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tntatro

Help getting more power from 8hp engine (k181)

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Hello, I recently acquired a wheel horse model # 1-0120 8 with an 8 hp motor (k181). I believe it's a 1973 and has 3 forward and 1 reverse It appears old and neglected but it does start and run. I tried mowing some thick grass with it and it bogged down then blew the head gasket (gasket was already blown but then patched with gasket maker). The blades are pretty dull but I thought it should do better. My John Deere L100 would mow through that with less effort.

My question is, should this mower be able to handle thick grass or am I expecting too much?

Also, what can I do to make it more powerful? I have areas that are kept mowed but other areas that are neglected and only mowed enough to keep brush from growing. I've looked into pull behind brush cutting mowers but they cost too much.
 

I've never worked on a tractor, only rebuilding chainsaws, but I think I can handle working on it.

 

I've considered:

1. Carburetor adjustments - Probably easy but I've never tuned one on a mower

2. Rebuilding the engine - Have looked at $85 after market kits on eBay

3. Putting on a larger engine - Have no idea what would bolt on directly

 

Basically, I just would like to have a mower that can handle neglected areas without taking too much of a beating. Any help/suggestions would be appreciated.

 

 

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37 minutes ago, tntatro said:

Putting on a larger engine

 

:WRS:

 

This is the correct option in my opinion. Bolt a bigger Kohler right in it. The oil pans on Wheel Horse spec Kohlers have threaded holes in the bottom for mounting the engine to the frame so just any kohler won't be a direct bolt on. But the correct oil pan or a complete engine shouldn't that difficult to find.

A mower deck sucks up a lot of power so a small 8hp probably isn't good for high grass but a 12hp should power right through it depending on the size of the deck. Curious what size deck you're running on there.

 

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It has a 36" deck. What do I look for as far as a 12hp engine? Are there reasonably priced new or do I need to look for an old engine?

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:WRS: If your are looking for a direct replacement you will need to look for an older Kohler from a :wh:.  It will have all of the correct mounting holes. Or there is the make it fit option, which is by an engine or your choice and custom fit it into the tractor.

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What is really interesting is what you want it to handle. You say thick grass, but that is a very loose term. What I consider very thick and long grass will for sure also bog down a 12 hp, and a 16 hp, and then some. You need to tell us exactly what you are fighting, before anyone can give you an educated guess.

 

Only thing I can say so far is: There is no such thing as too much power, but again. More info....

 

For reference I have a 12 hp with a 38 or is it a 42, dont remember, RD deck. That will easily bug down in 2 inches of thick grass. It will also cut right thru a feet of dry thin stuff like nothing.

Edited by Skipper
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You won't find a K series Kohler new. Do a search on Craigslist for your area in the Farm & Garden section. Sometimes it's cheaper or makes more sense to buy a whole tractor. This all depends on your wallet and skill level.

Just poped on there real quick for Columbus area CL and there's a beautiful C-160 tractor with a 14hp Kohler and a 42 inch deck for $400. You may expect to pay around $200 just for a good running engine.

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Thanks for the replies, they are very helpful. 

As far as the grass, it's at different levels. Some is ankle high (thick and fallen over) and some has seeded and is waist high. I probably realistically need something to easily keep it maintained like a pull behind but right now I have a small amount that would be nice to mow down. Just don't have the money for a pull behind right now.

As far as the c-160 tractor on craigslist, I just got off the phone with him and I might actually buy it. He said it has a 16hp engine but he accidentally wrote 14hp in the ad. It's over 2 hours drive though but may be worth it.

 

I have one more question, I've heard people say that these older engines have more power than the newer riding mower engines listed at the same horse power. Is that actually true? For example, would the older Kohler 16hp engine be more powerful than my John Deere L100 17 hp engine?

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The C-160 is an incredible machine, for that price you should run, don't walk. I'm very surprised it's still listed. A 2 hour drive is definitely worth it and with that 16 hp engine you shouldn't be disappointed if it runs good. You can even use that small 36" deck on it for the high stuff.

Get yourself a snow plow for the 8hp tractor and you'd be surprised how much that thing can push without blowing head gaskets.

WELCOME TO THE MADNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   A tractor for every attachment is my motto.

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I like the way you think wallfish. I'm trying to set up to get it tomorrow. I'll let you know how things go. I wasn't sure if a plow would attach to my 8hp tractor. I do want one though because my driveway is a long dirt driveway that needs snow removed after storms and needs to be leveled out once every year or two from all the rainstorms and floods.

