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Advice on first Sears

sears suburban ss16 st16 ss12

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#1 TerribleCj OFFLINE  

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Posted July 17, 2017 - 02:03 PM

Looking for some advice on my first tractor. I already have a good, fast 52" mower so I'm not looking for any mowing capabilities. This will be used to manage about an acre that will be tilled and plowed constantly. I also wouldnt mind some llight snow-clearing capability. I've been hunting around and the Sears tractors from the 60's and 70's appeal the most to me. I've seen what looks to be some good deals but I want the most bang for my buck. I emailed about an SS16 with deck and a couple plow for $250 but he had already sold all the implements. Otherwise it look like most of them are well under a grand. I've seen a couple of cub-cadets that looked ok that are from the same era for around the same price but I'm a newbie in this area. I collect and repair vintage and antique outboards so I think upkeep shouldnt be a problem. I also saw an ST/16 and an SS12 that looked pretty nice but again, I want the most tractor I can get for my dollar. Thanks for any input, I'm open to advice



#2 boyscout862 OFFLINE  

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Posted July 17, 2017 - 05:35 PM

Welcome to GTT. I urge you to be patient and see what comes your way. The old Tecumseh engines are getting harder and more expensive to get parts. Prices are all over the place on most GTs. If you are willing to knock on doors where there is a dead one sitting in the yard, you may come up with a freebie. I picked up a Simplicity 3410 with a rotted deck for free a couple of weeks ago. It needs a bunch of work but I probably won't have to put more than $100 in parts. Simpilicities and Bolens were the most popular with many different attachments.

There were alot of good GTs made in the 60s and 70s. You will probably find some from your local dealer from those days. Getting several will allow canabilization. Buying dead ones can be risky so don't spend much on the tractor but factor in the value of any attachments.

Check out our Galleries Section for pics of many different machines. You can download manuals and original brouchures from the Manuals Section. Good Luck, Rick

Edited by boyscout862, July 17, 2017 - 05:36 PM.

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#3 chieffan ONLINE  

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Posted July 17, 2017 - 06:50 PM

I delivered a Super Cub today and the guy offered me two Monkey Wards tractors with decks.  Both with B&S engines, both were free.  I passed.  So there are deal out there, just have to shake a few bushes to find them.


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#4 EricFromPa ONLINE  

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Posted July 17, 2017 - 06:59 PM

SS16 are great tractors but if the engine is tired it will cost a considerable amount to rebuild. ST16 is a powerhouse but the OHV tecumseh engines have a couple pretty big problems with the head. Leaking push rod tubes,dropped valve seats,worn and broken valve guides and blown head gaskets and the occasional warped head.

 

SS12 are easy to maintain and fairly reasonable to rebuild with STD parts if needed but very very hard to find oversized piston and rings for them.They suffer greatly from clogged carburetors and inexperienced mechanics working on them. Alot of times they will reuse the non serviceable emulsion tube without modifying it. That's a Huge No No.

 

They run lean and overheat because of the carbs and cause all sorts of problems including blowing the engine up. Both the SS12 and ST16 have very pricey electronic ignition parts.  


Edited by EricFromPa, July 17, 2017 - 07:01 PM.

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#5 TerribleCj OFFLINE  

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Posted July 17, 2017 - 07:55 PM

Wow, lots of info. Is there something in particular to keep an eye out for? Looks like similar engines went in all the tractors of this era. Are the Onans generally better or worse than Tecumseh? I'm pretty comfy working on points style ignitions if that matters any. I'm trying to stay around the $500 mark or under. However, I've seen a couple in really nice shape that look like they would be top $$$

#6 indslpwr04 OFFLINE  

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Posted July 18, 2017 - 10:44 AM

Keep a booter pack or some way to at least spin the engine with battery power.  If it dosnt spin with a starter then there is most likely major issues.  Onan twins last forever but parts are pricey.  I have had good luck finding most stuff on ebay, Points, sets, carb rebuild kits, ignitions and coils.  The older marvel carbs take some skill to get running smoothly. Throttle shaft and needle  I have seen ways to put the newer John deere miniki carbs on the older sears,  i have the intake and carb setup ready to attempt, just haven't yet.  Besides the tune ability issues with the older sears, the rest of the tractors are bomb proof and simple.  rear ends are interchangeable for quite a few years and almost all tractors of this vintage use the same 5 bolt rear wheels and front wheels.


