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tntatro

Help getting more power from 8hp engine (k181)

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You can not go totally wrong on a functioning 160, and it will probably have enough power for what you wan it to do. You just might have to slow down a bit in the most heavy stuff :-), and the 16 hp is a very torque strong engine. 

 

Can't wait to hear how it goes.

 

Good luck and :text-welcomeconfetti:

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As you can see - the C-160 is highly loved model in the WH lineup , especially with anyone here that has had/has one . The power numbers on the new engines are a gross overstatement - it would take around a 22hp modern twin to match the power of that single cylinder cast iron Kohler , their torque level is insane . I've ran mine with a 48" deck through some very heavy wet grass at high speed just to see if I could really knock it off the rpm band - it just lugs that much harder and barely drops off it's 3600rpm governed speed and keeps going .

 

One clue to engine condition - look around the seller's property . if there are a lot of hills/ditches and they are mowed in line with the higher angles that is a warning sign . That Kohler is a splash lube engine and is rated to run a maximum 25* angle at most - after that it can starve the rod due to the dipper not being able to feed the crank properly . It will usually show up with a mid rpm knock when hot - if you can get him to leave it alone and not pre-start it the day you look at it that's a plus - check the oil and ask what he's been using in it . If it has been fed very high viscosity oil such as 50w , there is a good chance the rod has been egg shaped and it's a knocker - a lot of sellers try to hide that as it's not cheap to properly rebuild that Kohler and their parts if OEM are expensive . Just the fact that the engine is 40yrs old and still running is a clue as to how well they were built - no modern engine will ever last that long . The small block 8hp is one of the most underrated engines ever made and they are amazingly tough and rugged too .

 

Another thing - look very closely at the top fin of the engine block on the exhaust side - if the fins get plugged up with debris as most do with age and no one has cleaned them out there is a chance for that block to overheat and crack - it will be on the exhaust side . I had one that did that from the previous owner's lack of care - it ran for another 6yrs before the rod finally let go , the crack only leaked when it was cold but at full temp it sealed itself from expansion . That one cannot be rebuilt - it goes across the top of the block to the exhaust valve seat so it's not even a good core . Around here a good condition 16hp is hard to find - too many of them have been blown up by the garden tractor pullers and their price market is high now , it's tough to even find good blocks that don't have a large window in them .

 

The unit you're looking has one of the most stout frames , transmission and best engines WH ever used - plus it's still a very simple model to work on compared to others from later years . There can be a few issues here and there from wear/age but those are easily addressed and we have a list of suppliers/vendors here that can provide whatever it needs - it would be sitting in my shed already if it were closer...

 

Sarge

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In your first post you said blades are not sharp. Don't underestimate how much sharp blades will help with cutting grass or taller grass.Speed and blade sharpness is very important.   :twocents-02cents:

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2 hours ago, oldlineman said:

In your first post you said blades are not sharp. Don't underestimate how much sharp blades will help with cutting grass or taller grass.Speed and blade sharpness is very important.   :twocents-02cents:

:text-yeahthat:

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I finally got back from picking up the tractor. I was late getting in and I didn't really look it over. It started and drove on the trailer. When I got back it started and drove off. It was a little tough to start at first and he said it was cold. I didn't notice clouds of smoke.

 

My truck broke down when I was in Delaware (3 hours from home) and no mechanics open on the Holiday weekend. Luckily he was a good guy and brought some tools and took me to the auto parts store. The idler pulley threw the bearings on my truck. It was an easy fix but took up a lot of time. Hopefully there are no cracks in the block or anything. It probably needs a new battery or at least a charge, it would barely turn over but still started. He said he bought it off a friend and said he didn't own it very long and is moving so he's getting rid of things. I'll check it over tomorrow for any problems and get the belts on.

 

It started when I got home, it was dark but I didn't notice smoke then either. It also would idle all the way down without stalling and sounds good.

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I spent a little time checking out the tractor today.

