How to manually turn over Kawasaki engine on a 170 / troubleshoot a "bad motor" - MyTractorForum.com - The Friendliest Tractor Forum and Best Place for Tractor Information
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post #1 of 23 Old 07-05-2019, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
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How to manually turn over Kawasaki engine on a 170 / troubleshoot a "bad motor"

Hello,
I recently picked up an older John Deere 170 and have really enjoyed using it.

The other day I found a second 170 off craigslist for $100 that was advertised as having a "bad engine". I picked it up as a spare parts machine since cosmetically it was in GREAT condition and came with a mowing deck and grass bagger. The guy I bought the craigslist mower from had accepted the 170 on trade and didn't know the backstory on the engine. Since it was missing the battery he never even tried to crank it over, and just accepted that it had issues with the engine and decided to sell it.

I'm curious what exactly is wrong with the mower, and would like to start troubleshooting by trying to rotate the engine / turn it over by hand. If this was a harley it'd be easy; I'd simply jack the rear wheel a few inches off the ground and spin the rear wheel (with the transmission engaged) to rotate the motor. Similarly, with cars you usually rotate the pistons in the engine by slipping a socket over the main pulley bolt. However, I'm not sure how to do it on the Kawasaki motor on my JD 170. Is it as simple as rotating the drive belt pulley underneath the engine? Or would the PTO clutch have to be engaged (and thus the motor running) before the drive pulley engages and turns in conjunction with the engine?

Just eyeballing it the mower looks to be in great condition, but no telling what's going on inside the engine. The only thing that jumped out at me when I was looking it over is that it had WAY too much oil installed. If I can verify that the piston will rotate in the engine my plan is to drain the oil to the proper level, move the battery over from my running lawn tractor, and see what happens when I try and start the craigslist "bad" 170.

Anything I'm missing or should be doing differently? Anything else I should be considering?

Thanks for the help!
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post #2 of 23 Old 07-05-2019, 05:41 PM
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Re: How to manually turn over Kawasaki engine on a 170 / troubleshoot a "bad motor"

Pull the spark plug, pull the air cooling intake screens and use a socket on the flywheel nut to see if it will turn. If it does without odd clunks or really stiff spots, you just might have fallen into an extremely good deal. Keep us posted please!!

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post #3 of 23 Old 07-05-2019, 05:42 PM
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Re: How to manually turn over Kawasaki engine on a 170 / troubleshoot a "bad motor"

Can you access the flywheel directly enough to allow turning it by hand? With the spark plug removed, since you're not fighting compression, you should be able to turn the flywheel manually. Having the plug pulled before turning it may not be a bad idea anyhow, in case the cylinder is hydro-locked, due to the overfilled oil. If the piston moves, perhaps you could use jumper cables, to the 170's battery leads? If not fighting compression, at least, maybe you could at least get the electric starter to turn it over, without having to move batteries around.
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post #4 of 23 Old 07-05-2019, 05:55 PM
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Re: How to manually turn over Kawasaki engine on a 170 / troubleshoot a "bad motor"

If you can get it to roll over, without issues, the "bad engine" might be as simple as a clogged up carb. Keeping fingers crossed for you.

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post #5 of 23 Old 07-05-2019, 06:44 PM
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Re: How to manually turn over Kawasaki engine on a 170 / troubleshoot a "bad motor"

If the engine is not locked up, you should be able to remove the spark plug and rotate the fan shroud by hand.
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post #6 of 23 Old 07-05-2019, 08:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgayman View Post
If the engine is not locked up, you should be able to remove the spark plug and rotate the fan shroud by hand.
Yep, beat me to the punch.
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post #7 of 23 Old 07-05-2019, 09:24 PM
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Re: How to manually turn over Kawasaki engine on a 170 / troubleshoot a "bad motor"

Any results yet? (Yes, I am the impatient type).

My "honey-do list" is so long it has chapters.
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post #8 of 23 Old 07-05-2019, 09:34 PM
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Re: How to manually turn over Kawasaki engine on a 170 / troubleshoot a "bad motor"

If it's got WAY Too Much OIL in it, smell the oil on the dipstick to see if it's full of gas. Over time, my 175 with this same 14HP Kawasaki allowed the fuel to pass thru the carb (with no fuel shutoff solenoid) and it filled the oil pan. That locked up the motor such that it would not turn over.
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post #9 of 23 Old 07-06-2019, 09:03 AM
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Re: How to manually turn over Kawasaki engine on a 170 / troubleshoot a "bad motor"

Yes , you need to drain the oil down first. Then if the oil is super thin and smells of gasoline then don't run the motor for more than a few seconds until you change the oil [ and filter if it has one ].

