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JohnFornaro

Why is the Triad engine so bad?

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JohnFornaro
My Sovereign has the Triad engine, and I've been running it hard for seven or eight years. I'd rather have a KT19 or a Magnum M18, because I like cast iron, but this engine is doing just fine. I just read another post here about a blown Triad. What is the problem with these engines? Maybe I shouldn't ask, 'cause it might jinx my engine. Either that, or maybe I got one that works properly?

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tractornut
As the case with the one that was in my sovereign I just aquired. The valve covers leaked oil all over the block and head area which collected dust and packed the cooling fins full. It couldn't get any air, so I think thats what mainly did it in.

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acfarmer
Seems to be a high maintenance engine that requires it be kept very clean and valve ajustment given alot of attention.Any engine the average homeowner runs isn't going to receive the best of maintenance especially after they have been used to the old single cylinder cast iron Briggs and Kohler engines that were about bullet proof no matter what.Then again maybe you got the good apple out of the rotten barrel full.

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JohnFornaro
The valve cover with the fuel pump in it was leaking badly, even with tightening. I ordered a new one some years ago. The flange on the existing cover was flat; the new cover had a groove in it, allowing the gasket a place to swell a bit. That cover no longer leaks, more than just a bit. The other one is fairly dirty tho. I'll have to keep an eye on how bad it gets. Also, in a phone conversation with Al Eden many years ago, he suggested drilling a few more ventilation holes in the engine shroud, which certainly helped improve the cooling air flow. I've never messed with the valves tho.

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JohnFornaro
Well, I think I jinxed the engine. Changed the oil a couple of weeks ago, everything seemed to be ok. This particular engine always spouted a bit of oil smoke for maybe the first half second upon starting. A couple of days ago, it started spewing light gray smoke. What I call oil smoke. Yesterday, I started it on the level and it spewed smoke for about 30-45 seconds before, I guess, the rings heated up, and the smoke became less. But where as before, the exhaust was almost invisible, now there's a light haze of oil smoke being spewed. What could the problem be? I can't afford a new Command engine right now.

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Brettw
I am not sure of the Triads, but I know that many engines have some sort of crankcase breather that generally is run through the air filter to the combustion cycle. If that breather is not working properly, you can suck oil into the engine through there. Just a thought, and if it is just a breather, you are much more fortunate thna an internal issue.

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B10Dave
? Just a thought John. Did you use the same brand of oil as all the other times? Sometimes when I try to use a cheaper on sale oil in one of my machines the oil consumption goes up for seemingly no reason. Next change with oil I usually buy and things go back to normal. Dave.

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JohnFornaro
Thanks guys. I did not know about the breather, and will check this weekend or maybe even today. So I take the air filter off, and what am I looking for? This summer, I changed the air filter, and other than chaff on the foam, everything was fine under there. As to oil, I have been using Advance Auto 30W, which feeds my little fleet of five, for at least a decade. They have changed the color of the quart jars since the last fill up, and I figured it was the same oil, but I don't know for sure.

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D-17_Dave
Under the foam filter is the main, paper filter. This can become clogged with fines particulates that stop the flow of air. This can cause excess vacuum on the crankcase and pull oil into the intake. If you remove the filter from the engine and bang it on something solid and dust flies out then it's time for a replacement. The other possibility is this being an over head valve engine, wear may be occurring around the valve stems and oil leaking down into the combustion chamber. Common on older worn V8's. Oil seals fail and it puffs smoke on start up until the engine gets warm enough to burn off the accumulated oil. This again can be helped by a good PCV valve that is operating properly. But wear is wear. A couple of things to check out. Good luck.

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JohnFornaro
Dave: Thanks. Knew that about the fines in the air filter. Hard to think that it clogged over the summer, but maybe it did. Will check later today. Leakage at the valve stems sounds like a lotta work to fix. I didn't realize that there was a PCV valve on the Triad. Really? Will look for it.

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DanD
quote:
Originally posted by JohnFornaro
Dave: Thanks. Knew that about the fines in the air filter. Hard to think that it clogged over the summer, but maybe it did. Will check later today. Leakage at the valve stems sounds like a lotta work to fix. I didn't realize that there was a PCV valve on the Triad. Really? Will look for it.
Look under the carburetor and you'll see a black hose coming up from the crankcase that attaches to the air intake. The piece that it attaches to at the crankcase is the breather/PCV. Its function is to maintain a slight vacuum in the crankcase when running which helps prevent oil leakage. This is not something unique to the Triad however. Even the old cast iron 16 hp Briggs in my old Sovereign has this on it.

