L1500 Project Resurrection

C4pt4inMatt

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Dec 28, 2018
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Biloxi, MS
I've been lurking in the shadows for some time now researching but figured it was finally time to post about the current project L1500 I've been working on and am far from completing.


I was looking for something to tinker on in the backyard shop and the Mrs. put the kabosh on restoring an old motorcycle so one night while perusing Craigslist I came across this gray market Kubota for $300. It was parked in the woods of this guys property and sold with no guarantees of running or anything. I looked at it for 1) the challenge but 2) just something to mess with to hone my mechanical skills as I've never really played with diesels before. It has the small 17hp 2-cyl all mechanical diesel, perfect to learn the basics. Honestly the tractor is probably not worth the money that may go into to it in parts, and DEFINITELY not worth the time but it'll be my hobby project over the next couple years and I'll have my daughters help as their patience allows. Also you may ask, do I have a need for a tractor? Absolutely not! [emoji14]


The seller helped load it onto my trailer with his skidsteer and it sat there for the next couple months. I finally got it unloaded and started to asses. The radiator is shot and the water flange and water cover are corroded right through so any extended running is not in the cards right now till I can replace those. I next looked at the injection pump. The throttle arm was completely seized. I've been hitting it with Kroil for a few weeks now and was finally able to lightly tap it free. It is still super tough to move but at least it moves. I checked the oil and didn't see any signs of water, yay!


Going by the overall condition of things, I'd say it hasn't run in at least 10+ years. Yesterday after finally getting it to a point where I could try to roll the motor. I disconnected the fuel line and ran a funnel full of Diesel Purge straight to the injection pump. Then cracked the fuel lines at the injectors and rolled the motor a good bit to pull the Purge through. Finally tightened everything up and gave it a go. At this point I'm still using 100% Diesel Purge straight from the funnel to the pump.


To my absolute amazement, it puffed a couple times then came to life. Once it started I had no idea I had the throttle at WOT so I started to freak out a little trying to figure out how to shut it down. Remember I have zero diesel engine experience but plenty of gasoline engine work so that's my line of thinking. Ignition switch turned back to off, no. Starter switch to the left, no that's glow plugs. Cracked the fuel line bleeder, no. Here's a thought, pull back on the throttle! Duh. By pull back of course I mean tap back with a plastic mallet as the throttle is super sticky still.


Here's the video of her first start-up in at least a decade:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Z3qT27e_iI15gfRtLMJN8MHsebDEv31B


Now starts the process of replacing parts and tearing down the motor a little. Every bolt is a test of patience and requires plenty of torch and penetrant therapy. Still fun to tinker on though. Below are some pics after I took three cans of degreaser and the pressure washer to her. Already looking a million times better, aside from the holes in the engine cooling system. Also you can see I removed the old radiator and fan already.


One thing I do wonder and if anyone can help me decipher, what year is this thing? Is there any way to tell? Here's a pic of the number plate. The best I can make out is 8936.


And lastly if anyone is in possession of one of these marvelous machines and needs to offload some parts send me a pm along with a post saying so in case I don't get notifications correctly.


I'll keep you posted.
 
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Lil Foot

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And depending on how tight your intake system is, you can usually shut down a diesel by blanking off the air intake. No air, no run.
 

D2Cat

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Nice work. Any idea why the front is so rusted? It appears the back half of the engine was covered and the front half was continually misted with sea water!

Getting it to fire off as quickly and easily as you did indicates the engine has good compression and a tight fuel system.

The price you paid for a project is such that you could part it out and come out positive, so you did fine with the purchase price.

Are those four bolts (three actually, I see the broken one) that held the radiator rusted tight to the frame, or did you loosen and re-insert them? If they are seized I have had good luck with welding a nut on to get it loose. Use a nut that just fits over the OD of what you want to remove. Weld down on the broken bolt and bring the molten metal up and get a good bond to the inside of the nut. Let it cool, sometimes it helps to put ice on the heated weld to cool fast. Try to looses, but if it moves just a bit turn back the other way and then keep moving both directions, eventually taking longer strokes. The heat from the weld helps to brake down the rust. It also help, I think, to soak with KROIL. You can also mix acetone and ATF with a 50/50 solution to get an excellent rust solvent at a greatly reduced price. I put it in a large syringe and apply it where needed.

