oil on the exterior of the engine and under the engine (not on the ground, under the engine itself and some on the chassis. He just did an oil change so maybe some of this is spillage, but I know some is from a leak somewhere)
There was a little bit of creeping, not at idle but when in neutral and at 50% throttle the tractor moved forward. The seller fiddled with the foward/reverse lever and the creep went away.
The PTO would only engage if the transmission was in forward, it would not engage when in Neutral or Reverse (maybe this is normal?) I'll ask more about this in the other section of the forums.
There is a little bit of slop in the steering, I can turn the wheel a quarter of turn
Tail lights missing red lens covers
Clear headlight cover is held on with duct tape, seems pretty yellowed.

The seller said he initially advertised his 317 and attachments at $2700 because that is what the local JD dealer said it was worth. He then lowered his price to $2000. Last night he told me the lowest he could possibly go is $1200. After talking with the seller this morning and telling him my concern with the tractor having a series 1 engine, and one that smoked as it did, and the inevitable need for a repower, he asked what I would feel comfortable paying. I told him that I would be comfortable at $800. He checked with his wife and she gave the thumbs up. I'm excited, its a great set up for $800, and I think the engine will be fine for now as long as I keep the oil level up and keep it on my level lot. I know I'll have to repower at some point and that makes me nervous, but as long as I can keep the snow off my driveway this winter I'll be happy. When it comes time to repower I think I'll take advantage of the tear down to have everything painted. Oh, I also paid him $50 to deliver everything. I'm headed out of town on Thursday for 11 days so he'll deliver it when I get back. Can't wait. I was going to ask if I got a good deal, but I don't think I need to ask. Even with a smoking series 1 engine I feel like $800 was a pretty good deal considering what all it came with.
 

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Great deal. Ive got a good series 2 engine in a pos 317 if your interested. I think it could be shipped fastenall.

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Woodworker,

:good2::greentractorride:

You got a GREAT deal for all those attachments and a running 317. It may be that the smoke you observed is mostly from the breather the way you described the airl cleaner. All horizontally opposed engines can smoke a bit on starting after setting for a few days.

Any clue on how many hours on the Kohler? I would run it to get to know it and perhaps plan for some rings or other minor rebuild in a year or two...

Chuck
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I'm happy with the deal. If the engine performs well for a while I might do the rings if it will get me a couple more years. I'm looking forward to having it when I get back. I have no idea how many hours are on the engine, forgot to look to see if there was an hour meter and if so what it read. I have tons of technical questions now but will save that for the posting in the correct section.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I was wondering what sorts of things you guys do, if anything, when bringing home a newly acquired John Deere? Do you put it right to work or do you go through a list of checks and maintenance stuff before putting it to use? I'm bringing home a 317 and was wondering what kind of things I should do besides an oil change, spark plug and air filter replacement. Should I consider changing out the hydro fluid? Other stuff?
 

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Always change the hydro fluid and the filter so you know for certain what the new maintenance period/schedule needs to be. It is a good idea to write the date on the filter in permanent marker as a reference, in addition to your other maintenance records that you keep.

You might want to remove the engine tins and ensure the cooling fins are free from any debris, mouse nests, etc. so you do not have any unexpected cooling issues. When you change the air filter, inspect the breather and do any needed servicing per the engine manual.

Check the front electric PTO for proper air gap at 0.018 inches, and if it is a high hour machine it could be a good idea to verify that the bearings are not worn (you will need to back the air gap adjustments all the way off to disengage the brake internal to the PTO.)

Since it has a tiller it also has the rear PTO shaft -- verify that the splines are not badly worn and the bearings are good. Many closed frame tractor owners (your 317 is such a model...) take the rear PTO off when the tiller is not in use to limit the wear on the splines and bearings involved... These PTO shafts with good splines are getting harder to find and more expensive to come by.

I have not had a 317 in my herd for some time (and it had the dealer-installed replacement Onan engine...) so other owners with more experience will hopefully chime in here.

Chuck
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks, I'll put all that on my list of things to do after a good cleaning is done. When the PTO is engaged the tractor dies, unless the tractor is moving in forward gear. But as soon as you get back to Neutral it dies if you forget to disengage the PTO. Do you think adjusting the air gap (if it needs it) will remedy this? I also plan on looking at the safety switch under the seat.

The seller has the owner's manual, I downloaded a parts manual but I've been unable to find a service manual. I'll keep looking though, otherwise I'll have to search here how to adjust the air gap.

Thanks again!
 

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Adjusting the air gap will not change anything about the engine dying when you return the ground speed lever to the neutral position...that is most likely a safety switch or wiring issue.

Here is the wiring diagram for the 317 -- it is far simpler than the later 318 that has much more in the way of PTO and neutral interlocks, so just check out the key switch and the PTO per the tables shown -- and if they check out then look for errors in the harness itself. Many tractors of this age have had their harnesses hacked up pretty badly by prior owners that did not have the proper wiring diagram or knowledge of how to read it...

View attachment 317 wiring.pdf

Chuck
 
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