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post #1 of 14 Old 06-13-2019, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
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John Deere 400 Repower

It's time. The old Kohler K532s has given up the ghost and I need to repower. I've decided to go with the Vanguard 23 HP, but I'm wondering where to get it. I want a kit that requires as little modification as necessary, so it seems I'm down to Jim's and Small Engine Warehouse. (If anyone knows of any other suppliers, I'd really appreciate any info, especially if they are close to Connecticut) Off the cuff it's Jim's hands down. SEW has a horrible reputation, and Jim's gets nothing but raves. I gave Jim's a call and that only confirmed what I have heard. Here's the issue, Jim's is $800 more for the same engine and kit. I am already scraping to figure out how to swing this, so it's kind of a game changer. Has anyone Gotten this engine from SEW for the 400? Did you have any problems? Or any other repower kit for that matter...
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post #2 of 14 Old 06-13-2019, 09:22 PM
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Re: John Deere 400 Repower

I repowered for my 400 from SEW. You can read my thread: Picking up a 400 Saturday. If i were to do it over i would go with a Kohler command pro or Honda from Repower specialist just based on engines alone. Looks like they don't have the compmaints SEW does but they might not have sell as many kits either. SEW sells a lot.

https://repowerspecialists.com/colle...=2660495917079

Im not completely happy with my SEW kit. I replied to a post on WFM about my 400 experience, it was lengthy. I'll see if i can find it.


1981 400- Vanguard 23 HP, 54C deck, 56 blade, 50 snow blower
SOLD-2003 G100- 54", Kohler Command 25, Gator G5 blades
JD 46" snow Blade

Stihl 031AV (WIMA cap, base gasket delete) 20"
Echo CS-590 (MM) 20"
Husqvarna 128LD Trimmer

Giant Vac w/ 6.5HP Predator Engine
Unknown 1980's Japanese backpack Blower with Kawasaki engine
1968 M35A2
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post #3 of 14 Old 06-13-2019, 11:37 PM
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Re: John Deere 400 Repower

I bought a 400 with the Honda in it and it was a marriage made in heaven. Turn the key any time or place and it sprang to life. It came with a black box that did all of the electrical hookups and the rest was a snap. Drive shaft was neat and simple and the only shakey area was the exhaust exit. I would have done it differently but it was fine.
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post #4 of 14 Old 06-14-2019, 04:49 AM
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I'm considering a repower this winter. Id like to see some pics of tractors with a repower done to it.
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post #5 of 14 Old 06-14-2019, 07:35 AM
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Re: John Deere 400 Repower

I put a Honda GX630 into my 318. The engine and accessories came from a donor tractor that had been repowered from repowerspecialists.com (so I didn't buy the kit from the myself). It came with an adapter/spacer plate to mount/raise the engine and an adapter for the driveshaft. The spacer plate was thick, heavy, substantial metal. The driveshaft adapter utilized all the bolts into the crank and all of the bolts for the driveshaft. I've seen other adapters in kits and on ebay that did not use all of the bolts. So although I didn't actually deal with repowerspecialists, I give them a thumbs up for quality.

A couple recommendations or things to ask:
Some repower kits change the height of the engine crankshaft. This will require you to use a different length PTO belt.
My GX630/JD318 repower would have required me to cut my engine side cover to accommodate the oil fill cap (repowerspecialists shows a pic of this on their website). I altered my valve cover to avoid this.
I've heard many people complain about mufflers not fitting - requiring you to cut the tractor. I ended up fab'ing my own, but it looks like repowerspecialists has a muffler that would direct fit my 318.
As you compare prices, makes sure it is apples to apples. Do all kits have a new PTO clutch included? New PTO belt? Muffler? Require alterations to the tractor?
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post #6 of 14 Old 06-14-2019, 08:00 AM Thread Starter
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Re: John Deere 400 Repower

Quote:
Originally Posted by Merc1973 View Post
I repowered for my 400 from SEW. You can read my thread: Picking up a 400 Saturday. If i were to do it over i would go with a Kohler command pro or Honda from Repower specialist just based on engines alone. Looks like they don't have the compmaints SEW does but they might not have sell as many kits either. SEW sells a lot.

Im not completely happy with my SEW kit. I replied to a post on WFM about my 400 experience, it was lengthy. I'll see if i can find it.
Thanks Merc. I'll definitely find your thread and check it out. If I can Avoid SEW and still get this done in my budget I definitely will. And I'll give Repower Specialists anther look as well.


