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We have a 318 that we bought new in 1990 (for 5K; my how time flies!). It was only used for mowing and towing things around the for its first ten years then we got a 49 snowblower - should have bought that in 1990. I don't know off-hand how many hours are on it, but there's a bunch; 22 year old tractor. In general it's been a dependable work horse that I'd like to keep running for finish mowing and snow removal. Regular filter and oil changes, greasing and such.

It's had a few issues- replaced the starter, mower deck, the power steering cylinder and some little things. The last few years it's showing its age. The engine is consuming WAY too much oil - it takes my wife roughly 2 hours to mow and it's guaranteed I have to add a pint of oil for the next cut. Just for grins I checked compression last summer and, don't remember the exact numbers, but both cylinders were around 110. Right now I'm looking at 10" of snow and it won't start.

Short question: repower or rebuild? Quick search found 3 alternatives for repower: Honda, Kohler, Briggs. Has anyone used any of these options? Was it a drop in scenario or was it a cut and fit or make new parts situation? Also saw a source that rebuilds Onan engines. Mine's a P218G. I'm kind of reluctant on this since the P218G parts will get even harder to find.

It looks like the equivalent of this tractor is the 500 or 700 series and I can't justify that expense when I just bought a new 22hp Kioti (for much heavier work - no equivalence intended here) for what a 700 series would cost.

Any opinions or suggestions?
 

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:wgtt:

My vote would go to rebuilding your current engine or getting a replacement Onan short or long block. There is a place that was mentioned here earlier that specializes in these engines. I'm sure T-Mo and a few others will see this and give you better info. :good2:


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First off :wgtt:

You're not sure of the hours.Did the hour meter stop working?? As for your engine dilemma,there is another option you may want to consider,John Deere 318 Outdoor Power Equipment Repower from Small Engine Warehouse. I know a few people that have changed out their Onan for the Briggs replacement,and it is basically a drop in deal.
Personally,I would replace,not rebuild. The Onan in my 316 with a bit over 1000 hours is pretty much doing what yours is with the oil consumption. About a pint every 3 hours of running. It is still a strong runner and I don't have starting issues,so I'll hold off on the engine swap as long as I can. Good luck in your decision.:)
 

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As Greg said, the 318 came standard with an hour meter - it's located on the right side of the dash. You can see it after you open the hood.

I would definitely either repower it or rebuild the Onan. I would go for the latter as there is something about the sound of an Onan. But repowering is a viable option. There are a lot of topics on WFM on repowering a 318 and there is a thread here on a member rebuilding his Onan. http://www.greentractortalk.com/for...parks-big-john-deere-restoration-project.html

There is nothing today that will compare to a 318. Even the X500 series can't compare, in my opinion. And since you have the attachments, I would keep the 318 and do whatever it takes to keep it going, either by rebuilding or by repowering. Keep us inform on what your decision is.
 
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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks to all for the quick replies.

I think I'm leaning toward the Briggs solution. Drop in replacment, no modifications, easy parts availability, 3 year waranty. As to the price, either $1550 or $1775 plus shipping, if I don't do something with the 318 system I'll end up buying a Lowes or Home Depot special and only be able to cut grass. As to how long that solution will last that's another story. For the same money I cut grass, snow blow and keep the primary mower (my wife) happy.

T-Mo - Hammerdown's restoration project is IMPRESSIVE!! If he posted his address the trucks would be lined up with JD's to restore. You mentioned WFM in your post. What is that?

Oh yeah the hour meter. I know where it is and it works but I don't pay that much attention to it anymore. Since the P218 began eating oil I'm constantly adding fresh oil and monthly, during mowing season, draining whatever is left. Filters are cheap so every other month a new oil filter during mowing season.
 

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Bill,
It sounds like you're leaning towards repower. Just be sure you get all the info before you buy. There are some drop in kits, but then there are some that claimed to be drop in, but does require some modifications that isn't known or advertised upfront.

Also check out this place: T.H.E. Company - Tom Hassenfritz Equpiment They offer repower kits in their catalog. I believe they use Honda engines.

Greg is right - WFM = Weekend Freedom Machines. It's a site dedicated only to John Deere Lawn & Garden tractors with the emphasis on the older equipment built before 1992, as your 318 was. There are numerous repower projects going on there and in their archives. If you do a repower, please post your project here. There are a few 318 owners here that will be interested.
 

