Jump to content
Mike Nelson

Tired old Kohler K301 needs TLC

Recommended Posts

Hello to all. I have a 1973 Wheel Horse 12 automatic in pretty good shape. It has been in continuous summer use since the day it was new. This machine is only used for lawn cutting in Wisconsin. It spends it's winters inside of a garage that is attached to my house. It has never been left outside when not in use. It has the famous Kohler K series engine, (K301). Other than a replaced fuel pump, and standard tune up items, this tough old engine has never been worked on internally. Over the last few years, I can tell it is has lost some power. It also has begun to use oil (sae 30w) at an increasing rate, Although no signs of smoking. It is also seeping some oil out of the governor shaft bushing.  Because this is such a tough old tractor, and the fact that I have a spare hydro unit, I have decided to rebuild this engine. Heck, it's already got 43 years of use from this tough engine. I am not wanting to just "THROW some rings in there" and call it a rebuild. OH NO! I will do this the right way.

 

I would love to just get a new Kohler short block and call it a day, but I know they are getting rare now especially trying to match up with my unique spec number. So I will have to do a complete tear down and rebuild. I will leave no stone unturned. I have no knowledge of machine shop procedures, but I should have no problem, to dissemble, clean, have machine shop work done, then reassemble.  The reason I posted this, is to ask if anyone knows of a genuine small engine machine shop, without a bunch of high school kids learning how on my engine.  I have tried in the past to have quality work done at machine shops, and I have discovered that with all my ignorance in this area, I was more informed than most of them. The one place I came to trust is long gone now. I always run this engine full blast when cutting the lawn (wide open throttle) that is why I would like OEM Kohler parts inside. I know getting OEM for something this old will not be easy, but I am much more concerned about finding a trusted and competent machine shop to do quality work. I can find do it yourself machine shop hacks anywhere, 

 

MOST of the members here are well informed, caring and dedicated folks who care about preserving the classic old Wheel Horse. Can you please give me your thoughts on undertaking this rebuild?

Thanks so much 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:WRS:           Don't live in your area so can't come up with a specific name of a shop. I would suggest talking to the owner/managers of some equipment rental stores to see who they use; they want the work done right and they want it done promptly.

Take a look at this recent thread on engine rebuilding, it will be a good resource.

Good luck and keep us posted as you go along.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Talk to your local mechanic shop and see who he uses for his machine shop work. He won't take his work to a machine shop he does not trust to do his work. I have done a dozen or so K series kohler rebuilds with aftermarket engine parts with great success. Besides a quality machining job and a clean assembly will make a quality engine rebuild. And :WRS:

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 I really cannot say what a rebuild costs, but one way to go is just buy another Horse with the same engine series. My addiction started with a Kohler 10 Raider of 1972 vintage. I bought a second tractor much like yours and a third 12 horsepower manual transmission. What i will probably wind up doing is pick the best engines and sheet metal from all three to make two sweet tractors and another running tractor that will be sold.  I have a Raider10, an Electro 12, and a c-121-8. that will be mix and match.If they all fit together like I think they will.

 

 Maybe you could do the same. Find a decent runner that may have other issues and swap engines so you can take all the time you need to get your 301 the way you want it.. You certainly do not want to run the risk of working your tired engine and then throw a rod through the engine block. I only have $775 in all my stuff, but I am careful and try to learn from my mistakes.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are a lot of garden tractor pullers in Wisconsin - look some up and find out who they use , any builder that can handle doing mods to that extent on a Kohler engine knows their stuff . I'm lucky , got an old school machine shop nearby that specializes in these engines and will only use Genuine Kohler parts , never anything aftermarket . His prices aren't bad at around $500 if the crank is good...

Sarge

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:WRS:

 

The engine you describe might not actually need a machine shop, as there's no catastrophic failure. I'd tear it apart, and do some inspecting. If it's not blowing oil/smoking, perhaps a hone, valve lapping, some new seals, new rings, and you're off and running. Obviously you won't know until you get there, but all new parts might not be nessasary. Good luck with it. You've found the right forum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Content

    • By John Sullivan
      Does anyone rebuild  the Onan P220G engine? Is it better to replace this engine? It has 1000 hours.
      Thanks
      John
       
    • By Sarge
      I was cleaning some oil residue from an earlier dumb move - I try to keep things clean so any leaks that spring up show easily . I noticed along the top of the block towards the center from the right cylinder's valve cover a cast marking , cleaned it off and found this -
       

       

       
      The casting mark clearly shows K532 .
       
      Now , is this a case like the single cylinder blocks that were stamped "301" but you had to check internally whether it was a 10hp or 12hp engine ? K241 & K301 blocks are stamped the same and that is common knowledge .
       
      But , what about the K482/K532/K662 twin opposed cast iron engines , same deal ?? Any insight on the blocks or anyone know for sure ?
       
      Or - did someone swap out the original K482 from this '74 D180 to a K532 20hp from a donor ?? Some of the tins seem to be completely black to the bare metal , while others are clearly red underneath the black - so some painting has been done and this tractor it has at best a sketchy history . At one time it lived at the welding shop next to me to the West , or at least for a short time . The folks I got it from are about 40 miles away in a rural area and the gal that sold it had told me her father had gotten it from the town where I live - from the local welder . His son that now owns/runs the shop doesn't remember it but it may have belonged to his Dad who started the business - but he does say he knows his Dad never bought a new Wheel Horse , he'd only owned a Cub or two that he remembered . Anyway , hard telling on it's history and a lot of mods/repairs have been done in the machine's lifetime .
       
      I'm just curious if this is the original engine/block - the tins are marked as a K482 / spec 35222b as it should be to match the '74 model year in the published model year reference list . The model tag was long gone off the tractor when I got it , the year came from figuring out the sum of it's parts as to the model and such . Maybe that casting mark explains why this engine feels so strong , there is a noticeable difference between the 482 and 532 engines before from when we used them in other industrial equipment such as Ditch Witch , ect . The 20hp version just had a lot more torque and grunt compared to the 18hp . The K662 is insanely powerful and quite underrated - I ran one of those years ago on a compactor with a gear drive transport feature - that engine is a whole different animal compared to the 18 & 20 versions .
       
       
       
      Sarge
       
       
       
       
    • By WHX12
      So this is my man's @Rp.wh12 hp '68? Raider that had a little mishap at my recent plow event. Good news here is the block was not ventilated so we think with a little coin and some greasy hands this motor can be saved. It seems that when a rod goes it will either punch the block or go the other way  to the cam.  Which is what it did breaking the  cam. Note the indent on the fuel pump lobe where something wacked it. Piston shirt was busted up pretty good as it looks like the piston was slammed down on the crank. Wrist pin was ovaled and the whole bottom of the piston was mashed. This was done under a full load of dirt and plowing. @PeacemakerJack claims to have a video of when it went so perhaps he'll share here.
      I chewed my man's  rear out about it running it low on low oil and tipped over in the furrow but he swears he topped it off  before the day. I dunno but but not much oil came out and what did was sludge. Regardless damage is done so let's just fix it. New 10 over piston with rings is in order along with a new cam and 10 under rod. Bore is  clean and not tapered so a std. piston and rings might be fitted in but is getting close to max out of tolerance so might as do it right. Obviously suffering from some low end lubrication issues.





    • By Chris Shapardon
      Runs and cuts, needs restoration. call, text or email sldneck@gmail.com 




×