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post #1 of 18 Old 06-10-2013, 07:34 PM Thread Starter
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Kohler Courage Pro (SV735-0016) engine problems

I'm posting about my chain of events with a 2007 Sears Craftsman DGS 6500 garden tractor with the 26 hp Kohler Courage Pro (PS-SV735-0016) engine with approx 304 hours total since new. While cutting tall grass, the engine bogged down after 30 minutes of cutting as if grass was collecting under the 54" mower deck... but there was actually very little (if any) grass under the mower deck. I was able to cut another 50 feet or so... and then the engine quit completely. Other than a gradual loss of engine rpm, I didn't hear any abnormal sounds coming from the engine.

After pushing the tractor into my garage, I check the oil level which was normal but noticed it was very black (eg. the oil was only changed approx 3 hours ago with 2 quarts of 10-30W plus a new oil filter). Then I started a top down disassembly of the Kohler Courage Pro engine. After pulling the fly-wheel, I noticed a build-up of dirt in the area between the fly wheel magnets and the stator magnets which comprise the 15 amp alternator. In brushing out the dirt, I saw small chunks of magnets... and scored magnets inside the circumference of the fly wheel along with some damaged magnets on the stator. When I tried to turn the engine crank, I simply couldn't. So I'm surmising that maybe the internal oil pump failed... leading to a loss of oil pressure... then the pistons seized and the crank moved from it's center position causing the flywheel to spin off center damaging the stator magnets.

I feel like this engine is/was damaged beyond repair so I ordered a replacement which is now the SV735-3022-SD (26hp Courage Twin Vertical - 1 1/8" diameter x 4 3/8" length shaft). So I'm wondering what caused my engine oil to become so black (so fast) resulting in this engine failure?

Last edited by ascorbate; 06-10-2013 at 07:40 PM.
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post #2 of 18 Old 06-10-2013, 10:08 PM
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Re: Kohler Courage Pro (SV735-0016) engine problems

My guess would be, the engine was running on 1 cylinder....possibly due to an ignition problem or a valve, or piston issue...? Broken rod?

THe oil being dark 3hrs after a change...not uncommon, parts get deposits on them and stain new oil.

Broken magnets, also very common..its more uncommon to NOT find broken magnets.

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post #3 of 18 Old 06-11-2013, 12:15 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Kohler Courage Pro (SV735-0016) engine problems

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Originally Posted by ascorbate View Post
I'm posting about my chain of events with a 2007 Sears Craftsman DGS 6500 garden tractor with the 26 hp Kohler Courage Pro (PS-SV735-0016) engine with approx 304 hours total since new. While cutting tall grass, the engine bogged down after 30 minutes of cutting as if grass was collecting under the 54" mower deck... but there was actually very little (if any) grass under the mower deck. I was able to cut another 50 feet or so... and then the engine quit completely. Other than a gradual loss of engine rpm, I didn't hear any abnormal sounds coming from the engine.

After pushing the tractor into my garage, I check the oil level which was normal but noticed it was very black (eg. the oil was only changed approx 3 hours ago with 2 quarts of 10-30W plus a new oil filter). Then I started a top down disassembly of the Kohler Courage Pro engine. After pulling the fly-wheel, I noticed a build-up of dirt in the area between the fly wheel magnets and the stator magnets which comprise the 15 amp alternator. In brushing out the dirt, I saw small chunks of magnets... and scored magnets inside the circumference of the fly wheel along with some damaged magnets on the stator. When I tried to turn the engine crank, I simply couldn't. So I'm surmising that maybe the internal oil pump failed... leading to a loss of oil pressure... then the pistons seized and the crank moved from it's center position causing the flywheel to spin off center damaging the stator magnets.

I feel like this engine is/was damaged beyond repair so I ordered a replacement which is now the SV735-3022-SD (26hp Courage Twin Vertical - 1 1/8" diameter x 4 3/8" length shaft). So I'm wondering what caused my engine oil to become so black (so fast) resulting in this engine failure?
Spent the evening tearing the Kohler engine apart. Found a few metal shavings in the bottom of the oil pan which seems to match up with a slight gouge in the bottom oil pan housing where the crankshaft exits the oil pan. Noticed that the internal oil pump was very hard to turn by hand. Cam shaft and valve train looked fine. After further tear-down, I was left with two seized but intact pistons including two intact connecting rods that were still connected to the crankshaft. Could not budge either piston nor the turn the crankshaft one iota. Decided to turned the engine upside down so that I could pour oil into the bottom of both pistons... and will let it set overnight.

