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Has anyone tried to reduce the exhaust noise from a garden tractor? I have a Craftsman GT 3000 and I want to mount a more effective muffler. Or fabricate one this winter.

This began with a complaint from a neighbor when I mowed at an inappropriate time, but I also noticed how much louder the tractor is than either of our cars. Sure the mower deck adds to the din, but the engine is by far the biggest contributor to the noise.
 

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I had a muffler on a Deere 316K (single cylinder Kohler) that was extremely loud. I replaced it with a new muffler from Deere and it made a world of difference. Yes it was expensive, approx $100. I do not know if I would waste my money on a aftermarket muffler from who knows where. I do not know if stock muffler is still available for your tractor.
 

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I was searching for quiet muffler options that could be used for my vtwin Honda and read a lot of info on quieting small engines in general. It seems there is only so much you can do to quiet the exhaust. The engines themselves make/emit a lot of the noise. If your Craftsman is really loud then definitely try a muffler.
There are some YouTube videos on quieting engines and it seems they get the best results from putting simple shields around the engine. This (of course) works best with stationary engines like gensets, but I’ve been wondering if some shielding could apply to garden tractors and mowers as well.
I found one interesting comment about small engine mufflers while I was searching. Not sure if it is true: The manufacturers only make the muffler quiet enough that the exhaust noise still drowns out the rest of the engine noise.
 

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Engine noise on a garden tractor is a combination of the exhaust, the 'rattle' of the valve train, and the general sound of the internals moving as heard through the block, etc. plus the not insubstantial sound of the cooling air being moved by the flywheel/blower. Some engines have a decided advantage for running more quietly -- like the gas Yanmar in the 322 or the water cooled Honda twins of the 90's.

Diesels add more sound of course since their detonation and high compression makes a sharp clatter that is hard to mask.

The mufflers on the Yanmar gas and diesel engines are pretty good when new, but can have internal baffles break down and develop housing holes/cracks over the decades, so even these water cooled engines get less quiet over time. A new stock muffler will give the best tradeoff for any small internal combustion engine as to exhaust note reduction without adding so much restriction to impact power and performance.

I presently mow my very small residential lawn with an electric walk behind mower, which eliminates all the "exhaust" noise and most of the engine noises...leaving just the deck sound and the whir of the electric motor. Pretty quiet compared to a gas mower, but by no means silent.

Even mowing with goats has some noise and other objectionable side effects... 😄

Chuck
 

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My wife likes to mow the lawn for exercise. We have a 21" MTD push mower with a 4.5 Briggs. I bought her a Fiskers reel mower from Lowes and it is very hard to hear that thing and it does a pretty decent job of keeping the grass down. For quietening things, I noticed my backup generator has a nasty whine to it. I sat next to it listening to the various sounds it emits and determined that the actual engine noise was quite quiet. The main source of noise is the cooling fan on the front of the generator is mounted with cross-braces close to the fan blades. If you're familiar with air raid sirens, you'll see where this is going. So, I think I can make it considerably quieter if those braces are replaced with something else that are not in the way of the fan blades, eliminating the whine. It's the whine that makes it so noisy - the engine muffler sounds more like an air duct, just kind of blowing with a light tone in it, which I think is also a product of running on natural gas - doesn't have the detonation sound of gas or in the extreme, diesel
 

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I was searching for quiet muffler options that could be used for my vtwin Honda and read a lot of info on quieting small engines in general. It seems there is only so much you can do to quiet the exhaust. The engines themselves make/emit a lot of the noise. If your Craftsman is really loud then definitely try a muffler.
There are some YouTube videos on quieting engines and it seems they get the best results from putting simple shields around the engine. This (of course) works best with stationary engines like gensets, but I’ve been wondering if some shielding could apply to garden tractors and mowers as well.
I found one interesting comment about small engine mufflers while I was searching. Not sure if it is true: The manufacturers only make the muffler quiet enough that the exhaust noise still drowns out the rest of the engine noise.
Very good point. And a stock GT3000 in good repair isn't all that noisy (assuming you're current muffler isn't rusted out, your deck spindles are greased, and you're not maxing out Lynyrd Skynyrd on the home stereo with the windows open so you can hear it while you mow).

Sounds to me as if the best thing you can do is work upon what constitutes appropriate mowing hours. While my HOA mandates 10:00 p.m. until 06:00 a.m. as quiet hours, my personal reasonable hours for operating OPE are:
07:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. M-F, 09:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. Saturday, and 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Sunday. Our neighborhood is mostly 1/2 acre and larger lots, so if a neighbor complains during those hours, they're being a little petty.
 