My only concern is that he said it runs great but he bought new belts and hasn't installed them so I can't start it. He took the old ones off to find the right replacements. He sounds like an honest guy but who knows.

My last obsession was rebuilding old chainsaws, I might have to switch to old Wheel Horse tractors since I'm already starting a collection.

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5 minutes ago, tntatro said:

My last obsession was rebuilding old chainsaws, I might have to switch to old Wheel Horse tractors since I'm already starting a collection.

Horsies are herd animals.... Clear out some barn space.

 

35 minutes ago, wallfish said:

A tractor for every attachment is my motto.

I like that way of thinkin'.

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5 minutes ago, tntatro said:



My only concern is that he said it runs great but he bought new belts and hasn't installed them so I can't start it.

?????   You don't need a belt to start a C-160.     Drive it yes, but the engine will start w/o a belt.

Help him install the drive belt. then test drive it.   If it is a hydro, ratchet strap it to your bumper and make sure it will spin the wheels.

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3 minutes ago, Ed Kennell said:

?????   You don't need a belt to start a C-160.     Drive it yes, but the engine will start w/o a belt.

That shows how little I know about tractors. He just told me he has new belts and they are not on and the old ones were taken off. 

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Hopefully he is talking about the two deck belts which are not a concern.  My concern is the hydro....it's condition can be the difference between a great deal and an expensive repair or probably searching for a replacement.     Most of my working tractors are hydros and they are all I will use especially for plowing and blowing snow where I am constantly changing direction and speed.  But I test every hydro before I buy it and if it is not running and can't be tested, I assume the hydro needs replaced,  and price it accordingly.

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5 minutes ago, Ed Kennell said:

You don't need a belt to start a C-160.     Drive it yes, but the engine will start w/o a belt.

I was thinking the same thing ED. Plus he can bring some basic tools and throw a belt on in less 20 minutes.

Post another thread for that C-160 belt size and someone will steer you in the right direction. Pick one up at a NAPA store or anywhere else and bring it with you. You'll see how simple it is to put on once the belt cover is removed. Or better yet, Ask him if he will throw it on before you come, he should be able to do it quickly since he's already taken it off. If he doesn't want to do it, maybe there's a reason it's still posted. But the ad seems like he's talking about the deck belts.

 

 

20 minutes ago, tntatro said:

I wasn't sure if a plow would attach to my 8hp tractor. I do want one though because my driveway is a long dirt driveway that needs snow removed after storms and needs to be leveled out once every year or two from all the rainstorms and floods.

An 8hp tractor is about the perfect one for exactly that. BUT now it appears you need a snow blower too!!! That C-160 is perfect for that too!

Man, we're gonna get you all fixed up. You'll be able to take care of all those tasks. :WRS:

 

6 minutes ago, tntatro said:

My last obsession was rebuilding old chainsaws, I might have to switch to old Wheel Horse tractors since I'm already starting a collection.

Do them both. I have a collection of Homelite tools which are run from a chainsaw engine. Never got into the chainsaw collecting because there's no bottom to it. It could take a lot of time and space once the obsession starts so I stuck to only the 2 stroke powered tools.

http://myoldmachine.com/topic/429-homelite-xl-tool-collection/?tab=comments#comment-37301

Also do the Ohlsson & Rice 2 stroke powered tools

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He did specifically say new belts for the mower deck in the ad. When I talked to him he didn't say it won't run, just said the the new belts need to be put on. I didn't even know it had hydraulics... does the c-160 have hydraulics?

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That one doesn't (if we're looking at the same tractor). Manual 8 speed trans. Personally I prefer the manual trans but that's probably because that was what I first used and didn't get a hydro for quite a few years.

Those 8 speed transmissions are robust. I bought many a tractor without starting or riding them and had very good luck getting them going without too much effort.

Edited by wallfish
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3 minutes ago, tntatro said:

He did specifically say new belts for the mower deck in the ad. When I talked to him he didn't say it won't run, just said the the new belts need to be put on. I didn't even know it had hydraulics... does the c-160 have hydraulics?

That's great news. I wouldn't worry about the deck. There is plenty of help on here to help you with finding the correct manuals and to offer advice on deck belt installation.   The C-160 came with either an 8 speed gear drive or a Sundstrand hydro. transmission. The hydro may have a manual or hydraulic lift for the deck and rear hitch.