IMO: I'm thinking the oil pump went up first, the pistons then seized... one seizing before the other (such that the engine went from 2500 rpm to zero in milliseconds) which could have caused the crankshaft to momentarily jerk from its center... gouging a divot in the bottom of the oil pan housing thru which the crankshaft exits. This momentary jerk also coincided with the flywheel on the other end moving from its center damaging the stator.
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post #4 of 18 Old 06-11-2013, 12:27 AM
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Re: Kohler Courage Pro (SV735-0016) engine problems

Ughhh..Sorry to hear about your problem.

This is the exact engine / tractor i have. Im at 170 hrs and was hoping to get over 500.

Any preventative measures i can take?

Other than , oil / filter / fuel filter change.?


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post #5 of 18 Old 06-11-2013, 12:42 AM
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Re: Kohler Courage Pro (SV735-0016) engine problems

I've torn down a more than a few seized Kohler Courage engines in the last couple years, and here's what I usually find: The top (flywheel side) crankshaft bearing is usually the first to go when something goes wrong. The oil pumps can fail on these engines, but it isn't as common as you may think. Even a good oil pump may turn a bit stiff by hand. The damaged flywheel magnets are, as you suspect, a result of the bearing failure, not a cause. When the upper crank bearing started to go out, the flwheel tilted to one side and the stator and magnets collided, causing the damage you see. Same may be true with the pistons...collateral damage. What makes me suspicious is the fact that both rods were fine. Most lack-of-lube failures cause damage to one or both connecting rods. Although, since the top main crank bearing is so far from the oil pump, it could also have locked-up before the Big Ends got hot enough to start transferring metal if the oil pump did indeed fail.

In my opinion, while an oil pump failure may have sure enough brought the engine down, there is another very deadly possibility, which few people realize is even there....

Your electric PTO clutch may have destroyed your engine.

Sound crazy? Let me explain. The PTO clutch is, of course, just a big electromagnet. It requires a constant 12V power supply and a good ground to operate, and it draws several amps of power during normal operation. Warner Electric had a problem with some of their clutches developing minor internal shorts a few years ago...right around the time your tractor was built. What would happen is the short would create a ground fault in the clutch. It wasn't bad enough to blow the fuse, but it would cause some of the power normally used to operate the clutch to fail to return to ground through the usual ground wire. Instead, the clutch would attempt to ground itself through another path of lesser resistance: The engine's crankshaft.

Stray electrical current travelling through the crankshaft would find its way to ground from the crank to the block by arcing across the engine's upper main bearing. It didn't take long for this constant arc to cook all the oil out of the bearing surfaces faster than the pump could replinish it, essentially welding the crankshaft and block together at the upper bearing. I've had a couple of these engines weld themselves together so tightly that not even repeated blows with a 5lb sledgehammer would dislodge the crankshaft.

Strange enough for ya? I know it sounds far-fetched, but I've personally seen 5 or 6 Courage engines die this way. Take your clutch off and bring it to the bench. Get a spare 12V battery and hook the clutch to it using jumper wires, so that the clutch snaps and stays 'ON' when you attach the cables. Now, grab an electical multimeter and put one lead to ground against the clutch's shell. Take the other lead, and touch it to the inner bearing surface in the top of the clutch. If your meter picks up ANY voltage, you have found your engine's killer. The clutch should be electrically neutral at the top (and bottom, for that matter) bearings.

Hope that helps! Good luck getting it going again.

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Last edited by Poke; 06-11-2013 at 12:51 AM.
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post #6 of 18 Old 06-11-2013, 08:10 AM
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Thumbs up Re: Kohler Courage Pro (SV735-0016) engine problems

Interesting Poke..


