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How Old is My Tecumseh Engine?


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#1 superaben OFFLINE  

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Posted March 07, 2015 - 08:59 PM

I think we all have been fed the story once or twice that Tecumseh had no engine records and thus there is no way to accurately date a Tecumseh engine.  I have been asked to give the year on a Tecumseh dozens of times.  I had to answer the question again tonight and realized that I did not have the information that I do have written in a nice way.  I decided to go ahead and make it easy to follow it in hopes of being able to help some folks out.

 

First of all, these instructions only apply to engines using a five digit serial number code.  That would be a code with four numbers followed by a one letter suffix. 

 

If it is an early engine (and I do not know when the cutoff is) it will have a long serial number, up to 8 or 9 digits.  These instructions do not applyThat style would have been certainly used in the early days of the Lauson/Power Products swap to Tecumseh, up until at least the mid 1960's.  There is no hidden code there.  What ever we know would have to go by factory records that may or may not exist. 

 

If it is a post 2004 engine, the instructions will be in the next post on this thread. 

 

We are going to find out the age of an engine using a five digit serial number code.  Lets take a Tecumseh engine I have sitting on a tractor out back.  It is a OH160-160039B 9289E. 

 

We know that the OH160 is the basic model family, and 160039B is the spec number that I always need to find specific parts like carburetors, crankshafts, and similar things. 

 

The serial number is 9289E. 

 

The first digit is the last digit of the year of manufacture.  That would be 9 in my example.  That could mean 1969, 1979, 1989 or (possibly depending on when Tecumseh officially dropped this style of code) 1999.  To go farther, you have to have some general knowledge of the Tecumseh engine line and model years to know the decade.  If you know about when the tractor was made and know that the engine is right for the tractor, you can probably narrow that down easily.  On my engine, it is a replacement on a Massey Ferguson so I'm almost out of luck.  But, since I can estimate fairly accurately going by the decal style and carburetor style, I am going to take a wild guess at my OH160's year as being a 1979. 

 

The next three numbers is the calender date of the year.  Since 1979 is not a leap year, date #289 is October 16th. 

 

That means my engine was made on October 16th, 1979. 

 

The letter suffix according to Tecumseh will tell you what line and shift the engine was made on.  However, from what an old factory supervisor told me that letter was the production number for that day.  The assembly line was small engine that they would never make more than 26 engines of a certain model and spec in a day.  Assuming that is true, that means my OH160 was the 5th engine made on October 16th, 1979. 

 

Ben W.


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#2 superaben OFFLINE  

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Posted March 07, 2015 - 09:00 PM

From the official Tecumseh bulletin, this is how to date the post 2004 junk mass produced engines that ruined Tecumseh's reputation. 

 

TecumsehModelSpecPost2004.JPG

 

Ben W.


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#3 MH81 OFFLINE  

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Posted March 07, 2015 - 11:40 PM

Clear, concise, understandable.
Thank you.

Now, a question...
Teccy made a lot of engines for Sears, does this work on them as well?
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#4 Bill 76 ONLINE  

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Posted March 08, 2015 - 12:09 AM

Thanks for the info Ben,but that they only built 26 units of a model a day just seems hard to believe.Must have been a two man assembly line.I don't doubt you but  

It's hard to wrap my mind around that they could make any money.


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#5 superaben OFFLINE  

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Posted March 08, 2015 - 07:39 AM

Thanks for the info Ben,but that they only built 26 units of a model a day just seems hard to believe.Must have been a two man assembly line.I don't doubt you but  

It's hard to wrap my mind around that they could make any money.

 

Bill, I said that to my friend from the factory, too.  However, he reminded me that it was not 26 units of each model, but 26 units of each spec code.  If you think about how many specs exist for some models (often more than 100 during the lifetime of an engine) and remember than many specs were produced the entire run, Tecumseh could have still been making (for example) 10 basic models, and three different specs for each.  That means at least 30 unique engines.  Assuming they made 26, that would be 780 engines produced.  That's a fairly decent output per day for a small company without the market share that Briggs, Clinton, and Kohler had at the time. 

 

That does not include two stroke engines, too.  Two stroke stuff was a huge part of Tecumseh's business.  Some say almost 50% in the early years. 

 

Ben W.


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#6 superaben OFFLINE  

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Posted March 08, 2015 - 07:43 AM

Clear, concise, understandable.
Thank you.

Now, a question...
Teccy made a lot of engines for Sears, does this work on them as well?

 

It should, Alan.  Just as long as you have the five digit serial number on the engine.  I think the Sears models only encrypted the Tecumseh number and left the serial number alone.  Correct me if I'm wrong there. 

 

Ben W.


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#7 Sprint 6 OFFLINE  

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Posted March 09, 2015 - 10:11 AM

From the official Tecumseh bulletin, this is how to date the post 2004 junk mass produced engines that ruined Tecumseh's reputation. 

 

attachicon.gifTecumsehModelSpecPost2004.JPG

 

Ben W.

Tecumseh's rep was ruined way before '04.


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#8 superaben OFFLINE  

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Posted March 09, 2015 - 08:26 PM

Tecumseh's rep was ruined way before '04.

 

Very true.  Anything Tecumseh that is not cast iron is probably due to blow up.

 

Ben W.



#9 Sprint 6 OFFLINE  

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Posted March 10, 2015 - 07:13 AM

My family has a curse of Tecumseh.  Any equipment we end up with that has a Tec gets repowered or let go.  I won't even mess with one.  I do have a Hoffco Wiz Witch with a 3hp Tec 2 stroke that we keep around.  Its usefulness so far has out weighed the hassle of trying to keep it operational.  We had a nice walk behind snow blower that had a Tec 8hp on it. The best day was when the governor froze in the middle of a drift and opened it up wide when it cleared the drift and popped it open.  Repowered it with a Briggs and now it will start on the first pull and does not require ether to warm it up.



#10 TAHOE OFFLINE  

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Posted March 10, 2015 - 07:14 AM

Tecumseh's rep was ruined way before '04.


The carbs were one of the weakest points and those motors with the SSI modules were also bad for burning up an expensive module. Now the newer ones were just junk.
I like my OH160 now that I have learned how to fix all the bugs and the old HH60 on my Troybilt tiller has been the best motor I have ever had.
 

 

We know that the OH160 is the basic model family, and 160039B is the spec number that I always need to find specific parts like carburetors, crankshafts, and similar things.

 

Many times now, when looking for parts, well-using partstree.com,  this number is listed as a  17xxxxx number

 

Here is the number on my OH160 in my Sears, I think they can be confusing. I thkn Sears had Tecumseh use the 143.xxxxxx for their tractors.

If the date thing is correct, then my 1977 16/6 was made very late in 77.

 

OH160 143.670032 / 7287E


Edited by TAHOE, March 10, 2015 - 07:15 AM.





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