 

- The hard starting was just a loose battery cable terminal. It could probably use a new cable but I just re crimped the terminal. 

- The brake does not work

- The choke lever will engage the choke but I have to manually disengage it

- There is a piece missing on the belt tensioner and replaced with a block of wood

 

Those are the only things I've found so far. It starts well and doesn't smoke but it does need to warm up a little before it will throttle up. I also put the belts on and it mows right through the thick grass easily, although the grass is a bit more dry than last time I tried. I tried greasing the fittings on the spindles but it looked like the grease would just squeeze right back out the fitting. I have to sharpen the blades so I can check it out more closely later and make sure grease is getting through.

 

So far it looks like a great buy. The total cost for the tractor, gas there and back and truck repair when I broke down was about $500 and 10 hours.

I didn't know what specifically to take pictures of to show. The engine is a bit rusted but seems to be fine. The tag says 16hp but I don't know if it is the original engine or not.

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NICE, you got a good tractor!

Take a pic of that block of wood on the belt tensioner.

The choke cable probably needs some adjustment and/or the wire may be bent.

The brake drum is on the left side of the trans. Check to see if there's even a lining on the brake band. Many times the seal leaks oil onto the drum which causes no braking or very little. Could just need a cleaning and adjustment.

 

Not sure why that cable is but there. They do make a slot hitch to fit on the back and a cable is used to lift it but there's no evidence of that hitch being installed

 

Take pictures of anything you have a question about. We need to see it in order to help with internet diagnostics.

Edited by wallfish
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3 hours ago, tntatro said:

choke lever will engage the choke but I have to manually disengage it

:text-coolphotos:          Looks like a well cared for :wh:. The choke cable jacket should be secured to the engine block near the carb, that may not be tight. Like John said. can hardly wait to see the wood block on the tensioner!        :ychain:

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Ya' dunn goood @tntatro !!

That C160 is certainly a highly sought after WH model.

You're also lucky enough to join up with the most info-generous and kind folks I've had the pleasure of meeting.

There is NOTHING you won't find for that tractor here,

Info, help, parts, services...

Welcome aboard and good luck !!

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Thanks everybody, I'm glad I joined this group. I'll have a little more time tomorrow to tinker with it and see if I can figure out the brake and choke. I'll have to take pictures of my other one also. The guy who gave it to me couldn't find all the pieces though and it's missing the brackets to attach the wheel well and seat. I'm still waiting on a head gasket for it also. Some day I'd like to get a plow for it but I spent a little more than I probably should have already.

Edited by tntatro

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5 minutes ago, tntatro said:

couldn't find all the pieces though and it's missing the brackets to attach the wheel well and seat.

Once you have a comprehensive list of the missing parts post a wanted ad here, http://www.wheelhorseforum.com/classifieds/wanted/?do=form&d=2 or contact Lincoln at A-Z Tractor, great guy and will ship what you need .http://a-ztractor.com/

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32 minutes ago, 953 nut said:

Once you have a comprehensive list of the missing parts post a wanted ad here, http://www.wheelhorseforum.com/classifieds/wanted/?do=form&d=2 or contact Lincoln at A-Z Tractor, great guy and will ship what you need .http://a-ztractor.com/

:text-yeahthat:

If you need a brake lining, get a hold of Bob Maynard. Great price and service.

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8 hp is plenty of power for a 36" mower deck.  my K181 barely changed sound, even in tall, heavy grass.  Properly sharpened blades is the first step(many guys have no clue how to properly sharpen blades), Proper govenor adjustment on the K181 is very important, as well as good carb.  A lean running engine will run hot and lack power.  A hot/lean running engine will also tend to warp the head and blow the gasket.   First step IMHO, is to run a compression check on the engine and see where that stands.  If its low, then you do a leak down test to see where its loosing compression.  If all is ok there, I would pull that head back off and check to see if its warped, then clean and rebuild the carb.  Final steps are to adjust the gov by the book, then set the carb jets by the book and fine tune from there.   Then try cutting grass again.  My K181 ran fine till I converted my Horse to a 6.6hp air cooled diesel(which kicks the K181's ass in the torque dept).     Mike the Aspie

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Nice score - once you get a few things sorted out you'll find that is one very strong and reliable tractor , one of the best WH's made .

