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mg_rob

Howard 350 ... running again after a long sleep

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Over the summer I've been doing a lot of clearing and levelling around the garden. There is a large mound of soil that I've been working my way through and using to fill up a few low areas. A few weeks ago my father suggested using his Howard 350 rotavator to go over the areas to break the ground up a bit and make levelling it easier. That sounded like a good plan at the time. First problem was just getting it of of the shed where its been resting, the hinges on the door were rusted solid so had to remove the screws. Once out I pushed the 350 down to our workshop to give it a once over. I drained what old petrol was left in the tank, removed the spark plug and checked for a spark. Nothing, this was going to be a bit more work than I'd hoped for.

howard 350 1.jpg

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I cleaned the points and checked again, still no spark. I took a few photos of the coil and was going to post on here to see where I could get a replacement. I started in to removing the coil and noticed that the mounting tag was quite rusted. I gave this a clean up as well as where it bolted on to the engine, bingo the spark was back. Put some fresh petrol in and amazingly it started after just a few pulls. A stuck throttle linkage meant the engine kept trying to over rev and while pushing and pulling the throttle lever the end broke off the cable. Freed off the throttle linkage, repaired the end of the throttle cable and tried again. One running Kohler engine. High on my success in getting the engine running I pulled the clutch lever with the intention of trying it in gear. No amount of pulling on the clutch could get it to disengage, the break pad was pressing against the outside of the cone but it wouldn't stop it. I remembered reading before about people having trouble with the cone clutches on these Howards and it looked like I was to join them.

Off with the guards and the clutch cover so I could have a look.

howard 350 2.jpg

howard 350 3.jpg

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I downloaded a manual for the 350 to get some info on the clutch. In the section on the clutch it said to open the clutch cover and then pull the whole clutch assembly off the engine. The clutch on this machine did not want to budge, with a bit of bar in through the bearing to rest against the end of the crank shaft I got a set of hydraulic pullers onto it. Putting as much pressure on with the pullers as I dared I was glad when there was a crack and the clutch moved forward a few mm. It didn't come off easily and it took the pullers to get it off even the last few mm.

Now with the clutch off I needed to see if I could free it up. I soaked the splines with penetrating oil and left it for a couple of days. Putting a socket over the shaft at the back of the clutch and a piece of wood across the alloy cone at the front I gripped the clutch in a vice. After a lot of light hammering around the outside of the cone the clutch started to free up. At first all I could get get was a few mm movement, with the end of a bit of flat bar in one of the three slots at the back I hit the side of the flat bar and got the outer cone to move a bit more. Carrying on backwards and forwards like this the clutch soon freed up and was soon spinning freely on its bearings.

howard 350 4.jpg

howard 350 5.jpg

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With the clutch now free I couldn't wait to get it back together. I gave the end of the crankshaft and inside the clutch a light clean and reassembled everything. Using the manual I checked the position of the brake pad and then fired up the engine. Pulling on the clutch lever I was glad to see the drive to the gearbox stop turning, low, high and reverse gears all worked as did the rotor drive. Time for a play (I mean test run).

Given how hard the ground is it worked very well. I will change the engine and gearbox oils next before putting it to work.

I asked my father how long the 350 has been parked up for and he said he couldn't remember, we've been trying to work it out but the best we can come up with is somewhere in excess of 15 years. My father bought this Howard 350 new when I was still at primary school and I have fond memories of watching him working it every year. It's nice that after a bit of tinkering it is still capable of a days work.

howard 350 6.jpg

howard 350 7.jpg

howard 350 8.jpg

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