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post #7 of 18 Old 06-11-2013, 11:07 AM
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Re: Kohler Courage Pro (SV735-0016) engine problems

Your pistons and cylinders are probably fine- they're the last thing to seize on a 4-stroke engine that's run out of oil. Look for a seized bearing(s).
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post #8 of 18 Old 06-11-2013, 11:49 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Kohler Courage Pro (SV735-0016) engine problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poke View Post
I've torn down a more than a few seized Kohler Courage engines in the last couple years, and here's what I usually find: The top (flywheel side) crankshaft bearing is usually the first to go when something goes wrong. The oil pumps can fail on these engines, but it isn't as common as you may think. Even a good oil pump may turn a bit stiff by hand. The damaged flywheel magnets are, as you suspect, a result of the bearing failure, not a cause. When the upper crank bearing started to go out, the flwheel tilted to one side and the stator and magnets collided, causing the damage you see. Same may be true with the pistons...collateral damage. What makes me suspicious is the fact that both rods were fine. Most lack-of-lube failures cause damage to one or both connecting rods. Although, since the top main crank bearing is so far from the oil pump, it could also have locked-up before the Big Ends got hot enough to start transferring metal if the oil pump did indeed fail.

In my opinion, while an oil pump failure may have sure enough brought the engine down, there is another very deadly possibility, which few people realize is even there....

Your electric PTO clutch may have destroyed your engine.

Sound crazy? Let me explain. The PTO clutch is, of course, just a big electromagnet. It requires a constant 12V power supply and a good ground to operate, and it draws several amps of power during normal operation. Warner Electric had a problem with some of their clutches developing minor internal shorts a few years ago...right around the time your tractor was built. What would happen is the short would create a ground fault in the clutch. It wasn't bad enough to blow the fuse, but it would cause some of the power normally used to operate the clutch to fail to return to ground through the usual ground wire. Instead, the clutch would attempt to ground itself through another path of lesser resistance: The engine's crankshaft.

Stray electrical current travelling through the crankshaft would find its way to ground from the crank to the block by arcing across the engine's upper main bearing. It didn't take long for this constant arc to cook all the oil out of the bearing surfaces faster than the pump could replinish it, essentially welding the crankshaft and block together at the upper bearing. I've had a couple of these engines weld themselves together so tightly that not even repeated blows with a 5lb sledgehammer would dislodge the crankshaft.

Strange enough for ya? I know it sounds far-fetched, but I've personally seen 5 or 6 Courage engines die this way. Take your clutch off and bring it to the bench. Get a spare 12V battery and hook the clutch to it using jumper wires, so that the clutch snaps and stays 'ON' when you attach the cables. Now, grab an electical multimeter and put one lead to ground against the clutch's shell. Take the other lead, and touch it to the inner bearing surface in the top of the clutch. If your meter picks up ANY voltage, you have found your engine's killer. The clutch should be electrically neutral at the top (and bottom, for that matter) bearings.

Hope that helps! Good luck getting it going again.

Interesting, let me also add that I recently had to replace the PTO switch that engages the PTO clutch attached to the engine shaft. About a week ago, I was just mowing normally... and the mower quit all of a sudden. Using a multi-meter, I determined that 12.5 volts was coming into the PTO switch but was not switching over to another contact (upon activation - pulling up on the PTO switch to engage) to deliver voltage to the PTO clutch. Purchased a new PTO switch and I was mowing again in short order. Your observation leads me to believe that maybe the PTO clutch shorted my PTO switch first... and then helped accelerate the chain of events (eg. cooked the oil in my upper crankshaft bearing which essentially welded the crankshaft to the upper block housing).

Also, during disassembly, I found that the 20 amp fuse (on the ignition side) was fried... I thought it was related to the flywheel contacting the stator when the crankshaft jerked off center... but maybe not!

Your observations don't really sound so strange!
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post #9 of 18 Old 06-11-2013, 12:51 PM
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Re: Kohler Courage Pro (SV735-0016) engine problems

The PTO clutch is, of course, just a big electromagnet. It requires a constant 12V power supply and a good ground to operate, and it draws several amps of power during normal operation. Warner Electric had a problem with some of their clutches developing minor internal shorts a few years ago...right around the time your tractor was built. What would happen is the short would create a ground fault in the clutch. It wasn't bad enough to blow the fuse, but it would cause some of the power normally used to operate the clutch to fail to return to ground through the usual ground wire. Instead, the clutch would attempt to ground itself through another path of lesser resistance: The engine's crankshaft.

Stray electrical current travelling through the crankshaft would find its way to ground from the crank to the block by arcing across the engine's upper main bearing. It didn't take long for this constant arc to cook all the oil out of the bearing surfaces faster than the pump could replinish it, essentially welding the crankshaft and block together at the upper bearing. I've had a couple of these engines weld themselves together so tightly that not even repeated blows with a 5lb sledgehammer would dislodge the crankshaft.


