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USE and MAINTENANCE TIPS
TO USE THIS PAGE: Select one of the above Tabs (Engine, Tractor or Implements) and then select the specific topic you want from the second set of tabs that open. (This section of the website is under constant construction, and we will be adding various use & maintenance topics as time allows… keep checking back, and you will find more & more here!)
Oil is the life-blood of your engine, and the more attention you pay it, the better off your engine will be.
The proper filling of oil on our walk-behind tractors is as follows:
Currently used Gas engines (Honda, Kohler Command, Suabru-Robin, Briggs 10hp Vanguard): WITH ENGINE LEVEL, FILL TO OVERFLOWING. Regardless of what the owners’ manual may show, your Gas engine on your tractor does not have a “dipstick” on the oil fill cap… Why? Because we cut it off. Why do we do that? Because we like to save our customers money and trouble: The dipstick on all the engines we use (Honda, Kohler, Briggs, Subaru) is only an inch or so long, and is designed to show the minimum “safe” amount of oil in the engine with the engine operating in a level plane. The problem is, we know human nature, which is that if the person sees oil at the bottom of the dipstick, they think “oh, it’s OK…I don’t need to go to the shed and get the oil bottle…it’s on the dipstick, so it’s SAFE, right?”….and then they go run the machine on some crazy steep angle (mowing on a hill, tilling to maximum depth) for a few minutes, and wonder why the engine seizes up. We learned a long time ago that if the oil is kept to the MAXIMUM allowable level in the engine, there is simply no chance of a low-oil failure. Therefore, we don’t give our customers a choice. You can’t overfill these gas engines, it’ll just run out the fill hole if it’s too much. Fill it ‘til it runs out the hole! Don’t take any chances! But make sure the engine is LEVEL before checking and filling, or you’re going to get a bad reading…this may require putting a block under the implement or something. (The above also applies to the older ACME engines that were used on BCS machines 20+ years ago.)
***IF YOU HAVE A MACHINE WITH AN ENGINE TYPE NOT LISTED ABOVE (Such as: Briggs twin-cylinder Vanguard, Kohler Magnum, Briggs I/P, I/C or Intek), these engines may be equipped with a LONG (6 inches or more) oil dipstick, and this should be used as a guide for oil filling, with engine LEVEL.***
KOHLER / LOMBARDINI DIESEL ENGINES: On these, it is almost the opposite: You DO NOT, absolutely DO NOT want to overfill a small diesel engine with oil!! Again, make sure the engine is LEVEL, and check the dipstick carefully. (yes, you DO want to use the dipstick on the diesel engine, it is the only way to check the oil level). It is hard to see the oil level on the stick when the oil is new, but you can see it if you’re persistent. Make sure the dipstick is fully pushed into the hole (they are TIGHT) before you pull it out to check, so you get a good reading. The oil level ONLY HAS TO BE ABOVE THE “LOW” MARK ON THE DIPSTICK TO BE “SAFE”, as the diesel engines have an oil pump that circulates the oil in the engine…so anywhere BETWEEN the lower and upper marks on the dipstick is OK, you do NOT have to try to hit the top mark. OVERFILLING CAN CAUSE SEVERE ENGINE DAMAGE, AS THE ENGINE CAN START TO CONSUME ENGINE OIL AS IF IT WERE FUEL, AND THE ENGINE WILL OVERSPEED AND NOT SHUT OFF OR RESPOND TO THE THROTTLE CONTROL! (The ONLY way to shut an overspeeding diesel off is to jam something in the AIR INTAKE (like your shirt or a plastic bag or something), to smother off the air going into the engine....this will choke it out.)
The diesels hold between 1.25 and 1.5 quarts of oil (depending on engine model). When changing oil, after putting in one quart, CHECK THE DIPSTICK CAREFULLY!!
Lombardini/ Kohler diesels are equipped with a CLEANABLE oil filter, see our General Diesel Instructions document for details.
All tractors are test-run by us prior to shipping, so they are properly filled with oil when you get your tractor.
Engine Oil should be changed after a running period of 5-8 hours for initial “break-in”. After that, change every 30-40 hours for Gas engines; 40-60 hours for diesel.
The engine owners’ manual supplied with your tractor gives manufacturers’ recommendations for oil type, but we can tell you from experience that a good quality 15W40 engine (such as Shell Rotella or equivalent) will work in virtually any engine, Gas or Diesel, and in most any weather conditions. We use an oil of this type for our “shop” engine oil, which we have in 55 gallon drums. However, in very cold temperatures (below 10 degrees F), a lighter weight oil may be required for easier starting, such as a 10W30 or 5W30. This light an oil should be drained out, however, when you get back into the warm season….the heavier weight oil gives much better high-temperature protection for an air-cooled engine.
