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post #1 of 20 Old 03-10-2017, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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John Deere 345 is intermittently blowing heavy blue smoke.

My recently purchased (as-is) John Deere 345 (serial #44147) is intermittently blowing heavy blue /black smoke (mostly blue) while operating the mower deck. It blows heavy smoke out of the exhaust for 5 or 10 seconds. It will run fine for 5 or 10 minutes then it starts smoking. It runs fine 90% of the time. Without a load on the tractor the intermittent smoking is not as frequent. The tractor has the Kawasaki FD590 engine and has 550 hours on it.

Here is what I have done to it so far:

Replaced fuel pump as the diaphragm was torn allowing fuel into the crankcase, I thought I had found the issue ...wrong.

Installed a known good carburetor.

New head gaskets, valve stem oil seals and all related gaskets, properly cleaned torqued etc. Both cylinder walls looked fine no signs of wear, no scuffing no ridge etc.

Compression check after new head gasket installation, normal results 175 psi both cylinders.

Replaced the reed valves, backing plates and all related parts in the breather valve, inspected drain holes for blockage they were open. The hose from the breather valve to the air intake duct is oil free, so I think I can eliminate this as the cause.

I have replaced the ignition coils with known good ones from another 345 that I have, they didn't resolve the smoking issue. Just drove around in the dark with spark testers on both cylinders the spark stayed the same smoking or not smoking...good spark not an intermittent problem. There is no TDM on this tractor to my knowledge.

Oil is at the proper level within the crosshatch on the dip stick while it is sitting on threads, as a matter of fact I have it in the middle of the crosshatch pattern. It is not overfilled.

Tomorrow I am going to take the ignition module off of my other 345 and install it. Can the ignition module cause an intermittent problem?

Is there anything I am missing? any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


Thanks in advance.
Al W
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post #2 of 20 Old 03-10-2017, 10:36 PM
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Re: John Deere 345 is intermittently blowing heavy blue smoke.

Has the plastic cam been replaced.Have the valve lash been adjusted.

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post #3 of 20 Old 03-10-2017, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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Re: John Deere 345 is intermittently blowing heavy blue smoke.

Not sure if the plastic cam gear has been replaced or not. I would think/guess that if the plastic cam gear was broken it wouldn't run good 90% of the time, but I will check into it. Could a broken cam gear present itself as an intermittent problem? The valve lash has been adjusted.
Thanks for your suggestion,
Al W
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post #4 of 20 Old 03-10-2017, 10:58 PM
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Re: John Deere 345 is intermittently blowing heavy blue smoke.

What I'm thinking that if a tooth or two are broken timing could be off.I rebuilt mine in Dec.2015 no issues before letting go but not every situation is the same.

2002 X595 with 62" deck and Ruegg 3pt hitch
45 John Deere loader
Cat 1 3 pt plow and Heavy Hitch
62"powerflow in the making
98 345 with 54" deck and powerflow
30" tiller,JD 18 cart, Front and rear thatcher
JD 40" spike aerator, Agifab 3 gang (9') aerator
42" JD Thrower,70 lb wheel weights,6 suit case weights
48" roller,JD T105 trimmer
15 gal. tow sprayer,175lb tow spreader
(2) JD JS63C walk-behind mowers
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post #5 of 20 Old 03-10-2017, 11:09 PM Thread Starter
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Re: John Deere 345 is intermittently blowing heavy blue smoke.

That is a good point if a couple of teeth are broken off it could affect the timing. I was thinking that since all of the valves are opening and closing the cam was alright. Is there anyway to check the cam without pulling the engine?
Thanks,
Al W
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post #6 of 20 Old 03-11-2017, 03:04 AM
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Re: John Deere 345 is intermittently blowing heavy blue smoke.

Have you changed the oil? I didn't see it listed in things you have done so far, but if gas was actually making its way into the oil that is your problem. The oil is thinned enough that its passing the rings and burning off. Hopefully if this is the case it hasn't been doing it long, or there will be some damage from washing the cylinders. You said it looks fine though, so I would suggest changing the oil to fresh 10w-30 and seeing what happens, assuming you haven't done so.

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post #7 of 20 Old 03-11-2017, 09:29 AM
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Re: John Deere 345 is intermittently blowing heavy blue smoke.

