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Impressions Of A 316k


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#1 Tennblue59 OFFLINE  

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Posted September 20, 2012 - 10:23 AM

Guessin its been about 6 months or so that the 316 kohler has been up and running, so I thought I would weigh in on my impressions of it....

This was my first "real" garden tractor, before this I used lawn mowers (LX173) and a compact tractor (2320). Those have colored my opinion some. And this thing came in a box (the build story is on here somewhere), so I didn't know what to expect, or how it was supposed to run....

I like the build quality! Everything is heavy duty and reasonably well laid out. Good air flow to and from the engine, and easy to blow the dust off with an air hose. So much beafier than my older lawn tractors.

Still on the fence about the hand throttle. Most of my old mowers were gear drive and had a clutch/brake pedal. And the 2320 (where I spend most of my time) has pedals. Have almost run into a few things since the engine overpowers the brakes and not used to reaching for the lever to stop. I wish there was some easy way to add a foot lever while still retaining the hand throttle. But is nice on long rows to set and forget the throttle!

Brakes/traction - The LX mostly gets used in the "yard" so traction is not an issue. The 2320 is all wheel drive, so again, comparing differing fruits. And the 316 is on older hard tires... The engine overpowers the tire's traction, especially on hills and slopes (not using any weight yet..). I have several spots where the smaller/lower "mower" feels safer than the high COG tractor, so traction is an issue. A differential lock would be nice - but having split brakes really helps. You can "lock" the spinning tire so the other tire will often bite.

Steering - Biggest disapointment, but getting used to it.... THIS THING HAS THE BIGGEST TURNING RADIUS I HAVE EVER SEEN!!!!! I fixed the slop in the assembly, and it is fairly light/easy to turn, but the radius is taking some getting used to! Coming from the LX and the 2320 - both of which have a VERY short turning radius, so maybe I expect too much. Getting used to doing 3 point turns a lot, but the unfamiliar dash go lever slows that down... And having split brakes helps when I remember to use them.

Fit - I'm a small guy (5'7") so fit on it ok. Controls come easily to hand, etc.

Engine - My engine was a full bore/rebuild, so I took my time getting it broke in. It's about due for the post-build timing check/carb tune/tightening/valve adjustment, etc. My carb is a little off and I need to adjust the governer up a little - still fine tuning... But plenty of power. Thing shakes like crazy at idle, but smooths out at operating speed. The old kohlers do use some gas though. But with some care, this thing will last longer than I will! I can see the appeal of the v-twin transplant (actually have an engineless 316 onan that WILL be getting a transplant if I keep it), but don't think I would pony up the money as long as my engine is running ok..

Attachments - I only have the mower deck now. Like that the 316 uses common, easily available options and attachments, and there are plenty out there. I plan to put a 3 point hitch on it (with a pin hitch attachment), and may get a blade and plow eventually. I have a small rake and a few other things that I could use with it with the 3 point...

I like having the wider deck (48" compared to the narrower deck on the LX - the 2320 has a 62" mid deck), but will have to change my mowing pattern to get through a few narrow places. Actually cuts nice - both in the field and in the yard.

Overall I need a small mower to cut the yard - the 2320 doesnt fit and leaves too many marks. Also need something that fits under the trees (2320 has ROPs that collects branches). And having something to help cut the fields (we cut about 8 acres regularly) - wife/son and I can work at the same time and get done faster. For me the 2320 does most of the heavy work (loader, plowing, bush-hogging, etc). Cutting the field with the 316 would take a while, but if I only had one tractor, the 316 COULD do it all. Makes a good jack of all trades. The LX is a DEDICATED mower - for the yard, it does a better job than either of the other two, but is not designed for ground engagement - it doesn't venture out of the yard much!
In our situation, the 316 is going to be the "second option" - if the primary mower or tractor is busy, the 316 can fill in or work along side, and can go anywhere. With the right tools, it may take over the garden duties. Since the wife likes the big tractor, I may be spending a lot of time working with the 316....

Anyway, a little long, but maybe this will help someone looking at getting one of these for their own situation...

#2 Alc ONLINE  

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Posted September 20, 2012 - 10:39 AM

Gald to hear eveerything is working out well for you . :thumbs: I don't know if the 316 is the same as my 318 ( 1983 ) but if I apply the brakes the hydro control lever moves towards the Netural position and you can only move the lever so far either forward or reverse while using the brakes , maybe you have something that needs adjusting ? Al

#3 Tennblue59 OFFLINE  

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Posted September 20, 2012 - 10:56 AM

It does pick up a little speed going down-hill... I had thought that was the nature of the beast, but I read somewhere that that may be a sign of wear in the control linkage.

If I tromp the brakes, it does back off the throttle, just used to being able to feather the brakes on the other things to reduce speed, or let up on the pedal to slow down. More of an operator error than a machine error - something about "new tricks and an old dog"..... :laughingteeth:

#4 Trav1s ONLINE  

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Posted September 20, 2012 - 11:53 AM

Steering - Biggest disapointment, but getting used to it.... THIS THING HAS THE BIGGEST TURNING RADIUS I HAVE EVER SEEN!!!!! I fixed the slop in the assembly, and it is fairly light/easy to turn, but the radius is taking some getting used to! Coming from the LX and the 2320 - both of which have a VERY short turning radius, so maybe I expect too much. Getting used to doing 3 point turns a lot, but the unfamiliar dash go lever slows that down... And having split brakes helps when I remember to use them.