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#7 TAHOE OFFLINE  

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Posted July 18, 2017 - 11:37 AM

The old Cubs are good tractors too, pullers like them cause they have a strong rear end and are driveshaft driven. i can't say much, never had one.

 

Eric summed up a lot on the Sears.

 

The Sears suburbans were basically the same frame and design from1966-1980 when Roper built them.

Most of the tractors used Tecumseh as the engines other than the new Twin onans which started as the SS models in 1973 and a limited run of Briggs singles in the 1971 Suburban/SS14 and 72 Suburban/SS15 and then they tried a twin Briggs in the GT16 in 1978.

The Tecumsehs are good motors when tuned right, but as Eric stated, they do have some issues. The older points type are easy to work on, Tecumseh stared using he new solids state ignitions in late 67 and then onward. It's not if they burn out, but when. There are replacements out there, but most range from $120-150 for the newer upgraded systems.

They also have kind of crappy carbs, the Walbro LME and LMH. They can be rebuild and run good, just takes some learning them.

The OH motors do have head problems. Aluminum head with steel valve seats, couple that with running lean and you drop the valve seats, mainly the exhaust. I've already replaced one head on one of my OH160. Again, knowing going in is half the battle, I bought my ST16 knowing that and got a good deal.

Tecumseh parts are getting scarce and if you need to rebuild ,it can get expensive. We do have a sponsor here on the board who can source a lot of parts for us.

 

The Onans are good strong motors but parts are expensive...and they are gas hogs. The Onans came in the SS and GT tractors 1973-1980.

 

They are very solid tractors, have really strong rearends and can be worked pretty hard. Sears even offered a loader option for them. They do have a 3pt rear lift, but it is what I think should be called a "sub-Cat 0" as the arms are only about 12 1/2" apart, standard Cat 0 is about 20". There is usually plenty of rear attachments out there. The front attachments use a "mule slot" and the mount slides into the frame.

 

One of worst designs of these tractors in my opinion is the upper grill/nose cone on the 73-80 suburbans. They are almost always broke/cracked/busted. If you do find one not broken, it maybe worth more than the rest of the tractors

 

There is the custom/compact line also during  these years. They had a lighter front axle and the front frame was closed so you cannot use the suburban front attachments, but rear frames are the same. If you look at those, better make sure they come with any attachments you might want.

 

If you get on FB, there is a group called Sears Suburban Backyard Tractor club, sometimes tractors come up for sale.There is also a couple of other good sears garden tractor FB groups that have stuff for sale.

 

This my 1977 16/6 ( ST16 with a different  name badge) in different sets of "clothing". I built a custom winch mount for the front to use for my snow blade and dump bucket. I've dealt with about all the issues, carb, head, mine has a custom ignition, etc.

 

16 cutting.jpg

sears bucket.jpg

sears snow 1.jpg

 

These are couple of my favorites, first one was a recent quicky repaint to get rid of some of the rust, second one is from member Olcowhand's plow day this past spring, Kentucky mud is some nasty stuff!

 

20170420_193438.jpg

20170422_133829.jpg

 


Edited by TAHOE, July 18, 2017 - 11:39 AM.

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#8 Sawdust OFFLINE  

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Posted July 18, 2017 - 12:48 PM

Welcome to GTtalk glad to have you aboard. I knew Tahoe would jump in here with his beast. He can tell you a lot about the old Sears. I have a SS15 there hard to come by because they only made them for one year. I looked for almost two years for mine. She's a work horse & my go to tractor. It runs from a very slow smooth idle to a high solid RPM. The only thing I don't like is if you want a mechanical lift you have to go with an electric. These conversions are popular because like me lifting things with that lever gets old.

 

ss7.jpg ss4.jpg ss5.jpg ss8.jpg


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#9 TerribleCj OFFLINE  

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Posted July 18, 2017 - 12:50 PM

Thank you so much for the reply. I'm enjoying learning about the different models and makers of these. I have about 40 outboards from the teens to the 50s and am pretty handy with them. I figure renting a heavy plow more than once a year would be about the same or more than just buying a decent garden tractor. I'll keep my eyes out though and try to be patient. Should I be looking at other makes as well, or am I going in a good direction with the Sears stuff?
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#10 TAHOE OFFLINE  

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Posted July 18, 2017 - 02:00 PM

 Should I be looking at other makes as well, or am I going in a good direction with the Sears stuff?