Quote:
Originally Posted by inspectorudy View Post
I bought a 400 with the Honda in it and it was a marriage made in heaven. Turn the key any time or place and it sprang to life. It came with a black box that did all of the electrical hookups and the rest was a snap. Drive shaft was neat and simple and the only shakey area was the exhaust exit. I would have done it differently but it was fine.
Thanks Inspectorudy. I had a couple of people steer me away from the Honda in Favor of the Briggs, citing issues of reliability and parts availability. I don't know about the parts, but previously I was under the impression that the Hondas were super reliable. I guess it just depends who you talk to. Glad to hear you've had good luck with yours.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skwirl View Post
I'm considering a repower this winter. Id like to see some pics of tractors with a repower done to it.
OK Skwirl, I'll post some pics when I get it done!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CantKeepUp View Post
I put a Honda GX630 into my 318. The engine and accessories came from a donor tractor that had been repowered from repowerspecialists.com (so I didn't buy the kit from the myself). It came with an adapter/spacer plate to mount/raise the engine and an adapter for the driveshaft. The spacer plate was thick, heavy, substantial metal. The driveshaft adapter utilized all the bolts into the crank and all of the bolts for the driveshaft. I've seen other adapters in kits and on ebay that did not use all of the bolts. So although I didn't actually deal with repowerspecialists, I give them a thumbs up for quality.

A couple recommendations or things to ask:
Some repower kits change the height of the engine crankshaft. This will require you to use a different length PTO belt.
My GX630/JD318 repower would have required me to cut my engine side cover to accommodate the oil fill cap (repowerspecialists shows a pic of this on their website). I altered my valve cover to avoid this.
I've heard many people complain about mufflers not fitting - requiring you to cut the tractor. I ended up fab'ing my own, but it looks like repowerspecialists has a muffler that would direct fit my 318.
As you compare prices, makes sure it is apples to apples. Do all kits have a new PTO clutch included? New PTO belt? Muffler? Require alterations to the tractor?
Great advice! Thanks. I'm trying to avoid modifications if possible. I can cut and weld and move and fit, but it can be so time consuming! SEW claims their kit requires no mods and drops right in, but I'm tending to doubt them judging from the reviews I've seen.
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post #7 of 14 Old 06-14-2019, 08:23 AM
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Re: John Deere 400 Repower

I found it (along with some with some poor grammar and spelling).


Quote:
My SEW 23 HP Vangaurd installation was to be expected. It was not direst plug and play, but I completed it. I took my time to clean and repaint the frame. I also swapped in a 318 style hydro cooler instead so better driveshaft clearance, since I bought a custom serviceable driveshaft. The instructions were written, but too brief if your not familiar with how things work. My main issues were:


-Muffler tailpipe did not line up with the hole in my side panel. I had to heat the pipe to pull it forward, this was done with the muffler off the engine. The bend did narrow the pipe slightly so Im still not 100% happy with how that turned out but I did NOT want to chop up my freshly painted panels, wanted a clean look.


-Second issue was PTO cable routing. The new PTO cable guide bar was not designed as well as it could have been. It was too short and the cable rubs on the muffler/manifold. I had to fab up a bracket and use a threaded eyelet to guide the cable away from the the muffler/manifold.

-Thirdly SEW remade the PTO idler pulley and bracket and in my case it does not allow the PTO brake shoe to make full contact with the PTO brake drum so the PTO will sometimes start to turn even when not engaged. The original belt guides need to be modded to fit to keep the PTO belts from flopping and catching too

-Fourthly the engine mount cradle was not totally "square." There is a slight bend somewhere with puts some pulling-stress on 2 of the rubber isolator engine mounts. Hopefully this will not lead to premature failure of the rubber.


-Fifth complaint was upon opening the box there were bolts and nuts everywhere in the box loose, just rolling around. During shipping a forklift operator punched a hole near the bottom, luckily there was no damage to the engine (punched through an empty space in the box) and there was no missing bolts, however there were a couple random thin/long machine screws also in the mix of bolts/nuts which i have no clue why they are included.


-Six complaint were the throttle and choke cables. The new throttle lever is absolute cheap junk, loose and sloppy. I reused the original. The new choke handle was nice and worked better then the original so I used theirs. The cables are slightly too long which causes binding of the cable inside the sleeve therefore making the levers very stiff to move. It took some messing with removing and installing the throttle cable to get it to move smooth and easy. I found it easier to install the throttle cable at the carburetor first, then at the dashboard. The Choke was super stiff. I fixed that by loosening a lock nut on the choke linkage a little bit on the carb, works great now.