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Al
Hi, Some of the Triads are still running well. I have done several rather extensive posts on these. Basically most of the issues could have been solved had it lived longer. The air cleaner was in line with the blower and it blew air and chaff into the air cleaner, often in 2 or 3 hours of use the air cleaner would be packed. The air cleaner has the same number of square inches of filter material as the Command filters. The difference the filter is not as high and the pleats are deeper to attain this. A short coming. My ex. night guy has a Sovereign with a lot of hours on it, still runs great. The first year he used 8 or ten air filters and had to clean the air cleaner every 2 o r 3 hrs. We cut mouse holes in the pto end (front of tractor) of the air cleaner cover. This let the chaff blow right on through. He has only replaced the filter once a year since. I just talked to him a week ago and the tractor is still running good after 15 year. The valve covers only had 4 screws and were shallow. They would distort and leak. Particularly the fuel pump one with the arm pressure on it. The leak would let the oil run down the cyl fins and then they would collect dirt and the engine would overheat. The cylinders would expand and contract. When aluminum overheats and cools it does not go all the way back to the original size. This would be a cause for the engine to drop a sleeve. Since the block is a "lost foam casting" they are not as dense as die castings and would not have the same elasticity as die cast engines. The advantage is that you can cast more complex castings than with other methods. The timing belt would pick up dirt and abrasives and would eat the timing gears both the metal and plastic. In sandy environments some as little as100 hrs. Kohler came out with a kit that very reasonably fixes this problem. I still like this engine. It was a great design, No head gaskets, very few bolts or gaskets. Overhead camshaft, low emissions. With the head and cylinder one piece, the thermal barrier at the gasket is gone and with the rings high in the piston there was very little unburned gas above the rings on the side of the piston. Result, lower hydrocarbons. The design was great, I think it was a case of too much technology too soon. The lost foam technology was in its infancy and Kohler lost the original US automotive vendor due to to small volume and ended up having to go to Italy for a vendor. Cost was high, shipping was high and quality was poor. As a result the engine died. I am an old race guy and would to have seen it live and grow. It was a very high tech unit. I will try to find a pic and post the air cleaner fix. Also we had one that would just spray oil in the carb from the breather and would completely hide the tractor in smoke. A vacuum gauge connected to the crankcase went to pressure when the engine was reved up. We replaced the crankcase breather reed. No fix. Replaced the engine under warranty. Later I had to know why it did this so I tore it apart. Under the valley between the cylinders there is rubber donut that seals the plate to the block. This was cracked and let air in the crankcase and there she went. Fixed it. Al Eden

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JohnFornaro
Thanks Dan: "Look under the carburetor and you'll see a black hose coming up from the crankcase that attaches to the air intake. The piece that it attaches to at the crankcase is the breather/PCV. Its function is to maintain a slight vacuum in the crankcase when running which helps prevent oil leakage. " I did. Cleaned the engine with purple stuff and a good rinse. Ran it without the air cleaner on. Still smokes, not as bad. You can see oil spurting thru the PCV valve hose directly into the carb. However. I didn't see a PCV valve as such. Is the small gold anodized rectangular thing that the bottom of the tube the PCV valve? Also, it looks like the only way to get to it is to remove the muffler. Arrgh. Thanks to Al also: "I still like this engine. It was a great design..." Shortly after I got this tractor, I replaced the fuel pump valve cover. The new one had a groove in the mating surface and was better than the old one, which was flat. It hasn't leaked all that much, but it does leak. The other valve cover gasket is now leaking. I just bought a replacement for it, but it too features a flat mating surface. While looking for the part, I actually talked to a Kohler guy, who spoke to the advancements of that engine. Nice to hear the back story from Al. Al: "The valve covers only had 4 screws and were shallow. They would distort and leak. Particularly the fuel pump one with the arm pressure on it. The leak would let the oil run down the cyl fins and then they would collect dirt and the engine would overheat." I have this problem too, but have somewhat ameliorated it with my purple spray, toothbrush and water rinse. Left alone, the fins would be covered in oil. One of my pictures shows the fix to air cleaner housing.




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JohnFornaro
Yesterday, I paid more attention to the starting sequence with the air cleaner off. Cold start, first of the day. About 10-15 seconds of dense blue smoke. Then dirty running, with a visible exhaust for about a minut. No oil coming out of the breather tube. Then clean burning, for about 2 or 3 minutes just like you'd want, no oil coming out of the breather tube. Then, oil literally spurting out of the breather tube, dirty exhaust. Spent an hour today searching for the breather tube / breather reed replacement kit. Found some possibilities at Opeengines.com. Part # 2403301 and 2403303, but not sure if they are for Triad TH18S 54511 engine. Few Triad parts seemingly available. Is the Command CH18 equivalent part an acceptable substitute? Must I remove the muffler to change it out? Breather tube slightly cracked due to age. Not sure what to do at this point.