Bravo! Whether the issue is the same as what you determined, kudos for discovering, let alone thinking about the potential (pardon the pun) for the issue to exist. Great electro-mechanical forensic work!
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post #10 of 18 Old 06-11-2013, 03:10 PM
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Re: Kohler Courage Pro (SV735-0016) engine problems

A cou ple manufacturers released service bulletins about the clutches cooking the bushings, but up to this point ive only ever seen them cook the PTO clutch bearings, and only a couple times, 4-5 years ago.

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post #11 of 18 Old 06-11-2013, 10:37 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Kohler Courage Pro (SV735-0016) engine problems

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A cou ple manufacturers released service bulletins about the clutches cooking the bushings, but up to this point ive only ever seen them cook the PTO clutch bearings, and only a couple times, 4-5 years ago.
I am able to slightly move both connecting rods independently along the length of the crankshaft. When I try to move the crankshaft (given this slight movement available with both connecting rods), it is immovable which directly indicates that the crankshaft and upper oil pan housing are now welded together as one unit.

Question: Is there really a bearing sitting between the crankshaft and the upper oil pan housing or is the upper oil pan housing also serving as a bearing where it surrounds the crankshaft as it exits the housing? I ask because I removed the rubber seal on top... and I cannot really ascertain if a bearing is in there or not... I'm thinking not!

Also, when testing the electric clutch, a black and red wire travel down to a disconnect which connects with two blue wires going to the top of the electric clutch. Does polarity matter when I connect either one of these blue wires to a 12 volt source to test for stray electric voltage? Also, because you seem to indicate that there could be a short in the electric clutch... if I'm using a battery to test, should I be concerned about how this short might harm the battery... and/or me?
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post #12 of 18 Old 06-12-2013, 07:56 PM
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Re: Kohler Courage Pro (SV735-0016) engine problems

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I am able to slightly move both connecting rods independently along the length of the crankshaft. When I try to move the crankshaft (given this slight movement available with both connecting rods), it is immovable which directly indicates that the crankshaft and upper oil pan housing are now welded together as one unit.

Question: Is there really a bearing sitting between the crankshaft and the upper oil pan housing or is the upper oil pan housing also serving as a bearing where it surrounds the crankshaft as it exits the housing? I ask because I removed the rubber seal on top... and I cannot really ascertain if a bearing is in there or not... I'm thinking not!

Also, when testing the electric clutch, a black and red wire travel down to a disconnect which connects with two blue wires going to the top of the electric clutch. Does polarity matter when I connect either one of these blue wires to a 12 volt source to test for stray electric voltage? Also, because you seem to indicate that there could be a short in the electric clutch... if I'm using a battery to test, should I be concerned about how this short might harm the battery... and/or me?
These modern Kohler engines (as well as most others in use today) use "plain" bearings for both ends of the crankshaft. The crankshaft simply rides in a machined bearing journal cast into the block. There is an oil feed hole in the bearing journal to deliver oil to the bearing. When the engine is running, the oil pump supplies oil to these bearing surfaces, and the crankshaft basically "hydroplanes" on a thin layer of oil in between the crank and bearing surface. The only thing preventing metal on metal contact in this type of bearing is the oil film in between the crank and block. As soon as the oil film disappears for any length of time, damage to the bearing surface is going to occur.

As for the clutch question, polarity does not matter. Generally, a red wire is going to carry power, while green, white, or blue serves as a ground. But PTO clutches are not sensitive to directional current flow; they will work either way. Hence the reason for both lead wires on the clutch being the same color, with no polarity markings. The electromagnetic coil in the clutch is simply comprised of one very long wire, with the power and ground connections to the clutch located at each respective end. An electromagnet will work regardless of which way the current flows through it.

I've never been zapped while testing or working with a clutch. While the 12 volt battery in a tractor has more than enough juice to cause damage, the worst that will probably happen to you is a burn if you accidentally touch the two jumper wires together while testing the clutch. If this happens, the wires will melt and cause a burn...not shock you like a loose spark plug wire. These thin 14-18 AWG wires can't carry enough amperage to cause more than a tingle. At least that's my experience. I'm not an electrical engineer (if I was, I'd quit being a mechanic and go make some big bucks!), but that's my take on it. Test confidently. Just be careful. Short of dropping a wrench between the positive and negative terminals of the battery (pardon the pun!), you won't be seeing any fireworks and should be able to keep your eyebrows intact.

