Tractor Mower: Repair or Replace?

I have a John Deere L110 (low-end model) mower that’s about 15-18 years old. We’ve been keeping this thing going with repairs on a small to medium scale. The mower has had a small oil leak that’s been tolerable, but now it’s smoking like a chimney. We really don’t have at least $1500 for a new, low-end mower.

How costly can it be to pay someone to chase down an oil leak? What about some kind of liquid “stop leak” fluid? Is there such a thing for a tractor mower? What to do, what to do… :frowning: Your thoughts?

When you say “smoking like a chimney” I assume that you mean the smoke is coming from the exhaust port and not from somewhere else like it would with hot oil dripping onto hot engine components. If it’s burning the oil and it’s coming out the exhaust, that’s a rebuild. It shouldn’t be too expensive but an engine replacement may be a better bet. Can you look up the size and part number of the engine itself (just the engine, not the mower as a whole). How solid is the rest of the mower? It may be an option to just replace the engine if you’re sure it can’t be rebuilt.

Another option is to buy another used mower.

I agree with Alpha Twit, if the rest of the mower is is decent condition, and you know how to turn a wrench, a replacement engine is probably the way to go. If it’s smoking out the exhaust, it probably means either the piston rings or engine cylinder are broken/sccored or it’s just plain worn out. not surprising after nearly 20 years. Just a quick google for L110 engine shows replacement engines are available for less than $600, and you can probably beat that by shopping around. A new Craftsman T110 mower is $1300 at Lowe’s and would be a considerable step-down in quality. A new Deere E110 (the current equivalent to the L110) is $1800, and contains much more plastic than your L110. If you don’t have the skills to replace the engine, That would change things, but it is really a pretty straightforward replacement.

While the L110 is the low-end of the John Deere mowers, one that is 15-18 years old is much better quality than a new one, and much better than a new Deere, and miles ahead of the Craftsman. For one thing, the Deere is designed to be maintained; the mower deck, spindles, belts, etc… are designed to be replaced as needed. Provided the deck isn’t rusted out and the rest is in serviceable condition, and it suits your needs, I’d just replace the engine.

You can buy a short block engine, which is just the crankcase with internals all installed, and then you swap the heads, exhaust, and other peripherals over from the old engine. Or a long block which includes heads and other things. This can be done for considerably cheaper.

Link please? I’ve never seen a short block for a one cylinder lawn mower engine.

Just look around. I have replaced the one on my Craftsman a couple years ago.

OK, I never thought to check the used market. Ignorance fought, many thanks.

Check out a YouTuber called mustie 1.

He has many vids on repairing lawn tractors and various other things. Extremely knowledge and interesting guy, one of the 1% of YouTubers who actually get it right.

Even if you don’t want to work on the machine yourself, he is worth your time to check out.