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neil mentioned air raid sirens. I have a weather siren about 1000' from my house, they test it every month. It is loud of course, and it rotates. I noticed just the other day when the horn has rotated and is pointing away from me you can really hear the roar of the air coming in from the back side.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Very good point. And a stock GT3000 in good repair isn't all that noisy (assuming you're current muffler isn't rusted out, your deck spindles are greased, and you're not maxing out Lynyrd Skynyrd on the home stereo with the windows open so you can hear it while you mow).
AFAK, the muffler is in good shape, but this winter I will be removing n cleaning and repairing the mower deck, as well as either swap the muffler for a new OEM type or an aftermarket one if I can find one. I might even fabricate something. We will see.
 

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Has anyone tried to reduce the exhaust noise from a garden tractor? I have a Craftsman GT 3000 and I want to mount a more effective muffler. Or fabricate one this winter.

This began with a complaint from a neighbor when I mowed at an inappropriate time, but I also noticed how much louder the tractor is than either of our cars. Sure the mower deck adds to the din, but the engine is by far the biggest contributor to the noise.
If your muffler is still in good shape, try adding a. spark arrestor. It quieted my tractor + decreases the chance of starting a fire. I didn't notice any decrease in power, either.
 

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Wonder if you could repack the muffler. I had a street bike in Japan that were two stroke and the baffles you could remove to make louder and if you wanted them quieter you added steel wool. I took baffles out for noise of course with young ears now, i'd be adding the wool.
 

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Mtechnik-3 hit the mark. I re-powered my 318, and ended up drawing up a muffler and having it built. I used the largest diameter pipe that would fit up front, and filled it w/ Stainless Steel wool. It made a world of difference vs muffler provided w/ kit. If you decide to build your own muffler, I may have steel wool left over.
 

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There's a vid on the Utuber site that shows a custom exhaust on a 300-series tractor with no mower deck. They ran small diameter muffler pipe out the side panel port, down the side, and under the frame...with the exit down in the back, right under the transaxle. Sounded pretty nice, but wandered if it interfered with the deck or if he uses it with a deck at all.
 

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Not a JD garden tractor but I experimented quite a bit with the exhaust on my EZGO Marathon and ended up using a JD muffler on the 13 HP Honda clone engine. It's the type with a flap and a perforated outlet. It's the quietest I've ever gotten the cart to run. I eventually ended up with an 8 HP real Honda in the cart and you can barely hear it running now. I can easily chit chat with my granddaughter when we're bombing around huntin wabbits. One of the things I tried early on was putting a tailpipe on the original Honda clone muffler and then adding a 2nd muffler. The cart ran whisper quiet but it killed the RPM. Would barely rev up enough to engage the drive clutch.
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After that I bought a header pipe from a go kart site and routed it to the back, then tried various mufflers. I bought some extra pipe flanges too in case I ever want to make up a different header pipe design. Nothing beat the JD muffler mounted vertically though. Had the muffler given to me by WFM'er Eric Behm along with a bunch of other parts. He said it was off a 200 series but I don't know which one. Possibly a 214? Maybe one of you guys know. This pic shows how I mounted it. The outlet is right below the cargo box which helps muffle the noise too. I had to replace the flap because I kept bending it back and forth trying to find the sweet spot.
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neil mentioned air raid sirens. I have a weather siren about 1000' from my house, they test it every month. It is loud of course, and it rotates. I noticed just the other day when the horn has rotated and is pointing away from me you can really hear the roar of the air coming in from the back side.
I have a couple 110V sirens. They're really loud! I pranked my sister one day and asked her to plug in the cord on one of them for me. She didn't know what the cord was for but she quickly found out :D.
 

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You evil boy!
 
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She's my little twerp sister. I've pranked her many times over the years so I was actually surprised she fell for the siren gag. I sneaked a live chicken into her apartment one time when she was at work. A nice little red laying hen. Put it in the bathtub and closed the shower curtain. She's always been petrified of chickens due to our grandma's rooster attacking her a lot. He would wait around the corner of grandpa's shop and jump out at her. So when she got home and found it she called the cops to come and save her but the dispatcher just laughed and said call the humane society. The HS wouldn't believe her till she called them a 2nd time. The guy who responded told her he was gonna take it home and let it earn it's keep :D
 
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There's lots of muffler threads on the Buggies Gone Wild golf cart site I go to. This one is pretty informative. Clone exhaust

Hotrod cart guy preferences aside, most owners are always chasing the holy grail of a super quiet exhaust. Especially camping guys. Lots of campgrounds have banned gassers in favor of electric models but some still allow them if they aren't too noisy. My brother-in-law says it only takes one complaint to get a gas cart banned where they have their trailer.
 
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