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C-85

Catastrophic failure

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My son was using our C-85 to plow snow and it suddenly stopped.  He grabbed me and we tried to start it and it wouldn't even turn over.  Turns out the crankshaft broke, and when this happened the flywheel moved enough to hit the stater and wiped out some magnets and blew a fuse, kind of a chain reaction.  Of all the blown engines I've never seen this happen and I'm not sure what caused this.  We have worked the heck out of this tractor, and I've all the things I could think of that would break, the crank isn't one of them!  I'm wondering if the crank had some kind a flaw, but it has lasted all this time.

 

I've looked up what a new crank and flywheel cost and it looks like they are still available from Kohler for about $304 and $428.  I see that there are some used ones on eBay, but I hate to get a used crank, a used flywheel would probably be okay.  I looked online to see if some outfit sells re-manufactured K181s, but didn't see any.  I could fix this, it's just a mater of what makes the most sense with money/time.  I'm also pondering shooting the works and buying a new short block at around a $1,000, realizing I'd still need a flywheel.  I love this tractor and plan on having it for life (my life, I'm 57), so I might just renew that awesome engine:)

 

I'm wondering if anyone in Red Square land has seen anything like this, and also how you might approach a long term fix?  I've seen a lot of comments on here about folks that have gone the Harbor Freight route for new power, but I just don't think I can do that, I have a love of Kohlers!

 

This is what it used to look like!

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This is what it looks like now!

 

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Wow never seen a crankshaft break, my guess is you will also have a broken cam. As the k181 cam is prone to breaking when a rod goes, clearance is that close.  I would look for a good used motor to repower or rebuild as cost to replace those parts will be more than a good used or rebuildable.  Or upgrade for more  HP

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:text-imsorry:         I would be very hesitant to put any money into that block, too much hidden damage will come back to haunt you. You should be able to find a running 8, 10 or 12 HP engine and have it rebuilt for less than the cost of parts for your present block. 

You may want to read over this information from Brian Miller to help decide what rout to take.

http://gardentractorpullingtips.com/engine.htm

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20 minutes ago, Shynon said:

good used motor

...is what I'd lean towards....

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A used motor, or find a donor tractor.

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If it were me, I’d keep my eye out for a decent running K301.  You could even place a wanted ad here on the forum to see if anyone can help you out.  We hate to see someone’s beloved steed go down and we want to help get them back up and working if we can.  Sometimes buying a donor tractor as @WH nut stated is the most cost effective way to go. I’ve bought tractors in the past that were in really rough shape, yet running decent, just to get the motor and any healthy parts left over.  I’m not a fan of parting a tractor just to part it but every once in awhile—there is an application where it works best all around that way.

:twocents-02cents:

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6 hours ago, WH nut said:

A used motor, or find a donor tractor.

:text-yeahthat:

6 hours ago, PeacemakerJack said:

If it were me, I’d keep my eye out for a decent running K301.  You could even place a wanted ad here on the forum to see if anyone can help you out.  We hate to see someone’s beloved steed go down and we want to help get them back up and working if we can.  Sometimes buying a donor tractor as @WH nut stated is the most cost effective way to go. I’ve bought tractors in the past that were in really rough shape, yet running decent, just to get the motor and any healthy parts left over.  I’m not a fan of parting a tractor just to part it but every once in awhile—there is an application where it works best all around that way.

:twocents-02cents:

And... :text-yeahthat: too.

 

Here in New England Wheelhorses tend to bring top dollar but I think you could find a good used engine in a Whole tractor for the same $$ or maybe even less than sourcing the motor by itself.

Then part it out and get back some of the initial investment.

 

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pm sent

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Just saw this thread and codolences big guy. Prolly just a freak thing but sounds like the guys got you covered on options. Keep us posted. 

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Never seen a crank break. I would upgrade to a 12hp, my guess is that k181 was under a lot of load for a very long time, given the amount of weight you have stacked on the tractor and the added strain of the snow being pushed something had to give.  The 12hp would offer a beefier crank and of course MORE POWER! 

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I have found a used complete K181, and I've got it on there, so it is fixed now.  What a tune up! :bow-blue:5a5e3a6be5c0c_IMG_03231.JPG.80f4b97f4ae73dad0477d9651aa12896.JPG5a5e3badb25bf_IMG_03241.JPG.dd503f7ba7c2c4652c9256330d3cc541.JPG

 

Now to figure more about how this happened.  I think going to a 12hp would have been great if I had one, but I don't.  My little 8hp tractor has plenty of power for what we've been using for - plowing snow and some dirt work.  Oh and occasionally some rock work!

