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Al

Worst I have seen in 35 years

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Al




Hi, I have been an outdoor power dealer for 35 years, Simplicity for 32. I have also worked as a mechanic in the auto and tractor business part time since 1956. We had a Grasshopper come in last summer that was missing. It had a bent push rod but was still running. We checked the crankshaft radial and axial play and determined the only practical repair was a short block and head rework. We had put a new Vangard in this unit about 4 years ago. I was amazed at how loose the crankshaft was. The customer determined not to spend any more money on it and we bought it. I ordered a new short block for it and we tore it down Friday. Remember this unit was still running on one cylinder when it came in. My right hand guy Todd pulled the drain plug and practically nothing came out. Next he pulled the blower housing off and it was had a lot of grass in it packed around the cylinders, but when the unit came in, the flywheel screen was packed with grass also. We cleaned it right away even before checking the push rod. When Todd pulled the closure plate,he came in my office and said, Al come out here, you HAVE to see this. There was practically no oil in the crankcase and the unit had been running so hot that the oil was solidified like butter or lard. It was as the pics show about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches deep. when the oil was full there was only about 1/4 to 1/2 inch on the sludge. When you look in the crankcase, the open area in the front is where the oil pump pickup (on the closure plate) was in the crankcase. Note the oil filter and how blue the main bearing is. The pump must still have been getting a little oil through a channel in the sludge. Remember it still ran. This is the worst example of overheating damage I have ever seen. The next worst was the following. Several years ago we sold a new Briggs engine (opposed twin) to a person and in this application we asked 200.00 to install it. they picked it up and about 2 weeks later, I got a call and they wanted to know why when they drained the oil for the first 5 hour change, it came out lumpy like gun grease. I told them I would need to look at it. They said they would change the oil and mow then bring it over. A week later, they called and said it had blown up and they wanted me to order them a new engine under warranty. I explained that it didn't work that way. We would need to pull the engine out and find the cause of failure and then, our Briggs rep would come and look it and either approve or refuse the warranty. If it was warranty, Briggs would pay us to remove and replace it. If it was not warranty the labor charge would be theirs. They brought the unit over. We removed the engine and drained the oil, lumpy like gun grease. When we got the engine out, we found the problem. The original engine was a twin with the flywheel with the fins cast in and the flat blower housing. The new engine was an E series engine with the smooth flywheel and the plastic fins bolted on. The result was the blower housing extended out 1 1/2 inch further (just like the later Vangards vs the flat housing ones.) The grasshopper has a rectangular intake stake that goes up to duct the air into the engine. The new engine won't fit without putting the old original flywheel on and original blower housing. Then there is a booster fan that connects the drive shaft. They had taken the engine to a guy working in his garage at night because he would install it for $100.00 instead of our $200.00. He left the plastic fan off and put the old blower housing on with the booster fan behind it. The engine ran so hot that when we took it out it was straw or gold colored even on the sump. The gold color indicates the aluminum had reached between 450 and 500 degrees where the aluminum takes on a gold colored cast. The oil as I said had turned almost to gun grease type lumps and the engine blew with less than 10 hours running. NO WARRANTY. The guy that put it in had no insurance and no money. I and the Briggs rep had to create a cause of failure statement and they sued him for the 1350 for the engine plus the 100. They got a judgment, but no money. You can't get blood out of a turnip. Had we put the engine in we would have had to stand it. Either me or the insurance company. This was the worst example I had seen of heating damage until the Vangard Friday. If anybody has any examples like this, please show them. Al Eden




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D-17_Dave
Wish I had taken some pics of way back when. Around near 10 years ago my brother took in a job swapping an engine on a burnt tobacco harvester. Back when we were a dealer for the the local manufacturer. Now he makes these harvesters. Anyway we had the long block with everything outside of the head and block burnt/melted to debris. We kept the engine for the insurance company for several years in case they wanted to inspect it. This engine was a John Deere turbo'ed 4 cyl. I think a 4.5 Tech model. Anyway, 5 years later I was at a Deere rep meeting and inquired if they had any engines damaged setting around with complete outer hardware. For a couple hundred bucks we got a complete engine with a big hole in the block from a rod ventilation. I proceeded to combine these 2 engines into one. Upon tearing into the busted block engine I discovered an engine with less than 3000 hrs on it thathad ran at full rpm a water pump and never serviced. The oil had become so contaminated that once it reached critical temp from friction that it cooked the oil into the same gel you see in Al's post above. There litterally was 6" of black jello in the pan. This stuff sure makes a mess trying to clean up, but does burn well in the shop heater. I have seen well worn engines not serviced glaze the cyl's enough to push so much compresion into the crank case that they exhaust the remaining liquid out of the crank case vent locking the engine up. But I didn't get to see inside these engines when removed from service.

