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Good afternoon all and happy Monday! I have a question that I am sure is very basic to most of you: What is the cooling mechanism for my 1980(ish) 317? Mine runs really hot, to the point where I can barely keep my hand on the hood while mowing. Worries me to use it too much on a hot day for fear of doing damage to the engine or other components.

Another thing is that I have to use starter fluid to start the tractor after longer periods of not operating her. I assume it is because the fuel pump loses prime for whatever reason (leak in fuel line somewhere, etc.). Is there a likelihood of long term damage to the system if using starter fluid is a regular practice?
Thank you all!
 

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Times two on the running lean diagnosis!! How long has this been an issue? May have to clean the tank and lines if lots of contamination is present to foul the carb again once you get it running right...

Chuck
 

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Once you have fixed the carb, but its still hard to start after sitting awhile, you may have another problem. My 300 did the same thing years ago, so I installed one of those marine style primer bulbs inside the frame rail. A few squeezes before I turn the key and it flashes right up.
 

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Andrew, I agree with the advice above and you should check into and resolve that issue.

To circle back to your question, your 317 engine whether it is the original Kohler or possibly a replacement Onan is cooled by the flywheel fan. In addition to the carburetor advice above, you might want to check a few other things. Your tractor might still have a belly screen attached to the bottom of the frame. Check it to make sure the inlet air openings in that screen are not clogged with oil, dust, grass, etc. If it is plugged, you may have to remove it to thoroughly clean or degrease and clean.

The engine flywheel fan pulls air through this screen and into the flywheel housing where the air gets pushed forward across the cooling fins of the engine and discharges in front of the engine. Dust and grass clippings might get pulled into the flywheel housing and over years build up and plug engine cooling fins and air flow passages. If you suspect that’s occurred, you can remove the sheet metal covers from the engine and debris to restore cooling air flow.
 

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Dust and grass clippings might get pulled into the flywheel housing and over years build up and plug engine cooling fins and air flow passages. If you suspect that’s occurred, you can remove the sheet metal covers from the engine and debris to restore cooling air flow.
Besides ensuring the carb is squared away, this is critical. With the engine running, you should be able to put your hand in front of each cylinder and feel plenty of airflow coming forward from the flywheel. I know that "plenty" is subjective, but there should be a good volume of air coming through on both sides. If not, then there's a blockage somewhere. This assumes all the original sheet metal covers are in place and directing air over the cooling fins to begin with. If they're not, then the flywheel is throwing cooling air to the sides and not through the cylinder cooling fins it'll run hot anyway. You can use a pressure washer to clean the fins out if they're clogged, but I've seen them so bad that I had to use a thin screwdriver to dig out old grass and mud and oil. Engine ran so much cooler after that.
 
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