Wheel Horse 417-8 Part 3: Starting Motor Replacement

After looking into the cost to rebuild the motor on my Wheel Horse 417-8, I decided to start looking for a new motor to replace the old one.  I settled on a Predator 420 single cylinder engine from Harbor Freight.  Predator is Harbor Freight’s home brand name for small engines, but it’s simply another Honda clone made in China.  The motors have a reputation for being reliable and cheap which fits both my requirements.  This is the hemi version of this motor and is rated at 13 hp and about 20 ft*lb tq.  Other bands rate this motor at 15 hp.  So, mine may have a little more power than stated.  The motor also comes with keyed electric start which I also wanted.  One small issue is the PRO shaft on the new motor is 1″ diameter while the old motor’s is 1-1/8″

To locate the new motor, I have to make sure that the PTO shaft is in the same position as the old one.  The pulley that powers the tractor as well as the front PTO clutch sit on the shaft.  To find where the PTO shaft needs to go I first had to put the old motor back in and measure the PTO shaft’s location in all three dimensions.  I ended up clamping a carpenter’s square onto the frame and, using another square, measured the location from the front corner of the frame.


Next, I removed the old motor again and put the new one in place.  Here’s a pic of the new motor fresh from the box. It’s bigger than the old one but I plan to working to make it fit under the hood.


To locate the new motor. I moved it around until the PTO shaft was in the right location along the length of the tractor.  I also measured the height to the PTO shaft and found that it was 1″ lower than needed.  Finally, I put the drive pulley and clutch disk loosely onto the shaft and nudged the motor into position out from the middle of the tractor.  The old motor sat on a 1/4″ thick plate that I planned to reuse meaning I need to make some 3/4″ spacers to raise the engine.


To address the difference in PTO shaft size, I decided to make as spacer out of some 1-1/4″ bar stock.  First I drilled out the center and bored it to size.


Here’s a pic of me testing the fit of the spacer on the shaft and inside the PTO clutch disk.


Once I knew it fit, I used to the mill to cut the keyway slot.  Only the drive pulley is keyed so I didn’t need to mill along the entire length of the spacer.  Then it was back to the lathe to trim off the excess.


The spacer also required a 1/16″ taller key.  I machined one out of some 3/8″ key stock and fit it to the PTO shaft.  Below is a pic showing the test fit with the spacer on backwards before trimming down the key.


Making the spacers was simple enough on the lathe.  I used some 1″ aluminum bar that I drilled out to a little over 3/8″ and parted off quickly.


I bolted the plate down with the new spacers and re-positioned the motor as before.  I then used some paint on the end of a short bolt to mark spots to drill holes for the bolts that will hold the motor to the plate.


After that, I put the drive pulley and belt back on and was able to take a test drive by pull starting the motor.  I drove around some and the motor performed as expected.   It seems about the same as the old motor except for the exhaust note.


Here’s a view of the other side showing the drive belt.  Obviously, a few panels were off for my test drive.


Well, now that it runs again I think we can call it done!  Nah, of course I’m not done yet.  Next, I’ll be merging the electrical system of the tractor and new motor together.  I want to have all the dash controls on the tractor working again and the hood back on as well.

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Wheel Horse 417-8 Part 2: Motor Inspection

I finally got around to taking a closer look at the Kohler KT-17 on my garden tractor.  As mentioned in my previous post, it smokes a lot while running which means oil is getting sucked into the combustion chamber and burned.  Combustion products are also getting mixed in the oil which isn’t good.

I pulled the tractor into the garage and started removing stuff to get to the motor.  This gave me a good change to take some pictures of it.



The picture below shows the pulley for the front PTO.  It is engaged by moving a lever which pushes the pulley into the clutch plate.  When it is disengaged it pushes against a brake pad which keeps it from moving.WH12

I found it best to remove all the shrouds before lifting the engine.  After that I disconnected all the wires and removed the four bolts holding it down.  Finally, I used the engine crane to lift the motor as it weighs about 130 lbs according to the service manual.WH13

I decided I wanted to be 100% sure that I was getting leakage by the pistons.  I realized I could turn my end-of-hose pressure tester into a leak down tester by putting an orifice before the gauge.  I was able to convert it by turning a plug with a 0.04″ hole in it and pressing it into the male quick connect adapter.  Using another adapter, I screwed the tester into the spark plug hole, brought the piston to top dead center, and let the air flow.  I set my tank’s regulator to 30 psi but there was so much leakage my tester read 10 psi.  Typically you want leakage less than 10%…I have 66%!  I checked the other cylinder with similar results.  I could have also done this test with the engine still on the tractor but didn’t think of it.