 

Look under the center of it and see if that cable is attached to the mid lift arm on the other end of it - someone probably cobbled it to lift a rear implement at one time as the original lift for the rear is missing . Keep an eye on the classifieds here and elsewhere - they come up often at a reasonable cost . There is a whole list of attachments that can be used on the rear of that tractor in either the Brinly clevis style or WH slot hitch line .  Hopefully that cable a previous owner installed didn't cut a groove in the top of the transmission case .

 

It would be a good idea given that mod to check the rear axle hubs and make sure they are tight to the axle and not rubbing against the housing/seals - there are set screws that hold them tight and it's a good idea to check them periodically . If those hubs aren't kept tight they can start wearing the axle key/groove and tear up the key way in the hubs in short order as well . These tractors have an amazing amount of pulling power and it's common to see them get abused for that reason .

 

Have you checked to see what type of oil filter is on the transmission yet ? This is really important - many people just use an automotive oil filter which is not designed for a hydraulic system . Also , check the condition of the oil and see if there is any major moisture in it .

 

Sarge

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I checked out the c-160 a little more. The main concerns I found is that the transmission fluid was kind of foamy and a strange color and the engine does sputter a little. I forgot to check the spark plug. I tried taking the air filter off to see if it was the same and there was no change. As far as the transmission, it seemed to function fine. 

 

One picture is of the dip stick under the seat. I don't know what it should look like but I didn't think that it looks good. Is that anything I should be concerned about? I don't even know where the filter is.

 

As far as the sputtering, at slow idle it almost sounds fine but every once in a while it will give a little sputter like a tiny back fire. At half throttle it does also but maybe a little more and I didn't notice at full throttle. 

 

I think those are the first two issues I should get handled if necessary, other than those, the smaller things:

- I couldn't find a fuel filter on it except a fine mesh screen in the gas tank

- It needs a new air filter

- I should probably change the oil

- The brake has a metal band but no brake shoe material

- The threaded rod that lifts the deck is missing a piece and bent/modified to work (pictured)

- The belt tension piece is missing parts and a wood block put in (pictured)

- Choke cable is not fully functional

- I still have to check the spark plug

- A couple tires have slow leaks

 

I sharpened the blades and greased the spindles. The blades were not too bad. They were dull but not rounded over.

 

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8 hours ago, artfull dodger said:

8 hp is plenty of power for a 36" mower deck.  my K181 barely changed sound, even in tall, heavy grass.  Properly sharpened blades is the first step(many guys have no clue how to properly sharpen blades), Proper govenor adjustment on the K181 is very important, as well as good carb.  A lean running engine will run hot and lack power.  A hot/lean running engine will also tend to warp the head and blow the gasket.   First step IMHO, is to run a compression check on the engine and see where that stands.  If its low, then you do a leak down test to see where its loosing compression.  If all is ok there, I would pull that head back off and check to see if its warped, then clean and rebuild the carb.  Final steps are to adjust the gov by the book, then set the carb jets by the book and fine tune from there.   Then try cutting grass again.  My K181 ran fine till I converted my Horse to a 6.6hp air cooled diesel(which kicks the K181's ass in the torque dept).     Mike the Aspie

Thanks for these tips, as you have probably noticed I went and bought another tractor. At this point it isn't entirely about mowing thick grass, it's becoming a new hobby. I'd like to get this k181 going as good as I can. I'd eventually rebuild it if it needs it.

 

I sharpened the blades today and put the belt guard on the 8hp no name, the blades were extremely dull and rounded over. I think it is possible that they were never sharpened before. I should have the head gasket next time I work on it (which should be Wednesday). The gasket was blown when I got it but I patched it with gasket maker so I could drive it on and off the trailer, then I later forgot it was patched and tested it out with a little mowing in thick grass and blew it again. The engine smokes a lot of blue smoke when started.

