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JD 317 smoking bad. I love the tractor and would like to use it. I like things as orignal as possible, but have to be realistic. Should I repair or replace? Estimated cost of each? much appreciated for your wisdom
 

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The old wisdom I’ve heard for the Series I’s is to run them till they die and replace. Old wisdom is always good to hear but not necessarily correct. Rebuild could be cheaper, or replacement could be cheaper. All depends on what it needs, what your skill level is, what your goal is, and what the budget is.
Simply replacing piston, rods, rings, etc if no machining is needed is most likely the cheapest and easiest, but machining can rapidly change that (and at the end it’s still a Series I, granted one that has lasted a long while). And a cheaper repower (ie an old twin off of marketplace or Craigslist) is an unknown as to longevity/what it may need long term. And new repower is just simply expensive, but as simple if not even more simple than an old engine to install and probably has the most certain longevity/durability of them all.
 

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Series II 17s and magnum 18 and 20s are fairly common and inexpensive. If you rebuilt you still end up with a series I.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The old wisdom I’ve heard for the Series I’s is to run them till they die and replace. Old wisdom is always good to hear but not necessarily correct. Rebuild could be cheaper, or replacement could be cheaper. All depends on what it needs, what your skill level is, what your goal is, and what the budget is.
Simply replacing piston, rods, rings, etc if no machining is needed is most likely the cheapest and easiest, but machining can rapidly change that (and at the end it’s still a Series I, granted one that has lasted a long while). And a cheaper repower (ie an old twin off of marketplace or Craigslist) is an unknown as to longevity/what it may need long term. And new repower is just simply expensive, but as simple if not even more simple than an old engine to install and probably has the most certain longevity/durability of them all.
My budget is more towards repair. I'm not mowing with it, so there won't be alot of hours added, however I have a plow that will work it some. I plow with it now until the smoke gives me a sore throat. Is there anything I can mix/add to the oil that will help?
 

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You are to be commended for what must be excellent maintenance and operation to get 40+ years out of the KT series I engine. I assume we are talking oiI-burning smoke, as opposed to an overly fuel rich smoke. I can give some some approximate costs for a proper, thorough rebuild, as well as some other possible options. A well-used KT engine will likely need new rods, over-size piston kits, main bearings, maybe valve guides, gaskets and seals. Corresponding machine shop work to meet Kohler specs could involve turning the crank rod journals, boring the cylinders, valve seat grinding, and valve facing. ISaveTractors is a good source for some parts, with, for example, new aftermarket rods and piston kits costing $50 each, and a gasket kit is $60. Main bearings from Kohler are about $100 each. Machine shop costs could be $250-350. Points, a carb kit and other miscellaneous can easily total another $100. There are some practical deal breakers for me when a KT engine is disassembled and evaluated for a proper rebuild. These include: (1) if the engine has been rebuilt previously; (2) if the crank main bearing journals are worn out of spec (undersize bearings are too expensive); (3) if the camshaft ends have caused noticeable wear in the case. The cost effectiveness of a rebuild is never really known until an engine is disassembled and everything is measured. However, I am sorry to say that there is not much room for optimism.

Your need for an occasional-use engine suggests some possible alternatives to a complete, proper rebuild. Download the free Kohler KT service manual if you do not have it already. Checking the crankcase breather, and measuring the crankcase vacuum and compression could be informative, but most likely the rings are badly worn and/or the cylinders are grooved. Pulling the heads would reveal any serious grooves in the cylinder walls (does your fingernail easily catch on the grooves?). If not, there is a chance the cylinder jugs could be pulled and de-glazed with a honing tool for a ring job. It would be desirable to measure the cylinders for wear, and to also clean up the valves and set valve lash. On the other hand, if the cylinders are grooved, they would need an oversize boring, and I am not sure you want to put a lot of money into a half rebuild.

Deere317 offers a very reasonable alternative in trying to find a decent-running KT series I or II or horizontal Magnum-18 engine. Your engine has a 1" diameter PTO shaft, but most other vendors used a 1-1/8" PTO shaft. Your PTO clutch would not fit the larger PTO shaft, but it appears you are not using the PTO, so any of the engines from another tractor will be a direct drop-in, with only a simple wiring change for the Magnum engine. You might locate a viable engine or a whole tractor for a few hundred dollars.
Harold
 

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Although I am sure there are folks that will debate this, I have always stayed away from KT17 Series I for the known engine durability limitations, especially if the tractor is operated on any type of angle for any length of time. Therefore, I agree with a comment made above about still having a Series I once the needed repairs are completed if you decide to go that way. I would encourage you to find a tired KT17 Series II still in one piece and rebuild it because if/when you ever decide to sell the tractor when potential buyers see it is a Series I, their interest level and price they are willing to pay will decrease substantially.
 

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when potential buyers see it is a Series I, their interest level and price they are willing to pay will decrease substantially.
That is only if they know the weak point of the Series 1, many people are not so in tune with the JD world. A good running Series 1 is still worth the money.
 
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