A leak down test can also tell you where the leakage is occurring.  Baring a crack, there’s only three ways out of a cylinder: the intake valve, the exhaust valve, or by the piston into the crank case.  I was able to feel air rushing out of the breather and dip stick tubes.  Normally, you’d put your ear near the carb/throttle body, exhaust pipe, or oil cap to try to hear the leak.


Getting to the pistons is pretty simple on these engines.  All you have to do is remove the nine bolts that hold the head on.


With the head off you can see the piston top and the valves.  The carbon build up on the valves is due to burning oil.


I touched the piston and found that it rocked which is a bad sign.  The two following pics show the rock caused by pressing on the top and then the bottom of the piston.  Rock is caused by a large gap between the piston and cylinder wall.


I moved the piston back down the bore and measured it with an inside micrometer.  According to the service manual, the bore is 3.125″ when new.  It has a max wear value of 3.128″.  I measured cylinder #1 at 3.137 and cylinder #2 at 3.136.  That’s 0.012″ and 0.011″ of wear in cylinders #1 and #2 respectively.


Unfortunately, this much wear means I’d need to rebuild the motor to get it running well again.  At a minimum I’d need two new pistons kits, the bores machined, and required gaskets.  I looked around online and found that a single piston kit which contains a piston, wrist pin, and rings was $150.  I’d need two of course.  I’m guessing this would put me around the $450 mark assuming I don’t run into any other problems which I probably would.  I’m not going to spend that much on this motor and am planning to find another motor for the garden tractor.

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Wheel Horse 417-8

About a year ago I picked up a non-running Wheel Horse 417-8 garden tractor off of Craigslist for cheap.  A garden tractor is larger than your average riding mower but smaller than a sub compact tractor.  Garden tractors have PTOs, are able to pull trailers, and use implements such as spreaders, blades, plows, disks, etc.

Here’s the one I picked up.  It has an 8 speed transmission, front PTO, and rear (small) three point hitch.  It didn’t come with any implements though.

It is powered by a Kohler KT-17.  This is a 2 cylinder horizontally opposed motor that originally was rated at 17 hp.  The intake and exhaust valves are in the block unlike motors sold today which makes is fairly compact.  This style of engine was outlawed by the EPA at some point in the past though.Here’s a pic of the tractors dash.  It contains an hour meter and volt meter.  Both worked after replacing the fuse for them.  Supposedly, there is only about 420 hours on this motor but who knows.  I started working on the tractor and tried to turn the motor over by hand after removing the spark plugs.  Unfortunately, it was solidly stuck and wouldn’t move.  I squirted some oil into the spark plug holes and let it sit for a few days.  I then tried to rotate the engine again by hand with the fly wheel.  After a few more days I was able to get the engine to turn over and it shot all the oil back out of the cylinders.  It made mess but the engine smoothly spun over.

Once the engine was free, I changed the oil, picked up a battery for it, replaced the transmission oil, some other stuff I forgot, and attempted to start it.  With the help of some starting fluid the motor cranked and ran roughly.  I looked into rebuilding the carb and found that it was cheaper to order one of the replacement Chinese carbs.  I replaced it and found the motor ran much better.  It also smoked a fair amount of of the tail pipe.  I figured this might be stuck rings or oil still in the cylinders or exhaust from my trying to break the motor free.  Since the motor ran, I was able to putt around the yard doing a pretty good impression of a steam locomotive.

Next up was tires.  The old tires were dry rotted and leaked down pretty quickly.  So it was off to the internet to find some new tires.  I changed the tires at home, which was a major pain in the butt, and was almost completely successful.  One of the rear tires wouldn’t seat but I was able to get it fixed at a local tire place.  The new tires look much better than the cracked old ones.

At this point the tractor was usable and I was able to drive it around.  The tractor worked well and operated as expected with the exception of the smoking out the tail pipe.  After putting some more hours on it nothing changed.  Oil consumption remained high and one time while checking the oil with the engine running I noticed a good bit of air coming out of the oil fill hole and dip stick tube.  The pic below shows it puffing oil but doesn’t really show how bad it was.  After driving around for a little bit there would be a visible cloud hanging around.

Here’s a short video showing it running.  At least it sounds good!

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Craftsman Jack Repair

My Craftsman jack recently developed a large leak.  If I filled it back up, it performed fine.  Over a couple days though, the fluid would all leak out around the ram.  I figured it was just an o ring and decided to fix it.