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post #13 of 18 Old 06-13-2013, 12:18 AM
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Re: Kohler Courage Pro (SV735-0016) engine problems

Worst Ive gotten from a battery was installing one while it was raining, My arm was resting on the seat spring, and i was tightening the positive terminal...the key was on, and i felt an uncomfortable tickle, but it was like...dang that was not pleaseant....nothing bad.

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post #14 of 18 Old 06-13-2013, 10:18 AM
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Re: Kohler Courage Pro (SV735-0016) engine problems

I've dropped !!one!!! wrench that contacted + and ground at the same time. Wow, it got hot fast. But I also learned DO NOT carry 9-volt batteries in your pants pocket along with change. If a coin connects the two poles, it gets warm very fast too.
Never had a jolt from 12 volt systems. That's why I was pondering how the PTO clutch 'short' to ground, or 'what ever', could cause a bearing failure. Especially a 'plain bearing'. If you have a full hydro bearing with the 'wave' formed, with the engine at rpm, there should be NO CONTACT for the juice to travel. It would have to travel through the oil. I didn't think the oil would conduct, given it is used as an insulator in transformers. Now, if the oil were 'metal filled' with shavings, powdered bearing material, or other conductive 'junk' you could get some flow, but at what amperage? It would seem the charging system, or the battery would have to give up a pretty good flow of juice to cause funny damage. Is it possible the magnetic field or flux of the stator/ignition/what-ever that is under the flywheel is causing the oil to be repelled? I am not sure I buy the PTO thing just yet, but then I've been called contrary for a reason...
Why would the Kohler have this problem and not others? I don't know Courage Pro, but thought it was a re-named Command. If it is a Courage, I'm not sure that the failures have any relation at all to PTO clutch problems. There is some mix of fluids and magnetic particles that can form a solid when juice is passed through it. High end GM shocks & struts can be filled with this stuff to allow multiple 'settings' for the shock stiffness in jounce & rebound. Rhyolite comes to mind, but my spelling is worth bupkus.
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post #15 of 18 Old 06-17-2013, 11:41 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Kohler Courage Pro (SV735-0016) engine problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by ascorbate View Post
Interesting, let me also add that I recently had to replace the PTO switch that engages the PTO clutch attached to the engine shaft. About a week ago, I was just mowing normally... and the mower quit all of a sudden. Using a multi-meter, I determined that 12.5 volts was coming into the PTO switch but was not switching over to another contact (upon activation - pulling up on the PTO switch to engage) to deliver voltage to the PTO clutch. Purchased a new PTO switch and I was mowing again in short order. Your observation leads me to believe that maybe the PTO clutch shorted my PTO switch first... and then helped accelerate the chain of events (eg. cooked the oil in my upper crankshaft bearing which essentially welded the crankshaft to the upper block housing).

Also, during disassembly, I found that the 20 amp fuse (on the ignition side) was fried... I thought it was related to the flywheel contacting the stator when the crankshaft jerked off center... but maybe not!

Your observations don't really sound so strange!
Installed a new SV735-3022-SD (26hp Courage Twin Vertical - 1 1/8" diameter x 4 3/8" length shaft) on my Sears Craftsman DGS 6500 this past weekend. Not so bad considering I've never done this before. Re-installing the 4 bolts (from the bottom up) which hold the engine to the tractor frame was probably the hardest part. It wasn't easy to ascertain if I might have been cross-threading these 4 bolts upon initial installation... and the last few turns were pretty hard. Total time to uninstall the old engine and re-install the new engine was approx 3 hours. New 26 hp engine plus new electric clutch came in at just under $1K. I can only imagine what the Sears repairman would have charged for: 1) the new engine, and 2) the labor to uninstall/re-install the engine. In that case, I'm surmising it might have been cheaper to buy a new tractor... just saying.

For those who might benefit, manuals for the DGS 6500 tractor and the Kohler Courage Pro engine are available online at:

Model #917287462 Craftsman Tractor
http://www.searspartsdirect.com/part...462.x917287462

Model #SV735-3022 Kohler Engine
http://www.searspartsdirect.com/part...2/0598/1503500

Last edited by ascorbate; 06-17-2013 at 11:59 AM.
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