Thanks for your thoughts. The uber-large turning radius has been a complaint since day 1 on those tractors. Deere corrected that on the 318 and it is very noticeable. Even since the 318, Deere has been improving turning radius and I think you see that on your other machines. I am not sure if it was a simple spindle change or not but I sure would be tempted to swap in the entire front axle and spindles from a 318 to see if it would help. It seems that the 120 has a smaller turning radius than the RF 110 and the 200 series machines I spent much of my formative years piloting.

As for the shaky Kohler, I have read that the k301 is a fair bit smoother than the k341 due to the shorter stroke and with a few simple tweaks can hold its own against the larger K series. Makes me glad I have the K301 in the 120. As for fuel usage, the repower looks even more appealing as gas has hit $4.00/gallon out here plus the v-twin looks cool hanging out past the sides of the frame on the 120 and 140. :smilewink:

Edited by Trav1s, September 20, 2012 - 12:03 PM.


#5 HowardsMF155 ONLINE  

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Posted September 20, 2012 - 11:57 AM

Tennblue, I'm not a Deere man at all, but it really doesn't seem to me that JD would have manufactured something that didn't have a link between the brake and the Fwd/Rvs control. Can you access an IPL and make sure you aren't missing some sort of linkage? OSHA didn't have the clout back in the day these were made, but that still seems unsafe.

#6 Tennblue59 OFFLINE  

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Posted September 20, 2012 - 02:47 PM

Trav1s - you said the 318 has an improved turning radius. So that would go for the 316 onan as well, since it is based on the 318? Any idea how much of an improvement compared to the 300/316k clan? (I've never seen turning radius numbers in print anywhere that i remember) Never piloted a 318, and my 316 onan is a LONG was from motivation so I have no reference point. I can live without power steering, but if the radius is better, that would be another bonus for fixing it up. And I've got an Kohler command 18 hp looking for a project....

As for the shaking, I ride an older Harley Road king, so am used to the vibration :orangecool:. But is actually very similar. At idle, things are bouncing all over the place, but once it comes up to speed, it settles out to a "resonance" that is not objectionable. I do wonder long term if there would be more stress cracks and damage from all the movement though.

Howard, I'll see if any other owners pipe in as to the brake/speed/motion interaction. All I know is what I have - never had one of these before. But on most vehicles, the "gas" and brakes are not interlinked. I just went out and checked my 2320 - has similar split brakes and hydro - brake has no effect on throttle - I can keep the pedal down and lock one or both wheels. The whole idea of split brakes would be wasted if you killed power when you applied them. By stopping one wheel and keeping power to the other, you can pivot on the locked wheel for a sharper turn or prevent wheel spin. ..

#7 Trav1s ONLINE  

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Posted September 20, 2012 - 02:55 PM

Trav1s - you said the 318 has an improved turning radius. So that would go for the 316 onan as well, since it is based on the 318? Any idea how much of an improvement compared to the 300/316k clan? (I've never seen turning radius numbers in print anywhere that i remember) Never piloted a 318, and my 316 onan is a LONG was from motivation so I have no reference point. I can live without power steering, but if the radius is better, that would be another bonus for fixing it up. And I've got an Kohler command 18 hp looking for a project....

As for the shaking, I ride an older Harley Road king, so am used to the vibration :orangecool:. But is actually very similar. At idle, things are bouncing all over the place, but once it comes up to speed, it settles out to a "resonance" that is not objectionable. I do wonder long term if there would be more stress cracks and damage from all the movement though.

Howard, I'll see if any other owners pipe in as to the brake/speed/motion interaction. All I know is what I have - never had one of these before. But on most vehicles, the "gas" and brakes are not interlinked. I just went out and checked my 2320 - has similar split brakes and hydro - brake has no effect on throttle - I can keep the pedal down and lock one or both wheels. The whole idea of split brakes would be wasted if you killed power when you applied them. By stopping one wheel and keeping power to the other, you can pivot on the locked wheel for a sharper turn or prevent wheel spin. ..


Found this info on the turning radius on WFM

The 318 was truly a revolution in the Garden Tractor industry. And it needed to be. After the public relations disaster that Deere endured over the 317, Deere had gone back to the drawing board and went above and beyond anything the competition had. Operator comfort had been dramatically increased through the used of hydrostatic power steering. With a tight turning radius on 26 inches, the 318 turned inside many on the previous models.


That being said, this quote tells me the 2nd gen 316 (Onan powered) should be a marked improvement over the 316K:

][/size]In 1984, the 318 was joined by its little brother the 316. Basically the same tractor as the 318, but without power steering and having only 1 spool of hydraulics. In 1986 the 330 joined the team, Deere’s first diesel powered Lawn and Garden tractor. And in 1988, the 330 was replaced by the 332, a diesel and the 322 was added with a 3 cylinder gasoline engine. The 330, 332, and 322 were all liquid cooled and the engines were sourced from Yanmar, the supplier of John Deere’s compact tractor line since 1979.


