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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I found out last year that my mower, a 25 yr old Toro Timecutter 16-44, had a seized engine after having it hauled away for a service. It stopped working and after getting the estimated, I decided to try to repair it myself. Well you know how winter projects go, its now spring and I'm in a bind (pun not intended):sidelaugh. At the time Northern Tool had a replacement engine, but now they appear to be all out. It's a Briggs (31177) 31R977-0027-G1, 17HP engine.

It's been in the garage all winter, should I try to pull the engine and try some penetrating oil as I've read in various places or just get a replacement? Northern at the time had an engine for about $500 which seem fair since Briggs wanted about $1200. Also aren't there also Chinese made replacements for a lot of engines. Any help pointing me in the right direction would be appreciated. I've been holding off on the Spring fertilizing as I'm not looking to stimulate growth till I get the mower fixed.
 

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Harbor Freight has the "Chinese" engines you are referring to. I've herd pros and cons with them and have never used them myself but are worth a shot when all else fails. You could look for a used one behind your local mower shop if they have a bone yard.

Depending on how seized your engine is, you may get lucky with the old transmission oil in the cylinder soak trick, or Marvel Mystery Oil. If it's a stuck or broke rod, then it may cost more to repair then just replacing the engine.
 

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Tearing the engine you have open to have a look see what might be going on inside sure isn't going to cost you anymore that the time it takes to remove a few bolts. Who knows, maybe it's fixable, maybe not. At this point, I'd say it's worth looking into.

The Harbor Freight's engines used a lot to re-ower snowblowers and get high praise from those who have used them on the snow blower forum. I know a friend put on an old garden tiller and is impressed with it. I don't know if they offer a vertical shaft engine in the horse power rating you are looking for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
i would consider a honda gxv390 for that mower
I will def look into that as I'm fan of honda equip, has there been folks out there who have done so with minimal conversions? I'm handy, but just not with engines.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
thanks all, looks like I'll be cracking open my first engine this weekend, wish me luck...
not particularly optimistic but plan to order the replacement if beyond simple repair
 

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Good luck! We're here for you... Pictures speak 1000 words! :pics:

Snap a few if you have questions or to keep us up to date! Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
project update, I was able to get the flywheel moving and eventually with penetrating oil in the spark plug hole it freed up nicely. Topped off with 5/30 synthetic bolted on the new battery and the mower started. Unfortunately there were non stop plumes of black smoke coming out of the exhaust, which did not go away after a minute or so. But I was able to determine after taking off the head that the gasket was the culprit. Ordered a replacement kit along with a fuel filter, new plugs and air filter for about $50 and installed them yesterday. Again, topped off with some synthetic and the motor started easily and purred nicely at a low idle. I pulled the mower out a bit to keep the exhaust away from the house. Then let it run for another 5 minutes at low idle, but as I was cleaning up the work area, I hear a bang and the engine whimpered a last gasp before it's death. Something broke inside by evidence of the hole in the engine block and I can hear rattling when turning the flywheel. Guess a new engine at this point is a no brainer but I'm reluctant as I'm not sure I had caused the issue, being inexperienced in things like this. Also after looking at a few youtube vids, it seems removing the engine can be difficult. I'm game for trying to get it going, but the highs and lows in the last week have me a bit disappointed. Was there a probably a crack in the crank shaft? Grass is growing like nuts here in NJ, so I better get moving on this.
 

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That's a shame! I hate to hear you couldn't keep the same engine.... But I guess after 25 years it's served it's purpose. Thanks for updating us on the progress.... Picked up a china engine yet? Or are you planning to replace with another OEM?
 

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The engine is not difficult to replace, take your time and pictures as necessary as you go. Remove the belts, unhook the wiring harness and throttle control, remove four mounting bolts from the frame and lift out. You may need to remove the muffler which has to come off anyway to access a couple of them.
 

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so I am just going to throw this out there... HF sells a 22hp vertical v-twin that they have on sell currently for $669 if you use their coupon... until may 31. may be more than you need. Small eng warehouse usually has replacement briggs in your size around $500. I am about to start on replacing my 20hp brigg single with one of the hf predator vtwins... after watching a ton of videos I am willing to gamble.
 

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also ... be careful getting the drive pulley off, the 1st one of these I ever worked on the pulley was seized to the shaft and I had to beat the crap out of it to get it off... the 2nd one I did ... loosened the grub screw and it fell off. The order I do them is belts and pulley 1st while the motor is still mounted... although since you have been working on the old one that may not be an issue. Next is wiring with lots of pics, most new motors have the carb solenoid and depending on the alternator... sometime the wiring is diff. Briggs has excellent documentation on their website for alternator wiring and how to recognize which type. Supposedly my new HF predator will be plug and play with what I already have on the old briggs. If that is true... I will be very pleased. speaking of videos... there are lots out there for repowering lawn mowers... one more thing the last replacement briggs did not have the low oil/oil pressure sensor or the wire in its harness.. so I moved the sensor and wire from the old motor harness, it was a simple thing to push the pin out of the old plug and put it in the new one.
 

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new 22hp vtwin is running perfect, had to lengthen the throttle. choke and fuel line... electrical was plug and play with the old briggs wiring. Amazed how easy it was.
 
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