 

 

There's plenty of older makes of garden tractors that would fit your needs. I am primarily a Sears owner, but do have some Massey's I just picked up and a couple other models.

There are a bunch of different makes and models that would fit your needs, just look at the brands section and you will see all the options. If you find something you might like, post it on here and ask about the good and the bad.

 

You can start with some of the more popular ones

Bolens, Cub Cadet, John Deere ( did I just type that :() Sears, Massey Ferguson, Wheel horse, etc. 

There is good and bad with all, just have to find a tractor you like and research it.


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#11 TerribleCj OFFLINE  

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Posted July 18, 2017 - 03:31 PM

Is there a particular engine to look for? As far as horsepower/brand/style? I see it's like outboards, some models are loved by these guys and hated by those guys and those guys love these but these guys hate those.....

Are we allowed to post links to craigslist ads? I'd like to offer some examples of what I;m looking at in my area and also maybe get saved from buying a total lemon. Although, I'm a mighty fine lemonade maker...


Edited by TerribleCj, July 18, 2017 - 03:33 PM.


#12 TAHOE OFFLINE  

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Posted July 19, 2017 - 06:58 AM

Is there a particular engine to look for? As far as horsepower/brand/style? I see it's like outboards, some models are loved by these guys and hated by those guys and those guys love these but these guys hate those.....

 

Just my opinion.....

Yes, a lot of guys hate Tecumseh, mainly because they don't understand them and nowadays rebuild parts are getting scarce and expensive

Onans are expensive

Older Briggs are good motors but he updraft carbs can be a pain

Wisconsin-can't say much about them

Older Kohler is probably one of the better engines and there is a lot of support still out there for rebuilds

 

Are we allowed to post links to craigslist ads? I'd like to offer some examples of what I;m looking at in my area and also maybe get saved from buying a total lemon. Although, I'm a mighty fine lemonade maker...

 

Yes, you can post links or pics


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#13 MNGB ONLINE  

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Posted July 19, 2017 - 12:40 PM

Hi thought I'd comment also I have 6 Sears Suburbans and like them ranging from a 1966 S10 67 S12 (this is my go to tractor) a couple ST16's  a converted ST16 to a B&S opposed twin 16 hp and at the moment am converting a SS16 removing the Onan and installing a B&S 16 hp V twin. As has been posted the Tecumseh's can be cantankerous but about 95% of the time its the carb ( there is an outstanding carb man in Ga     ) the Suburbans are very strong well built tractors easy to work on easy to repower and good availability of attachments. If your interests are for a bit larger tractor then look at the Economy / Power Kings about a 1/3 larger many have Kohler .cast iron engines 12 to 18 hp 50's thur mid 60's approx had B&S engine many have hydraulics 75 and newer have cat ) 3 pt hitches before that they had a lift drawbar. Good luck with your search.


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#14 TerribleCj OFFLINE  

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Posted July 19, 2017 - 01:44 PM

This has been a great site. I'm normally a total thread-killer on other sites I post on so thanks everyone for the replies. I think the thing that is going to sway me one way or another is if there is a package deal with a bunch of implements for a good price. Otherwise, I have my eye out for Kohler's first, then Briggs, then Tecumseh and Onan. Are the Roper-branded tractors from around the same period the same as the Suburbans with different cosmetics?  I am good with carburetor work and have no issue making different gaskets it need be. I suppose the real challenge is finding parts or replacement carbs in general. I'm pretty familiar with Tillotsons, Carters, and Walbro carbs and have a surplus of kits for them that can usually be adapted to almost anything. Dont know why I have a soft spot for the Sears Suburban but I like the Elgin stuff they sold in the 50's so maybe thats it. I have seen some Economy/Power King stuff and I liked it but mostly out of my price range for this project....I'd love to move my budget up to the $1200 range...Or something like this: https://charlotte.cr...6223468991.html

 

Here is about where I would like to be but the price seems high if I am going to have to go through the engine and carb and maybe ignition...https://charlotte.cr...6207090720.html


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#15 Tinker000 OFFLINE  

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Posted July 19, 2017 - 02:16 PM

That Sears 18/6 with attachments is a steal. If you are comfortable doing a carb clean and fuel tank clean out then this tractor is a good one. The plow will need to be polished and the three point put back on. The electric 3 point is a sought after tool, since it comes with a manual lift as well you could make some $ back by reselling what parts/attachments you don't need.







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