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#3217793 - 12/15/13 07:50 PM 1979 Case 444 repower - tons of pictures
04SE Offline

Registered: 05/04/07
Posts: 851
Loc: IL
We are repowering our 1979 Case 444. It came with a Kohler 14 horsepower single that is plum wore out. It was supposedly rebuilt circa late 1980s. This tractor is equipped with a 3-point hitch. It runs a tiller, plow, and mower via the 3-point. We also have a snowblower that mounts to the front. This mower has been worked into the dirt, brought back to life and then worked back into the dirt. It has never had what some would call an easy life. Maintenance? None. Oil? You add it when you add gas. Air filter, yep it has an air filter. Catch my drift? My Grandfather and Father never exactly maintained it. If it started, that was all that mattered.

This mowed grass with a belly mower for years and years and years. The 3-point was then added and the attachments were acquired. At one point we had a 222, 444, 446 and 448. We are down to the 222 and 444. The 446 and 448 had even harder lives and were sent to the great lawn mower heaven probably 7-8 years ago. They were from the early 70s and had been used, abused, put away wet and then abused some more.

In terms of the alleged rebuild, the number plate on the Kohler indicates it is either a 77 or 78 motor. The number on the motor is a series or two earlier than the tractor. I suspect it wasn't rebuilt but simply replaced.

We are repowering it with a 18 horsepower B&S Vanguard twin. We ordered a repower kit from a place in Wisconsin that you can easily find via google, I don't want to get in trouble for posting the link.

The engine had been steadily losing power for the past few years and in late 2012 suffered a catastrophic misfire, backfire, hiccup, IT WENT BANG, and never returned from the flat line and subsequent code blue. Check out the pictures after we removed the head. It is missing a piece from the piston and the intake valve was just barely sealing. We didn't get the feeler gauge out but it was clearly not seating 100%. You could spin the engine freely by hand and it required minimal extra effort to spin it through the compression stroke.

It sat in the back of the shop as a project until we found the place in Wisconsin (Ehh...) that sells the repower kits. We finally got around to doing it this winter. The motor will be here later this week and I will finish documenting the heart transplant and rebirth of the Case 444. FYI this thing is 6 years older than me and will probably out live me. It just can't be killed. Ahh, the good ol' days of lawn tractors that last a lifetime.










#3217798 - 12/15/13 07:53 PM Re: 1979 Case 444 repower - tons of pictures [Re: 04SE]
eljefino Offline

Registered: 06/15/03
Posts: 31381
Loc: ME

#3217804 - 12/15/13 08:05 PM Re: 1979 Case 444 repower - tons of pictures [Re: 04SE]
Barkleymut Offline

Registered: 01/27/04
Posts: 2679
Loc: Richmond, VA
yup, it will easily outlive you....especially with a B&S
09 Vue(95K) 2.4 4spd AT -PU 5w30 / 09 Flex(52K)3.5L PU / Moms car 04 Pilot(105K) 5w20 PP + Puro

#3217864 - 12/15/13 09:00 PM Re: 1979 Case 444 repower - tons of pictures [Re: 04SE]
Jordan_FX4 Offline

Registered: 07/05/11
Posts: 100
Loc: Oklahoma
Keep us updated, it's always good to see old iron still being run.
2013 Ford F-150 Pennzoil Platinum 5W20
1966 Ford Mustang PYB 10W30

#3217893 - 12/15/13 09:30 PM Re: 1979 Case 444 repower - tons of pictures [Re: 04SE]

Registered: 07/29/08
Posts: 1043
The seat looks the worst for wear! Lol
2014 Ram 2500 HD 5.7 Hemi 4x4 13K miles
8'Boss SuperDuty Plow
2017 Harley Davidson Milwaukee 8 Limited 1K miles
2009 Toyota V6 XLE Camry 63 K miles

#3217956 - 12/15/13 10:48 PM Re: 1979 Case 444 repower - tons of pictures [Re: 04SE]
mrsilv04 Offline

Registered: 12/08/06
Posts: 7908
Loc: Illinois
Yeah... does the place in Wisconsin sell seats too?
Ask me about my junk, knocking Jasper engine, that failed and had to be replaced at only 2,200 miles, and how poorly Jasper handled the claim.

