Kaw 19hp, oil leak -- suggestions for repair, or ???

Discussion in 'Mechanic and Repair' started by Roger, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    I have a John Deere 717A, 48" deck, with a 19hp Kawasaki. I've used it for five seasons, with about 1,850 service hours. The engine has developed an oil leak, of unknown origin.

    This engine has been flawless. The only thing done is a valve adjust at about 500 hours, but other than that, nothing but solid performance. Oil changed at about 40 hours, 30W Rotella, filters at 80 hours.

    The leak started a couple of months ago, when I noticed a drop of oil on the trailer where it is transported. I kept an eye on the spot, and on the dipstick. A drop or two after operating, then loading for transport. Level on the dipstick really didn't change much, so I knew not much oil was being lost.

    The rate of the drops has increased. Now, when I park it on the trailer, I can see drops on a couple of places, and there are several drops after it is parked. Bottom line: oil leaks don't fix themselves, and always get worse!

    I kept hoping the rate of degradation would permit me to finish out the season. That goal has been accomplished, as I believe I am done with the machine for the season (last job for it today).

    The leak is not from one specific place. Rather the drops are coming from the edge of the engine deck, across the rear. Nothing appears on the belts. There is evidence of some oil on the valve covers, but it is very small, and is not anything new. I believe it to be unrelated to the major problem.

    The machine is very dirty now, having used it extensively for leaf work. I have left the dirt in place, and shot some pics, hoping that somebody might have had a similar experience, and can share some insight.

    My only thought is that the oil seal on the bottom end of the crankshaft is the source of the leak. However, if that to be the case, I would think the oil would appear on the pulleys, immediately below the crankshaft extension. Maybe a gasket elsewhere has sprung a leak. I have never torn into these engines, so don't know exactly how they are constructed on the bottom side.

    While I always do my own repair work, I think delving into the innards of an engine is beyond my scope. I am reluctant to open this thing up, attempting to find the source, and make a repair.

    I have called a couple of repair shops, and "Yea, bring it in, and we can look at it." That is OK, but I would like to know what I'm faced with in terms of cost.

    With 1,850 hours, the engine should still have some life. It has been solid, with regard to oil use (none), starting, running, power, etc. From my viewpoint, it is as good as new. However, 1,850 hours may be approaching a critical time, I don't know.

    If the repair is over 50% of the cost of a new engine, ... replace? Or, repair?

    Actually, I did check on replacement. A full replacement is not available, only a short block ($1,200). If I was to buy a short block, how difficult is it to install? I suspect the old parts would be: muffler, air cleaner, fuel pump, starter, cowling. What else? How are the valves handled in this engine? They would not be part of the short block, right? If not, should they be replaced, and how difficult is this task to get it right? The carb, muffler, air cleaner, starter, don't bother me. But, tinkering with the valves is another matter. Give me some help on this, please?

    Here are some pics. I've put some annotations on some of them to make clear where I see the oil dripping.

    Thoughts? Suggestions? Other pieces of info I've left out here that is needed for answering? Need more pics?







    I MOW ALONE LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,964

    first thing is take a hose and clean most of it up. second take some brake cleaner and clean up rest of oil and then run it to find leak. do me a favor and snap a photo of the dipstick not outside actually unscrew it and take pic of where the add and full lines are.
  3. laman

    laman LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 351

    I would pull shroud off of top of engine and see if fins on heads are stopped up. Also see if it is leaking from breather gasket or crankshaft seal while you have this off. I pull this off of mine about every 75 hours to make sure fin are not stopped up on heads.

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