 

- When I put the new gasket in do I put it in dry or add a little gasket maker?

- For a compression test do I just put the tester in the spark plug hole and turn the key?

- For a leak down test do I plug the exhaust and carburetor area and add pressure/vac?

- I think I can handle cleaning the carburetor but I don't know how to adjust it or the governor.

- When checking for warp on the head, do I basically clean it up and use a straight edge to check it?

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8 hours ago, Sarge said:

Nice score - once you get a few things sorted out you'll find that is one very strong and reliable tractor , one of the best WH's made .

 

Look under the center of it and see if that cable is attached to the mid lift arm on the other end of it - someone probably cobbled it to lift a rear implement at one time as the original lift for the rear is missing . Keep an eye on the classifieds here and elsewhere - they come up often at a reasonable cost . There is a whole list of attachments that can be used on the rear of that tractor in either the Brinly clevis style or WH slot hitch line .  Hopefully that cable a previous owner installed didn't cut a groove in the top of the transmission case .

 

It would be a good idea given that mod to check the rear axle hubs and make sure they are tight to the axle and not rubbing against the housing/seals - there are set screws that hold them tight and it's a good idea to check them periodically . If those hubs aren't kept tight they can start wearing the axle key/groove and tear up the key way in the hubs in short order as well . These tractors have an amazing amount of pulling power and it's common to see them get abused for that reason .

 

Have you checked to see what type of oil filter is on the transmission yet ? This is really important - many people just use an automotive oil filter which is not designed for a hydraulic system . Also , check the condition of the oil and see if there is any major moisture in it .

 

Sarge

The cable is attached to the lift arm. I didn't think to check to see if it cut into the transmission. I'll have to check the hubs next time. As far as the transmission, it has the 8 speed manual. I don't know where the filter is but the fluid did not look very good to me.

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47 minutes ago, tntatro said:

As far as the transmission, it has the 8 speed manual. I don't know where the filter is but the fluid did not look very good to me.

No filter on the manual transmission, Sarge was referring to a hydro.

The gear oil got water in there which causes that coffee color. The drain plug is on the bottom, it's a hex key plug. once drained fill with diesel fuel to wash it out and run it in all gears for just a bit. Drain and refill. It easiest to remove the shifter and fill through there. Check the shifter boot which you will probably need a new one to keep the water out of the trans.

For the deck tensioner, mule drive. Take a look at the one on the 73 -8. They are the same so you can check it out to see what parts you need or swap them if using the deck only on one tractor at a time.

Don't run that 8hp without the blower cover for very long, it will over heat quickly.

Contact @rmaynard for a brake band lining or get a used one from A-Z tractor.

Do a search (upper right corner of every page) in the "Files" for a C-160 and a Kohler engine manual. The engine manual will guide you through all the carb and governor settings plus anything else. You'll need the mower deck manual for a parts list for anything concerning the deck

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1 hour ago, tntatro said:

don't know what it should look like but I didn't think that it looks good. Is that anything I should be concerned about? I don't even know where the filter is.

The transmission should have 10 W 30 motor oil and the filter is a NAPA 1410. A gallon of oil and a filter will be cheap insurance. The filter is under the seat pan on the right side.   Just read John's post, never mind!

1 hour ago, tntatro said:

a little sputter like a tiny back fire. At half throttle it does also but maybe a little more and I didn't notice at full throttle.

Add some Seafoam to fresh non-ethanol gas and it will probably clear up.

 

1 hour ago, tntatro said:

I couldn't find a fuel filter on it except a fine mesh screen in the gas tan

Go ahead and replace the fuel line and ad a filter.

Edited by 953 nut
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1 hour ago, tntatro said:

- When I put the new gasket in do I put it in dry or add a little gasket maker?

