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Kohler KT19 crank blown out - literally

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Yes, I found the seal on the ground when I stopped the tractor to check what the heck was causing all the noise and oil mist! It done blown out!

Today when snow blowing I noticed a light ticking noise coming from the tractor, then this noise got worse and I started smell/see oil 'vapor' coming from the engine. This tick noise was noticeable at first when I was standing away from the tractor but when sitting in the seat it was masked by 'normal' noise. Seemed odd but I kept on until it was obvious something was wrong. And that's when I stopped and found a bad leak and the front crank seal on the ground. Luckily there was still oil to the bottom of the dip stick.

Some back story:

This fall when doing leaf pick up with the cyclone rake I noticed a pretty bad oil leak up front. This was odd because it was previously clean. I kinda forget about it and next time I use the tractor for a 10 minute snow blower test there is a ton of oil dripping from the front. So I search on this site for crank seal replacement and I learn that breathers can get plugged etc, and this matches what the Kohler Service manual says.

So per the manual it says to build a water manometer and check crank case vacuum, so I do that and follow their procedure for checking and get 12.5". Kohler says it should be 15-20". I was happy to just have vacuum since this is an old tractor. Better yet the oil leak seemed to go away so I wrote the problem off as having a loose fill cap... Next couple times I used it there was only a small leak from the front of the motor but nothing that I would think was bad for an engine this old. Until today..

Compression is at the low end of good, Kohler says 90 PSI and I'm at 90 and 92.

Where to go from here? Problem is intermittent. I was avoiding checking the breather because it looks like I have to remove some rusty exhaust manifold studs to get to it. Obviously I need to put a new crank seal in it but it is pretty clear the seal isn't at fault. What was the ticking sound? Anyone 'been there before' that can save me 10 hours of scratching my head?


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Not including the ticking noise, I faced the same issues with my KT19 Series 2 for several years. Oil up in the air filter, oil oozing from the front crank seal, and a nasty backfire if I didn't let the tractor run at idle for about a minute before shutting down. I changed the breather, tried rerouting the breather hose, reset the front crank seal, replaced the front crank seal, etc.

Finally this Summer I pulled the engine, deglazed the cylinders, had a valve job done (resurface the valve faces and install/ream new valve guides), and installed new rings.

What a difference. No backfiring, no oil seepage, no oil in the air filter, in other words, AWESOME.

In my opinion, well worth the $250 spent.


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I also have an ocassional backfire when shutting down but my filter is bone dry (just checked). I dont mind spending the money to freshen it up if it gets me another 20 years of life. Problem is i need it for snow right now and i already have another engine in the shop tore down :-/

Thanks for the feedback guys i think ill start with the breather and a new seal and see if the tick noise is still there.

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The exhaust shield blocks the breather from removal, and it is held with the rusty nuts on the exhaust manifold studs. I don't have an oxy acetylene torch but I do have propane which can never get hot enough to get a nut to glow but it does seam to work more often than not. But in this case the studs were pretty rusty and I was assuming not, so I was just about able to go for broke and see what happens when I had a new idea... I used my TIG welder to heat the nuts up. Worked like a charm! Used a 1/8" tungsten with a ball on the end to make the heat less direct.

So I got it apart and observed that it does have the 'mushroom valve' looking online the breather assembly with reed valve is $20. Going to get gaskets, the filter, and the hose as well from Jackssmallengines.com, around $50 in parts.

But I'm not able to look up what crank seal I need. It is the front seal that popped out. Anyone know the PN or where I can find it? I even called jack's and they are unable to look it up saying that the KT19 is "out of service".

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So I got the new parts in then immediately took it out side and put it too work since we got 14" of snow in the past 24 hours and I have a 1/4 mile lane plus driveway to clear! So far it has ran flawlessly.dOd <fingers crossed>

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