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Garden Tractors Discussion Forum

Kohler k181

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4010tim

06-28-2018 00:51:12




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My daughter and I are getting ready to rebuild the k181 in a round fender John Deere 110 and I was wondering if there is a recommendation on where to buy the rebuild parts from. We haven't torn the engine down yet but we plan on replacing the rod and piston, and we will see what the crank looks like to see if it needs turned or not. I am used to large diesels, not small air cooled engines, so if anyone has advice on things to look for would be appreciated. I have picked up an engine manual for it but haven't made the time to look through it yet.

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W_B

06-29-2018 09:56:05




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 Re: Kohler k181 in reply to 4010tim, 06-28-2018 00:51:12  
Try Norman at isavetractors.com. Never dealt with him but seems to know his stuff. Also has a YouTube channel (isavetractors).



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t.r.k.

06-28-2018 18:21:01




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 Re: Kohler k181 in reply to 4010tim, 06-28-2018 00:51:12  
I overhauled a K161 in a Cub Cadet back in the spring. Be sure to check the fit between the rod and crank, I am thinking if its more than .0015 you will hear it when its running.

Like the others said, be sure to have the new parts in hand before you do any cutting. For instance, on a K161, the only piston available is the same diameter as a K181 piston, not the diameter of the original bore. (I guess you end up with pretty much a K181, except for carburetion.) In my case, I lucked out and found an old stock ring set to fit my original piston.

Kohlerplus website is a big help with OEM part numbers. I am thinking it gives you access to the OEM service manual as well.

I do know a small engine tech. who has no faith in aftermarket head gaskets for Kohlers. But he is also the small engine tech. who feels no need to use a torque wrench. So that gasket that failed may not have had adequate torque on the head bolts.

Have fun with your project. Be sure to be patient, its probably going to take longer than you think, especially if your daughter helps. I bet it will be fun and will make a lot of memories.

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t.r.k.

06-28-2018 18:20:39




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 Re: Kohler k181 in reply to 4010tim, 06-28-2018 00:51:12  
I overhauled a K161 in a Cub Cadet back in the spring. Be sure to check the fit between the rod and crank, I am thinking if its more than .0015 you will hear it when its running.

Like the others said, be sure to have the new parts in hand before you do any cutting. For instance, on a K161, the only piston available is the same diameter as a K181 piston, not the diameter of the original bore. (I guess you end up with pretty much a K181, except for carburetion.) In my case, I lucked out and found an old stock ring set to fit my original piston.

Kohlerplus website is a big help with OEM part numbers. I am thinking it gives you access to the OEM service manual as well.

I do know a small engine tech. who has no faith in aftermarket head gaskets for Kohlers. But he is also the small engine tech. who feels no need to use a torque wrench. So that gasket that failed may not have had adequate torque on the head bolts.

Have fun with your project. Be sure to be patient, its probably going to take longer than you think, especially if your daughter helps. I bet it will be fun and will make a lot of memories.

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wgm

06-28-2018 17:53:28




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 Re: Kohler k181 in reply to 4010tim, 06-28-2018 00:51:12  
There is a young man in the neighborhood who buys and restores older John Deere garden tractors for re-sale. He always buys his engine parts from the local John Deere dealer claiming the engine manufacturers must per agreement with John Deere make the parts to a higher degree of quality than normal OEM parts.



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gregww

06-28-2018 13:35:30




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 Re: Kohler k181 in reply to 4010tim, 06-28-2018 00:51:12  
Since on the subject of rebuilding a Kohler engine, I have a question. I have read a little bit about it, and watched some videos, but I have never found a video of someone rebuilding a Kohler engine with governor gear or balance gears. When I was much younger I rebuilt a couple of small block V-8 engines, but they of course did not have governor gear or balance gears. Are there special tools needed to rebuild the Kohler K series engines? I would like to try, but I am not willing to spend hundreds of dollars on tools for a one time thing. Thanks Greg

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t.r.k.

06-28-2018 18:27:46




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 Re: Kohler k181 in reply to gregww, 06-28-2018 13:35:30  
I have only had one governor gear fail, (actually it failed before I got the mower) and that one had the shaft it ran on improperly installed. It needed to stick out farther into the gear.

The service manual has procedure for installing both the governor gear and the balance gears and camshaft, and the service manual can be found at Kohlerplus.com and probably other places on the internet as well.

I think you pretty much have to strip the engine to get access to the governor if it has a problem. I don't think the cam will come out by the crank and I don't think you can put the governor in with the crank in place.

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Butch(oh)

06-28-2018 19:06:26




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 Re: Kohler k181 in reply to t.r.k., 06-28-2018 18:27:46  
Yessir, the governor and cross shaft are the last things out of the engine and first things back in so a failure means total teardown. I both in when I go through them as cheap insurance.



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Butch(oh)

06-28-2018 12:18:16




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 Re: Kohler k181 in reply to 4010tim, 06-28-2018 00:51:12  
As he said nothing wrong with the aftermarket kits imported by Rotary and sold by many dealers I have installed many of them. There is a seller on ebay from Wausean OH and that's where I deal. The one small issue you can run into is do not have the block bored until you have the kit. The knowledgeable sellers will tell yoy this. As the pistons run a smideon smaller than OEM thus the bore should be smaller. It's not much, maybe .001

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DR. EVIL

06-28-2018 03:55:31




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 Re: Kohler k181 in reply to 4010tim, 06-28-2018 00:51:12  
Put a new exhaust valve in it if the engine has a lot of hours on it. I have never replaced the governor gear & flyweight assembly on any of the Kohler's I have rebuilt and it finally bit me! I rebuilt a K241 about 6 years ago and just couldn't get the throttle & governor to operate correctly. I think I can get the new gear/flyweights in past to camshaft, if not, flywheel, backplate, cam will come out. If the weights don't move freely on the gear replace the whole assembly.

OEM Kohler parts have gotten stupidly expensive the last 10 years, if this is just a parade/show tractor I've had great luck with STENS parts. There's other aftermarket suppliers but I've used Stens. They are about half the price of OEM.

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4010tim

06-28-2018 17:00:31




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 Re: Kohler k181 in reply to DR. EVIL, 06-28-2018 03:55:31  
This is a project for my 9year old daughter and I to do together. This used to be my grandpa's mower and he bought it new in 1965(?). He passed away in 2009 before my daughter was born and the thing had sat in the barn until last fall and my daughter saw it and thought it was the coolest thing because it looked like mini version of my 4010. I brought it home and got it running only to discover as it warmed up it would start knocking. The oil I dumped out was like 10wt. According to my dad the motor was replaced in the late 80's, but was hardly used after that because grandpa had bought a 212 by then. My daughter thinks it will be fun to rebuild it and used it to mow the lawn. And who am I to argue?

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