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1980 JD 400

4478 Views 46 Replies 20 Participants Last post by  markdtn
I have acquired the tractor I learned to do work on about 30 years ago. THE John Deere 400!. My grandfather bought it brand new in 79 or 80. My dad used it from 1992ish until 1996ish when the engine scattered. This tractor has been sitting untouched in my garage since the last time it moved about 25yrs ago. Other than the scattered engine, it is cherry- Grandpa and dad took very good care of it. My question is........is it worth my time and money to get the beast going again? (After my son and I get our 60 rebuilt [see introduction thread])
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Your membership in the Black Sheep Squadron has been duly noted and would have been approved by the higher ups if we actually had any. No big shots in the black hub club though. You will be required to get drunk and ride the donkey at the next meeting. :D

I've had to address these issues with my 400's..

Engine: two of my K532's powered 400's broke a rod before I acquired them, which is actually why I bought them. The price was right even after replacing the Kohlers. I only paid what the deck was worth for one of them. The other one was part of a package deal (deck, model 50 blower, 4 way 54" blade). It has a really low hours K582 now that was about half the cost of a repower. The other one has a 23 HP Vanguard. I like the 24 HP Honda engines too. I'll take either. Can't get the Predator clones here though because of an emissions issue.

Driveshaft: if it still has the original one, expect to replace it. Look for play in the knuckles and reddish dust on them. They aren't serviceable. I made a new greaseable shaft last year for about $150. I'm in Ontario and shipping was a little spendy for the knuckles, plus the currency exchange is about 30%. You can no doubt do much better on the cost. I'd estimate a hundred bucks in the US but don't quote me on that.

Oil cooler: I only have one (out of 4) that wasn't damaged by the driveshaft knuckle. If the bolts for the cooler loosen up it will drop down and the knuckle will start grinding on it. That can wreck the tubing pretty quick. I bought a brand new one when I did a resto on that 400 (ouch $). My 400 with the Vanguard has plenty of clearance though.
Edit: the Vanguard actually sits higher than it should. The rear mounting points for the cradle are 1" too tall so I put spacers under the front mounts instead of shortening the rear mounts. So if it was sitting where it should be there wouldn't be much clearance for the cooler.

This is what happens to a cooler because the bolts were loose. I had one that was even worse than this but no holes in the line yet. I replaced it with a better one but I didn't get rid of it. It's on the Just In Case shelf where I keep stuff I might need but likely won't.
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Steering linkage (bushings, bearings). Another PITA type of task but not expensive. It's actually pretty easy if you have the tractor apart. Some of the tie rod ends will likely need attention.

Steering valve: about 10 bucks in parts. Two seals and a backup washer. Easy to do except for the inner seal. Sometimes there's rust on the rearward end of the valve and there could be some pitting. Two of mine had that but were still good enough to continue using. Edit: forgot about the spring breaking sometimes. That info was courtesy of Mr Wizard (aka Harold Goff). He has detailed knowledge and experience with 400's. If the manual says one thing and Harold says something different I automatically assume the manual is wrong.

Steering cylinder: I have never had any issues with them but they're the same as any other cylinder as far as wear and tear (hoses and seals) goes. I had one break the tie rod end where it bolts to the tractor.

Hydro control linkage: mostly just a case of replacing bushings, but the pins and the shock absorber might also need attention. I also replaced the lever itself on one 400. The original one was worn where they pivot at the bottom. Made the new one using rod of the applicable size. Definitely helped. I consider it a must-do when rebuilding the linkage. Otherwise you might not see any improvement in the lever control.

Front PTO bearing: simple and inexpensive (relatively speaking). Same bearing as the deck spindles.

PTO idler pulley/linkage: the pulley can require replacement (same as any other idler) and the linkage gets loosey goosey after a while. PITA to fix but not spendy at all.

PTO cable: they can break. A new cable was about 60 bucks + tax last time I checked, so about $70 total. They have no doubt increased in price since then. A thick-ish clothesline cable works great as an alternative. Just gotta make a loop on each end and presto. And cable clamps are only about 2 bucks per so that was an easy call, for me anyway.

Hydro pump. I replaced the pump on one 400. It was noisy (howls somewhat) but still in working condition. I have it stashed in my JD parts cabinet ..just in case. The pump to transaxle gaskets are NLA so I made one. They're like valve cover gaskets. No pressure to worry about. Just a case of sealing up the mating surfaces.

