Straight From the Horse's Mouth - The final chapter

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nyquil junkie

Replacing an 856's engine; fishing for advice

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I've become tired of vintage engines. Sure they run forever, but they get cranky. Mine (a nice clean k181) has become cranky.

On a good day, with a little coaxing you can start it fairly easy. On a normal day, it's not going to do it easy. it either drains a good battery cranking, has a slippy worn belt (it eats belts, yes, properly adjusted ones, I dunno why) or as it is now doing to me, not getting enough spark. Maybe it's not enough fuel and it has a weak fuel pump, I dunno.

I have stopped caring. I want a new engine that starts with one crank or one pull like everything else around here.

So I'm going to replace it. But with what? I use the tractor maybe once a month for an hour or so. the old cranky k181 when it will start runs like a bull, and seem to have more than enough power for what I'm doing (pushing around half dry horse manure and dirt).

So... question one is does anyone want to buy a fairly nice strong running (on a good day) k181 with all the electrical goodies hooked to it? LOL

(seriously... PM me. For good price I'll ship the dang thing)

Back to thread topic question... Engines. Sizes. On going arguments with my brother.

He says "put a cheapo 5hp harbor freight on there and slap a larger pulley on the gearbox, and run it full throttle till it blows up a couple yrs from now.... it's only a $99 investment"

This seems to appeal to my cheapo side. I have in fact a few free 5hp engines here that start super easy. I have an old BS8hp that always starts with one yank. It's 45 yrs old and I know the minute after I put it on a different frame, it'll die. It's going to be the first try but I KNOW.... I feeeeel it in my bones... it wont last an hour once it's transplanted.

So I'm looking for some opinions on both cheapo engines and the actual wisdom of buying a "better" one at 3x the price. Looks like a can pick up a "duromax" 11hp replacement size (it's probably more like 9hp for real but whatever) for 300 bucks off amazon. Electric start, drop it in hook up the battery and go. Harbor fright has Lifan/predator engines of similar size and electric start for around the same price. Probably the same engine as the Duromax who can tell anymore.

My concern, Where TF do you buy parts for these things?

For 400 or so I can buy a new B&S 1550 snowblower engine with a nifty 110v plug in starter. I really dig that feature on my snowblower. B&S parts are not a problem to find.

For a little more, I can get a Kohler 7hp or better. Ugh.

I get a headache thinking about it.

I'm interested in you guys opinions on what you replaced your stock 8HPs with and how they worked out. Cheap or expensive, lower or higher HP and the availability of parts like starters and carb kits for these cheapo Chinese engines.

Which all my other stuff has like my tiller and the snowblower, and they never give me any grief. The only one that actually gives me regular grief is the DR wagon with a B&S 8hp on it. Ack!

If you want this K181, PM me. It's a good engine but I'm not in the mood to chase down it's electrical issue this time. It ran like a bull when I parked it, now it has a weak spark and wont fire up. On a good day with a full charge on the battery it usually started fairly easy. It's not a bad engine. I suspect this time it's a weak coil or some other simple thing that I no longer wanna deal with. I just want one that will start when I want it to without needing a jump or a new belt or some other thing tweaked on it.

Advice?

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Spend your money fixing the k181 (right) Not just good enough for now. If you cant do it pay somebody to do it. Theres no reason it shouldnt start almost immediately when you hit the key. Even the pull start 181s start on a half pull most of the time. Its a tough little engine to beat and simple to maintain. If its wore to the point boring and reringing isnt a option used blocks are not that hard to find.

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I couldn't agree more with Puddlejumper. I just rebuilt a K-181 in an afternoon and had it in the tractor and running the next morning. I'm used to rebuilding big blocks and have done a few 181's, but they were for other people, so this is the first one for me.

The only "problem" I'm having is getting used to how easily it starts! It runs like a clock and only sips gas (unlike the larger horsepower engines).

Just rebuild (or have someone else do it) the motor and you'll be happy again. The cost of rebuilding a K-181 is less than a new motor and, if taken care of, should last many times longer than any replacement engine.

That's all I have to say about that.

