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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Guys! new to the gator world and new to this forum. I recently purchased an inop gator that I'm going to get back up and running. Its a 1998 Turf 4x2. from a shell perspective, it is in great condition, some cracks in the plastics etc. but overall looks great. The main issue with it being it doesn't have a motor, or let me clarify it has two motors neither of which run. They guy I bought it from said the first (OEM) motor blew so his buddy replaced it with a v-twin vangard that is also blown now. Fortunately for me, the chassis and mounting area doesn't look modified. the wiring and linkages on the other hand.... Im an electrical engineer and a tinkerer so the electrical is not an issue, I'll just get the wiring diagram and fix the wiring. The brakes seem to work and it all looks like it is there, with brand new tires I might add, so a motor should be all I need

The plan currently is to put a new motor in it. I have looked into getting it refurbed from the Gator Guy, but from what I understand this motor is far from complete and he doesn't come across many turf motors which brings me to my next point: From my reading so far, the turfs are kinda funny. They do the golf cart thing where they start with the gas pedal (which I plan to get rid of, saw a thread on here from a different motor swap where he was able to make the transaxle happy and ran like a normal gator). I am currently looking at this subaru motor from small engine warehouse. it looks like a good fit, makes good power and is in the price range I was hoping to spend on a new one. makes 14hp, rotates counter clockwise looking at the shaft(someone please let me know if this is backward to the original engine), has a standard straight 1" keyed shaft, same form factor, electric start, the whole nine. The thing I really like about it is the exhaust port is on the top, so it keeps it away from the belt and should be fairly easy to make an exhaust for it since it doesn't come with one. I have also looked into the whole clutch issue, and so far it seems like buying a comet 780 is the right choice, but I'll solve that issue when I get to it.

So theres the intro to hopefully a fun and uneventful swap. Let me know what you guys think and any tips would be greatly appreciate, especially when converting from the turf nonsense to a normal operating gator. enjoy the pics.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Welcome Thomas!

There is a frequent poster here who has done a major engine swap and might turn out to be a good resource for you.
Thanks MB!
Yup read through just about every engine swap thread I can find. The one from @dane, and a few others. I've also started down the rabbit hole of the parts diagrams on partscatalog.deere.com to try to figure out how everything was connected so I know how to mod it correctly. As you can see my motor is far from complete so that makes things tough.
 

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Is there a reason you want to do away with the engine starting when you depress the accelerator? I have both a Gator and a golf cart and the golf cart method is pretty nice if you do a lot of short trips. It is super convenient to just jump on the vehicle and stomp on the pedal versus having to get in, start the engine, then go. The biggest drawback to golf cart style is the first start when the engine is cold and you have to choke and it takes the engine a second or two to longer to start. But, after the first start the engine can start pretty quickly so there isn't much delay between stepping on the pedal and starting to move. Another benefit is it totally avoids the Gator's infamous sticking primary clutch since the engine is stopped whenever you shift.
 

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I’m with Dane on the press to start. My son and I played an incredibly hilly golf course using such a cart. I thought it was super convenient. I personally would want to retain that feature if possible.

That said, everyone has their own personal likes and dislikes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You know that’s a good point. I guess I just had it in my brain that it was going to cause more headache than it was worth. The other thing that makes me hesitant is making sure the new motor works with this feature and truthfully not being super familiar with the technical part of how it actually achieves this. Is it just as simple as a limit switch under the pedal that engages the starter? Any information pointing to how these models actually function would be great! Thanks for the input guys. That being said, is there anything that points to this motor being incompatible?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
@dane, this is the reason I believe I need to delete the golf cart pedal start feature. The turf motors have a special starter generator that allows it to hot swap between starting and generating. The motor I want to use (and just about every other off the shelf motor) does not have this. Hopefully @Anickode is still active on here so he can chime in on how he rewired his gator to make this work. Great thread by the way.
 

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Going away from pedal starting is easy. You just need to put an on/off and starter switch somewhere. You can use a ignition key or a toggle switch for on/off and a momentary push button for the starter. You'll also need to find out if your new engine has an anti after fire solenoid on the carburetor which will need to be energized whenever the engine is "on".
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Understood, thanks for the info. I was more worried about mechanical differences, like the shifter not actually having a neutral but it seems like this might also be a less important part than I thought since the clutch will just slip until the right RPM is hit. I’m not seeing any reference to/physical solenoid on the carb to my new engine, but after comparing it to the original it doesn’t seem like that has one either? See pictures above and let me know if you are able to identify it. I also did some research on this solenoid and it seems like it’s not strictly necessary but just to stop backfiring or “after firing” as referenced by the name which is just fuel being squirted into the exhaust because there is no spark and that igniting against the hot exhaust.
 

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Hi Thomas,

It looks like you have almost everything you need off the stock engine, minus the tins, starter + associated bolts and brackets. Do you have those off camera somewhere? Otherwise, if you search "deere fe290" on eBay there are a couple of people selling short blocks and long block rebuilds, and the tins and starter aren't too much money--especially if you buy used and go aftermarket, respectively. Keeping stock means you can refer directly to the manuals and parts catalogs with no issues, which is definitely convenient--no need to hassle with different cables or belts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hey @BRBMark, that just seems like a ton of hassle and then I just end up with the same crappy engine that these things come with. I’d rather spend a few extra bucks on a brand new motor that makes more HP.

that being said, I’ve got updates!
Got it all cleaned up and pressure washed, boy this thing was grimy. I think the previous motor that blew up shot oil everywhere so there was just caked on mud and oil everywhere. Started playing around motor fitment and it seems like a good (albeit tight) fit! New clutch lines up and the hole pattern for the motor is close but in order for it to fit and the belt to be under the right tension, it needs to shift backward about 1-2 inches. Otherwise, left to right fitment seems pretty good, I do have a little wiggle room to get the clutch alignment just right but I think the stock location left to right is correct. What I might do is open up the stock motor mount holes to slots that extent backward so I can fine tune the position. I did have to remove the shifter assembly which I will need to fabricate something to replace this but I got a few ideas of how to do this that will be more sleek than the giant dual cable OEM plate.
I also got the dump bed working! I bought this gator with a questionable linear actuator which turned out to be seized so the plan was to buy a new one. But low and behold it works! Some PB blaster and a little back and forth actuation was all it needed. This allowed me to test the dump bed relays and switch which are all working great. Boy I can’t wait to clean up the wiring…
Anyway. Expect lots of progress this weekend with no plans currently on the books. Get engine mounted, wired, sort out fuel then give it a go. Next after that is a proper custom exhaust. I saved some money buying this motor sans fuel tank and exhaust because neither was going to fit anyway but that means I need to fabricate a new one. Glad it came with a gasket to pull the bolt and port spacing from otherwise that would have been tricky. Yes I know the motor is crooked, the locating dots in the sheet metal were stopping it from sitting straight.
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Alright got a ton done yesterday, got the engine fully mounted, pulled and cleaned the fuel tank, disassembled the fuel pump to make sure it was healthy, cleaned some more, started doing some rewiring, and got all the fuel lines ran. Choke is hooked up now and the throttle is next once I get the engine running. I’m going to bypass the original starter for now with the intent to replace the shifter assembly with a fly-by-wire shifter and button/switch for starting and accessories. It’s overkill but being an electrical engineer I feel far more confident doing that than trying to figure out cables and correct lengths/stroke/mounting etc. That’s just out of my fabrication capabilities right now. for the short term I’m just going to kick the trans into forward and keep it there with a bungee cord.
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