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Diesel Conversion

garden tractor diesel convers

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#1 erumburg OFFLINE  

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Posted June 14, 2014 - 09:06 AM


New Member here. I've  been thinking about building a 1 or 2cylinder aircooled diesel garden tractor conversion and I'm looking for suggestions on both tractor brand and motor brand. I have several  vintage cub cadets  but don't plan on using any of those so I'll be starting from scratch 

Here's my criteria

1 This will be a mowing tractor, so I'll need to be able to use the factory mower/pto

2 Due to some mobility  issues, it needs to be a hydro and I would prefer a powered lift and power steering or the ability to add something the the supersteer kit that I bought from Dave Kirk

3 I'm not a real fan of belt drives and would prefer shaft drive, but belt drive isn't a deal breaker, espeicially if it is an easier conversion. 

4 I would hope to avoid any serious fab work like stretching the frame etc

5 I have  my snow removal needs covered  with a JD diesel loader tractor, so this will be a mowing tractor only, 

6 I have to keep the whole deal under my wife's  "dollar radar" so I need to keep it affordable as well  

I thought it would be easier to find a suitable tractor first and then find an engine to go with it.

I guess if the hydro issue makes it too complicated  I will just scrap the idea and look for a decent diesel garden tractor, but  I thought it would be a good winter project.

Any ideas/suggestions  from you guys would be great. 

Thanks for your help


#2 DougT ONLINE  


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Posted June 14, 2014 - 09:49 AM

Welcome to the forum. Hope you enjoy yourself here. I'm sure someone can answer your questions.

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#3 boyscout862 OFFLINE  

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Posted June 14, 2014 - 10:21 AM

Welcome to GTT. Do a search of older threads on this subject. Unless you have access to inexpensive diesel engines, it will get pricey. You should look around for a factory diesel tractor to make it easier on yourself. An AC 720D went for $200 at a tractor swap near me last month. I missed it by 20 minutes. Good Luck, Rick

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#4 coldone OFFLINE  



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Posted June 14, 2014 - 10:54 AM

For a diesel mower on the cheap, I would look for a Wheel horse C series hydro and pick up on of the 10-13hp Chinese diesel off ebay. The C series was pretty abundant and can be had for cheap sometimes. It belt drive but has a sundstrand hydro. Plenty of parts available and decks can be found pretty easily. I like the way the decks cut on the Toro/Wheelhorse. I think if you are patient you can do the entire project for under $1000 if you go withj the cheaper 10HP engine.

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#5 Cvans OFFLINE  



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Posted June 14, 2014 - 11:03 AM

:welcome:  After having done quite a few Diesel conversions I just don't see a cheap and easy way to fulfill your requirements. A Chinese diesel would be the lowest cost air-cooled available and would probably require the least amount of modifications to install. Your limited to 10 hp unless you want to spring for a twin cylinder which gets spendy. Yanmar and other air-cooled engines are available but expensive even used. Most of my experience is with water cooled which takes a lot more effort to complete. 

Do a Google search for diesel garden tractors and you will find some good information. I think there is a good video showing an MF tractor with a Chines diesel but it is belt drive. Appears to be a very nice installation.

Good luck and let us know how your project is proceeding.

Edited by Cvans, June 14, 2014 - 11:04 AM.

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#6 JDBrian OFFLINE  


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Posted June 14, 2014 - 12:59 PM

While gathering info. keep your eyes peeled for a Kubota diesel mower. I've seen a few for sale up here lately. They make great mowers. On the JD side a 332 is a really nice machine, being a 318 with diesel power. JD also made a GX355 which was a very nice machine but rare and newer than the 332. I've also seen some Ford and later model New Holland diesel GT's going for good prices.  

 One thing about the Chinese 418cc air cooled diesels is that you will see them rated anywhere from 9 to 13hp. I think the 9hp figure is the continuous power level.   

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#7 LilysDad ONLINE  


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Posted June 14, 2014 - 01:01 PM

If your already familiar with Cub Cadet and you want shaft drive, why not stick with that?

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#8 jd.rasentrac OFFLINE  


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Posted June 15, 2014 - 08:42 AM

welcome to GTT


please regard: if you buy cheap, you'll buy twice..

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#9 trowel OFFLINE  



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Posted June 15, 2014 - 09:12 AM

IMO diesel conversions are personal choices were one is willing to spend the money, has the know how, the tools, place and willingness do it right the first time around and for personal reasons in regards to just modifying or updating a GT.


As stated above it is always easier to buy a existing diesel power tractor and throw money at it, to add GT not mentioned yet is Bolens, a range of very top quality diesel powered garden tractor, usually with the very well built Ruggerini diesel (re-branded as Wisconsin Robin) and water cooled Yanmars, if i was not so keen on re-powering my Allis Chalmers with a British diesel i would go with Bolens in a heart beat.

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#10 Dieselcubmike OFFLINE  

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Posted June 16, 2014 - 09:13 PM

If last resort the super cubs are already setup with power steering, hydro lift, and are heavy duty but it all depends on your budget. They have the 3 cylinder Kubota diesels which are incredibility tough (I have a diesel puller making a lot of torque and power and im still using factory parts) the Kubota diesels are about 16hp and up so they provide ample power and great fuel economy. 

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