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I now have 3 K181s, and as of right now all have issues. But one does run good, has decent power from what I can tell. But I have a lawn ranger that is basically a 753-ish type tractor, also similar to yours just different sheet metal. They come with a Tecky 6 horse, and mine smoked and was a dog. ATT I couldn't find a K181, so took the tape measure out, did some research on line and opted for a Harbor Freight 13 horse. The ones you listed are all the same, different name and different looks. These are Honda clones, and all Honda parts will work on these engines. So getting parts will be easy. I had to take the gas tank, air filter and muffler off to get it to fit under the hood without ANY cutting. I made a plate that engine bolts to, then bolts to the frame. Only had to drill two holes. Because of the engine design having a tilted piston, the motor sits back farther, so a shorter belt is needed, and now the stock guard won't fit. I have a 1045 that is basically the same tractor as yours, just a bigger engine, but tore apart ATM so not sure how much more room is under the hoods. By looking there is quite a bit, so might not have to take all the stuff of like I did to get it to fit. My little ranger with that engine is crazy. I swapped to an 8-speed rear, changed the pully's so it has more speed, and still can mow a field with it, and now with it's big boy tires and a snow blower, blows snow like crazy. All the time the motor doesn't even sound like it's working hard.

This is where I got my parts from.....http://www.affordablegokarts.com

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If your dead set against doing anything with the original K-181.......find a Magnum 8 from a 308-8. Newer technology (30 years newer) and an electronic ignition so no points, condensor or coil to mess with. Not sure about fitment and clearances tho.

I do have a 656 with a 5hp genuine Honda in it. It did not clear the hood (had to cut/notch). It starts in one or two pulls everytime but only has enough power to haul me around.

Mike.............

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When was the last time it was tuned up? Good set of points (properly gapped) condensor and sparky plug could be the problem. Also, letting it sit then not much use could be gas starting to turn sour. I run 93 in everything I have, and never had any issues. My stuff can sit for months without even looking at it, and will start right up. Try a capfull or two of Seafoam in the tank, that will clean it up some....

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I would ( or have someone else ) go over the K-181 and get the bugs out of it. It probably just needs minor things looked at ( points, condenser, carb rebuild, fuel pump etc.) It won't be very expensive and you will have a good strong engine that none of the other engines you mentioned will compare to. I have a K-181 that starts as soon as you touch the key but i keep everything adjusted and the carb clean and adjusted. Hope this helps. :hide:

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What littleredrider and jc1965 said....properly tuned k181 should fire with a couple revolutions of the starter/generator....definitely worth putting the time into tuning. A k series kohler is tuff to beat!

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If you did everything that you would do in a normal tune-up for a points/breaker K-181 and the carb is clean, etc. look at the governer and make sure it is properly adjusted. If, like many 181's, the governer is bypassed or non-existent, that is most likely the problem. Two people locally complained to me about hard starting or "won't do anything until it's warmed up", 181's and all of them were running straight throttle to the carb. They are fussy but once adjusted properly and the linkage/spring is correct, these are one of the best motors Kohler every built and they built them in mass.

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oh it ran perfectly well when I parked it. I drained the gas... covered it up in a nice dry shed. Every other engine in the shed I can yank a rope or hit a key and it starts. (After you give it some fresh gas).

It's tuned up. I suspect the points need cleaned of moisture or something, or the coil is weak, I doubt its a fuel issue it wont pop with a shot of eather. A newer engine will require less maintence and tinkering. This engine has been a tempermental starter since I got the tractor, but it will start if I mess with it for 30 min.

I am pleased with the thing when it runs.... it's a bull. I'm just tired of kissing and petting it for 30 min to get the fracking thing started every 4th time I wanna use it.

It could possibly be a fuel pump issue and maybe a loose wire somewhere... another thing I dont like about this engine, it wont run on gravity fed gas.

These cheap honda GX series clone engines on everything else seem to never give me any grief if I keep them drained. I'll give this oldie one more afternoon of attention, maybe I'm missing something.

After that, I'm off to HF to buy a Honda clone for a couple 100 bucks.

I'm not sure the pulleys will come off the old B&S that starts all the time every time that's bolted to that bolens junkpile in the corner. I might try that before I spend any money.

Someone somewhere will be happy to buy a cheap K181 to play with.

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Or, you could drop in a 6hp Carroll Stream Motors Diesel. Much better fuel economy, just have to replumb the exhaust, otherwise its pretty much a drop in fit. Otherwise either rebuild the K181 to bring it back to spec or find a newer gasser engine that suits your needs. I am planning to do a repower with an Onan Elite 140, 14hp single from a cub cadet. Probably transplant it into a C series when I start the project. Till then it will be a back up for my P218. Mike

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A 99 buck 7HP HF clone should do the job, I'm sure the old K181 aint putting out 8HP after all these years. Most of what I do around here is done easy with just a little throttle, so..... that clone running at half or mostly full like I run the one on my tiller should work fine.

A bigger gear on the box should give it a little more oomph... I've been wanting to do that pulley swap anyway.... 1st is often too fast for some of the stuff I'm doing..... I need a crawler.

In the spring I'll take the K off, clean it, drain it, take some pics, crape it box it and get a weight for UPS calculations. I'll list it all when I get it done in the classifieds.

