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New member, new Deere owner (316 Kohler), with some quick questions about Deeres

1904 Views 28 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  qstott
Hello all, I've been reading this forum for the past week or so since I took the plunge and bought a 316 Kohler. This seems like a great community to be a part of. I bought it for $700, + $130 gas, + $150 speeding ticket. :-\

Since I'm new to the world of Garden Tractors, I have some questions about how these beasts should behave.

First I want to express my frustration once I found out a manual costs $80. I have no idea how it cannot be in digital form, and be downloaded from their website for a minimal expense. I believe autos and tractors are the only products that take part in this scam. Nearly any other item you buy the manual can be obtained freely from the support section of their website.

Ok, so I don't have the manual yet, but it may not answer these questions anyway so I'm hoping to gain some wisdom from you guys.

The 316 is in decent shape. I'll post pictures asap. But once it got to me I've found some things that just seem wrong.

***I have replaced the fluid, first with generic, then I bought the low-v stuff at the Deere dealer, along with a new filter. Installed those and no difference.***

1) Sometimes on startup or shutdown the engine seems to bounce so much that it hits the side of the tin. Is that normal?

2) How far up should the lever have to go before the tractor starts moving? Mine will not move until it's in the top 1/3rd of the "slot".

3) When going up a hill, is the lever supposed to move down on it's own? I've read threads that address this, but no one has explicitly stated that, yes, this is normal - you have to keep your hand on the lever while driving.

4) There is a VERY loud whine when going up a semi-steep slope and it really struggles to get up it. But here's what I've found: If I push either of the hydraulic levers on the left forward or back, and hold it until the maximum "position?" is reached (say like 10 seconds), it's like hitting a turbo boost and the tractor will start moving much faster. So if I hold one of the hydraulic levers all the way forward (or back), and hold the control lever all the way up, I can really scoot on this machine, even uphill. Unfortunately I don't have a 3rd arm to steer so this won't work as a solution.

Does anyone have an idea what that means? Why will it go fast only when I do that?

Thanks so much in advance for any help!
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Cary - Welcome to WFM. I guess if you were a tech writer like I am, you'd appreciate the effort that goes into producing a manual, and would realize it is not a scam, and that Deere is probably not making the margins on manuals that they do on their parts. The reason that specific manual is not available in digital form, is because the system the manual was authored and produced on preceded the PC, and the technology that enables easy production of digital files.

I'm sure some folks with better knowledge on the first generation 316 than I will chime in on the other points. I just wanted to try and educate a little bit on the manual issue. - Dave
Hey Dave, thanks for your response. I understand that it's a large amount of work that goes into each manual. However I am an IT Analyst and am familiar with all manner of digital duplication and document storage. Each of these manuals can easily, and affordably, be replicated and stored in digital format regardless of age. (Besides, chances are very remote that each time someone orders a manual from them, that they have someone manually photocopy a hard copy to send out. Corporations now simply print "on demand" from stored digital files, even if it is old material that once had to be converted from microfiche, or other media at one point.)

$40-$50 would be acceptable. But at $80+ I would expect their manuals to be one of the highest margin "parts" they sell.

Now if technical writers are paid royalties, that's another issue.

Thanks again for your reply, and for being patient with my venting

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Sounds like there is worn bushing on the hydro where the direction contol clevis is connected. It is common to have wear on a 30 year old machine at this location.
The whine you hear is COMPLETELY normal. Also the k341's are SHAKERS but you might also check the motor mounts. There might be one almost broken.
The hydro control could use some adjustment, you can increase the amount of friction it takes to move it forward and reverse. Then you dont have to keep your hand on the hydro contol as much. Remove the battery and battery tray out and you will see the area to tighten up. I will PM you pics of mine.
Thanks much David. I'm still reading and in particular I'm looking to read every post by members such as yourself that have posted their experiences with the 316 Kohler.

Reading from your other posts I've learned that the shaking is normal. That's fine with me, I just wanted to make sure it was okay. I get a kick out of the shaking honestly, it's humorous once I know it's normal.

I'll plan on making those adjustments this weekend. I just want to know from yourself and other members that I don't have a crappy machine that I'd have been better off not buying. (mainly because I know nothing of small engine repair, and would like to use it to mow my yard asap before the neighbors start complaining)
The earlier 300 machines and 140's are very dependable. I restored my 316 from a hulk that had
been given to my Dad over fifteen years ago. It had a hole in the hood, rusted out seat pan, broken connecting rod etc. But it was complete. I did not use the old mower deck but I used just about all the rest except hood and dash pedestal. The k341 was rebuilt etc. It was an enjoyable process but oh I wished it had been in running condition as yours is. While I would like a later machine such as a 332/430 those machines are not near the simple machines these are. The repair expense is CONSIDERABLY smaller too. Searching the archives here will definitely answer a lot of your questions.
I have two 316 Kohler's, one is a working restoration that get used almost daily, and the other is in the process, right now its scattered all over my shop!
Seems your questions have been answered, but I if I can be any help be sure to holler.