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When the engine on my JD 400 broke a connecting rod, I still used it for just over a year on one cylinder. I purchased a replacement 20 h.p. Kohlor engine from Small Engine Warehouse. They were very friendly and helpful. It bolted right in, they even gave me new throttle and choke cabbles since they hooked in a different area. The exhaust even went out the front like the original. I would def. buy from them again. John Deere 318 Outdoor Power Equipment Repower from Small Engine Warehouse
 

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When the engine on my JD 400 broke a connecting rod, I still used it for just over a year on one cylinder. [/url]
That had to have interesting sound effects.............:laugh: I do hope you removed the broken parts, and if so, why didn't you just rebuild it, while you had the engine out? Inquiring minds want to know!! ~Scotty
 

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That had to have interesting sound effects.............:laugh: I do hope you removed the broken parts, and if so, why didn't you just rebuild it, while you had the engine out? Inquiring minds want to know!! ~Scotty
Someone else was using it, they bottomed out the deck on a pile of rocks and engine made a load snapping, bang sound. Kept right on running (reason to not let just anyone use a tractor). Thats when it belonged to the church I purchased it from. It lost some power but did a pretty good job. They sold it to me and I tore the engine apart. After pricing all parts and labor of machine shop to hone cylinders, true crank, and resurface heads, with no warranty, it was same price to buy the new kohlor. I was glad I bought the kohlor. It ran and sounded awsome. Plenty of power. Last time I talked to the guy who I sold it too, he's still using it. Been over 10 years.
 
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When the engine on my JD 400 broke a connecting rod, I still used it for just over a year on one cylinder. I purchased a replacement 20 h.p. Kohlor engine from Small Engine Warehouse. They were very friendly and helpful. It bolted right in, they even gave me new throttle and choke cabbles since they hooked in a different area. The exhaust even went out the front like the original. I would def. buy from them again. John Deere 318 Outdoor Power Equipment Repower from Small Engine Warehouse
I have read repower projects with the owners using SEW with mixed results. Some had the same experience you did, some had a very negative experience with kits not working as advertised requiring modifications not listed per SEW instructions, some had poor customer experience with SEW, some even sent their engines back. From the projects I've read it's about 50-50.
 

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I have read repower projects with the owners using SEW with mixed results. Some had the same experience you did, some had a very negative experience with kits not working as advertised requiring modifications not listed per SEW instructions, some had poor customer experience with SEW, some even sent their engines back. From the projects I've read it's about 50-50.
They were located just over 1 1/2 hours away from where I lived. I drove their and looked it over and the salesman showed me where everything would go. I measured everything. The only thing I got confused on was where the shaft for hydro pump hooked. Their engine had the side shaft on it, where as mine unbolted with 4 bolts from side of engine. The guy told me that the shaft slips off that peice that bolts to engine and slips onto the side shaft on the new engine. Since they charged a restocking fee, I drove all the way home to confirm that and he was right, so I drove back and picked it up.
Since the hole was rusted, it did not want to slide onto shaft, so I took a brake honer and honed the sleeve out. Worked perfect. I don't remember having to mod anything for the fit. Although I bought a Kohlor and they no longer offer that engine.
 

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318 Repower!!

I ran into a simular problem with my 318 the fall of 2010.
I briefly considered rebuilding the Onan but I went to SEW and ordered a new 23 HP Vanguard. The decision to repower was part time, part money and partly because I have rebuild engines in the past and know that is not the only expense.
When you rebuild you still have the old Fuel System, Charging System and Starting System. The cost and irritation of having to deal with these issues can be significant.
The SEW repower was completed by myself in about 4 hrs. This was good thing because within 2 hours of unloading the new Vanguard in my shop a blizzard started and my the next AM no one was moving. When the weather cleared I went right to work moving snow.
Simple and reasonable cost.
PS
I love the performance of the Vanguard 23 HP
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Drive shaft removal?

So I pulled the trigger and bought a Briggs - the 18hp version - from Small Engine Warehouse to replace my P218 Onan. They recommend leaving the drive shaft attached to the rear of the engine during engine removal. I crawled under there late today after dropping the lower screen and am wondering - does the rear of the shaft slide over splines on the transmission? I looked on the JD parts site and saw the drive shaft but it's not clear if that's a female splined end.

