• John L Painter

A new member of the family... sort of

This summer while my father was in rehab I found an old Honda 5518 tractor for $150 on Craigslist (these tractors originally sold for about $5k, and with mower decks another $1.3k), with a "blown motor".

My father always had Kubota tractors. I have a lot of fond memories driving those tractors helping cut trees up in Lincolnville and hauling them out, but I don't have the money to get a Kubota, even an old one, so when I saw the Honda, and that it was just over in Wayne, I knew what I had to do. I bought it.

The seller was very nice and because it was quite a bit heavier than I realized, way overweight for my trailer, agreed to trailer it back to the house for me. Don't be fooled by this photo, this isn't a riding mower, it's a compact tractor and weighs about double the weight of a typical riding mower at 1000lbs, and has a geared transmission not hydrostatic.

The owner said the engine will start but makes a bad noise which he thought was a thrown rod. I looked the engine over and didn't see any obvious signs of that, the engine was extremely clean and well kept, and I took a look under the head cover, and everything there looked really good. So I decided to start it. It started well, but wow! What a noise, and it sounded like it was coming from there the governor is up front on the engine. So I had a look in there a couple times, but could not find anything missing, out of spec or damaged.

Then just when I sat down to try and think through the possible issues I noticed something shiny by the U joint coming off the engine. Looking closer I realized the drive shaft was broken....

So off came the floor panel and fender covers. and wow, the shaft was snapped in half, just below the steering column and had a pretty good bow in it and the fuel pump was slapped over but still functional. I was able to bend the fuel pumps mounting bracket back into shape and set it correctly, I then popped out the broken shaft, and cleaned up the end of U joint on the engine side that was obviously slapping around making the horrible noise - I realized the noise was the slapping U joint, echoing off the hood. No blown engine, the tractor was actually going to run!

Sure enough, when I replaced the drive shaft it ran like a Honda.

With the tractor now fully functional, and Fall closing in, I decided to take care of several cosmetic (though somewhat functional) things that were bugging me, the large rip in the seat, and faded plastics and paint. So I broke out some spray foam, and "Plasti Dip" I had and filled in the crack in the seat and sealed it up with the dip. It looked so good, I decided to go ahead and paint the hood and most of the metal parts with the Majic brand rattle paint sold at Tractor Supply Company, the closest I could get to the original Honda "Jolly red" was International Harvester red they sell. I also cleaned up the plastics and used my heat gun to remelt the surface of the plastic to restore it's original color from bad sun fade.

The tractor and mowing deck will go to the cottage, where I need a better machine to mow the grass, haul my boat up, and move some of the trees that have been sitting by the leech field since I cut them down. What an adventure, and I owe it all to Dad!


​© 2020 by John L. Painter

  • Twitter Clean
  • Flickr Social Icon