There is a member here, "007kubota" who has L series Kubota tractors he has part for. Might contact him to see if he has things you need.

Looks like fun!! Good luck.
 
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C4pt4inMatt

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Dec 28, 2018
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Biloxi, MS
D2Cat, yea I was able to get three of the bolts out but the first broke off. I'll have to give a go at your method with the nut plus it'll give me an excuse to pickup a welder! At this point I've gone through a can of Kroil and that was after using about a quart of the atf/acetone mix. Slow and steady, back and forth is definitely the name of the game with pretty much every bolt/nut on the front of this thing. I did have to cut the radiator mounting brackets off as a wrench wasn't even budging the bolts without potentially rounding them.

One thing I am needing some tips on, how can I free up the throttle lever some more? If I take that top plate off the pump where the throttle arm goes in is there something that can be a can of worms or is it safe to open and work? I been bathing it in Kroil and working it back and forth with the hammer plus now it's been soaking in the Diesel Purge internally but still sticky. Any thoughts?
 

C4pt4inMatt

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Dec 28, 2018
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Biloxi, MS
Oh and regarding what happened with the front causing all that corrosion, I have no idea. When I pulled the lower hose off the chain cover that port was full of that white salt like powder. I don't know if really old/nasty antifreeze would do that or horrible tap water maybe?!? I am down here on the Mississippi coast so there is a chance of salt water but as mentioned it's really just isolated to the front of the engine. It looks like that water flange got a hole in it and began leaking over everything else and the fan helped blow it back some too. That water flange is non-existent at this point aside from the perimeter where it mates to the head. The cast metal doesn't seem to be eaten away too bad, just decent surface rust.
 

North Idaho Wolfman

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D2Cat, yea I was able to get three of the bolts out but the first broke off. I'll have to give a go at your method with the nut plus it'll give me an excuse to pickup a welder! At this point I've gone through a can of Kroil and that was after using about a quart of the atf/acetone mix. Slow and steady, back and forth is definitely the name of the game with pretty much every bolt/nut on the front of this thing. I did have to cut the radiator mounting brackets off as a wrench wasn't even budging the bolts without potentially rounding them.

One thing I am needing some tips on, how can I free up the throttle lever some more? If I take that top plate off the pump where the throttle arm goes in is there something that can be a can of worms or is it safe to open and work? I been bathing it in Kroil and working it back and forth with the hammer plus now it's been soaking in the Diesel Purge internally but still sticky. Any thoughts?
Go to Kubotabooks.com and download the WSM for the L175 it will match most of what your working on.

There is not connection to the diesel fuel section of the pump to the throttle control plate.

You can pull the throttle plate attached to the arm will be a spring, remove the spring and pull it apart, most have an O-ring or 2 for seals.

 

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C4pt4inMatt

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Cool, thanks Wolfman.

Next question. There's a guy on Craigslist that has some L175s he's parting out so I sent him my list of what I see right now and wonder if it's a decent deal or not. This is what he's offering for $865 shipped to me.

-radiator
-throttle lever
-steering wheel
-battery tray
-front wheel hubs (thinking the L175 hubs have 4.5" centers vs the L1500's 4" centers for easier wheel setup? Eventually wanting to switch to turf tire setup.)
-spin on oil filter mount
-front headlight bezel/shroud
-front engine chain cover w/water cover
-water flange (front of head)
-exhaust manifold

Any of this seem unnecessary or that I should buy new instead of used? I'd like to hear some opinions. I know I could probably find a whole parts tractor for less but haven't seen any come up. Thoughts?
 
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North Idaho Wolfman

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Cool, thanks Wolfman.

Next question. There's a guy on Craigslist that has some L175s he's parting out so I sent him my list of what I see right now and wonder if it's a decent deal or not. This is what he's offering for $865 shipped to me.