#3217965 - 12/15/13 11:01 PM Re: 1979 Case 444 repower - tons of pictures [Re: mrsilv04]
Texan4Life Offline

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 2264
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: mrsilv04
Yeah... does the place in Wisconsin sell seats too?


....+1 though, nice pics cant wait for the updates. laugh
2005 Dodge Ram 1500, 5.7L
[Current Fill: PP 0w-20][Baldwin B2-HPG]

#3218043 - 12/16/13 01:53 AM Re: 1979 Case 444 repower - tons of pictures [Re: 04SE]
05GMC Offline

Registered: 07/14/11
Posts: 190
Loc: Jupiter Florida
Thats a really nice old tractor , glad you are saving it.

#3218357 - 12/16/13 10:55 AM Re: 1979 Case 444 repower - tons of pictures [Re: 04SE]
JTK Offline

Registered: 08/14/03
Posts: 9828
Loc: Buffalo, NY
Awesome work 04SE!

I owned a 1979 model year Case 220 for a few years. Totally rebuilt the 38" mowing deck and had to have a buddy do some weld-work magic on the deck shell for me. The later generation Ingersolls have Vanguard V-twins on them, but they're spun around the other way, with the flywheel towards the operator as opposed to the other way with the older models. With the oldies, your feet stay nice and warm since the engine blows hot air at you LOL.

The Case/Ingersoll HyDrive system is as heavy-duty as it gets. I just hated it for my mowing needs at the time. I had just under 2acres of very hilly yard. My 220 didn't have a run-away valve on the hydraulics, so down hill was exciting at times. Yeah, the "retard" (yes, that's what it's called) feature on the motion control lever does work somewhat, if you don't mind skidding and grinding noises. This system was way too herky-jerky for my mowing/maneuvering needs at the time. I kept it as a yard tug for awhile, then sold'er to a good home.

Edited by JTK (12/16/13 10:57 AM)
2016 Subaru Forester 2.5, CVT. 2016 Nissan Quest SV (Babe magnet IV)

#3218394 - 12/16/13 11:31 AM Re: 1979 Case 444 repower - tons of pictures [Re: 04SE]
Fleetmon Offline

Registered: 01/26/12
Posts: 1120
Loc: Pa
I have an Ingersoll 4020PS. Mine is a 20HP Onan.
"In order to become the Master, a cunning person may act as a servant."

NRA Benefactor Member

#3218403 - 12/16/13 11:46 AM Re: 1979 Case 444 repower - tons of pictures [Re: 04SE]
bubbatime Offline

Registered: 03/18/08
Posts: 4747
Loc: South Florida
That engine looks easily rebuildable. I home it doesn't end up in the scrap pile as you say.
13 Yamaha XT250 Valv MC 10W40
12 Suzuki S40 Rotella T4
10 Acura TSX 2.4 SuperTech 5W20
09 Chrysler TC 4.0 Chevron 10W30
06 GMC Sierra 4.8 Nextgen 10W30

#3218489 - 12/16/13 01:17 PM Re: 1979 Case 444 repower - tons of pictures [Re: bubbatime]
JTK Offline

Registered: 08/14/03
Posts: 9828
Loc: Buffalo, NY
Originally Posted By: bubbatime
That engine looks easily rebuildable. I home it doesn't end up in the scrap pile as you say.

Agreed. You could probably sell it as-is on CL or eBay. It's an all iron Kohler K-series.
2016 Subaru Forester 2.5, CVT. 2016 Nissan Quest SV (Babe magnet IV)

#3221933 - 12/19/13 05:47 PM Re: 1979 Case 444 repower - tons of pictures [Re: 04SE]
04SE Offline

Registered: 05/04/07
Posts: 851
Loc: IL

The new motor should be here either tomorrow or Saturday, pictures will follow. We pulled most of the hydraulic lines off to get replacements since we are already in there and they were weeping. We will also be replacing the fuel line for good measure.