No sealer of any kind should be used. Torque to the proper setting in the proper sequence and then once it has come to operating temperature hot torque it using the same setting and sequence.

- For a compression test do I just put the tester in the spark plug hole and turn the key?

Yes presuming it is a screw in uni and have the throttle wide open.t

- For a leak down test do I plug the exhaust and carburetor area and add pressure/vac?

I will attach instructions

- I think I can handle cleaning the carburetor but I don't know how to adjust it or the governor.

I will attach an engine manual

- When checking for warp on the head, do I basically clean it up and use a straight edge to check it?

use a sheet of wet/dry 400 grit paper with oil, attached to a sheet of glass and sand it until no dark spots are present then switch to 1000 grit and finish it.

Kohler-K-Series-Single-Cylinder-Engine-Specifications-and-Tolerances.pdf

Engine Leakdown Tester Build Your Own.pdf

Tractor 1974 C-Series OM Wiring #803859.pdf

 

Edited by 953 nut
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24 minutes ago, wallfish said:

No filter on the manual transmission, Sarge was referring to a hydro.

The gear oil got water in there which causes that coffee color. The drain plug is on the bottom, it's a hex key plug. once drained fill with diesel fuel to wash it out and run it in all gears for just a bit. Drain and refill. It easiest to remove the shifter and fill through there. Check the shifter boot which you will probably need a new one to keep the water out of the trans.

For the deck tensioner, mule drive. Take a look at the one on the 73 -8. They are the same so you can check it out to see what parts you need or swap them if using the deck only on one tractor at a time.

Don't run that 8hp without the blower cover for very long, it will over heat quickly.

Contact @rmaynard for a brake band lining or get a used one from A-Z tractor.

Do a search (upper right corner of every page) in the "Files" for a C-160 and a Kohler engine manual. The engine manual will guide you through all the carb and governor settings plus anything else. You'll need the mower deck manual for a parts list for anything concerning the deck

So do I fill the transmission with diesel and drive it a little and use all the gears?

I'm glad you pointed out the blower cover. I didn't even realize it was missing. I did notice how different it looked. Maybe that is why the gasket is blown. I haven't drove it too much so hopefully it's still okay.

 

43 minutes ago, 953 nut said:

The transmission should have 10 W 30 motor oil and the filter is a NAPA 1410. A gallon of oil and a filter will be cheap insurance. The filter is under the seat pan on the right side.   Just read John's post, never mind!

Add some Seafoam to fresh non-ethanol gas and it will probably clear up.

 

Go ahead and replace the fuel line and ad a filter.

I guess I'll have to find a good source for ethanol free gas. I think there is a place the next town over. On my old chainsaws I just replace the rubber parts with more modern ethanol tolerant stuff. Do these run better on a certain octane rating or does it not matter? 

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16 minutes ago, tntatro said:

So do I fill the transmission with diesel and drive it a little and use all the gears?

Yes, or jack up the rear end and sit it on stands.

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14 minutes ago, tntatro said:

So do I fill the transmission with diesel and drive it a little and use all the gears?

Yes, and be surer to jack up the front end when draining as there is a hump in the middle of the casting that will prevent complete draining otherwise. 2 quarts of 90 gear oil will fill it after it has been flushed. (John posted while I was typing.)

22 minutes ago, tntatro said:

I'll have to find a good source for ethanol free gas.

Regular gas is fine (87 Octane) and here is a good site to find it.

https://www.pure-gas.org/

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1 hour ago, 953 nut said:

use a sheet of wet/dry 400 grit paper with oil, attached to a sheet of glass and sand it until no dark spots are present then switch to 1000 grit and finish it.

So I do this on top where the piston and valves are, not the cover?

I looked at the leak down test article. It's a lot different than a chainsaw. It looks like with these you just test the leaking for the piston, valves and gasket and there is always some leak, you just figure out how much. I'll have to look into it when I get to that point.

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You will be smoothing the surface that makes a seal with the head gasket. Chain saws are two cycle so would be different.

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