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#8 JDBrian OFFLINE  

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Posted September 21, 2012 - 06:06 AM

I have a 314 and a 317 that is being restored now. The turning radius issue is not that bad for me but I agree that it is wider than my 2320 which is much larger. The engine shake is probably due to bad engine mounts. They tend to break down over time and although they don't look obviously broken they are usually cracked on the underside and allowing a lot of engine movement. This can result in another problem - drive shaft issues due to the large movements of the engine. The original 300 had the engine counterbalancer and a few of the early 316's did as well, but then JD removed them from the later 300 series models. As a result there is a lot of shake in the engine at low speeds. To prevent this JD set the idle speed to be 2000-2200 to reduce the tendency to shake the rubber mounts at lower engine speeds. This is much higher than typical.
The hydro linkage has 2 typical problem areas IME. One is the neutral adjuster and cam follower/spring. The cam follower can get a flat spot on it and the adjuster seizes up. The spring and follower are available from JD for a few $ and the adjuster can be disassembled and freed up. The other area is the hole in the cam( swash plate lever) on the transmission where the linkage connects with a clevis and pin. The hole wears and the slop results in jerky stops once you get the neutral issue fixed. If you have this problem you can sometimes drill out the clevis and get a 7/16" pin to replace the stock 3/8". On my 314 the hole in the swash plate was worn to a nice fit for the larger pin.
The control lever is not interlocked to the brake on these machines. There is a parking brake that will prevent the lever from moving out of neutral but applying the brakes does not bring the travel lever back to neutral. Not exactly good safety design by modern standards.
They are a nice machine and have a strong drivetrain but usually require some TLC to get them back in top shape.
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#9 Tennblue59 OFFLINE  

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Posted September 21, 2012 - 08:16 AM

Thanks Brian! I was hoping you would weigh in on this, since you have given me a lot of good info before!

I've been doing some pm and rebuilding a deck spindle on the LX, so the 316 has been doing yard cutting duty lately - one of the reasons I've been putting a lot of time on it. I HOPE to have the LX back in service and finish up on the Ford soon to handle chores. I figure this winter I will go back through the 316k and fix a few issues I have found while using it. Will add the hydro linkage to the things to check...

#10 ggsteve OFFLINE  

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Posted September 21, 2012 - 06:08 PM

The engine shake is classic in that 16 hp Kohler. My 316K is like a bucking bronco at idle! I've heard the 216 has the same issue.

Edited by ggsteve, September 21, 2012 - 06:09 PM.


#11 JDBrian OFFLINE  

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Posted September 22, 2012 - 06:34 AM

The engine shake is classic in that 16 hp Kohler. My 316K is like a bucking bronco at idle! I've heard the 216 has the same issue.


I've done some analysis of the engine mounts and the resonant frequency of the mounts is quite high due to the stiffness required in the tall front mounts. I think this is the reason for JD setting the idle so high at 2000-2200rpms. If you have the idle set to a more typical speed you will get a lot of shake as the engine vibration approaches the resonant frequency of the mounts and they do not attenuate the vibration but actually amplify it. Between this and 30 year old mounts it can shake the side covers right off the tractor. Try adjusting up your idle to the higher speed and see if it improves things. On my 314 it still vibrates a lot even at higher speeds due to my front mounts needing replacement. Unfortunately they are very expensive from JD and are a special order item from second source suppliers, meaning you'd have to order 100s of them.

#12 MAV OFFLINE  

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Posted September 22, 2012 - 11:10 AM

Hey Guy,s
Thought I would jump in here and throw out my idea why the turning radius on the 316 K is so big. Last year when I was doing the fat tire swap on the 316 K and the 140 I noticed that the steering spindle arm ( the part that the tie rod attaches to ) was longer on the 316 than on the 140. So one of these days when I get some time I am going to change the spindles and tie rods form the 140 to the 316 to see if this helps with the turning radius.
Also when the 317 and 314 came out I think they change the whole steering design. I think that the only part that will interchange with the 140,300 ,312, and the 316k is the front axle itself.

#13 JDBrian OFFLINE  

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Posted September 23, 2012 - 06:20 AM

I think they moved the steering linkage to be more centred on the newer tractors. The 317 I am restoring had been rolled at one point and the steering was a real mess on it. Brackets were bent and it was all out of alignment. I am replacing most of the linkage with good used parts. I am looking forward to seeing how it handles with pretty much new steering from wheel to spindles. The radius isn't an issue for me. If you shorten those arms the steering will be quicker and require more effort. The stops on the spindle arm are what should limit the radius. I imagine there was a reason for the change. Perhaps the wheels will interfere with wider mower decks or some other attachments if allowed to turn sharper.
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#14 Trav1s ONLINE  

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Posted September 23, 2012 - 11:24 AM

Interestingly, the replacement spindles for the 120 that I got from Georgiadeere on ebay did not have the stops on them like the ones that came on the tractor...




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