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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,

Got what I think may or may not be an issue with my 2186's Kohler. 18HP, built around 2001. Almost 250hrs on the clock. I'm second owner, bought it with 169hrs on it.

I notice that the engine is quiet when it's cold, but after running it at WOT for about 15mins or so, it develops a slight tapping noise, present at all speeds. It's not excessive, but when I open the hood to blow out the debris after each use the valve noise is definitely noticeable. I considered that it might be air getting into the lifters from foamy oil or from oil level being too high. I've used a cheap Tractor Supply Synthetic 10-30, Rotella 5w-40, and now I have Kohler oil in it. I've not noticed anything that really makes the noise go away. If I let it sit for a few minutes and start it back up, the noise lessens. And of course, if I let it sit till it's cold, the noise is completely gone. It's not getting any worse or any better. I added Seafoam to my oil this time to try and free up the lifters if they were sticky, but that hasn't helped either.

I do notice that my oil has air bubbles in it. I don't know if this is normal, but I have other small engines that don't get quite so much air in the oil. I've had the oil level below full, halfway between add and full, and right at the full mark. Doesn't make a difference.

The thing runs great. Is this something that is just normal for these engines? I did a ton of reading on this and there have been problems with the HLAs on these Commands, but there's no consensus as to what fixes the problem. Some say Kohler Oil. Some say Mobil1. Some say Seafoam. Some say it's not a problem. Others say it is.

I'm confused, school me on this please!

Justin
 

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I have run Seafoam in the crankcase when I have run into very dirty oil to try and chean things up a bit. I only run it long enough to warm it up just before an oil change. I would not be comfortable running it any longer for fear of whiping bearings, and thinning the oil. My guess is it is thinning your oil too much as it warms up. If its still in there I would strongly suggest changing the oil and filter before you get the insides too clean..
 

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OK, I dont have a 18hp. Kohler Command engine. But, I do have a 14hp.twin Vangaurd that once gave me some noise problems. My noise problem sounded like a knocking going on inside the engine. This noise started when I changed the oil filter which was a Briggs and Stratton to a cheeper oil filter which now has a Fram. The knock would be heard at start up untill the enging warmed up. Now, it wont knock at all:dunno:, and is running great:praying:{knock on wood}! I should stick with the factory recomended oil filter which is the Briggs/Stratton oil filter. Would your type of oil filter cause this? Also. valve adjustments may be required and are very easy to do:trink39:. Change the oil and note any metal as a sure sign something is going wrong. Ever take a wooden dowel rod about 1/2" thick x 12" long, hold it to your ear and then onto the running engine to determine where noise is comming from? Sounds silly,eh? :thanku:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The Command has hydraulic lash adjusters, so there's not a manual adjustment for them. I'm running some Seafoam in Kohler 10w-30 Oil now with a Kohler large capacity oil filter. I'll try isolating the noise some more. It seems to be coming from the top end. A Kohler engine rep emailed me back on the issue and suggested that I check oil pressure and make sure its not an exhaust leak (can sometime sound like ticking).

Any other Command owners out there?
 

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Hello

I agree with qub qadet on changing the oil & filter first of all. I would not run Seafoam for an extended period either. Also, Tractor Joe has the right idea about trying to locate the source with a dowel (if you want to get fancy Lisle & KD has stethoscopes as cheap as $15).

Definitely check out the exhaust leak angle, as it is an easy thing to investigate. On my current GT2550 (I have had three Command equipped tractors) I installed the Kohler screw on dipstick upgrade, which requires removal of the muffler. When I did, I found an exhaust trail across the gasket, evidence that the left side flange was leaking. I would suggest taking off the heat shield and tightening the flange nuts. It the ticking goes away, I would follow up with fresh gaskets and hex nuts.

If the exhaust does not fix it, I would pull the valve covers and make sure that 1) the rocker bolts are tight, and then, 2) the pushrods are straight. You are correct that the hydraulic lifters have no adjustment, but there are a number of cases loose rockers and/or pushrods (with resultant damage) reported here on MTF.

After ruling out all of that, I would agree with doing the oil pressure test. If that is OK, then it gets much more difficult from here on out. You could gamble on it being a lifter problem, but you would be spending time and money replacing them without knowing for sure.