-Last issue was the muffler heat shield needed to be trimmed/notched to allow removal of the oil dipstick.


Engine runs well, I'm at 4 hours into break in and I will change oil in one more hour. The engine runs well, harder starting than my old Kohler Command 25. I'm not the settings of throttle/choke to allow quickest starting. The Kohler started with full choke, and 1/3 throttle with in 2 seconds cold. This takes almost 10 seconds. I checked the valve clearances and they were within spec.


1981 400- Vanguard 23 HP, 54C deck, 56 blade, 50 snow blower
SOLD-2003 G100- 54", Kohler Command 25, Gator G5 blades
JD 46" snow Blade

Stihl 031AV (WIMA cap, base gasket delete) 20"
Echo CS-590 (MM) 20"
Husqvarna 128LD Trimmer

Giant Vac w/ 6.5HP Predator Engine
Unknown 1980's Japanese backpack Blower with Kawasaki engine
1968 M35A2

Last edited by Merc1973; 06-14-2019 at 10:10 AM.
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post #8 of 14 Old 06-14-2019, 09:10 AM Thread Starter
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Re: John Deere 400 Repower

Quote:
Originally Posted by Merc1973 View Post
I found it (along with some with some poor grammar and spelling).
WOW, Thanks Merc. That's super helpful. Maybe the Honda or Kohler is for me. I've always had great luck with the Kohler engines. Even if I stick with the Briggs, I may have to save up some more, or sell some prized implements or something , but SEW just isn't worth it. I'll go with Replacement Specialists or Jim's. Thanks again!
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post #9 of 14 Old 06-14-2019, 10:09 AM
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Re: John Deere 400 Repower

Quote:
Originally Posted by subcanis View Post
WOW, Thanks Merc. That's super helpful. Maybe the Honda or Kohler is for me. I've always had great luck with the Kohler engines. Even if I stick with the Briggs, I may have to save up some more, or sell some prized implements or something , but SEW just isn't worth it. I'll go with Replacement Specialists or Jim's. Thanks again!

I just fixed the copy/paste errors from my last post.

Start a thread when you get it ready to go!


1981 400- Vanguard 23 HP, 54C deck, 56 blade, 50 snow blower
SOLD-2003 G100- 54", Kohler Command 25, Gator G5 blades
JD 46" snow Blade

Stihl 031AV (WIMA cap, base gasket delete) 20"
Echo CS-590 (MM) 20"
Husqvarna 128LD Trimmer

Giant Vac w/ 6.5HP Predator Engine
Unknown 1980's Japanese backpack Blower with Kawasaki engine
1968 M35A2
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post #10 of 14 Old 06-14-2019, 10:28 AM
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Thanks for the info.
I've talked to Jim's already, and he is the front runner for me. Repower specialists dont have a kit for my 212 yet. They said maybe in 6 months.
So I'm trying to save up the money, Jim's kit is pretty pricey compared to the others.

And I 2nd starting a new thread on the repower.
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post #11 of 14 Old 06-14-2019, 10:08 PM
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Re: John Deere 400 Repower

I have the SEW JD317 Briggs kit, direct fit since 2014 still going strong.
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post #12 of 14 Old 06-18-2019, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
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Re: John Deere 400 Repower

Quote:
Originally Posted by Father Deerest View Post
I have the SEW JD317 Briggs kit, direct fit since 2014 still going strong.
Thanks, I think I'm still too wary of SEW's reputation though. The Briggs is a great engine, I'm sure you have many years of reliability yet to come.
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post #13 of 14 Old 06-18-2019, 09:27 PM Thread Starter
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Re: John Deere 400 Repower

So, over the past few days I have decided to definitely get the Vanguard, then The Kohler Command Pro, and now I'm ready to actually pull the trigger on The Honda GX630 from Repower Specialists. The only really viable option (Besides rebuilding the K532) that I ruled out from the beginning was the Predator. The price is so tempting, but I just don't trust them for the long haul. I don't want to do this every couple of years, I'd rather be fixing a NEW old piece of...tractor! So I'll Try to keep you all posted on my progress. I really do appreciate the input I've gotten here.
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post #14 of 14 Old 06-19-2019, 12:05 PM
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Re: John Deere 400 Repower

You do know that the Predator is built in the same Chinese plant as the Honda? There are differences but it is like buying a car made by Ford and on that same assembly line they are making a clone by a different name with some minor changes. I am not really sure about all of this but this is what I have read. I have talked to two people that had terrible results from their Predators but I am also sure there are many who haven't.
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