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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As the topic list....

I have been wanting a 446/448 for a long time.... there is a line on decent looking 444 now on CL for a good price and I have been thinking....

I know Kohlers are cheaper than Onans.
Onans are quieter than Kohlers right?
Are the 446/448s longer than a 444?

Any other reason why I should buy a 444 or a 446/8?

Note this will be my one and only tractor, primarily to plow my driveway.

thanks Kevin
 

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If I had a choice I would get a 444 just because if something ever happened to the engine I could rebuild it for a little less then $200.

For the doubters who will say I can't do it RIGHT for that price here is a rough breakdown. A gasket set from rotary cost $21, the piston and rod cost cost right around $30. I true the head myself on a piece of thick glass and then the crank cost me $55 to have it ground and $35 to have the block punched. So right there I am looking at about $141 not counting shop supplies so I will figure around a $200 total for a typical kohler rebuild. Now if I have to replace crank bearings, valves or guides the price goes up to about $300. So I pretty much say piss on Onan. A little less vibration and sound with a couple more ponies is not worth the $1000 it would cost to rebuild a Onan if it crapped out on me.
 

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If I had a choice between a 444 and a 446 I would pick the 444.


This is coming from a 446 owner...

The Onan is a very very good engine, but the Kohler will be cheaper to maintain and use a little less fuel to boot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Is the onan quieter than a kohler or is it about the same loudness.

And BTW - I have a wheel horse auto 16 now...so I have experience with Kohlers...
Or.. is a 14 hp and quieter than a 16 hp kohler?

I assume from other posts I have read that the kohler has more than enough power to turn the hydro on these tractor and the hydro is the limiting factor of speed/power for the 44x series tractors?
So there for a 444 and 446 should be able to do the same work?

thanks Kevin
 

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They will both do the exact same work. The hydraulic system can only use a max of around 12hp. The rest of it will be fed to the front PTO.

My Onan is loud enough that I never even go to start it unless I'm wearing ear protection.
 

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The replies to your question will all be personal opinion, nothing more. In the end, it will still be up to you to decide which model makes your eyes light up the brightest.


Whether you choose a 444, 446 or 448, they are all essentially identical in nearly every respect other than the engine.

Horsepower does make a difference when using belt driven attachments (mower, snowblower, 540 PTO) but the fact remains, HP matters very little elsewhere when it comes to things powered by the hydraulic system.

You can fully rebuild a Kohler K engine for less than $700.00 but a full Onan rebuild can cost you a thousand dollars more. That is why it is so very important to try and determine the true condition of an Onan engine prior to purchasing the tractor. Do not believe any Seller when he says that an engine was rebuilt UNLESS he can show you the invoices. And those invoices must prove that the block was bored, the crank was either ground or polished, the piston/s, rod/s, ring/s were replaced along with new seals, bearings and gaskets. The valves, valve seats, valve guides, valve springs should all be inspected, replaced or reground. The camshaft should be checked and profiled. A new governor gear is a must. On older Kohlers, the balancer gears should either be replaced or discarded. The top of the block should be checked as well as the head/s and both should be ground flat if they are not flat.

Hour meters are like car odometers. They lie. You cannot trust an hour meter reading unless there is overwhelming evidence that supports the numbers shown.

Investing in a compression gauge and a leak-down tester plus learning how to use both effectively will help you determine good engines from well-worn ones.


Moving now to the tractor itself.

All 442, 444 and 446 tractors originally had a 46 inch wheelbase. For the 1980 model year, the 444, 446 and 448 (newly introduced) had two more inches added to the wheelbase between the seat pedestal base and the dash tower base. Put a tape measure along the checker-plate floor in this area. SWB tractors measure 13" and LWB tractors measure 15". The longer the wheelbase, the larger the turning radius but the extra 2" in that spot makes getting on and off easier plus the steering wheel doesn't cause burn marks on your belly button.

Yes.... the Onan's can be a tad quieter due to being a twin and they produce less vibration due to being an opposed twin. Personally, I've been very happy with both engines.


For some people, only a 448 with the hood scoop will satisfy their personal desire. It's not about anything other than personal preference. You want that damn hood scoop and no one is going to change your mind. I don't argue with that. I just say "Don't be blinded to everything else because of the hood scoop." Also, this tractor may be for plowing your driveway but if you think that you might expand on its uses around your home, then it is far cheaper to buy a tractor that already has the rear PTO and a hitch, then it is to add them later on.

Focus on the condition of the engine because that's the most expensive item to repair/replace. All other issues pale by comparison but should not be ignored when negotiating a final price.
 

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haeffnkr said:
Is the onan quieter than a kohler or is it about the same loudness.

And BTW - I have a wheel horse auto 16 now...so I have experience with Kohlers...
Or.. is a 14 hp and quieter than a 16 hp kohler?

I assume from other posts I have read that the kohler has more than enough power to turn the hydro on these tractor and the hydro is the limiting factor of speed/power for the 44x series tractors?
So there for a 444 and 446 should be able to do the same work?

thanks Kevin
No one can make a blanket statement on this issue because neither Onan nor Kohler made the exhaust systems. Those were all spec'd by the original manufacturer's to fit in with the design of the tractor. Small mufflers make more noise than large mufflers do plus the internal baffling of mufflers makes a huge difference in the final DB rating. I would not make a decision about which tractor to buy, based on the level of exhaust noise.
 

