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Kohler K181T engine that has been sitting for years not sparking at all. Where to start? Already tried a new plug? How do I check the magneto?

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  • bgbevill Apr 10, 2011

    Read the article and I already know I am not sparking, even with a new plug. I know this tiller has points, condenser and magneto. I am trying to find a condenser, the points look fine and I have a new plug. I've searched all over the net and haven't found anything on actually checking the magneto. I plan on pulling the flywheel in a bit and looking underneath it to see if anything is obviously out of order. This tiller has been sitting for just over 20 years, but it ran fine when stored and mechanically it is perfect. Just trying to see if I can get this engine started before I consider a new one.

  • bgbevill Apr 10, 2011

    Thanks. I have the manual and have read section 8. My engine has no battery or alternator. I removed the flywheel and cleaned the magneto and the magnets. I replaced the condenser and the breaker and still no spark. I've cleaned all the connections. I just got the carb back together, but haven't tried it because I see no need to until I get the plug to spark. I don't recall seeing the low oil level wire you speak of, but I will look again for that tomorrow. I have already replaced the oil.

  • bgbevill Apr 10, 2011

    Okay thanks, I knew I didn't see a low oil level wire. I am a hvac technician that can tear into and repair most any hvac system out there, but I'm not a small engine mechanic. I purchased this tiller new in 1984 and stored it in 1991 and am trying to get it going to till a spot for my grandsons. I am suspecting the magneto isn't producing any currect, but I am the sort that likes to prove a part is bad before just swapping it out.

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Hi and welcome to FixYa. I am Kelly
Go to this link:
http://www.kohlerengines.com/manuals/landing.htm
Choose (1st option) K-series
Then choose 1 - 10 Hp
Then select Horizontal

The Service and owenrs manual for the K181T will appear down the page.
Click on Service
Click on English
The service manual will load (tp_2379.pdf) (well over 25 mb download)

I suspect that you have some corrosion issues with the engine shut off wire or in the Ignition unit area. However..... the engine should have a low oillevel sensor. Make sure the engine is fully serviced with oil then re-check spark. If still no spark disconnect ONE wire from the low oil level sensor and recheck spark. If you have spark with the oil level sensor disconnected clean it with carb cleaner and re-try spark test with it connected.

The manual is taking to long for me to download and 30 min time window here is approaching. I will respond again when the manual finishes down loading.

Thaks for choosing FixYa,
Kelly

Posted on Apr 10, 2011

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  • Kelly
    Kelly Apr 10, 2011

    Using the manual (over 28 Mb) Go to section 8 to answer your magneto questions. See page 75 of the pdf file on how to measure breakerless ignition coil resistance. The manual says this is a battery breakerless igniton. You must have alternator power on terminal A of the ignition coil to get ignition.

    Also you have breaker points in your ignition system. Make sure to clean the ignition point contacts and check it for grounds. (Figure 8-8 on page 76)



    If the alternator is grounded or not woking you will not have spark.



    Kelly

  • Kelly
    Kelly Apr 10, 2011

    After reviewing the service manual there is NOT a low oil level sensor so disregard previous oil level sensor comment.



    This is a pretty basic ignition system.



    1. must have alternator out put

    2. breaker / contact points must be functional

    3. Ignition unit must not be grounded.



    You should be able to sort this out. I would NOT go looking for a new engine anytime soon. One thing I would recommend that you do is to remove the crankcase breather and clean it really well. On an engine that has sat for 20 years it could very well be stuck. If when you do get it going you see massive amounts of white smoke... suspect the crankcase breather assembly.



    Kelly

  • Kelly
    Kelly Apr 11, 2011

    For some reason I lost my last post. See page 72 figure 8 - 2 and look at the thin wire(s) that says to breaker point and condensor. If I remember correctly there are 2 wires on the condensor. One of them is a kill wire. If there is a ground any where on this wire it kills the ignition. Find the ground that is on that wire and you will probably have spark. If there is not a ground on that thin wire.... the prime suspect is the magneto itself.



    Kelly

  • Kelly
    Kelly Apr 12, 2011

    Been thinking about how to explain to you the principles of operation of a Magneto circuit. The magneto is a coil and the wire that goes to the condensor and breaker points are the primary coil. The only operating system ground is on the secondary winding high tension spark plug lead. (I.e the spark plug is the operating ground.) To stop the output the primary wire going to the condensor and breaker points is grounded. (kill wire) When you have no output / spark the troubleshooting is to make sure that the breaker points and condensor are NOT grounded. If they are not grounded then the magneto itself has failed. The figure 11,500 ohms comes to mind when checking resistance of the high tension lead to the condensor / breaker point wire. You may have to just read it to the armature / metal part of the magneto.



    Kelly

  • Kelly
    Kelly Apr 15, 2011

    Just doing a follow up on your K181T engine. I was wondering how it is going on the find the spark search? I just hate to see you give up on this as I know it can be fixed. Some feedback when you get around to tinkering with it again would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.



    Take care,

    Kelly

  • John Oliver Feb 18, 2013

    I had the same problem before from several types of engines. Sometimes taking a little fine emery cloth and brushing the points will do wonders, even if there new. Sometimes the have a protective film on them. Second thing is the flywheel magnet. I have a troy-built horse with a k 181T on it. Having the same problem I bought 3 magneto assemblies. Niether fix the spark problem. Tested the magnet and it was weak, not having 500.00 bucks for a new flywheel and couldn't find a place to remagnetize this one. I installed a battery, coil, and wiring. Wa-lah no problems now. Cranks right up, but I do have to charge the battery at night. Still trying to find a good flywheel so I can change it back though.

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Hi

Given bellow is a detailed article from where you can have an in-depth knowledge related to your issue:-

http://www.motherearthnews.com/ask-our-experts/engine-start-problems.aspx

Please get back to us if you have further query else please accept the suggestion.

Thank you for contacting fixya.com

Posted on Apr 10, 2011

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