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D-17_Dave
If the breather system is allowed to become filled with liquid(in this case oil) then there is too much restriction to vent the air being built up in the crankcase. This can allow oil to be forced into the combustion chamber via the rings or valves. This could explain the oil after the breather is filled with fluid. Now the real problem is why is the breather being flooded? I will say I know nothing of how this engine is made but I would remove ALL the breather assembly all the way into the crankcase and make sure there is no fluid gaurd missing. Maybe broken off and fallen into the lower crankcase. Or you could have something come loose inside the engine spraying oil unde pressure directly onto the breather intake. Other things to consider is there may be just way too much air being built up inside the crankcase to be handled by the breather. You might pull the heads and look for a melted piston.

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JohnFornaro
In other words, I gotta take off the muffler, eh? It can't be a melted piston; the engine wouldn't work. As it stands, the engine will run if I put my finger over the breather hole. But after it gets warmed up, it spews oil directly into the carb.

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JohnFornaro
Well. Thinking that it would be easier to remove the carb, so I did. What a pain! Hope I can get it all back together. There are two electrical connections which I guess operate a solenoid at the carb? How do you take the connections apart? I don't want to destroy them. Also, is there a handy PDF on re-installing the carb? Thanks to Biggie Rat for a helpful fone conversation earlier today. The reed area is a oily mess. Plugged up various openings.

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tractornut
quote:
Originally posted by JohnFornaro
Well. Thinking that it would be easier to remove the carb, so I did. What a pain! Hope I can get it all back together. There are two electrical connections which I guess operate a solenoid at the carb? How do you take the connections apart? I don't want to destroy them. Also, is there a handy PDF on re-installing the carb? Thanks to Biggie Rat for a helpful fone conversation earlier today. The reed area is a oily mess. Plugged up various openings.
The connectors just pull apart, that is the fuel cut-off solenoid. While your at it unscrew the solenoid and take the carb bowl off and see if theres any dirt in there.

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JohnFornaro
Thanks. I left them attached for the moment, and just dragged them out of the way. Got the valve beather cover off yesterday. There's a thin, blued metal "reed" which covers a hole, the theory being that the vacuum of the carb lifts the reed sufficiently to relieve the crankcase. There's a baffle system in there which looks to be designed to create air turbulence and stop the oil from being sucked up. There's a tiny hole which the collected oil is supposed to drain thru. A 1/16" drill bit will fit thru the hole, but the oil drips back one teeny drip at a time. It's this small so that it doesn't act as the vacuum opening, which is about 3/8" diameter, the same as the rubber breathing tube. The 3/8" hole on the gasket is at the opposite end of the breather hole, yet another technique to stop oil and limit the flow to crankcase gas. Clearly oil is coming in faster than it's draining. Also, the drip hole is in the front, so that it will collect oil under extensive uphill driving. Extended uphill driving, which I do, has not been a problem so far. I will replace the reed, but there's nothing I can do about the hole. Perhaps it was clogged, and my drill bit cleaned it out. It occurred to me tho, what is the likelihood of there being excessive oil pressure in the crankcase. Is there a clogging point in the pressurized oil system? This would explain why too much oil is being spurted thru the system. Not sure what the next step should be. Will purchase a new "reed", I guess. Now not pleased with the Triad, don't necessarily trust the Kohler design pholosophy either. I need this tractor, and now it is inoperable. Putting the carb and bracket and all back will be a nightmare, especially that teeny weeny spring which I bent. What do they have, gnomes on the factory floor assembling these things? The Kohler repair manual is long on grainy photographs and short on troubleshooting or detailed info. One of my pet peeves is that American manufacutrer's don't really care about repairability. They just change the design of various mechanical items for the sake of change. The owner, by trial and error, or by $50/hour repair technicians, is on his own. And God forbid that the equipment is more than a year old.

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Al
HI, I would check the Rubber donut under the valley cover. If this is leaking or cracked it will air to enter the crankcase every time a piston goes up and every time a piston comes down it will blow the excess air (and oil vapor) out the breather into the carb. Any air leak into the crankcase will create the breather blowing oil problem. The dipstick not being seated can cause this as can excessive blow by from pistons. This donut seals the bottom side of the valley cover to the block. Al Eden

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