Repowering a Cub Cadet 782 with a Honda Engine

Mon Jul 31, 2006 7:04 pm

This adventure started when we were a bit negligent in checking the oil level in the Kohler KT17 engine. Since my engine was burning oil, it was important to check the level before cutting the lawn. Having checked out Fordlord's conversion and the Small Engine Warehouse kit, I decided to take a chance on the Honda Engine. At least the Honda comes equipped with a low oil level shutdown.

After a short time into the lawn cutting on that fateful day, there was a bang and the tractor began running rough and was way down on power. Upon further investigation, it turned out that one of the connecting rods broke.

I have a large property and it usually takes me about 3-hours to mow it. It helps that I have the 52" deck on my tractor. While the tractor is down for a new engine, I am planning some repairs to the mower deck. It has a small rust hole in the top front of the deck. If you look carefully, you might be able to see a white circle scratched into the rust. My tractor's snow thrower is behind the mower deck.

The kit as it was shipped from the Small Engine Warehouse. SEW doesn't ship to Canada so I had to ship it to a friend's house in Buffalo. Luckily for me, he only lives about 20 minutes from my house.

The engine just prior to removal. At this point, the driveshaft, fuel line, and cables were disconnected. It took me a little while to figure out that there was no need to remove all of the sheet-metal shrouding from the engine. I found that after removing the front grill and removing all 6 bolts from the engine support plate under the tractor, the engine could be lifted out quite easily.

A Cub Cadet with no engine. Anyone need a spare Kohler KT8.5? Doesn't run half bad!

A Cub Cadet with a new Honda engine. The wiring harness was slightly damaged in shipping so I soldered in a new splice to make sure I have a good connection. I also found that the new throttle cable did not have threaded mounting holes so I had to thread them with a #10-24 tap. My fuel line is a bit too short (and showing its age) so I'm going to replace it.

At this point, I'm trying to figure out how to remove the PTO from the front of the old engine. The PTO's innermost sleeve seems to be siezed onto the engine's output shaft. I've already sprayed it with penetrating oil and tried to work it off but I just can't get it to budge. Does anyone have any ideas as to how I can get this off?

I once I get the PTO mounted, I will have to figure how to properly line up the engine.

Mon Jul 31, 2006 8:05 pm

You can try using a couple of wedges between the block and the pulley and see if you can get it to start to move. Use PB Blaster and then tap it back on and repeat till it's off. make sure there's no burr on the end of the shaft.

Sun Aug 06, 2006 10:29 pm

I guess I got lucky my old PTO came off easily, although I did have to impact the bolt to get it loose. By LIGHTLY (a few snaps) with the impact wrench going clockwise) it might get the PTO loose if the sleeve is stuck on the crank.

I see you got the 2006 version of the GX610, it has a newer updated valve train from the 2005 engine I got from SEW. My final install looks like this:

Finished baby:

Note: People have been modifying, adding things to, or changing things on their Cubs since the beginning to keep them going, to make them better, or just to have fun. The things I did or do on my own Cubs are done for the above reasons, as they are active work tractors and I am not a purist restorer or collector.


It's Alive!

Mon Aug 07, 2006 2:42 pm

I got everything together and got my new Honda engine to run.

A view of my driveshaft as it is attached to the adapter. I decided to let the engine find it's own mounting position. After leveling the frame, I let the engine run at various speeds with loose mounting bolts. After a few pushes in various directions, the engine always wanted to return to one position so I tightened it down in that location.

The wedges were a great idea. My local tractor mechanic also suggested to screw the bolt back into the driveshaft's snout and tap it with a hammer to help it out. Using a brass rod as I tapped on the bolt, the PTO clutch slowly worked itself off from the shaft with some help from the wedges. I put some Never-Sieze on the new shaft so I won't have this problem next time.

I wasn't sure of the positions of the brass spacers since there didn't seem to be a need to have the flat ring behind the clutch. However, the clutch seemed to be too tight and I couldn't turn the driveshaft by hand anymore.

The assembly instructions indicate the ring goes at the bottom of the output shaft underneath the clutch and the cylindrical spacer goes between the clutch and the bolt. The clutch also binds in this arrangement.

After backing off the 4 bolts holding the clutch to the adapter plate and loosening up the snout bolt, there is about an 1/8" gap between the clutch and the adapter plate as indicated by the screwdriver in the bottom of the photo.

There is also a 1/8" to 1/4" gap between the end of the shaft spacer and the bolt.

To take up the extra clearances, I tried adding a lockwasher and flat washer under the clutch and a 3 flat washers between the cylindrical spacer and the bolt. This seemed to work fairly well to eliminate any binding in the clutch. Even though the bolt is on tight, there is just enough clearance for the cylindrical spacer to spin freely.

The clutch seemed to work fine with the old engine but seemed to either slip or bind on the new engine. As installed with the additional washers, the clutch seemed to chatter and smoke when engaged. The kit includes an 0.017" feeler gage for adjusting the clutch. However, it seems to be to tight when adjusted for that gap.

I then backed off the clutch adjustment nuts and, with the engine running, retightened everything until the clutch just made contact. I then backed off the nuts until the clutch started to spin freely. When I engaged the PTO, I noticed some smoking from the clutch.

I checked the butt splice that SEW provided on the end of the new starter cable and noticed that it was loose. To be safe, I stripped off the insulation, climped the old starter wire into the splice, and soldered everything together.

