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Modified John Deere 318 Garden Tractor

  It's not for sale:  It's called the "Bird"

   Modified John Deere 318 garden tractor -  The Bird    Modified John Deere 318 garden tractor called The Bird    Modified John Deere 318 garden tractor -  The Bird    Modified John Deere 318 garden tractor nicknamed The Bird

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This tractor is originally a John Deere 318 garden tractor and still has the original 318 body parts.  We removed the 18 HP Onan engine and installed an 18 HP Subaru Robin engine.  That engine did not have the torque we wanted, with the short stroke it had, so we repowered it with a Briggs and Stratton 23 HP Vanguard engine.  The nick name “Bird” came from the first transplanted engine, Robin. 

We built the rear roll bar with the intentions of having the lights shining forward for working at night with the front end loader.  That turned out to be a bad idea.  The lights blinded us when we looked behind us to back up.  They then were turned around to face backwards.  We liked the light shining towards the rear for backing up.  We also gained the added safety of having a roll bar.

The front end loader we started with is a Johnson Workhorse.  We removed the original bucket from the front end loader and had the current one built to order, extra large for snow. It’s also used often for dirt.  We then  installed head lights in the bucket.  This works great for working at night.  The lights shine anywhere you steer the tractor and tilt the bucket.  And no, they don’t break.  They are in the upper part where there normally isn’t anything in the bucket.  

There is a 110 Amp alternator system installed that we hooked onto the front PTO clutch. I can turn this on anytime I want some auxiliary power.  Jumper cables are hooked up permanently that wrap around the rear on a hinge that can fold up and out of the way when not in use. We installed a size 31 (normally used in a semi) battery under the hood for all the power we could need. We can jump any size vehicle with this. There is a switch to turn the electricity to the jumper cables on and off.  It has an amber light that shines when the power is on so we don’t forget to turn it off. 

On the back we added a seat to carry an extra person.  We use this all of the time to bring  customers to see equipment that isn’t in close walking distance.  The extra small steering wheel gives more room between the seat and steering wheel.  The John Deere 318 garden tractor has power steering so it works quite well. 

On the rear are oversized tires, 31 X 15.50 X15.  Each are filled with 200 lbs of liquid.  Hung on the back bracket are approximately 14 John Deere suitcase weights at 42 lbs each.  This is a total of 588 lbs of iron on the back and 400 lbs of liquid equaling 988 lbs.  The front end loader weighs about 400 lbs empty, the tractor weighs about 800 lbs., the roll bar is 200 lbs., totaling 2388 lbs with nothing in the bucket.  The bucket is adjusted to lift 1000 lb capacity.  This works as well as a compact utility tractor. Bigger tires were put on the front to level the tractor off because of the large back tires.  400 x 12 tires were used from trailer hubs and wheels and cut down to fit the John Deere front wheel bearings. 

We removed the rear end and transmission from  this tractor and installed a John Deere 430 Diesel tractor rear end and transmission.  Doing this I gained the posi-lock rear end and also the 2 speed behind the hydrostatic.  We used these big tires and the 2 speed transmission shifted on the high side. Then we disassembled the hydrostatic transmission and hopped it up.  It will travel at 18 to 20 MPH. 

The 4 gal per minute oil pump was removed and replaced with a 22 gallons per minute oil pump and 2 stage pump.  Also added is an extra large front end loader oil filter. We took off the 2 levers that operate the loader, one for up and down and one for tilting the bucket, and installed one big control valve that has one lever that does all.  With this we can drop and tilt and raise up the bucket simultaneously. 

For fun we added a car horn.  This evolved over time with a lot of  friends helping.

If you are interested in modifications for your tractor and would like us to do it for you or would just like to talk about it, get some advise, or hey, give some advise, call: 1-800-618-8738 or e-mail 

Jim has a new idea to try and put our new ATV snowblower on this "shop tractor", somehow using it with the front end loader, I'll let you know if it happens.  It's actually a customer's idea, he wants to try this with a Kubota tractor with a front end loader.

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Modified John Deere 318 Questions and Answers:

Q: I recently bought a 316 with the Kohler engine, my first John Deere. I would also like to know what, other than the plumbing, would be needed to add rear hydraulics.

On your modified 318, I assume the alternator replaces the stator? What type of alternator did you use? Is it mounted outside of the engine compartment? I couldn't see it in your pictures that you have on you site. Electrically, was there much involved? Were you able to find or make a dual pulley on the PTO? I like the idea of the alternator but need to be able to use the PTO for the snow blower. How many amps is the stock stator capable of producing?  I want to add lights to my 316 but was concerned about overloading the stock system.

A: To add rear hydraulics all you need to do is tee into one of your hydraulic valves and just plumb back to the rear of your machine. Yes you can put double pulleys on the front of your engine and still use the PTO clutch to run your snowblower. On the bird John Deere 318 I actually have two charging systems on it. I have the original Vanguard 16 amp that came with the engine and I added a 120 amp heavy duty automotive alternator and a very heavy duty battery so I can jump start semi-tractors with it.

Q: I use my John Deere 318 to pull our church's float in an annual night time Christmas parade. Using generators are loud, therefore, I would like to make electric power with my tractor. Any advise would greatly be appreciated on how to, safely, use the PTO to power an alternator.

A: . I mounted a 120 amp alternator on the side, driven by my electric front PTO clutch that will furnish juice to a whole bunch of lights.

Q:  I was just curious what type of hydraulic pump you used on the tractor and what type of modifications you had to do to get it to work?

A:  I assume you are talking about the front end loader? We took off the 4 gallon per minute pump and put on a 22 gallon per minute pump. We switched from a single stage pump to a two stage pump. With this kind of volume you have to change to much larger hoses and filters. We also went to control valves that could handle much more gallons per minute. This raises quickly and at the same time will tilt fast.

Q: When you updated the hydraulic pump, control valve and lines, did you add an additional tank to handle the higher volume (22GPM) ?

A: No, I used the Johnson loader original tank.

Q:  Your modified 318 is very cool. I have a 318 that I would like to restore soon. I have often thought about the added versatility a 420 or 430 rear end would give me. What was involved in the swap? Was this a direct bolt in except for making provisions for the hi-lo and posi-lock controls? I appreciate any information you can provide.

A:  For the linkage to convert the John Deere 318 I just went and bought the parts from the 420 and put them on. It does all exchange nicely on the main parts switch over.

Q: You said that 4 gallon per minute oil pump was removed and replaced with a 22 gallon per minute oil pump and 2 stage pump. I am very interested in how this was accomplished. I own a John Deere 430 garden tractor that I am continually updating, this sounds great for other hydraulic attachments.

A: We had to build brackets to accept this bigger pump. Do you have a 44 loader already on your John Deere 430? On the 420, 430, the pump turns the opposite direction and also these 2 tractors' PTO speed is only 2000 RPM's so there are some things to watch for on this conversion. The 318 Deere is running at 3600 RPM's. If you put on this big of a pump you would have to replumb a lot of the pipes to quite a bit larger piping and also you would have to get rid of your control valves as they will not handle near 22 gallons per minute.

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Modified John Deere 318 Garden Tractor

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