I bought one of those motor Stethoscopes and checked all around the motor after it warmed up.
the noise seems to be coming from the lower part of the front of the motor around the oil pan.
up around the tappet cover, the noise is the same as at the rear of the motor side etc:
of course the noise can radiate from any point.
will take my time and caution before i start tearing into the motor,
will have a few gearheads come over and listen to the noise.
not what i needed right before bush hogging time.
thanks for your inputs.