I’ve previously posted about this jack before when I had to repair the U joint for the release mechanism.  Here’s a picture of the jack.  It looks like most of the other ones out on the market these days though I’ve had it a while.


To get to the problem I had to remove the hydraulic unit which wasn’t too hard.  The last step was to remove the piece clipped to the end of the ram.CJ2

Next, it was over to the large vise because I have to remove the large nut on the end of the hydraulic unit.  I’ve read they are very very tight and sure enough, people were right.


I noticed some air bubbles leaking past the ram which confirmed that this was where the leak was coming from.  It was leaking from two different spots, one which is shown below.


Getting the nut off required breaking out the larger tools.  I found that the nut needed a 50mm socket and the 3/4″ ratchet.  The socket kept trying to slip off due to the shallowness of the nut.  After a little bit, I was able to get it off.CJ5

I’ve reached the culprit!  I measured the size of the O ring and believe it to be a 3.5mm diameter x 34 mm x 27mm.  I looked in my metric O ring kit and found one that was the same diameter and a smidge smaller.  In it went and back on went the nut.


Finally, the jack was reassembled and then tested by lifting my car.  It works fine and doesn’t seem to be leaking anymore.  Yay!

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Kysor/Johnson Horizontal Bandsaw: Part 6

Now that my bandsaw is up and running I can start adding some things to it.

First though… Group “large” saw shot.  I’m planning to sell the hacksaw to a friend and figured I’d get the group shot while I can.

As you probably noticed in the picture above, I made a mobile base for the saw.  I used the hacksaw to cut the metal for it since I didn’t have space to fit it into the bandsaw.

I made a wooden stand in for the saw so I could properly size and layout the metal for the base.  Most of the base will be made of  3″ angle iron I had as well as some 1-1/4″ for the back side.  I used the 1-1/4″ because I ran out of 3″ and there is a bracket on the saw that would hit the 3″.I welded on three casters that were rated for above the weight of the saw.  The back two are fixed and the front swivels.  I’ve found that using fixed casters makes it easier to move stuff around in a straight line (as you’d expect).  I also added a bracket on the front of the base with a hole in it to allow me to move the base with a rod if needed.Here’s the base welded up and ready for paint.While waiting for paint to dry, the next change I made was upgrading the brush.  If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll remember that I temporarily mounted a brush on the underside of the blade.  I liked the brush since it’s brass and cheap…especially if you buy them in bulk on Ebay.  After doing a little bit of thinking, I decided for a design that would pinch the blade and allow for the clamping pressure to be adjustable.  The picture below shows what I ended up with.  The main part is a piece of 3/4″ square tubing and there is a bolt with spring for adjusting the clamping pressure.  It mounts with a hole in the middle and the design allows the whole assembly to tilt a little bit if needed.   Apologies for the poor pic.After testing the brush assembly I painted it and trimmed the ends of the brushes down. I also put a few pieces of thick leather on to act as wipers.  I mounted one on both arms to catch any bits of metal that make it past the brushes.With the base finished I lifted the entire saw with the engine crane and set it onto the base.  The base allows the saw to be easily moved as I hoped. The next thing I wanted to do was add an oiler to the blade.  The oiler applies a small amount of oil and is adjustable with a small valve from an aquarium.  Take a look below.  Looks great right?  Oh well then you’ll be glad to hear this is just the prototype.The bottom bit of the oiler is made up of some brake line tubing which is easily bendable.  The ends of the tubing is cut at and angle is positioned so it sits next to the blade but doesn’t contact it.  They’re also positioned sightly above the teeth so that the teeth will get oil instead of just the top of the blade.This view better shows the positioning of the ends of the tubing.I’m sure the thing plastic bottle would probably work but it doesn’t look so great.  To replace it I found a Nalgene bottle online that was closer to what I had in mine.  Yes, to my shock, they make more than just the Nalgene bottle you’re thinking of.  This one was rectangular and made for a lab from what I saw.  To hold the bottle I bent and welded a holder for it out of steel.  I used a washer for the bottle cap to sit on which was just the right size.    Here’s the bottle and bracket in place.  The bracket sits in the slot that the arms move in which allows the oiler to be repositioned if needed.  I also drilled a small vent hole in the bottom (now top) of the bottle.To get the oil out, I attached a brass tubing barb to a hole in the cap and sealed the edges with some RTV.

Here’s a pic of the aquarium valve I mentioned earlier.  Each side of the oiler can be adjusted independently though I’m not 100% sure it is required.