Either way, $400 for a running driving C-160 with a deck and new deck belts is a steal.

OOps, I see John confirmed it is an 8 speed.     Much less concern  now.   If it starts and runs  W/O smoking , you have one of the greatest toughest WH tractors ever made at a great price.

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13 minutes ago, wallfish said:

That one doesn't (if we're looking at the same tractor). Manual 8 speed trans. Personally I prefer the manual trans but that's probably because that was what I first used and didn't get a hydro for quite a few years.

Those 8 speed transmissions are robust. I bought many a tractor without starting or riding them and had very good luck getting them going without too much effort.

I think we are looking at the same one. I can't see any lines for hydraulics. Thanks for checking out the local craigslist. I would have never known what to look for. I just got the 8hp tractor by chance from a friend. I milled some lumber for him and he paid me and threw in the tractor I think because his wife didn't want it sitting around. When I first saw it I never would have guessed that it would even start. It looks like a piece of junk.

 

12 minutes ago, Ed Kennell said:

That's great news. I wouldn't worry about the deck. There is plenty of help on here to help you with finding the correct manuals and to offer advice on deck belt installation.   The C-160 came with either an 8 speed gear drive or a Sundstrand hydro. transmission. The hydro may have a manual or hydraulic lift for the deck and rear hitch.

Either way, $400 for a running driving C-160 with a deck and new deck belts is a steal.

OOps, I see John confirmed it is an 8 speed.     Much less concern  now.   If it starts and runs  W/O smoking , you have one of the greatest toughest WH tractors ever made at a great price.

I hope all goes well then. My 8hp tractor smokes a bit when first started. I'm sure it could use a rebuild.

 

Are there any signs that I should look for that could indicate I shouldn't buy it for $400? I am willing to work on a less than perfect machine but don't want to overpay either. It sounds to me like these are simple to work on and either a keeper or junk. Unless the guy is full of it, it seems like I may potentially be getting a good tractor for a great price.

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They always look better in the pics but what I see is worth $400 all day long. It's been repainted because it appears there's some over spray but paint don't make anything work and it can always be fixed.

Here's a pic of what we're looking at guys.

 

00202_al4FJJRJTrY_600x450.jpg.8fe2e4e30f00e2afb6986c9008dc0e99.jpg

 

14 minutes ago, tntatro said:

and either a keeper or junk

Not too many are junk. Even that 73  8hp no name tractor you have will outlast any new POS built today. That thing is 45 years old and still going! Once you get going and comfortable working on them you will definitely appreciate the simplicity of engineering, yet they are rugged, well built machines. Don't always expect to just turn the key and go as they are older machines but the tinkering, maintenance and working on them is half the fun.

 

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Ask for any existing paper work i.e. manuals maintenance  records, parts and repair receipts. You can check the oil levels and oil quality in the engine and transmission.  It should not be black or foamy and it should not smell burnt.  Look for oil leaks around the engine and the axle seals.  These are all things that can be fixed easily, but may give you a feel for how well the machine was maintained.   It should start easily and throttle up w/o hesitation and w/o smoking.   Some smoke during start up is not a problem, but if it smokes after running awhile, it probably needs a rebuild.   Listen for any excessive engine knock when running at 1/2 throttle.  Check that  the volt or amp meter is responding to RPM changes...Indicates the battery charging system is working.

With the belts off the deck, it is a perfect time to check the deck spindles. They should spin freely and if you push up and down on the end of each blade tip, there should be no movement.  Excess movement indicates the lower  spindle bearing is worn. 

Having said all this,  nearly everything would have to be bad to kill a $400 deal for a 160.        Best of luck.

John types faster than me.    That definitely looks like a keeper...good straight tin and a really solid looking 42" deck shell.  And the fact that he has bought new deck belts indicate he was planning on using it.

He may have a good reason why he decided to stop work and sell it....I would ask.

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I have a c160 and it's the best tractor I have. Great power for anything. If will follow Ed's advice you'll not go wrong.

Heck if I find another c160 that nice I'll buy it . I already have 2 now. 

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Here's my retired 160.   If the Onan in my 520 ever pukes, I may put the 160 back to work with the cab and blower.

  Gotta luv them big stacked thumpers.....po tat o po tat o po tat o

5a17835b7021d_IMG_1534(640x480).jpg.758298915568bd7ca0b722e407b853ae.jpg

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