There is a bolt that holds the PTO clutch on. Probably a 14 to 17 mm head. You can turn the motor that way without doing any disassembly. Then if the motor is not locked up and makes no bad noises when turning by wrench and seems to have compression then I would throw a batt in the unit and check for spark. If it has spark I would dribble some gas down the carb throat and hit the key. If it fires up and makes no bad sounds I would change the oil and rebuild the carb.
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post #10 of 23 Old 07-06-2019, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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Re: How to manually turn over Kawasaki engine on a 170 / troubleshoot a "bad motor"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alien5044 View Post
Pull the spark plug, pull the air cooling intake screens and use a socket on the flywheel nut to see if it will turn.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgayman View Post
If the engine is not locked up, you should be able to remove the spark plug and rotate the fan shroud by hand.

Awesome, that's just what I needed to get started. With the air intake screen off (and the spark plug removed) I was able to manually rotate the engine with the fan shroud. The sparkplug was black, and had a very light sheen of oil on it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by NYKen View Post
If it's got WAY Too Much OIL in it, smell the oil on the dipstick to see if it's full of gas. Over time, my 175 with this same 14HP Kawasaki allowed the fuel to pass thru the carb (with no fuel shutoff solenoid) and it filled the oil pan. That locked up the motor such that it would not turn over.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rayjay View Post
Yes , you need to drain the oil down first. Then if the oil is super thin and smells of gasoline then don't run the motor for more than a few seconds until you change the oil [ and filter if it has one ].
I didn't notice any smell of gasoline in the oil. I pulled the floatbowl on the carb to look for any fouling or contaminants, but everything looked good. Then I drained the oil level to the appropriate level. Finally, I moved the battery over and started it up.

The good news: it started immediately with no hesitation (with the choke engaged) and the engine idle speed responded appropriately when I adjusted the throttle lever.

The bad news: a LOT of blueish smoke kicked out of the exhaust. Also, I felt like I could faintly hear a high-pitched metallic "tinging" sound coming from the top end of the engine. But, maybe it's because I was hyper focused on the motor. I let the mower run for approximately 20 seconds and then shut it off.

So, clearly the engine is burning oil. Any ideas what would be causing that? Bad rings on the pistons? Anything else I can do to help diagnose the issue without tearing into the engine?
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post #11 of 23 Old 07-06-2019, 03:00 PM
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I would think that if you only drained the oil to the proper level that the oil might be too thin and able too push past the rings. I would not be quick to condemn that engine without first changing the oil and filter.

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post #12 of 23 Old 07-06-2019, 03:07 PM
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Re: How to manually turn over Kawasaki engine on a 170 / troubleshoot a "bad motor"

With the engine overfilled with oil, oil may (??) have worked it's way into the cylinder(s). Start & run for 10-15 minutes at 1/2 throttle. This will get the engine to operating temperature. If you still have "blue exhaust", probably bad rings or maybe just clogged crankcase breather. As far as rings, they could also be seized from sitting. Any clue how long the engine sat after PO said it was "bad"? A little Seam-Foam in some fresh oil won't hurt either! Bob
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post #13 of 23 Old 07-06-2019, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Re: How to manually turn over Kawasaki engine on a 170 / troubleshoot a "bad motor"

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Originally Posted by kklowell View Post
I would not be quick to condemn that engine without first changing the oil and filter.
Well, a filter and some oil is pretty inexpensive so I don't have much to lose.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rwmeyer View Post
With the engine overfilled with oil, oil may (??) have worked it's way into the cylinder(s). Start & run for 10-15 minutes at 1/2 throttle. This will get the engine to operating temperature. If you still have "blue exhaust", probably bad rings or maybe just clogged crankcase breather. As far as rings, they could also be seized from sitting. Any clue how long the engine sat after PO said it was "bad"? A little Seam-Foam in some fresh oil won't hurt either! Bob
Unfortunately I have no way of knowing how long the motor sat. I keep SeaFoam around and generally speaking put a few tablespoons in with each tank of gas to keep the carb from gumming up (a carryover from my time with carbureted motorcycles). I've never experimented with SeaFoam in the engine, but some of the youtube videos show some impressive results on old tired engines. How much do your recommend to use?
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post #14 of 23 Old 07-06-2019, 04:31 PM
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Re: How to manually turn over Kawasaki engine on a 170 / troubleshoot a "bad motor"

Another vote for an oil change, and running it again.

If the rings are stuck (probably too early to tell), I think I've heard you might get lucky with pouring some penetrating oil, etc, into the plug hole. Though that probably works better on an engine with a vertical piston, so the oil can sit on the piston, in the cylinder, to soak into the rings.

I haven't really put Seafoam into the crankcase oil, so not sure how much you're supposed to use.

I'd consider your results encouraging so far, and I also wouldn't write the engine off just yet.
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post #15 of 23 Old 07-06-2019, 04:55 PM
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Re: How to manually turn over Kawasaki engine on a 170 / troubleshoot a "bad motor"

The muffler is probably got a lot of oil in it from the high oil level putting oil past the rings. I would change the oil and filter and either just cut grass for a few hours or maybe pull the muffler and flush it out with mineral spirits and let it dry in the sun. Then reinstall and see if the "oil burning" is gone.
Look inside the air filter area / carb inlet area under the air filter and see if there are dirt deposits.
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