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Kohler!!!! ALL the way!!.......... I had a bad experience once with an Onan ONCE .... My dad loves them though... The Onans do sound sweet though (seemy video on the restoration page about me finishing my dad's T-446) :thumbsup:
 

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I grew up (my opinion of course) on my dads 1972 444 and he still uses it to this day to mow with a 48" deck. I recently added a pto, tiller and hydravac for him and he built his own collection trailer That is close to 40% larger than the factory case unit. He had the engine rebuilt for the first time 6 yrs ago and we notice no power deficit when using the vacuum compared to my 446-76. I also have a 446 with an 18 hp Onan transplant and blowing snow is only time I will notice the slight difference in hp from the kohler but it is not a deal breaker. Now I will mention that I ended up buying a 444 (came with the tiller is what I told my better half) and it could barely pull itself out of the garage. The engine clearances could have been measured with a carpenters tape but after a rebuild she is good as new!
 

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The newest of any 400 series machine is 24 years old. These machines don't come along very often and sometimes never in many areas. I prefer twin cylinder engines myself, but if I wanted a Case/Ingersoll and a decent 444 became available I would grab it. Bear in mind that when the 448 came out, it had a two inch longer frame and shortly after the 444s and 446s had the longer frames. I prefer the longer frame tractors as they have more operator room and I feel more comfortable operating them. I recommend using hearing protection while operating any of these tractors, when one starts loosing hearing it's too late!!!
No such thing as a $200 overhaul, that is just the cost of common parts for a Kohler, not boring and crank turning, etc.
Mad Mackie in CT :mrgreen: :mowlawn:
 

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Most of my tractors are 446/448s and I often wondered how much practical difference there is in the power of the engines. I had never encountered a situation where the 446 lugged down until this fall when I took my leaf collection 448 out of service for some minor repairs and tried to use the 446 in its place. The 446 worked fine on level ground but groaned badly when trying to pull my large, fully loader leaf trailer up hill. Understand that it was also spinning a 48" mower deck and a custom built vac system using 8" hoses and a vac spinning at twice the speed of a hydravac. This is definitely an extreme demand on the engine and I'm not complaining about the 446 but the 2 extra ponies make a noticeable difference in this application.

I don't have much experience with the Kohlers but I am confident that you couldn't tell the difference between a 444 and a 446 when plowing or mowing with a deck up to 48". If you can see a scenario where you might end up using it with a snowblower in heavy snow or adding a hydravac to collect leaves then I would recommend a 446/448. Better yet is to buy the 444 and use it as a dedicated plow tractor and pickup a 446 when the opportunity presents itself.
 

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Bob MacGregor said:
No such thing as a $200 overhaul, that is just the cost of common parts for a Kohler, not boring and crank turning, etc.
Mad Mackie in CT :mrgreen: :mowlawn:
NAPA in Nassau NY 518 766 4995 Give them a call and ask how much they charge to grind a crank and punch a block.

You will just have to take my word on what I pay for my parts $21.95 for a complete rotary gasket set, $17.80 for a rotary rod, and around $12-$13 dollars for a Rotary piston. If I can find a way to I will scan the pages of my Stens/Rotary catalog to show proof of my prices. Also, to nip this before it is brought up, the parts are QUALITY parts not junk.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hi,
Thanks for all the replies.
Glad to see this is an energetic discussion :thumbup:

Not sure which way to lean here....
I really wanted to try an Onan... but Kohlers are cheaper/easy to work on.

I have had a few different Kohlers and tractors over the years... and this 16 hp beast on my Wheel Horse is loud and vibrates the heck out of things.
I had missed out on a few Onans this year so far on CL around St Louis area....

decisions....decisions....

thanks Kevin
 

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I've never owned a Kohler powered Case or Ingersoll but I have serviced some over the years. I did own an Economy 1416 years ago, the vibration from the Kohler was one of the reasons I sold it. I'm not anti Kohler I just prefer smoother running tractors. As for the added horsepower of a 448, I have experienced the same condition that Bart has described.
The aftermarket is flooded with inexpensive parts and having had bad experiences with some I would never use anything but OEM parts in an engine repair or overhaul particularly in a customers machine. Stens appears to sell better quality aftermarket items but I'm still cautious having heard negative comments from many power equipment dealers about aftermarket engine parts in general. Bear in mind that as the demand for Kohler K series engine parts decreases, the prices of the aftermarket parts follows as these engines are removed from service for various reasons, mostly due to age.
Mad Mackie in CT
 

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chllngr528 said:
Bob MacGregor said:
No such thing as a $200 overhaul, that is just the cost of common parts for a Kohler, not boring and crank turning, etc.
Mad Mackie in CT :mrgreen: :mowlawn:
NAPA in Nassau NY 518 766 4995 Give them a call and ask how much they charge to grind a crank and punch a block.

You will just have to take my word on what I pay for my parts $21.95 for a complete rotary gasket set, $17.80 for a rotary rod, and around $12-$13 dollars for a Rotary piston. If I can find a way to I will scan the pages of my Stens/Rotary catalog to show proof of my prices. Also, to nip this before it is brought up, the parts are QUALITY parts not junk.
I agree with you that you can turn an engine in reasonable running shape and buy imported parts and do it for that price.

I dont think it is really worth it because the parts arent that much more if there is an increased risk of failure and having to do the work over again
 

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How come everyone has missed the obvious ?

It doesn't matter which one you get. It will just be the FIRST of many. That's just the way Case GT's work. When you get one, you fall in love with it. Then you want another, and then another. Then you find out about the loader tractors.

Then you have to build a new shed.

Just calling it like I see it.
 
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