I'm thinking more on what...Nick4030 has mentioned.. The fuel pump problem allowed fuel into the crankcase and it washed the rings and cylinder walls. These 345 lawn tractors with 550 hours shouldn't have any troubles blowing smoke past the rings. If you did the correct "wet and dry" compression test with the old oil-gas in it, you wouldn't get a true test. Remove the oil and install some 30 weight and run the tractor without the mower deck in use for about 1/2 hour at full throttle and see what happens.
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post #8 of 20 Old 03-11-2017, 11:23 AM Thread Starter
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Re: John Deere 345 is intermittently blowing heavy blue smoke.

I did change the oil when I changed the fuel pump. There may be some residual oil/gas left in the engine after the oil change. as you never get 100% of the old oil out, that would thin the oil down.
I can't remember for sure when I ran the compression tests before or after the oil change...most likely before. I will change the oil today and run the mower for 30 minutes at full throttle without the mower deck, as suggested. I will also redo the compression tests, both wet and dry. Thanks for your replies!
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post #9 of 20 Old 03-11-2017, 11:50 AM
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Re: John Deere 345 is intermittently blowing heavy blue smoke.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aewilliams View Post
That is a good point if a couple of teeth are broken off it could affect the timing. I was thinking that since all of the valves are opening and closing the cam was alright. Is there anyway to check the cam without pulling the engine?
Thanks,
Al W
I'd have to think if a couple teeth were broken it would be a constant issue, and the timing would quickly fall so far off it wouldn't run at all.

Sticky ring maybe?


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post #10 of 20 Old 03-11-2017, 08:03 PM
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Re: John Deere 345 is intermittently blowing heavy blue smoke.

Id be inclined under loaded conditions to think that smoking/oil consumption would be a pcv type problem, either to much pressure in crankcase or to much pull over.

Whats the old spark plugs look like.

I work on cars as a career so dont think im a smaller engine expert, just trying to correllate.
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post #11 of 20 Old 03-11-2017, 10:33 PM
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Re: John Deere 345 is intermittently blowing heavy blue smoke.

I dunno if running this engine at full throttle for 30 min is a Good idea ??? Would also be curious what the original plugs look like, and what you see when you remove the dipstick when it's running..?
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post #12 of 20 Old 03-12-2017, 01:05 AM
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Re: John Deere 345 is intermittently blowing heavy blue smoke.

My experience with these Kawas is that if you EVER change the carb change the filter and look into the tank as well. Once something migrates to the carb there are more than likely little friends that are on their way. Blue/black smoke means the mixture is too rich so that would mean too much fuel intermittently or not enough spark intermittently. I would bet on the carb even if it is new. If you did not clean the fuel system then if the old carb had junk in it, the new one will too. Good luck. I know how frustrating this can be.
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post #13 of 20 Old 03-13-2017, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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Re: John Deere 345 is intermittently blowing heavy blue smoke.

Thanks to all for your suggestions! I hurt my back and have not been able work on the tractor, in the last few days. I hope to get back to work on it later this week. Thanks again!!
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post #14 of 20 Old 03-14-2017, 10:31 AM
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Re: John Deere 345 is intermittently blowing heavy blue smoke.

Hope the back feels better. Unfortunately, I can identify with taking a few days off. Interesting problem, can't wait to hear what you come up with.

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post #15 of 20 Old 03-16-2017, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Re: John Deere 345 is intermittently blowing heavy blue smoke.

My back is feeling a little better so I got back to work on the JD 345. I bought a new compression gauge as my old one was about 50 years old and the results from it were suspect.
The results of the compression test with the new gauge are:

Dry Wet
Left Cylinder 185 psi 205 psi
Right Cylinder 189 psi 220 psi

Based on the above compression results, it looks like the gas that was getting into the oil from the torn fuel pump diaphragm has created some ring/cylinder damage from the washing of the cylinders. I assume the blow by from the bad rings/cylinder bore would allow the crankcase pressure to increase helping to explain why oil was coming out of the dipstick tube with the dipstick removed and the engine running. The previous owner must have ran it for a while with the defective fuel pump washing the cylinders down.

Well that is the not so good news...the good news is I have a JD 585 and a JD 425 that still work fine. So now the debate is do I fix the 345 or sell the parts.
It still has the plastic cam and will need new rings and pistons at a minimum also a water pump...so it may or may not be worth fixing.

From now on when I buy a tractor I will do a compression test.

Thanks to all for your help!!

Al W
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