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rm
thanks for sharing this story. this is why its good to spend an hour or two going through your machine. to make sure it will perform the way it should. i remove myengine covers once a year and clean and wash. before the mowing season. and make sure the screen is clean for the cooling fins.

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RUMBLEFISH
My father is law is a great guy but thinks that oil changes are all just corp. greed. He has blown up 3 cars in the last 20 years due to engine sludge. He and my mother in law are now working on a Ford Taurus with 32,000 miles and 2003 Town Car with 98,000 miles and no oil changes. His motto is run it till it blows then buy new.8)

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SmilinSam
Al, I had one in the last 15 years that had the oil and the inside of the engine looking like the one you posted above. It was a kohler K301 in a Cub Cadet 1250. I posted pictures on this site a number of years ago, but lost them all when my picture hosting service died. It ran when I pulled it into the shop but smoked, so I was going to pull it apart and part it out. I went to drain the oil in it and only about half a pint or less came out. I pulled the pan and it fell to the floor with a thud. the rest of the sump was filled with what looked like the pics above. Its was more like solidified silicone sealer than oil. The dipper had a trough cut into it, otherwise the whole cavity was a solid mass. Tried scraping it, but you had to cut it with a razor to get it out . finally gave up and just threw the pan away. Always wondered what caused that to happen? You are saying heat is the cause?

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BLT
When walk behind mowers were still affordable repairs, I had 'reliable' customers come in and complain about their 3-1/2HP Briggs engine that could be barely turned over or seized. Fist question was did it have oil? "Oh yah" was the answer and when I removed the plug you could see where they very carefully added make up oil to cover up the scorched stuff.

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jasper
Had a lady bring in a 6.75 Briggs on a Crapsman self propelled two years ago. She said she could not get it started and the city was on her to mower her lawn or they would do it and put a lean on the house. Said her husband had died and she was unable to start the mower and want me to have a look at it. When I pulled the stick out of it to check the gravy it had on long strand of cooked old oil that went all the way back into the pan. I pulled the shroud and found enough chaff to start a mill! This thing was full. So took the sump off and cleaned it all up and surprisingly it was not trashed inside. It had some scratching and scuffing but not junk. The old woman did not have any money and was upset that her mow need anything other than a spark plug....and she reminded me of my Grandmother! So (Dumb[img]/club2//attach/UCD/censored.gif[/img] me) I cleaned it all up reassembled it and sharpened the bald, new filter, Plug, cleaned the carb. and it started right up and ran great! I called her and she came and got it FOR FREE!!!! About a week goes by and she pulls back in the parking lot and says you worked on my mower and it won't start now! I chuckled and ask to see her receipt! I said I would take one more look at it but if she keeps coming back I would be out of business soon. I take it in the back and the bottom of the deck looks like someone had polished it to almost a shine and the head gasket was blown and the plastic air filter housing/primer had warped so badly it would not prime and under the shroud was full of chaff again! I repair it again for free and told her she might want to try cutting the grass at the highest setting first then lower it a little and cut again.......she says I did! Hahaha Lesson learned! That oil was like what you have posted here Al. Just nasty!!!!

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Brettw
quote:
So (Dumb me) I cleaned it all up reassembled it and sharpened the bald, new filter, Plug, cleaned the carb. and it started right up and ran great! I called her and she came and got it FOR FREE!!!!
Always remember, no good deed goes unpunished. }:)

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rs07
I was at my local dealer recently. I usually stick my head in the shop to see what's going on. They had a portable generator come in like that. The owner ran it outside and covered it up with some sort of a plastic tarp so no rain would get into it while it was running. Not thinking that the engine needs air to cool itself. The engine ran so hot the oil looked like tar. Needless to say, the engine was cooked. Can't remember whether they were going to do a shortblock or a whole new engine on it. I believe the owner wanted it fixed.

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toomanytractors
These stories remind me of the '85 Ranger I bought in '90 from a salvage auto dealer--"needs right door glass and windshield..." the ad says. A friend delivered it to me on a trailer and when I started it the engine was rattling with almost no oil pressure.. Change oil and filter first and no improvement. Kept investigating and found a spun cam bearing that fed oil to rockers on the right side, same rocker shaft worn badly , no rod or main bearings left, a spot smaller than a dime on the oil pickup screen and all kinds of sludge inside everywhere. Couldn't understand how this thing got so bad in 70'000 miles until while working on it a week or so later I happened to notice the oil filter sitting upside down on the drain bucket. Wait a minute----the only way you get a gray Motorcraft oil filter is when the engine is painted at the factory before it's put in the truck!! Happy ending--repaired all that was needed, made a top oiler for the right side and drove for a few years with no problems. And,Rumblefish My father-in-law was just like yours. Couldn't understand how I could afford synthetic oil when he could buy oil for .59 a quart. I saw him destroy three engines in a row by trying to run that crap 10 or15 thousand miles.