As I was working on all this I noticed that the saw was starting to slowly drop down when I had the valve on the hydraulic cylinder closed. I did some testing and am pretty sure oil was seeping past the piston.  I thought about rebuilding it but decided to switch to some heavier weight hydraulic oil (46 wt) oil first.  Happily it seems to be working but I’ll have to keep an eye on it. It also has the added benefit of making the valve less sensitive as you’d expect.

Now the only thing I have left is to make a pan to catch all of the metal bits from sawing. That’ll have to be in another post though.

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Kysor/Johnson Horizontal Bandsaw: Part 5

The next step towards getting the bandsaw running was finding a motor for it.  I remembered that I had a GE 1hp motor around with no base.  In fact, it was the motor I went through on an earlier blog post.

The motor is supposed to have a cradle base but it was long gone.  I looked around online for a replacement base but the few options I found were around $40.  I thought that was ridiculous for some stamped steel.  So, I decided to make my own base.  I decided to weld the base to the motor casing.  I don’t think this is normally recommended since you could overheat the wires in the stator which would junk the motor.   I welded the base together and painted it before attaching it to the motor since I wouldn’t be able to easily paint the inside of the base afterwards.  Next, I ground some of the paint off so I could weld it to the motor.  I used a piece of flashing as a shield to keep any splatter away from the stator wires.

I welded the base on in short lengths to keep the heat down in the casing.  That and my poor mig welding skills are what causes the weld to look as it does.  I’m happy to report that I didn’t junk the motor!

I needed a bracket to attach the motor to the bracket on the saw and copied the one on the saw.  The bracket was welded since I was unable to get it hot enough to bend without cracking.  It was painted after the picture.After painting everything, I was able to finally put the motor on the saw.  The motor hangs and its weight provides tension on the belt.  Yes, I have a cover for the motor.

I also needed a pulley for the motor.  I ran the numbers for some step pulleys available online.  I settled on one that results in blade speeds of 45, 90, and 170 fpm which are similar to the ones in the manual.  I could also get other speeds if I need them by putting the belt on steps that don’t line up if needed. I was also missing the handle for lifting the saw and figured I’d fab something up as opposed to purchasing a replacement handle.  I bent a piece of 3/8″ steel rod and made the flanges on the lathe.  I welded the pieces together and then sanded them to the final shape.  The ends of the handle were threaded for nuts that hold it in place.I ran the power through a start/stop switch I bought online.  I would have liked to find one that matched the styling of the machine but the eBay prices were crazy.  The switch is mounted so that the aluminum tab will switch the saw off after the cut is finished.  As I was aligning the stationary jaw I realized that the hole for the hold down clamp had been stripped out.  Luckily, it’s not a big problem.  I tapped it for the next size up bolt which is a 9/16 inch.  I also drilled the hold down for the larger bolt.

I rigged up a brush to clean the blade while I was testing the saw.  There was a hole in the bracket already and I threw this together for temporary use.   Clearly, I grabbed this pic after using the saw. With all this completed I can finally cut something with the saw! Yay!!  Here’s a pic of the saw ready to go. Here’s a short video showing the saw cutting some aluminum.

Here’s another video that’s a little closer up and with some slow motion.

Even though the saw runs, I have a few more things I want to do to it.  First, I need to come up with a better brush and I’d also like to find a way to automatically lubricate the blade when cutting steel.  I’d also like to make a pan to go in the middle and catch the shower of chips this thing makes.





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Prentiss Vise Nut Removal

I’ve received a few questions about how I got the lead screw out of my vise.  I figured I’d throw up a quick post with a few pics.

I dug back in to some old pics and found one showing the ring or nut.  I’ll call it a ring for now.  The ring fits on the lead screw and its purpose is to carry the moving jaw when you open the vise.  The ring on the vise is a special kind of ring with what I’ll call fingers on it.

The lead screw has a small depression in it which is shown below.  The ring is held in position by hammering one of the fingers into the depression.  This keeps the ring from sliding or rotating with the lead screw.  To remove the ring requires cutting off the finger that is bent down into the depression.  I used a Dremel tool with a cutoff disk but I’d imagine a cold chisel or burr would work as well.  Once the finger has been removed the ring will slide down the lead screw which allows the lead screw to be removed from the moving vise jaw.  Its possible other vises may have more than one finger hammered down.  So, look carefully.

When you’re ready to put the ring back on you’ll need to hammer one of the other fingers down into the depression using a pin punch.

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