Thanks for the help guys. I'm going keep reading the older posts and see what I can find. I think what would help the most is driving someone's 316K that actually works like it should.

A great part of the difficulty is not knowing how the machine should operate. So I may be trying to fix something that isn't broken. Dave or Jim do either of you guys have videos posted anywhere online?
Yay! Just won the Service Manual on feebay! Can't wait to get it!
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Mine shook like crazy until I gave it a complete tune-up. Although it still shakes, it's nowhere near the amount it did before the tune up. If it's hitting the tin, check the motor mounts as previously posted. I would also check the muffler as the mounting bracket could have broken allowing the muffler to hit on the front tin. A quick weld will take care of that problem.

Otherwise, enjoy your machine...
I appreciate everyone's advice. I feel good about the shaking part, shouldn't be a big deal.

Does anyone have any input on question 2) How far up (forward) should the lever have to go before the tractor starts moving? Mine will not move until it's in the top 1/3rd of the slot.

And why do you guys think it would give such a boost in speed to hold one of the hydraulic levers all the way?
Cary I think the 316 has about the same transmission as the 140 so here is a simple explanation.

The hydro pump pressure is normally regulated at about 75 to 110 PSI by the charge pump relief valve when you are not using the implement lift.

When you use the implement lift the unrestricted flow of oil is cut off and forced to the load. This pressure is limited by the implement relief valve at approximately 500 PSI.

You could check to see that the pressures are within the limits for the 316 but it seems like all hydros have some change in speed when you use the lift.
I have a 300, and a 316K which are nearly identical. Both machines begin moving forward with the lever perhaps 20% forward of the neutral slot. Yours definatly sounds like it has some issues - nothing major though.
It's dead. I killed it. The oil pump gear broke, and it locked up. I pulled it apart this morning, and the pistons are seized. Small engine warehouse can get me a complete Kawasaki v-twin to retrofit. They say it is 29 hp, and should drop in with very minor modifications. I can buy a new short block from Deere for 2500.00 or the SEW for about 2500 including shipping. I could try and bore the block I have and fix it but it has about 1400 hours. Anyone has suggestions, or have tried one from SEW?
T.H.E. COMPANY is working on Honda kits. Something to consider.
Quintin, I would MOH the original engine. Much cheaper to do and will be just as valuable to the next guy if you ever sell it. That is still one sweet engine Deere used in there. My 2 Cents.
Sounds as though you've toasted the old motor, Quintin. An engine that has been run without oiling to the point that it has seized probably has trouble with the crankshaft bearings, possibly the camshaft and followers, etc. etc., along with the pistons and cylinders that you already know about.

A short motor with a crankshaft is a good choice that will get you up and running in reasonable time. You'll need to use your old cylinder heads, carburetor, and accessories.

Personally, I'm leery of a repower with "minor modifications," even using a same-make/same general configuration motor. You have to define "minor." for a replacement that is not a same-spec drop-in.

Hank I out of curiosity checked the price of a short block for the fuel injected 445. By the time you would pay the tax on the short block it is $3,000. That is assuming the heads and water pump are still good and don't need to be replaced. Roger
I was lucky in the fact that after it locked up at 8:30 AM Sat morning, I had an identical 445 in my yard by noon. Just 10 miles away I found a 1999 with 312 hours that looked brand new. I bought it for 4800.00 I'm heavily invested in the 445. I have a 3 point hitch, mulching deck and a hyd tilt dump material collection system, along with many extra parts. I wanted to continue to use the collections system and the 4X5 series is all mine will work on. I found it interesting that I bought my blown one in 2002 with 280 hrs (it's a 2000 model) for 5200.00 and 12 years later I paid 4800.00 for one with 312 hrs. Since the bagger is so clumbersome to install and remove, I had often pondered the idea of a second 445 to leave the bagger on, and use one with the mulching deck for summer mowing and spraying using the 3 point hitch. When I added up all I need to repair the blown one, I got a total close to 4000.00 dollars using a Deere short block, muffler, water pump, thermostats and other misc. stuff. I found another 2001 about 30 miles away that is a cream puff. It has 450 hrs on it. No extra functional stuff, but nice shiny hub caps, and clean as a pin. They want 5000.00 for that one. So it seems my choices are, switch the rear hyds, over to my just purchased one and continue to switch the bagger off and on, repair the one I have spending about 4 grand, or buy another one for 5 grand and dedicate the bagger to it. I'm not really crazy about doing a repower with a different engine. I can see problems in the future with that. The smart thing is to probably forget about repairing my old one, forget about buying another one, and just one the one I bought. If I could find one with no deck and a few lumps and bumps, but a good engine, that would be an option, and just use the engine and save the rest for parts.
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