-radiator
-throttle lever
-steering wheel
-battery tray
-front wheel hubs (thinking the L175 hubs have 4.5" centers for easier wheel setup? Eventually wanting to switch to turn tire setup.)
-spin on oil filter mount
-front headlight bezel/shroud
-front engine chain cover w/water cover
-water flange (front of head)
-exhaust manifold

Any of this seem unnecessary or that I should buy new instead of used? I'd like to hear some opinions. I know I could probably find a whole parts tractor for less but haven't seen any come up. Thoughts?
The parts and prices sound reasonable to me, I've paid a lot more for a lot less.
Front cover is a Gear case cover, no timing chains involved. ;)
If you're going to change big parts like the gear case cover, there are tricks to it, like possibly things attached to the cover internally, and adjustments to parts attached to the cover.
You should also get all new gaskets straight from Kubota, and remember to save you grief your getting parts for an L175 not an L1500, as they can not legally sell you parts for an L1500.
 
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Daren Todd

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The front gear case cover is actually pretty simple to remove. There is a spring that attaches to the cover that goes to the governor though. A 22 degree off set needle nose pliers is the ticket for installing it or removing it.

You access the spring through the cover where the throttle linkage ties in at the top of the injection pump. Should be 4 bolts on a square plate.

The only other thing in the way is the front axle. Remove the 5 bolts below the gear case Cover to separate the front section of the tractor. (Front axle, battery box, and radiator).

You will have to block the front end of the tractor at the oil pan to support the engine portion of the tractor to remove the front section.

Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk
 

Profnohair

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D2Cat

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That is my daughter in law on the L1500 that I had access to in the pass. This picture was taken right before she ripped the sewer pipe out of the ground with the back blade. In her defense, I was my fault, I forgot it was there.
Is there a picture missing with this post?
 

C4pt4inMatt

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Had some time today to work on her. I took the water cover off to see whether or not I'd be able to get away with not having to replace the gear cover. The water cover was corroded so thin that it broke in a few places with barely any force. Unfortunately the gear cover isn't looking too good underneath so will be replacing that.

I have been doing some research and think that the main cause of all this corrosion is electrolysis through the coolant. The ground strap was heavily corroded and probably barely functional when I began disassembly and therefore I believe the coolant was carrying the charge and eating away at all things aluminum. This just reiterates, check your grounds!!!!

Next I was looking closer at the starter side of the block at the extra bit of rust. Upon a deeper look I found one of the freeze plugs not looking too healthy with a slight bit of water dripping from it. After poking it a couple times with a screwdriver it gave way and more water came out. There was a bunch of rusty chunks of salt sandy stuff stick behind it too so I dug some of that out. I've already stuck my pressure washing wand in earlier trying to flush all the bits out. Any suggestions on how to get a good flush of the block before I go and hook up a new radiator? After flushing is it worth using something like Metal Rescue or some other rust reformer to treat the block internals? Overall the cast iron all looks good and not damaged beyond some surface rust.

Here's some pics, pretty gruesome but on the plus side it fired right up again as I wanted to run some more Purge through the fuel system.
 
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C4pt4inMatt

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Sorry it's been a while since I've updated everyone on this but I've made good progress.

I've replaced the gear cover and water conver along with blasted everything and painted the chassis. I've installed a new (used) radiator and am waiting on new hoses and an alternator to arrive this week. As soon as I get those I plan on firing it up for the second time since I've owned it.

IMG_20200627_180326.jpg IMG_20200627_180318.jpg IMG_20200407_165129.jpg IMG_20200407_165125.jpg IMG_20200815_181337.jpg IMG_20200815_181329.jpg

Coming up I need to rewire most everything and paint the body pieces. I was also able to score some used rear turf tires on rims. I still need to figure out fronts.

On that note does anyone know if there are any common wheel hubs like from a trailer that for the L1500 spindles to get away from the 4.5"x4 spindles on there now? I'd like to get it to the more common 4"x4 spindles if I could as it gives me more wheel options at more reasonable prices.

Thanks for checking back!
 

thebicman

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Sorry, can't help you with your question. When your all done you won't want to use it. Too shiny. Keep up the great work.