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walker mower problem need help asap! (sorry about the lenghth)

Discussion in 'Mechanic and Repair' started by landscaper9929, Jul 5, 2007.

  1. landscaper9929

    landscaper9929 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 54

    I have a walker mt with a 20hp Kohler engine. I bought it used from a homeowner with only 200hrs on it. I have only put 50 or so hrs on it between last season and know because it has always given me problems. My crew usually runs it, so most of my knowledge of the problems are second hand. Let e first give you a little history on it as it may help determine the problem. The first problem was oil getting mixed with the gas. It would blow white smoke out of the muffler. Put it in the shop and they fixed it. The next problem was with the charging system. Not sure how it works exactly but it would not hold a charge. I had to keep jumping it off at every yard. Put it in the shop and got that fixed, along with new plugs, fuel and air filters and oil change. That was just a few weeks ago. Last week the guys bring it in with yet another problem. They claim the oil light came. Upon checking the oil level it was low. I ran the mower myself last week and it seemed sluggish, like maybe it was only running on one cylinder. I pulled the plugs and sure enough the back one was hot and obviously working, however the front one was cool, showed very little ware except for a lot of build up in the electrode gap. I replaced the plug and ran it again. This time it ran fine except it was blowing white smoke. I figured it would burn off. I stopped and checked it was not coming from the muffler but instead the side of the engine. I figure that somehow the oil is getting out and getting on the hot engine and burning off. I replaced the valve cover (took one off an old engine) on the side I pulled the bad plug from and everything seemed fine. I sent the guys out and told them to get a couple quarts of oil. Halfway through the day they call me with more problems. Now it is low on oil again and shutting down when it gets hot. When they got back in I saw they had put a synthetic oil in the first time (10w30), I have never used a synthetic in this mower. Not sure what that will do. I am about to go check the oil and plugs again to see how they look. If anybody can help shed some light on my situation it would be much appreciated.
  2. Bill Kapaun

    Bill Kapaun LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 963

    Well, your previous problems are moot since you got them fixed.
    The current problem sounds like a bad head gasket and employees that aren't smart enough to check the oil frequently on an engine that is obviously using it.
    Synthetic oil isn't going to hurt anything besides your wallet. Maybe they should have bought twice as much conventional oil for the money and they might have had oil to add! All you haver to go on is what your employees tell you. You'll have to decide if it's what really happened or???
  3. landscaper9929

    landscaper9929 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 54

    yeah the other problems are moot, but just so frustrating to keep having problems from a mower with only ( I just checked) 320hrs on it. I had another unit that had 1400hrs on it before the engine went bad. I had less problems from it in 1400hrs then I have of this unit in 120. You are the third guy to tell me it sounds like a head gasket, so I think I will check that. Not really sure what I am checking for though. Maybe you could give me some advice. I still have the old engine and could try to use one of the head gaskets from it. Really need to get it going in the morning. The synthetic thing was just an oversight on there part. The money is no big deal since is as only a quart, more concerned with the mower. I am sure they are truthfull about the problem in this case, just not sure they know how to explain it.
  4. Bill Kapaun

    Bill Kapaun LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 963

    The Kohlers in that size range are pretty well known for having head gasket problems.
    Supposedly, you can pull the valve cover on the bad cylinder and see a severe oil mist blowing out the push rod galley when it fires on that cylinder.
    No way would I install a used head gasket on an engine that has problems with a new head gasket!

    My point about wasting money on the synthetic was that they could have bought twice as much conventional oil and maybe would have had some more to add.
    When you are running an engine hard and the oil light comes on because of lack of oil, that's NOT a good thing! OIL is what removes much of the heat away from the piston etc. to the sump.
    You have ONE cylinder working its guts out, trying to do the work of TWO and then you starve it for oil. Not good for longevity! (I'm not picking on you here:))
    I think you need to speak to your crew and have them keep up on things more diligently. Especially when an engine is exhibiting "abnormal behavior" such as suddenly using oil etc. You might also make sure they have a jug of oil with them when out on the job. Maybe a roll of paper towels too, so they can wipe dipsticks etc, I know I hate to wipe the oil off a dipstick when it's 200+ degrees, with my fingers.
    Basically, I's saying they have to communicate with you about ANYTHING out of the norm.

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