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These rocks that I dug out are on skid (sheet of plywood) that I was pulling -

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It is totally amazing to me to know what this little 8hp tractor has done!

 

Like I said when I posted this that I had never seen a crank shaft break and I'm still puzzled by this.  I know I'm carrying a lot of weight, but it seems like there's so many weaker links (like the connecting rod or drive belt) that would have broke or failed before the crank shaft!

 

When I was in the equipment business, I saw plenty of engine damage, but not like this.  We had lots of customer lawn mowers come in with bent crank shafts (from hitting rocks or something solid), but never a broken one.

 

Has anyone else seen damage like this?

 

Thanks for everyone that has taken time to view this and weigh in! :)

 

C-85

 

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I'm guessing there might have been a casting flaw in it but the bigger mystery is why it waited this long to rear it's ugly head. Like you I have seen many bent cranks come in, mostly on push mowers that hit a rock or stump, but never one like that.

What's even more amazing with the weight you have on that the transaxle is holding so as it is! Says a lot about the stoutness of these transmissions.

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17 minutes ago, WHX14 said:

I'm guessing there might have been a casting flaw in it but the bigger mystery is why it waited this long to rear it's ugly head.

 

We may never know the real answer but you could have nailed it right there. It is possible to have a casting flaw on the inside of a piece of metal that is just beyond the point of Machining and maybe this engine just got to the point of wear and tear over many years that it finally lost its ability to stay whole.

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31 minutes ago, C-85 said:

never seen a crank shaft break and I'm still puzzled by this.

Looking at the photo you don't see any signs of cracks or flaws that had been festering and finally gave, just one clean break. Strange. Only broken crank I've seen was on a built small block Chevy and it snapped off where the flywheel bolts up, happened at the starting line and took the bell housing with it.

Glad you found another engine.

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I have to ask, How much weight do you have on that tractor? Just noticed the wheel weights front and rear... plus the additional.  Wow....traction must have been off the scale...

Edited by cpete1

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3 minutes ago, cpete1 said:

I have to ask, How much weight do you have on that tractor? :think:

:text-yeahthat:

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I was looking at this thread and then remembered 2 things that happened in my past. I grew up on a Dairy Farm and one day we were caught up on things and it had rained some, we were bored so my brother and I had a tow off between a little Allis Chalmers and a John Deere B. My brother had restored the B. We hooked a chain up between them and took off  on a packed gravel driveway. The 2 tractors dug in and the B started to hop at the front end in sync with the engine and all of a sudden it just lost drive and rolled backwards. My brother was sick  about it and tore into that night. We had broke the main pinion in half, I'm talking a gear 20" in diameter and almost 2" wide.  He got it fixed but we vowed never ever to do that again not to mention my Father giving us his 7 cents about it... The second episode was with a D-4 dozer and a stuck milk truck. It was winter, the truck was 3/4 up the driveway and we couldn't budge it with tractors. I got the D-4 running and brought it down, hooked up to a big chain, took the tension out and gave it everything it had. The dozer lurched forward and I thought I had the truck moving only to stop. I had stretched the chain so hard that all the links had deformed and the chain was frozen solid. Imagine a 14' chain solid like a 2x4... My brother couldn't believe it. nor could I. 

 

You got your money's worth out of the original motor but that is an awful lot of weight on your rig, was your son pushing piled snow back when it happened.  I'm thinking it might have cracked during a previous run and with all the conditions just right it just gave its last gasp!! I think it had a heart attack, so to speak.  I'm sure the wheels weren't slipping when it happened... I got rocks like the one you're pulling out in the picture... wow, that's all I can say, just plain wow.... Good luck with your repair  I hope your new engine gives you the same dedicated service the old one did. At least she didn't go out on a whimper....

Chris

Edited by cpete1
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2 hours ago, cpete1 said:

At least she didn't go out on a whimper....

I've heard said - If you're gonna break it, do it right!

I'd say they done ok there.

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@C-85, I'm glad you found a good replacement.  I'm going through checking for a tick in my K181 right now.  I really like these little 7 and 8hp Kohlers.  Nice looking tractor!  Good luck with your new engine!!

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1 hour ago, dells68 said:

@C-85, ... I really like these little..... 8hp Kohlers......

Yeah, I'll second that. I've been super impressed with my b80.

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