Some folks may want to use a straight 30W oil, and that is fine, but you will find it takes more effort to start the engine in cooler weather. If straight 30W or 40W is used, make sure it is a detergent-type oil…NOT a “Non-detergent” oil!
Also, for anyone who wants to use it: all these engines are perfectly compatible with synthetic and synthetic blend oils. Our recommendation is that the engine should be run on “conventional” oil the initial 5-8 hours for break-in, then another oil change (30-60 hours, depending on engine) on conventional, THEN put synthetic in. This assures full break-in before switching to a synthetic. Synthetic oils are pretty much proven to reduce wear through increased heat resistance and less oil breakdown, and I run Schaeffer brand 15W40 synthetic blend oil in my own machine year-round.
(For transmission and implement oil recommendations, see the Tractor and Implements tabs.)
Text Instructions: Removing ACME, installing Kohler 9.5 hp engine
Text Instructions: Proper use of Standard Clutch on Walk-behind tractors
Text Instructions: Proper use of BCS PowerSafe Clutch
Text Instructions: Proper use of Grillo G110 "Active" Clutch
Text Instructions: Tractor Lubrication
Grillo - specific
BCS - specific
Slow Internet? TEXT INSTRUCTIONS for QUICK-COUPLINGS use & maintenance
Most PTO-driven implements for walk-behind tractors have a gearbox for the rotating shafts/gears. The "rule of thumb" on implement gearboxes is to keep the oil level at 1/2 full. There are usually no dip-sticks on implements, but half-full can be determined by simply looking at the gearbox and judging roughly half the height...this will typically result in the gear oil level being about 2 inches below the top of the filler port. You can also stick a wire or thin screwdriver in to gauge the level. EXCEPTION: The Berta Rotary Plows have an oil fill/check port on the SIDE of their gearbox, oriented at the halfway point. So all you have to do is remove the plug with the plow sitting level on its plow rotor (OFF the tractor, so the top cover of the plow is parallel to the ground), and if oil oozes out, the oil level is correct. If none comes out, put oil in until it wants to come back out the hole.
TIPS ON CHECKING OIL LEVELS IN TILLER IMPLEMENTS: On the BCS brand tillers manufactured after 1987, the top cover of the tiller needs to be raised in order to get to the oil plug on top of the gearbox. To do this, remove the two nuts & bolts in the back, under the cover (one links the cover brace to the gearbox, the other links the depth-bar together…you need 2 – 13mm wrenches) and then use the large front bolt & nut as a “hinge”, and flip the cover up so you can check the oil. On Grillo brand tillers, the oil plug is on the right side of the gearbox…there are 5 bolts around the “edge” of the gearbox cover that hold the cover onto the gearbox body, and then there is this “extra” bolt that is more toward the middle/rear, at the “halfway up” point. THAT one is the oil plug. With the tiller attached to the tractor, take the plug out and if oil oozes out, the level is correct. If no oil comes out, it is low and needs to be added. This is such a small hole, getting oil in can be a real bugger. We find that using a turkey baster with a thin needle works great; just stick it down in the hole and squeeze oil in a little at a time until it oozes back out.
The type of oil used in most implement gearboxes is SAE 90w, 80w90 or 85w140 gear oil or any similar-weight gear oil. Implements are not typically choosy about oil weight...it is more important that there is oil in it!! EXCEPTION: The R2 Rinaldi brand Power Harrows recommend an EP, NLGI “0” Grease (in mechanic or electrician lingo, “One Ot” Grease) …this is a very light-weight grease, which liquefies (when at operating temperature) to a thick gear oil. (EP stands for Extreme Pressure).
Oil level in implements should be checked AT LEAST once per year, and MORE in implements where the output shaft is exposed to lots of material that could wrap around the shaft and damage the oil seals (such as a Brush Mower). Gear oil in implements does not need to be changed much, since implement gearboxes are typically "sealed" (non-vented), and therefore moisture cannot get in. Still, it is a good idea to change gear oil every two or three years....UNLESS you switch to Synthetic gear oil, in which case you can leave the stuff in there 10 years or more, as synthetic gear oil has amazing lifespan characteristics. (Most synthetic gear oil is something like 75w90 or 75w140, and these are fine.)
Only a few implements have grease fittings on them; these are lubricated with multi-purpose grease in a standard zerk-type grease gun. These implements are:
If you have an implement NOT listed here, and you see a grease fitting on it…by all means, grease it!! We are not infallible ...
EARTH TOOLS, Inc.
1525 Kays Branch Road
Owenton, KY 40359
(502) 484-3988 tel.
(502) 484-3357 fax.