Or maybe I should strip it and sell it in pieces... I'm still trying to figure that out.

Bah, I need enough to buy another engine or maybe a good used Honda thats a little bigger.

The weather sucks here so... we wait till sring has sprung.

probably.

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Kewl, I hear ya on sucky weather. I so wanna start refurbishing my 518, but its been to darn cold in the shop to do much. RIght now I just need to fix my charging system problem and deal with rear tires going flat. mike

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In case anyone is wondering, I discovered tht most all parts plus a lot of better modified parts are cheaply available for those honda clones

It seems that people who race go carts use them a lot and produce/sell a lot of parts for most any variant model.

That corner of the internet is full of clone parts dealers and guides to refitting better stuff to them to get more bang for the buck.

That was one of my concerns was gettting parts and repair info but that sem to be less of an issue with the clones than with the traditional brands like kohler and bs.

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You start hopping it up. and you may want to add some weight, not for more traction but a piece of plate steel to protect from the shrapnel when it comes apart like a grenade.

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A newer engine will require less maintence and tinkering.

Yeah, for a while...

I'm kind of with some of the other guys who've already commented here. I'd rather fiddle with the K181 some more, and rebuild it if necessary, than buy and install a new engine that may or may not fit and work well with your tractor. But I do understand your frustration, I know I've been there before. At some point, you'll just have to make the decision and go for it, either way. Good luck!

Someone somewhere will be happy to buy a cheap K181 to play with.

If "somewhere" = RedSquare, I'm sure you'll have no problem selling it. I'd recommend keeping it as complete as possible.

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Oh, it wont blow aprt like a grenade.... I'm not beating it to death I'm just shoving around dry dirt and moving compost piles. I'm not too worried.

I'll probably give my old 8hp B&S a chance for a while, that engine never gives me any greif.

Yep it's going as a whole pile of engine and all that makes it go putt putt putt. I want no part of this antique PITA power plant.

I had a 7hp Kohlor on an old cub cadet once, I remember I hated that cranky POS too.

If I can sell it then I'll spend a few extra bucks and get a bigger HP engine.

Or CC as they use now.

Ugh I hate that too... whas HP no good enough?

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I've had my clone for over two years now, and no complaints. It has elec. start but I never use it, main reason is I don't have a battery. The way the engine sits in the frame/under the hood, it takes up just about all the real estate for the battery. I used a motorcycle battery for a bit, but didn't have the charge wire hooked up and didn't hold a charge. But even if it sits for weeks or even months, full choke and a couple pulls it's running. Only thing I've done to it was change the oil. Parts are cheaper and easier to get than prolly any other motor out there, another good reason to get one. If I can fit a 13 horse under the hood of a lawn ranger, then there is no reason one wouldn't fit under the hood of a 856. The gas tank, air filter and muffler would probly fit under it as well. If not then the website I posted before has all the parts to make it work.

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The more I read the go cart racing forums the better I like those clones. less parts and more universal fitting, and far cheaper and easier to get.

i have a welder and time, I can make anything fit. lol

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I used a clone to re-power a tiller a couple of yrs. ago, runs great with zero problems so far.

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some guys have good luck with the clones,i HATE them,ive had no luck with them,i own a few real hondas,and have owned many of them over the years,they are extremely reliable and strong,i like my kohlers and all of mine run great,but i would buy a real honda over any new engine on the market(not including diesels)i have a 13hp honda on my 308-8 and it is my real go to tractor,no battery problems,starts first pull ALLWAYS,and has alot of power,and reasonable on fuel

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Wouldn't you know it, the weather warms up, I take the tarp off this thing and it fires up in the first crank.

Every time....runs like new. I did nothing but wait for warm weather.

Go figure. It's just doesn't like the cold weather. Pppffftt.

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An engine that doesnt like cold weather, is screaming for new points and condenser.  If I have a hard starting Kohler or any brand with points and condenser, I change them, along with a new plug and even a plug wire if it looks suspect.  Cold weather will bring out the worst in an ignition system.   Mike

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Damn, and I was going to ask how much for the motor lol

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This subject has been pretty well beat to death but if you are going to go to another engine, try that Carroll Stream 6.5 hp. electric start. At $204.00 and free shipping you'll love it. I have one in a 656 and it fit in there nice. I added a mounting plate like the guy above and I had to shorten the belt (6") and cut about 3" off the belt guard. It sat in my shop for over a year before I put it in that tractor. I filled it with oil and put gas in the tank, turned the gas on, put on the choke and before it made a full revolution it was running.

 

If you buy that HF $99 engine you have to pull the rope and I don't like that. Course if you like to pull the rope the Carroll Stream motor has one.

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