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Al
Hi, We sometimes donate some help to someone in real need. If I get to the point that I can't help someone that is down and out, my life has failed. This don't mean I can carry everybody that is short of money. But I live in a small town 5000 and people that are really down and out through no fault of their own, I feel a moral obligation to help. When our house was severely damaged by flood in 08, there were so many people here to help us, many that we didn't even know. How can you ever thank them. One can only do for others in like manner. I feel this is part of the dues one pays to live in this country and our local community. We also do work for the city and school. Regular shop work we bill normally, but things like taking the fork lift and helping put up a new scoreboard and things like that we never charge for. I know I won't die really rich monetarily, but when I die, I don't want anyone to be able say I ever wasn't honest or fair in a deal and didn't treat someone well. I respect your helping this lady. A rich life is more than money. Al Eden

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MPH
Nice pictures Al. Thanks Worked with a guy a few years ago who's favorite daying was : You just can't fix stupid. Back in my early days of this place I run a 2kw generator with an 8hp briggs. Used to pull it in the front door at nite so I could pull it out to use in the morning at -50 or -60 or whatever nature threw at me. Blew one up the first winter because the oil looked like Al's pics, except it froze to the Alm block,WHILE RUNNING. Covered with a cardboard box after that in the extreme cold.

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acfarmer
When I was collecting old farm tractors I saw some abused engines but nothing compared to what people can figure out to do with L&G equipment.Really the biggest cause of engine failure I see is failure to pull the dipstick.On a side note I use Kendall 15-40W Fleet Oil which is up to diesel engine standards in all my engines and rarely have a problem,but as you note nothing will save an air cooled engine that can't get airflow.

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jasper
Thank you Al that means a lot coming from you! I would much rather be accused of being gullible or foolish than unapproachable or harsh. I give regularly back the to community I live in and not one of my immediate neighbors want for things I can help with. I don't want to give the impression this lady turned me off to charity.....just leaves a bad taste. Thanks again for the kind words!

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MysTiK
Thanx to Al for another excellent technical article. I have never seen those horrible results; but lots of people are seemingly unaware of the need for oil changes and other basic maintenance; it's hard, more like impossible, to change other people. Some just don't know, lack the information, and innocently just do what they do. These emotional stories and the ideas of giving back, and what goes around comes around are pretty cool. And also, the same stories can come into play with small local businesses having a hard time. It's nice to give, but sometimes people don't quite get it - yet. Other times, the small give comes back tenfold. A lot of this is amazing and beyond control - things just happen. It all balances out somehow - I give to you, you give to someone else, another person gives to me. And so what goes around comes around. There are reasons and processes in all of it. Reality is a harsh teacher at times. It is also not a popular notion especially when surrounded by those who seek comfort in unrelated imaginary realities. Sometimes, it's just bite the bullet. Other times, the lesson is softened. Other times the marvelous beauty of the human spirit shines through. The dark side - beware the snake in the grass who will use it all against you. That too is just a harsh teacher. It is often difficult to discern the truth, and to act in the best manner. Often, a lot of it is only visible in hindsight, or through recurrence. It's a fine line balance between sanity and insanity, genuine emotion and sick codependency, genuine appeal vs manipulation. Some can't say "No". Others lack authority to do the smallest thing. Others just run on faith. Sometimes I just sit and watch. Sometimes I offer a few words. It might seem safer to say nothing. An illustration of the real hurricane might not be too popular. Reality is a harsh teacher; especially when there is no interest in learning, or when there is a predisposition to self-pity, fear, or other results of abuse. With others, it's a clean, genuine sincerity. Somehow, the human race survives; but there can be many casualties in undeclared war. Most of it is symbolic of either the big picture, or the little tiny picture. It's all the same; and it's that which comes and goes for our learning. There are only so many opportunities; and I wonder if I ever really learned any of it, because the opposite is always true also. It requires time, and busy people kept busy don't have time to really experience anything. So we hear, "stop and smell the roses" - and "check the oil". Discernment is our greatest asset if we are willing to be shown, or listen to what comes, or see the invisible truth. But once you see the "sticky mess", you can't deny that. Clean it, move on; it's a whole new scene. And you know, still, the process of life continues. For me, today is a personal, special day; and this is my little gift to myself, and anyone else. The dream continues. Thanks for your contribution.

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1Litre
I had a KT in a 7117 with 10W40 in it do the same thing. Customer sucked up a paper shop towel and it was stuck inside the frame and slowly schredded on the rotating screen. It eventually blocked the screen and some of the cooling fins on the cylinder head. The rods welded to the crankshaft from lack of oil . There was the proper amount of oil in the engine . It was so stiff I could stab a screw driver into it and it stayed there. I took pictures of it and sent it to Kohler so they could teach about oil and cooling. They returned the pictures and thanked me but informed me that they had examples like this already. They did say to remind the customer that 10W40 is not a recomended grade of oil and is more likely to do this than the 30W that should be used in summer temps.

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