Good luck – let us know how it all shakes out.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I liked the exhaust checking idea, so I dove in. Being a 2186, the exhaust setup is different, as is the body paneling.

I was unable to remove the heat shield from the muffler. It is riveted on in some spots, with the muffler encased inside.

Only evidence of a leak I can find was on one of the mounting bolts for the assembly. In the pic below you can see how one of the bolts has some carbon traces on it, while the others do not. I had noticed this even on the outside of the nut that holds the assembly on.



I ran the 2186 without a muffler, grille, or side panels. One thing I can say for sure is that I fell in love with the Command all over again. It really sounds just like a nasty, growly Harley without its muffler attached. I know it would eventually get old, but part of me is trying to think of a way to fab up a new exhaust for it with a high flow muffler that keeps some of that tone! The stock location has everything pointed towards the ground, though, so this might prove difficult.

I tried listening for a ticking noise, but it was difficult. I reattached the muffler for a few seconds to quiet the exhaust down to hear the tick, but that proved to be an exercise in futility. I'd like to say that the noise was gone, but it's hard to say.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
...just an update.....

working on fabbing up a new exhaust on the cheap for my 2186. Think my tick may have been related, but if not, I'll still have a sweet sounding exhaust :)

Pics to come!
 

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I'm doing the same thing with my HDS2165 exhaust.My stock muffler blew out.The 16hp Briggs Vanguard has a 2 into 1 header pipe.It's going to be really easy to rig up my stack after I get my new side panels.

I'm using a Really nice Stainless steel tipped carbon fiber street bike muffler that I had shortened for use on another GT.It sounds Sweet on the Vanguard.Only thing,the fiberglass baffle rap blows glass fiber all over the place.I itch like crazy after running it for a bit.But WOW does it sound SWEET!!!

I think I just have to break the baffle in.I re-wrapped it when I cut it down.It's not blowing as much glass fiber around now as it was when I 1st put it on.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I noticed how the Vanguard's exhaust is different, and I can see how you'd be able to do a sweet stack!

I finally got mine finished! It's not pretty, but it works and sounds awesome. Quiet at idle, but a little louder than stock. I can actually hear the tone of each revolution. At WOT it is louder, about the same level of noise as the 44" deck's operation. Overall, I am very happy. And an added benefit is that as far as I can tell, my ticking noise is gone! Hauled several loads of firewood and mowed some heavy leaves and wet grass with it today and the engine was still whisper quiet as far as ticking and abnormal noises go!

I used a cheap 5.00 muffler for a single cylinder Briggs/Kohler/Tecumseh. For the piping, I used NPT threaded iron pipe, 3/4". Stock exhaust size is 1", so I used a 1" to 3/4" reducer at the Y pipe, had it welded on there. From there on out, it's all threaded pipe, allowing me to change the configuration on the fly quite easily. I modified the stock muffler heat shield assembly and ground the rivets out of it and replaced them with self tappers. The Command sounds like a beast now, but it's not too loud! Have a 6" pipe coming straight down from the reducer to clear the muffler heat shield. After that it is a 90 degree elbow, a 4 1/2 inch straight pipe, and a 45 degree elbow. Muffler screws into the 45, and for now I have it angled upwards as seen below. Total cost including paying for the welding was 22.00, which was great because I was on a real tight budget.

In the pics you can see that the first attempt had the exhaust pointed the opposite direction, that was just the trial run. After that, I dropped it lower and had it exit the opposite side so that I could retain the stock heat shielding. Then I changed the angle of the 45 to have it pointing up and towards the front of the tractor instead up up and towards the operator. :) Thinking about getting a chrome exhaust tip to slide over the muffler to make it a little more presentable.



















I'm sure the flow characteristics could be better, and maybe in the future I'll be able to fab something nicer, after I get my own welder. But for now it sounds great and really did the trick. I was really happy that I was able to also modify the heat shield in order to keep it in place. The whole new exhaust clears the QA lever, bumper, and will clear the bracketry I'm making for the front blade as well (stock outlet location with stock muffler had the exhaust blowing straight onto a brace).
 
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