Bringing back a Lawnmower from a long, long sleep

My father in law gave me an old John Deer 318 riding lawnmower. Apparently it was his fathers and after he past he put it in his shop on his farm and pretty much forgot about it. When he put it up it was still in working condition, however eight years later I have it and want to get it back in use since my last mower (a Murry) up and died on me. I know there are several things I will need to do which I’ll list, but there are some questions I have as to getting it back in shape.

Things I know I need to do.
flush the gas tank (done)
replace the feul lines and feul filter (working on that now)
Replace tires or install tubes (not there yet)
replace oil and transmission fluid.
May need some carburator work, but not sure what needs to be done yet
new spark plug
new battery.
Belts seem to be in good condition.

As far as changing out the oil and transmission fluid do I need to flush it out, and if so how do I do this and with what?

What else do I need to do?

Any help will be appreciated.


Have you tried to turn the engine crankshaft by hand, or with a wrench? If the engine went to bed with the piston at a position in the stroke cycle which left both valves closed, you might get lucky. On the other hand, if one of the valves was open, then the cylinder interior walls are likely rusty, and you may find the piston rings/piston seized.

For the minimal cost of a head gasket, I’d want to pull the head and visually inspect the bore and valve seats. I’ve been down this road, having received a Simplicity 725 which belonged to my Grandfather prior to doing the Rip Van Winkle thing. :wink:

Fun thread order of the day:

  1. Bringing back a Lawnmower from a long, long sleep
  2. Bringing BACK a Monarchy

Won’t the king be upset when he realizes what JOB he is going to be performing for the Republic of Istanistan?

Check out Sam Goldwasser’s notes on small engines. The reference section has some good links. Note that it’s not who made the mower, it’s who made the engine that will guide you most in looking up further information.

Don’t forget the running gear. If there are places to lube the thing, do so. Check any belts/chains and replace them if they’re worn. Take the blades off and sharpen them, or get new blades.

Consider getting a manual for it , if you don’t have the original. I saw a half dozen on Ebay.

Good luck !