Hope that helps.
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Great clean up job Temp. (y) I really like doing that kind of thing.

You're right about the kits. My 420 didn't get one. The 23 HP Vanguard was installed kinda willy nilly. Works fine but the muffler pipes are unique.

My Vanguard 400 has an SEW kit. The engine didn't sit level because the cradle was an inch too high at the back, which caused the PTO belt and driveshaft alignment to be out. The rest of the kit was fine. I raised the front using spacers rather than modify the rear mounts. Path of least resistance you might say. Worked out good though.

a repower is not a straightforward drop in either.
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Just one off shore rebuild kit for me but it's still working good. I did a K341 in a Allis Chalmers 416 way back in 2014. I haven't done very many rebuilds so the fact that it starts and runs good means the parts must be pretty good quality. They should probably ask me to be their spokesman and say stuff like, "Hey these kits are so easy even I can do it!" :D. I don't speak Chinese worth a shlt but that never stopped me before.

I would guess these must be aftermarket parts, not genuine Kohler. Doesn't mean they are bad though. I have used the aftermarket kits on multiple one cylinder Kohlers, with good results.
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Hey pace_car stop posting so much :D.
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I see a 3 point hitch which is a bonus. Especially if you need one.

She's been in "hiding" for just a few years 😬 View attachment 286704
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I have a 3 point on three 400's and also on my 420. I rarely use three of them. One is on my dedicated 400 blower tractor and two have 60" decks. They're not very manoeuvrable with decks on them and the blower is a PITA in close quarters too so I mostly use the 3 point on my scruffy old beater 400. I sometimes have a 4 way 54" front blade on it at the same time but not a deck. If room is an issue the blade comes off in about 30 seconds. Goes back on pretty easy too. I made a small 3 pt boom up, I have an Al Z forklift that's pretty handy and a rear blade too. I don't use them frequently but it's great to have them when I need them. 3 points are obviously useful for hanging ballast back there too.

The 3 point on my scruffy 400 has a custom rockshaft that's kinda odd looking but has standard arms and hangers. I'm not the best photographer you'll ever see, sorry.
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This 3 pt is genuine John Deere and came from one of our resident 400 experts. Harold Goff (aka Mr Wizard).
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This is the one on my 420. Not many pics of the backside so not the best viewing angle.
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And this is my blower 400 3 point. It was on the tractor when I bought it. I recall being a bit surprised years ago when somebody told me 400's often don't have a 3 point. I'm a farm boy so my reaction was something like 'What? Seriously? Why not?'
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Haven't looked lately but last time I did 3 points were selling for around 600 bucks or so new from Ruegg. And used 3 points for both models are sometimes auctioned off on eBay for 400 or 500 bucks. Haven't checked that for a while either but they are definitely valuable. Fyi.. the rockshaft for a 3 point is different than the stock version. Don't see the 3 pt type sold separately very often. I haven't personally anyway.
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Yah CDN. Forgot to convert to US. I've done that enough that I can estimate it pretty accurately in my head.

CAD or USD for that pricing Army? Currently 400 hitches are $410 or $450 depending on Cat 0 vs 1. Holy heck are X700 series cat 1 hitches expensive!
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100% agree.

If the stick is bowed a bit and very close to or touching the side of the dipstick tube oil will get on it that way and read too high for a while after changing the oil and dumping new oil down the tube. I ran across that issue myself. I straightened the stick but I didn't get it as straight as it otta be.

A pull and wipe of the dipstick and recheck should give an accurate reading. This should be normal practice.
They actually have K532's with the occasional K582 if the original engine was replaced on warranty. IIRC they stopped making them in 2000. I'm almost positive sure I have one of those engines. Not gonna pull the heads just to check the bore though. Never saw one myself (that I recall) but some 400's apparently came with an Onan towards the end of the model run. Or maybe they were actually a warranty install when they ran out of K582's. I dunno.

400’s have Kohler K582’s, not Onan
Unless I totally misread what you were trying to say, then just ignore me
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We don't have a 5th to plead here so we just say we're not gonna answer.
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Not a bad dammit btw. I just say that a lot.
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