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What Is Best Replacement Engine For An '83 John Deere 318?

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#16 Tennblue59 OFFLINE  



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Posted May 11, 2013 - 10:44 PM

I've got 2 engines that are gonna end up in garden tractors. I have a 316 (onan) without the engine. Been stockpiling parts (twin brake pedals, 3 spool hydraulics, etc) to turn it into a 318 super-clone.

I had picked up a Briggs 18hp vanguard twin to put into it and had started doing the layout for that install. Read most of the threads about those conversions and it seems pretty straightforward...


But then I picked up a Kubota D600 (16 hp 3 cylinder liquid cooled diesel) in a golf course mower and I am tentatively switching to swap that one into the 316. The torque, water cooling and decreased fuel usage of the diesel win the comparison, but the install will be much more involved..... The donor has a power steering system as well, so that will be going into the 316.


A small liquid cooled diesel is, in my opinion,  the "best" engine option, but may be overkill for most garden tractors unless you use it a LOT. With any kind of diesel engine, I suspect traction and (lack of) weight will be the liminting factors, not power.....  In my case, I want the 316 diesel as a back up cutter (for the bigger tractor and the fields - we have a fair amount of land....) and portable power source to be able to run a generator or pump or ???. 


The 18hp gas twin will most likely get relogated to either my 316 kohler or a ford LGT160 - both have single cylinder kohler shakers in them, and the smoothness, lower fuel consumption and added power (compared to the kohler k341) of the gas twin would be an improvement. The gas twin also weighs less, so adding it to a non-power steering tractor lightens the front end.....


Not sure what the twins fuel consumption is compared to the original onan, but unless you use the tractor a LOT, gas $$$ isnt that big of a deal...


The onan twins were good motors - meant to last and providing good power. If I had a rebuildable one, spending the money to get it up to specs and running good might be the easiest option. Unless you get the repower engines really cheap (which was my situation...), you are going to be spending serious money either way you go...


Thats my two cents worth...

#17 Trav1s OFFLINE  


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Posted May 12, 2013 - 11:28 AM

Not sure what the twins fuel consumption is compared to the original onan, but unless you use the tractor a LOT, gas $$$ isnt that big of a deal...



I believe that the fuel consumption is about 1/3 less when using a bigger motor when compared to an Onan.  Not sure how it works on the K3xx singles.

#18 cutlass OFFLINE  

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Posted September 09, 2013 - 11:08 AM

I installed a D722 in my 300 the fuel savings alone will pay for the engine I would say witin 3 years I cut about an acre and a half with one tank of diesel I get aproximately 8 cuts compared to the gas engine 2 cuts . It was a fair bit of work and if your not handy it might be to big of a project ,I would definintly build another but would make sure it has power steering.

#19 Hammerdown OFFLINE  

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Posted September 26, 2013 - 06:05 AM


Your Oil leaking issue is more than Likely a Loose Oil filter adopter housing which is common on these Onan's. To repair it you will have to pull the engine shield sheet metal on the Oil filter side of the engine. Remove the Oil filter adaptor it is held with Two bolts. Clean it's surface and Place a new Onan Oil filter adopter gasket. I would suggest that you use some Lock tight on the bolt thread's so that they can not loosen again. The starter issue is also another common Onan engine issue. if the starter is not set up right on the engine it will wear out and be non functional. It mist have it's starter gear drive Teeth lash set to the flywheel Teeth. To do so Onan say's to Enlarge one of the starter mount bolt hole's so that the starter can swing enough to provided the correct starter Gear to fly wheel gear lash needed. Most Guy's simply keep placing new starter's and do not take the time to set the correct lash. I will Include a Link to an Onan B-43-G engine as well as the P-218 engines as you did not say what engine your John Deere had.


 I have had a first year 1983 John Deere 318 for about Four Years now. It had a dealer replaced B-43-E Onan engine in it which was the sixteen Horse Power version Onan twin that was tired. I decided to restore the Tractor last winter, so I placed a fresh Onan P-218 engine in it. The total cost was $1475.00 but you get what you pay for and this engine in a remanufactured engine with a Fresh Bore, New Pistons, rings, rod's, camshaft and main bearings and it has had it's governor rebuilt with the metal spacer. New Valve seat's, guide's, seals's and the valves have been ground. All New Gasket's were used so the Only original part of the engine was the block, cam and crankshaft. I weighed out everything and it would have cost me more to Place a Cheap Inferior Made Lower China engine in my Tractor, When Re-powering most guy's don't think about all of the changes that have to be made such as PTO shaft Bushing, Crankshaft drive shaft coupler, engine mounting plate holes, Exhaust, wiring, choke and throttle cables and the list Goes on. These Re-Power's are Not a simple Plug & Play and when you are done you have a tractor of Much less value as well as power. Onan meant for their engine's to be re-built Multiple time's, and thats More than I can say about these Re-power's as when they are wore out you often either can not get Part's to rebuild them or if they let loose they destroy the entire engine.




