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John Deere Lawn Tractor - Repower

Q: I have a 1970 John Deere 140 lawn tractor that has always been garage kept. I was 12 years old when my father bought it brand new. This tractor means a lot to me because I grew up with it cutting our lawn, snow plowing, and clearing out our wooded back yard. My father gave me the tractor just before he died and I could never think about getting rid of it. This tractor is, and will always be, a part of me and my father.

The problem is although my father, and now myself, have always maintained the tractor and kept it out of the elements, its looks like it might be time for a new engine. I have to say there is really nothing wrong with the engine, it starts right up and does not burn any oil. One day I noticed a little oil on one side of the cooling fins of the engine, and noticed it was coming from the head gasket. I bought a new gasket, but when I took the top of the head off, it was pretty well carboned up on the top of the piston and the valves. I cleaned off the carbon and noticed that the piston was slightly worn on one of the edges. I put back the new gasket and re-torqued the bolts and it seems to run great and have a little more power.

So after thirty three years I am thinking of replacing the engine with either the same K321AS, or now I see that you have a more modern Vanguard replacement engine. I am not sure what to do here, one part of me would like to keep the tractor stock, but the other part would like a more modern engine. Any way I see that you yourself have a 140, and you have put the Vanguard engine in it.

A: I like the Vanguard engine as it weighs 40 to 60 lbs less than the Kohler, so you almost feel like you have power steering with that weight gone over your front axle. A Vanguard is always a better cold starting engine. They are very fuel economical compared to a flat head engine. An oil pump and oil filter make for a very long living engine and it also runs cooler. I put my Vanguard engine in my John Deere 140 H3 in 1988 and it has a lot of hours on it. 

Here is a link to the blog article about my own John Deere 140:

Q: I have a 1990 John Deere 318 garden tractor and the engine starts very hard, it seems like it is not getting enough fuel. When you open the throttle wide open it starts to fire and spits gas out of the carburetor throat. When you finally get it running it starts pretty good.

Did that year come with the check valve in the fuel line? Or could it be that it needs to be added?

Also, the compression seems low but it does not smoke, when I bought it, one valve seat had popped out and the dealer peened it back in, but would it even run if that was the problem?

I am debating on what to do with it. It has been sandblasted and completely redone I have a 49 blower and a front blade plus a 2 year old 48 replacement mulching deck. What is it worth in your opinion?

A: I know one thing, it is well worth putting an engine in. I sounds to me like that seat already is loose again, that is a going problem with the Onan engine. The V-Twin Vanguard engines we install are the Cadillac of air cooled engines. Our set up includes toll free telephone guidance and support. When you start doing the engine transplant, if you should run into any problems, just give me a call on my toll free number. I want to make it so you can get the job done as easily and simply as possible. I can talk you through most any problem you might encounter. We've been in the repowering business since 1988.

Q: I would like to put a new engine in my John Deere 400 garden tractor. I have been looking over the different brands and models. What is you opinion?

A: If you want quality, the V-Twin Vanguard overhead valve engine is the one to choose. Vanguard parts are easy to get, if you should ever need any, and are reasonably priced. I installed my first Vanguard engine in my John Deere 140 in 1987. This tractor is steadily used with a front end loader on it. We always put so much time on this tractor that in the past we would overhaul the engine every 3 years or repowered with a different engine. After I installed the Vanguard in 1987, and with still putting all those hours on it, we've never had this Vanguard engine out. It's running fine and still has no signs of needing to be overhauled. Now that is quality.

Q: I have a John Deere 212 lawn tractor and am looking to repower it. What motor do you recommend for this? We have the technical skills to do the installation.

A: Yes, we can get you updated with a Vanguard V-Twin overhead valve 18 horsepower engine. This engine is actually underrated so it is putting out a short 20 horsepower. This extra 8 horsepower would really make that snowblower you have come to life. With the mower deck and the pull behind one, you would handle all this equipment at ease. The 18 horsepower engine would be electric start, high charging rate alternator, fuel pump, oil filter, and oil pump on it. We also have the installation kit that comes with a muffler, exhaust manifold, oil filter plate, oil filter auxiliary kit, relay, throttle cable, choke cable and other items.

Q: I'd like to repower my John Deere 317 lawn tractor with the Vanguard engine you offer. What horsepower would you recommend and also will my side covers fit back on? I've been considering the Honda conversion and a friend told me that you offer a Briggs conversion that fits better. What do you recommend ?

A: The Vanguard is the top of the line in V-Twin overhead valve engines. This is a commercial engine with a commercial warrantee that you should have to never use. When you put my engine in you put the side panels back on and the installation looks neater than factory. When we install our engines we are taking care of a driveshaft problem the 317 Deere's were born with. Be sure to inspect your driveshaft before you do the engine installation.
If you are interested in repowering your John Deere Lawn tractor or any other brand, give us a call 1-800-618-8738 or e-mail us:   We'll help you do the repower yourself or we can do it for you.  Included in my kit is the $200 oil filter bracket and auxiliary kit.
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