Cub Cadet GT2550 Kohler Command Engine Rebuild, Install (Timelapse), and First Start

Just thought I’d throw together some pictures and clips I took while we rebuilt (and re-installed) the Kohler Command 22 HP engine out of my grandfather’s Cub Cadet GT2550 tractor. With only 600 original hours, the valve seals went bad on the right-hand cylinder, causing it to burn a lot of oil, constantly foul the spark plugs, and run quite poorly. Since we bought it in 2008, my grandfather has used it to mow his lawn weekly, mow his vacant property once or twice a month, mow my lawn one whole season while my Deere LA150 was down, and I’ve used it one or two seasons to mow and fertilize all my customer’s lawns around the neighborhood. Occasionally, we have also used it around town to mow large properties for a couple people. It’s been a pretty hard worker but my grandfather does tend to work it like a farm tractor and so it’s always lugging and doing heavy work. My uncle offered to rebuild the engine for him over the winter, since it would be a fairly simple project, although the opposite actually occurred.

We steam-cleaned the whole tractor, tore everything down, and were surprised to find a minimal amount of carbon build-up on the cylinder heads, pistons, and valves. And the piston rings were not broken, which is what we were expecting to find. Also, we found out they don’t use any bearings between the connecting rods and the crankshaft, which makes you wonder how these things even hold up in the first place… but we ordered two cylinder head kits with gaskets and valve seals, as well as a set of piston rings, and then sent the block to a local machine shop to have the cylinders honed, new piston rings installed, and have the pistons and connecting rods put back in the block. My uncle spent a day putting the timing cover, heads, carb, intake, and muffler all back together. Then I came along and installed the rest of the shrouding/tins, throttle and choke linkage, some electrical parts, and put two new spark plugs in.

We dropped the engine in the frame, and after pondering and screwing around with the poorly-engineered mount and driveshaft coupler setup, we got the driveshaft hooked up and managed to get the block bolted down to the frame. Hooked up all the electrical and linkages, except for the choke cable which apparently broke into pieces. Put fresh gas in the tank, filled with two quarts of Pennzoil 10w-30, and she fired right up and ran really good!

There were a lot of questionable engineering flaws on this machine which I kind of expected considering it’s built by MTD. I certainly would not buy one of these but technically it’s not my tractor…so I didn’t have a choice when buying it. My grandfather was skeptical of buying a used tractor, and he wanted a machine with Kohler power and a shaft-driven transmission. This was reasonably priced too, but still doesn’t hold a candle to John Deere’s high-end garden tractors. This was a great learning experience for sure. Now I know why I want to become an engineer – so I can improve the many dumb design flaws we faced when trying to mount this engine up and get it ready to go! More trouble than it was worth….I guess most equipment these days is just designed to be thrown away, especially an MTD-quality machine like this. We all agree these are nothing like the IH Cub Cadets. Let’s see how this rebuilt Kohler runs, given the quality of the parts it was built with, and the quality of the machine it was installed in.



14 thoughts on “Cub Cadet GT2550 Kohler Command Engine Rebuild, Install (Timelapse), and First Start

  1. Nice Job! I rebuilt a Command in 2009. It was locked up, and I replaced pretty much everything.I don't think it had an insert bushing for the connecting rod either. What other machine would be better during that time period and for that price? I would think this would out do an X320? Which costs about the same. I would gladly rebuild an engine, then replace a $600 hood($1,200 now that I need 2!)! If you like doing things like this, mechanical engineering would be right up your alley.

  2. Even though it's a MTD, I'd still prefer the cub cadet over the la150 because it's a shaft drive. But I'd definitely prefer the 316 over the la150, hands down.

  3. Also by the way the old IH cubs used those same type and diameter drive shafts. The only difference is they didn't have that rubber thing that the shaft goes through and the rear coupler connecting the shaft to the trans is cast iron and the shaft is also steel instead of aluminum. I actually rebuilt the drive line on my old Cub cadet 129 and I did a video series of it in spring of 2014

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