Next question - SEW recommends checking the universal joints on the drive shaft to make sure they're ok. How do you do that? Is it just spin back and forth while holding and check for play?

I'd call them, but it's Saturday evening and I had hopes to get the change done tomorrow.

I just thought of another question. The pins in the transmission check valves that release pressure won't depress so you can push the tractor around. Is there a solution to this other than replace the valves?

Thanks in advance.

Bill
 

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Bill,

Below are images taken from the TM1590 service manual describing the steps to take to remove the driveshaft. That manual is a very useful document regarding the chassis, driveline, and electrical systems of the 318 along with some generic engine information (not the overhaul detail covered in the CTM2 specific to the Onan.) You should pick up a copy if you can.

The relief valves with the small operating pins sometimes freeze up due to age and accumulated surface crud, since they are located on the top of the transaxle. If you already have the fender pan off, you can see where the actuating rod crosses over them and should be able to depress them if you move the lever under the right rear wheel well just forward of the tire. Try PB Blaster or some other penetrating spray first and let it soak overnight and see if they free up. If not, do it again for a second overnight before you determine that you really need to replace the valves themselves. They can also be rebuilt -- several threads on WFM show how. If you do need to remove the valves from the hydro unit, be sure to clean around them thoroughly! DO NOT let any contamination fall into the hydro unit itself...dirt is the worst enemy of precision hydraulics.

Chuck
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks Chuck. The attachments really help clarify the removal. Thankfully since I'm pulling the engine I won't have to remove any hydro lines. I've got all the sheet metal off to thoroughly clean the chassis before putting the new engine in so working on the check valves will be no problem. Unless I get too aggressive with them and have to replace them.

Any idea on checking the state of the U-joints? I don't see how there could be any shaft mis-alignment since the front two engine mounting bolts are in a fixed position and the rear pair are in fore and aft slots.

Bill
Bill,

Below are images taken from the TM1590 service manual describing the steps to take to remove the driveshaft. That manual is a very useful document regarding the chassis, driveline, and electrical systems of the 318 along with some generic engine information (not the overhaul detail covered in the CTM2 specific to the Onan.) You should pick up a copy if you can.

The relief valves with the small operating pins sometimes freeze up due to age and accumulated surface crud, since they are located on the top of the transaxle. If you already have the fender pan off, you can see where the actuating rod crosses over them and should be able to depress them if you move the lever under the right rear wheel well just forward of the tire. Try PB Blaster or some other penetrating spray first and let it soak overnight and see if they free up. If not, do it again for a second overnight before you determine that you really need to replace the valves themselves. They can also be rebuilt -- several threads on WFM show how. If you do need to remove the valves from the hydro unit, be sure to clean around them thoroughly! DO NOT let any contamination fall into the hydro unit itself...dirt is the worst enemy of precision hydraulics.

Chuck
 

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Bill,

Definitely remove the engine with the driveshaft still attached. It just pulls off the spline at the other end. Much easier than unbolting from the engine. Getting at the bolt heads is nearly impossible up front.

U joints will have slop or a binding feel when articulated if failing. If they feel smooth, then they are good, at least for the moment. Best to replace now.

Your P218G is still worth gold even though it's aging. There are lots of people who would kill to get their hands on an intact one. Be sure to sell it. But do yourself a favor and look at that hour meter. Every tractor owner should know the number of hours before their wifes birthday! :laugh:

Good choice deciding to keep that tractor alive. There is no machine around that wil replace it. The 700 series is the next closest, albeit overkill and for lots more money and at that point you might as well jump up to a subcompact utility.
 

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I am a die hard 300/400 series fanatic of the 83-92 time line.
Best machines ever built by anyone before and after that time.PERIOD.
Nothing comes close.I have a GX345 for lawn duty but if push came to shove
I would get rid of it over the 322.
That being said if it is an affordable option I would rebuild what you have.
I know that can be costly as well as some stuff not being available.
There was a guy on ePay that sold rebuilt units with your core.
You could then step up to the P220 and have a little extra oomph.
I will search later and see if I can find him and report back.

On edit,I did search but could not find the seller.Sorry.

AJ
 
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