To me, The John Deere 318 Lawn & Garden Tractor was the best Tractor that John Deere ever made & That's why there are so many of them still out there going strong 21 Year's after they quit making them. Make No mistake John Deere got it right when they Placed the Onan engine's in them they are as tough as Nail's and outlast any other gas engine out there then or since. I would suggest that you rebuild that Onan that is in your Tractor as it is a Long Term Investment, Not a Lower powered China engine.That is why I sunk $1475.00 of my Hard Earned money right back into an Onan as they simply are the best. Here are some picture's of mine now restored I hope my suggestion's helps. Regards, Hammerdown



































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#20 IHCubGuy ONLINE  



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Posted September 26, 2013 - 07:51 PM

Having redone a 318 with a 23HP Vangaurd repower two years ago I would reccomend rebuilding the Onan and letting it live another 30 years like has been said allready.  The Vanguard has given more problems in 2 years of service than the Onan gave us in 24 years of service.  I do like the idea if a diesel repower though.  Put a Yanmar 3 cylinder in it and make it a 332.

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#21 Rod in MN OFFLINE  

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Posted April 28, 2016 - 01:32 PM

HI,  I had a 318 with 54" deck 519 cart, Hyd. drive tiller, snowblower  I wish i would have not traded up to a 425 AWS none of the attachments would fit So had to find a snowblower now i use a walk behind tiller (what a pain) Now i have rings around all of the trees. The 425 dose not have the same power as the 318. I had a belly blade on the 318 with wheel, Full set sutecase weights on it moveing sand i had 14 Loads to level. everone said it would not have power to do that when i was pushing sand I would KILL the engine on it. The 425 would not do it yes the foot controls are nice but over all the 318 with a Onan is better i think.


I worker for a John Deere dealer ship for 25 years. On the Onan you had to blow out the starter and check the oil sender for a oil leak and the oil filter. The only engine i switch was on the 317 when moweing a road ditch or side hill. I dont think i did change a engine on 318. I pick up all the Onan parts i find


Thanks Thats my 2 cents


#22 mtoney OFFLINE  

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Posted April 30, 2016 - 10:24 AM

From a professional JD dealership technician view, I would also recommend having the Onan professionaly rebuilt.  If you were closer, I would suggest Dave May, he rebuilds them and either swaps one of the fresh engines on the shelf for yours, or if you want, rebuilds your original engine.   Last time I heard a price, it was less than any of the repower kits out there.  Onans make thier rated horse power at a lower rpm, and maintain it thru the top end of the RPM band.  These newer V-twins loose HP fast once you pull them just a few RPM off 3600.  Most guys have no clue how to get the life from an Onan, the valve adjustments every 200 hours, decarboning the heads, keeping the belly screen on the tractor clean and if its missing replace it and keeping the flywheel side of the cylinder jugs clean and free of debris.   Updating to a newer P series over your B series does mean notching the motor mounting plate to clear the solonoid shift style starter used on those series engines.  But you gain electronic ignition over the points on the B series so better starting.  Setting the gear lash on the starter will solve the constant starter replacement.  And if you update to a P series, make sure you do the factory relay kit on the starter, also important for consistent starts.  Onan built one heck of an engine, if you have an RV, most likely the genset is Onan and many of the larger ones had B and P series twins for the engine.  Seen over 5000 hours on one without any major overhaul.  Key is upkeep, keeping it clean, and doing the adjustments by the book.   There is my 2 cents.   Mike

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#23 ducky OFFLINE  


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Posted April 30, 2016 - 11:08 AM

 "I would suggest Dave May, he rebuilds them and either swaps one of the fresh engines on the shelf for yours, or if you want, rebuilds your original engine."

Hi Mtoney.  How would one get a hold of Dave May.

#24 mtoney OFFLINE  

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Posted April 30, 2016 - 12:47 PM

He used to advertise in Lawn and Garden Collector magazine.  You might shoot them an message, I dont have his number handy.  Mike