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Kohler starter problems

Discussion in 'Mechanic and Repair' started by fixer67, Jul 13, 2005.

  1. fixer67

    fixer67 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,098

    Thank you, Restrorob. I now have conformation thanks to you. I can not believe you went though some much trouble to do the test. I to have found out a few things today. Kohler Service Bulletin 266 says that as high 98% of all Kohler starter warranty claims are bogus. 98% of all starters returned to Kohler for warranty are found not to have any thing wrong with them at all when tested to factory specs. Now this means two things. First the problem of the starter turning before it should is NOT a test you would do to test a starter when testing for factory specs. And second, it is the old story of the boy who cried wolf. With all these claims for starters that have turned out to be bad claims it is no wonder that Kohler will not listen to me about this. And another thing, Kohler says they have never heard of this problem before but they have because there is no telling how many of those 98% warranty claims were because of this problem and never caught. And to make matters worse is this is a problem that is slow to show up. If Kohler was to check flywheel replacement sells since going to the Deco starter I bet they would see a jump in sells. Where a flywheel would out last the motor before may last only 1500 to 2000 hours before needing to be replaced. And those numbers are high from seeing the flywheel on the units I have seen with this problem a flywheel may not last 800 to 1000 hours. It all depends on how many times it is started. Well the Kohler rep I showed the spinning test to showed the test to his boss. I was told to day that Kohler factory techs are talking to Deco techs about this now. So I finally got some one to see the problem. Now what happens next who knows. I will be on vacation next week so I will not hear what happen until I come back off vacation. Once again I thank you Restrorob for doing the test and posting you findings. I really needed that conformation.
  2. AirCooled

    AirCooled LawnSite Member
    Messages: 30

    Hey Fixer67, I got to hand it to you, you really seem to know your stuff when it comes to the electric starter. When I was just out of high school I spent some time working in a starter and alternator/generator rebuild shop.
    1. restrorob says (and you confirmed) he found the armature was turning at a slow rate as the drive engaged the flywheel.
    2. The drives and flywheel gears all seem to have the same taper or lead into each other whether they are solenoid shift or inertia drive.
    3. Inertia drive starters engage well because they turn.
    What makes the "low energy" turning Delco drive any different than an inertia drive starter? Maybe a better question is " Do the flywheels look any different on inertia drive systems than the Delco solenoid shift"?

    I looked up that 266 bulletin. It looks like Kohler changed to the Delco starters back in 2000. The only problem we had was when we replaced a Denso starter with a Delco on an eXmark. The starter would keep running after you let off the key. We found out the way it was wired, the permanent magnet was energizing the solenoid to keep it engaged too long. Now Kohler puts some rewiring instructions in the box with a new starter. This only seems to be a problem when two solenoids are used in the system.
    You quoted "98% of all starters returned to Kohler for warranty are found not to have any thing wrong with them at all when tested to factory specs." Actually the bulletin says 65% which seems like a pretty high number as well. If this is true, I've got to wonder how many starters are replaced for poor connections or even batteries that are hooked up backwards. I think we can all be a little guilty of trying to help out the customer at the manufacturers expense. You know what its like when you have sick units lined up all the way out the door and everyone wants it fixed today. Its just easier to replace the starter than test the system and replace the solenoid. I guess Kohler just figured it out. Anyway, I just don't see that many bad flywheels.
  3. Restrorob

    Restrorob LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,029

    To answer your #3 questions AirCooled, I didn't see any difference between the Delco drive and the inertia drive. In fact I'd be willing to bet I could remove the orginal drive,shift fork and solenoid then install a inertia drive (providing the worm on the armature is the same) with a frame mount solenoid and it would work fine. As for the flywheels I have heard of no changes between the two, All Kohler did is change starter brands because of too many solenoid failures and people not doing the proper test as you said and replacing the whole unit.
  4. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,289

    When I got my new Scag in March I would hear a terrible gear crashing sound on cold starts. This happened a couple times a week. I was advised to shot some spray lube to help the engage gear get along the shaft. I did that and it worked. If they would have pulled the started it surely would have been NTF at the factory. Near the end of warranty I think I will check the flywheel teeth and the starter teeth, if I make it to 2 years.
  5. Restrorob

    Restrorob LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,029

    Thats a good idea, Check everything top to bottom and front to rear just before your warranty is expired, I have many customers come in just after and my hands are tied by the OEM's polices.
  6. fixer67

    fixer67 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,098

    I will have to read SB-266 again when I get back to work after vacation but if I remember right that 65% was of the 2% that really was bad. I will have to read it again. I do not have a home copy of SB-266. All I know is I am seeing Deco-Remy starters warring flywheels a lot more than they should. Just to day I seen a unit that had a charging problem (burned out stator). I og a real close look the flywheel and compared it to a new one from stock. It had 600 hours and showed a lot of ware for that amount of time. I too have looked at the taper of the gears and I see what you are saying. I was thanking that maybe if the overrun clutch was made to slip just one or two turns before it locked up to start the engine that may help it engage better. But then I noticed the groves on the shaft that already do just that. So may the pre-spinning is canceling out the effect of the groves that help the gears aline. Like every one has said , what about inertia drive starters. Well this Deco-Remy starter wants to act like a cross between an inertia drive starter and a solenoid starter it seems. You end up with a hybrid starter on your hands. I thank it all comes down to you can not have it both ways,it is either inertia drive or solenoid. But when you put a NEW out of the box starter on because it grinds because the teeth will not mate up (Kohler told us to) and you can not find out why and then just 200 hours later it happens again and you remove the starter and strip it down and clean it and can not find any thing wrong and put it back and then 20 hours later it is acting up yet again and now this is the second machine you have seen the SAME story happen to in 6 months it is madding. This pre-spinning is the only thing I have found to even come close to expaining this problem. The last machine went though 3 starters and still did not work right. It went though 2 of them with out ever leaving the shop. The only way we could even get it to stop the grinding was the owner went and found a used Nip wire wound starter and we put it on. He has not had any more starter problems. Like the Kohler rep told me, a lot of shops just replace the same part over and over and do not even try to find the root cause. They are making easy money replacing parts. The Kohler rep told me that even if I turn out to be so far off base about all of this he found it refreshing to see a tech or shop try to really fix a problem and not just replace parts. I am 99.999% sure the pre-spinning is the problem here but not 110% like I would like to be. That is the whole point of posting it here and getting Kohler to take a look at this. I am waiting to hear back from Kohler and see what they find out about all ot this. It may be a simple fix or take a re-design of some kind. I will let you all know what they say when I found out is what on this. I thank you all for all your input and testing you have done for me to confirm my tests.
  7. Restrorob

    Restrorob LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,029

    Here is a copy of service bulletin 266 for ALL to see !
  8. Larry Davis

    Larry Davis LawnSite Member
    Messages: 116

    I made a close inspection of the loose solenoid and found that the three retaining screws had completely sheared off. Could anything other than over torqing during factory assembly cause such a thing to happen?
  9. Restrorob

    Restrorob LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,029

    I know of no other way for this to happen other than a factory screw-up.
  10. rick2752

    rick2752 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 161

    I bought an exmark with a new motor on it with this same starter. Motor was less than 2 years old but Kohler would not back starter because I did not have purchase paperwork. You can date the motor and know that it isnt but a year and a half old. My problem was the starter would engage but it would hang in the flywheel for a second. I tried warranty, no luck and then took the starter apart and cleaned and lubed it. Didnt fix it. Bought an old starter off ebay and swapped it out.

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