Upon trying to start the engine, I noticed that it would not turn over. This is because my tractor has a starter solenoid beside the battery and the new engine has a starter solenoid on the starter motor. I figured the simplest way to power up the Honda solenoid was to make a short jumper to connect the large terminal with the solenoid's spade terminal. I had no problems starting the engine with the jumper in place.

After a few attempts at figuring out how to run the throttle cable, this arrangement seems to be the simplest and best. Since I have an throttle cable hole on the right side of the firewall, SEW could have supplied me with a cable about 1-ft shorter but I didn't want to learn how to properly shorten a throttle cable today. I ran the cable to the left side of the engine, under the center of the engine mounting plate and up to the throttle bracket.

Does anyone have any advice as to the best way to install my PTO clutch and properly adjust it?

Tue Oct 03, 2006 8:50 am


Did you ever work out the clutch so it worked? I have this Honda engine kit on the way.


It's almost all back together.

Tue Oct 03, 2006 7:58 pm

Sorry I haven't updated sooner. I've been busy during the summer and everything else seemed to be more important than getting my tractor back together.

The problem that I was encountering was that the spacer ring was too large of a diameter to clear the hole in the clutch's backing plate. As you can see, I had some interference. The ring on the left was the smaller one that SEW sent to me at no extra charge.

Even with the smaller spacer ring, there was some interference and I had to file the hole in the clutch's backing plate about 1/8" larger diameter to be safe.


After the backing plate had enough clearance and was torqued down, the flywheel is the next item to be installed.

The sleeve goes on next.

And now the pulley.

The last items are the clutch cover and the bolt. Because the output shaft of the Honda engine is longer than the Kohler's, you need to put the sleeve spacer between the pulley and the bolt. The sleeve space is longer than required but everything works properly once the bolt is tightened. There are three holes in the side of the clutch cover near each of the cover hold-down studs. You use the 0.017" feeler gauge to set the clearance between the cover and the flywheel.

I painted the muffler's heat shield black because I thought the bare sheet-metal look didn't look finished to me. I also thought it would be a closer match to the Kohler's black ducting.

The muffler from a side view.

For some reason, the engine wanted to run to the right side of the tractor so I tightened it down there. This caused the outlet to interfere with the grille. The exhaust pipe was also too low so I had to put some heat on it to move it up and to the right so it was centered in an opening. Notice that the original muffler had worn the grille slightly on the other side of the hole.

After having reinstalled the hood and side panels, I got to thinking that I should have centered the engine on the frame rather than just letting it find its own home and then tightening it down. I think the engine's torque at full throttle caused the engine to wander to the extreme right hand side of the frame.

Today I took everything apart again and loosened the engine hold-down bolts. This time I just left the engine run at a much lower speed and the vibration moved it into a position that was more centered. All I have to do now is heat the exhaust pipe again to recenter it in the grille before I reassemble the hood and side panels.

Tue Oct 03, 2006 9:02 pm

Thanks so much for the update and photos. Do you think it was just your PTO that was messed up or a problem with the Honda CC match?

Wed Oct 04, 2006 7:15 am

I think the problem was due to a variation in the design of the PTO clutch. The hole in my clutch's backing plate was 1-5/8” and SEW obviously based their design on one with a much larger hole.

SEW was quick to send me a replacement which was also 1-5/8”. However, because the two diameters were the same, the hole center did not match exactly with the shaft center and, although the pieces now fit together, I found there was still some interference. With a pencil, I circumscribed a circle around the spacer ring which then gave me an indication of how much material to file away.

The clutch works fine now. Once I get the tractor back together, I'm going to figure out how best to patch the hole in the mower deck.

Wed Oct 04, 2006 7:23 am

The clutch works fine now. Once I get the tractor back together, I'm going to figure out how best to patch the hole in the mower deck.

What hole? From when the rod on the KT17 let loose????? :D

Thanks for the follow up!

Wed Oct 04, 2006 7:30 am

The hole in the deck was due to corrosion. If you look to the top of this thread, you'll see a photo of my mower deck. If you look carefully, you'll see a circle scratched into the rust at the top front of the deck.

Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:25 am


This is a great thread :!: Very nice pictorial of the repower project. This would be a great addition to the "How To" Forum.

Thu Oct 05, 2006 11:49 am


Excellent idea :!: :!:

This is a perfect example of the stuff needed for How To's.. so in the interim until fraso decides if we should do this (it is his thread, so he should decide..but I would strongly suggest that it become a how to..), I made it a sticky so it won't get lost in the shuffle.

I think we need to have a few other How To's from the Cub Cadet side of the hobby...

What do you think fella's :idea: :!: :?: :?:

Sat Oct 07, 2006 9:09 am

How would I go about creating a How-To article?

Sat Oct 07, 2006 11:06 am

fraso wrote:How would I go about creating a How-To article?

You just did :!: :wink: 8) 8) :lol:

The only addition to the above comment I would make, is possibly format.. If you want to re-write some to include all the different things you did as well as your responses to the questions asked etc., so that it all becomes one cohesive article, then that would be fine.

If you chose to do that. Let me Know. We can then make a true How To Article for this Forum.

Let us know wht you think!

Tue Oct 10, 2006 10:27 pm

Got my 682 H-V Twin running today! This topic was a great help. I shortened the throttle cable rather than running under the motor. The exhaust hits the grille, so I'll modify it a bit. I had to jumper the Honda solenoid to start it, then I find my CC solenoid is shot, so I'll use the Honda solenoid instead.