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Old 05-02-2011, 12:55 AM   #1
LRChops
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The most reliable Garden Tractor Engine

Curious as to what is the best quality engine! I think Kubota has the Diesel water cooled motor. I am looking to possibly buy a new Garden Tractor, but I cannot afford to spend over $3k. I want to go with the best quality power plant.



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Old 05-02-2011, 01:37 AM   #2
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Personally speaking, the classic briggs opposed and flatheads are the best motors ( i have some 25 plus years old), since theyre not availible new anymore it rules them out .

Dont rule out older tractors either- most can be bot with various implements already - older Sears, Cubs or JD's are built way better then any new machine out there.



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Old 05-02-2011, 08:01 AM   #3
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From my experience in the shop at work, I'd look for a Kawasaki or Kohler engine. They seem to be the most reliable and have required the least amount of me tearing them apart to fix things. We have sold mostly Kohler engines on our equipment in the last several years, and we sell fewer Kohler parts than any other brand. I'd shy away from the newer Briggs engines myself. I am getting sick of tearing the heads off to replace the head gaskets or having to replace the head because it overheated and released the valve guides. I sold two nearly identical Briggs OHV engines to customers of ours, and both came back at least 3 times for warranty work. The engine for the tiller had the rod fly apart after 20 min of running, the recoil fell apart twice, and the carb ran over the first time the guy filled it with fuel. The engine for the shredder had the valves replaced twice, and finally the entire head replaced because it was running so hot it warped the head and caused the valve guides to come loose in their bores. We finally had to have the guy run it at 1/4 to 1/2 choke to get it to run at the proper temps. I can't change the jetting on the carb due to EPA laws, and Briggs wouldn't do anything about it. They did pay the warranty, but that's all they would do.

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Old 05-02-2011, 10:11 AM   #4
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Are we talking new, new or new to you? Somehow best qlty and $3k don't come together in my mind.

The Kohler Command in my Cub has served me well. I'm sure any brand engine out there comes in several different trim/qlty levels. Don't expect to get the top level in lower level equipment. Kawasaki are popular engines in some brands. Think they are a decent engine but some yrs back they had some real issues and seem to recall is was due to using plastic components in the valve train. Personally I'm not a fan of plastic engine components when power transmission is involved.

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Old 05-02-2011, 05:43 PM   #5
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I agree Country Boy: newer OHV briggs arent worth a hoot, number one: being built in China, number 2 : theyre full of plastic parts to 'quiet them down" .

Not to mention the larger the motor, the lower the power seems to be ( why so many ZTR's are for sale with blown motors) - the only advantage of those new OHV briggs would be to add aftermarket parts ( rockers/valves/pistons) to make them truely a decent motor - some tractor racers make 60 to 80 HP from a twin OHV 20's HP motor - but it'd cost 5 times more then the tractor did .

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Old 05-02-2011, 08:03 PM   #6
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I'm not going to claim the best, but I sure like my Onan. It has far and away, served me well, with no major issues in over 25 years, and my lawn is no park. Just weighing in, until someone clarifies specifics about the criteria.

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Old 05-02-2011, 08:10 PM   #7
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I like the Ford flat head 51, thats all I've got so I better like it.

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Old 05-03-2011, 10:23 AM   #8
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But how are you gonna get either an old Onan of Ford flathead in a new GT, both haven't been in production for some time?

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Old 05-03-2011, 07:04 PM   #9
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Engine swap - hot rodders do it all the time

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Old 05-03-2011, 09:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickey View Post
But how are you gonna get either an old Onan of Ford flathead in a new GT, both haven't been in production for some time?
Niether have I, and I still fit!
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:10 PM   #11
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Onan made really good engines, but they are expensive as heck to fix. They seemed to be used in more industrial/commercial applications (air compressors, skid steers, etc) than lawn and garden. I know Case/Ingersoll and John Deere used them years ago in their large lawn tractors. A fellow student at the Tech school I went to was going to overhaul an Onan from a air compressor to build his own portable compressor for their farm truck. He priced it out, and new pistons, connecting rods, rings, and valves were going to cost him over $1000. He just got it running, sold it, and bought a Kohler instead. I think Onan was bought out by Cummins a while back.

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Old 05-05-2011, 03:06 PM   #12
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Definitely a tough question and lots of variables and biases to consider. I for one have yet to see a Kohler motor worth anything since they stopped making the cast iron ones. I've had two Kohler Commands since the mid 1980's, both were well maintained but had fairly severe problems like bent push rods (Kohler admits it was a known issue yet refused to do anything to help with repairs), refusing to start in temps under 50 degrees (making a plow useless), overheating and melting coatings on throttle and choke cables, etc. I hear the Courage line is even worse. I have spoken to several dealers and mechanics over the last few years and they all say they see more problems with Kohlers than any other motor manufacturer, even with their top of the line Command series.

I agree the older motors are better, My 1960-something Gravey 6.6 hp always starts and walks all over anything new under 15 hp and my 1958 Massey Fergusson TLB runs beautiful. I have run single cylinder Kawasakis in big commercial walk behind mowers back in the 80's and 90's and they were tortured and never broke once but I don't know much about the larger v-twin Kawasakis in garden tractors.

Be careful grouping all manufacturers' motors together. There is a world of difference between a Briggs Vangaurd and the rest of the Briggs line. The Vangaurd is made by Mitsubishi's heavy equipment division and is a top notch commercial grade motor. If you lump that in with the Inteks, I/Cs and the other Briggs motors you are comparing apples and oranges.

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Old 05-13-2011, 02:02 PM   #13
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I have a cheap ( no particular brand ) lawn mower that I bought at Zellers in Canada in 1966 for $69.00 , I used it for 40 years , mowing a moderately size lawn every summer. A new sparkplug and an oil change each summer. The engine is a Clinton engine. I retired it from use 5 years ago and completely restored it, new paint, new wheels, new hand grips, the 4th or 5th new blade . it still starts with one or two pulls , and runs smoothly. Maybe they don't make em like they use to.



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