Yes.... It is getting a new seat. We might actually just refinish the current seat, they apparently make kits for it.

We are replacing the factory amp meter with an hourmeter to track oil changes and overall usage.

After the repower I will get pictures of the snow blower in action, assuming we get more snow soon.

The Kohler really is a boat anchor. The cylinder wall is severely scarred, pictures aren't doing it justice. However, a local lawn mower shop told us that for him to source just a clean K321A block was $$$$$. So I will look into selling/trading the motor, thanks for the heads up.

It seems B&S recommends a synthetic 5w30 but I think the new Vanguard will be getting Rotella 10w30.

#3222982 - 12/20/13 06:17 PM Re: 1979 Case 444 repower - tons of pictures [Re: 04SE]
HM12460 Offline

Registered: 05/26/07
Posts: 2010
Loc: West Michigan
Nice old tractor. Looks to be a good, fun project.

2017 GMC Terrain
"Little Jimmy"

#3234060 - 01/01/14 07:55 PM Re: 1979 Case 444 repower - tons of pictures [Re: 04SE]
04SE Offline

Registered: 05/04/07
Posts: 851
Loc: IL

The motor finally arrived. FedEx was delayed from the weather and holiday season. We de-greased and pressure washed the tractor on our heat wave day of almost 60* last week. After opening the box and sorting through the parts it quickly became apparent that much more customization was needed than we initially expected. No biggie, we have a shop. I will do my best to explain the bumps we had in the road to help those that may stumble upon this via google in the future as they attempt the same task while pulling their hair out.

B&S Vanguard 18HP

De-greasing and pressure washing

Freshly cleaned tractor

Cutting the crank

Yes, you just spent $2,500 on a repower kit and you are cutting the crankshaft down. This took some deep breaths and careful measuring. We cut our shaft to 1 3/8". This left us with plenty of shaft BUT 1 5/8" would be ideal, take careful note of this if you are reading this and doing this very same task!! We used a simple 1" bushing purchased from the local farm store as a guide and a 12" 24 tooth hack saw. It took a few minutes of careful cutting but it was very easy to do. We used a die grinder to even the shaft face up and emery cloth to clean the burrs up. The shaft MUST be cut in order to make room for the lovejoy connectors to fit within the hydraulic pump housing and allow the housing to bolt to the new motor.

Finished cutting

Congratulations, you just devalued your $2,500 kit to $0. It must be used on a Case 44X series machine now. Don't plan on using it on another machine that needs the full 3" shaft.

Test fitting the lovejoy connectors & pump

Take a close look at the photos above from when we opened the motor box up. You will notice a steel CNC cut ring on the back of the motor with 4 bolts holding it in place. This is an adapter ring to mount the pump housing to the bolt pattern of the new motor. I failed to document this step (SORRY!) but you simply use the ring as a template on the pump to drill 4 new holes, pretty self explanatory.

Pump mounted to motor

The old meets the new. Again, I failed to document this very well but the ring is now mounted between the motor and pump. The housing has a lip on it that hides the ring from the camera. You can see the old mounting holes versus the placement of the new ones where the bolts are obviously now located.

Test fitting new mounting plate

More on this later, it took some additional customizing. All 4 mounting holes on the upper portion had to be opened up with a uni-bit to allow for wiggle room and to square the motor up on the mount. The 4 mounting holes that mount it to the frame required the same thing. We also had to open up the holes on the motor to fit the bolts in. I mean like 0.00001" on the motor, nothing major at all. We also cut a relief to clear the hydraulic cylinder as a precaution, it was close, very close. This will be shown later in the next update.

Mock up

This kit is sold as not requiring the hood to be cut. Unfortunately, we don't see how that is possible. We will have to cut relief cuts for the valve covers. Oh well, no biggie, just didn't want a hacked up looking tractor. This new engine barely and I mean BARELY fits. We just do have enough clearance for the belt up front to drive the snow blower. The fan shroud has been cut down and will also be shown on the next update. They should have included a shoehorn with this kit. It looks roomy now, just wait until I show it all assembled.

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