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Proud Wheel Horse Owner
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello fellow "MTD" Cub Cadet owners!:howdy:

Thought I'd share this little tidbit in case it helps someone in the future.

Recently purchase an LT1045 with the Kohler Courage 20hp engine. Owner was selling it because the battery was old and wouldn't crank the engine over....at least that's the story he was slinging.

Got it home, charged the battery, and sure enough, it wouldn't crank the engine over. Did a load test on the battery and it failed.

Installed a new battery, same problem: The starter would engage the flywheel and spin the engine about 1/4-1/2 a turn, and then stop turning, as if the battery was dead.

Jumped the battery using my Suburban, same scenario.

Jumped from the Suburban's battery directly to the Kohler engine block (with the black ground jumper cable, and the to the starter itself (with the red jumper cable) and same scenario.

Engine cranked over great with the spark plug out, and with the spark plug installed, the engine could be rotated by hand.....so I knew the engine wasn't locked up.

Did the typical ohm and voltage tests and had good ground and good voltage.......plus, using jumper cables from my 'burb didn't solve the problem, so I knew it wasn't in the tractor's wiring.

So........must be the starter, right? I've worked on a ton of riding mowers and no matter how old and thrashed they were, I've never seen a bad starter. But still, it was sure looking like a bad starter.

Fast forward to today, and the arrival of a new Kohler starter from ebay. Popped it in, and sure enough...........NO CHANGE:crybaby:

Added some extra ground cables just for kicks and it cranked over for real for about 3 rotations and then back to being locked up. Tried the jumper cable trick again, no change.

So then it dawned on me.......wonder if this thing is sucking in a load of air and fuel, and then the exhaust valve isn't opening, and it's just sort of hydraulically locking up the engine with a cylinder full of air pressure.

Pulled off the valve cover to find that the nutted stud that holds the rocker arm to the cylinder head had backed itself completely out of the cylinder head. Needless to say, the rocker arm was so far away from the pushrod that the exhaust valve wasn't being depressed.

Tighted that stud back into the head fully, hit the starter and the engine cranked over normal and fired in about 2 seconds:fing32:

Put the old starter back on, and of course it's fine. (Anyone want a good deal on a brand new Kohler starter?

I've been spinning wrenches a long time, and this is the first time I've ever seen something like this. Hope my little adventure saves someone some time and frustration.....and the price of a $79 starter.
 

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Great diagnostic work. Excellent tip! Thank you.
 

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I like sticktuitivness! You had the "courage" to keep on it and now you get your reward.
 

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Proud Wheel Horse Owner
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3,213 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the kind words guys. Got the deck back on it yesterday after sharpening the blades, and knocking the blade shafts out of the spindles in order to remove the mile of red twine that the previous owner apparently "mowed" through. Then I pressure greased all 3 spindles.

Mowed my neighbors postage stamp of a yard, and it ran and mowed fine.

What kind of engine oil do you guys like in these Kohler 20's? 30wt ok? 20w/50 better?
 

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oh, yeah - got 2 or 3 of them T-shirts..... :)

Thanks for sharing - may save some other poor soul the pain.
 

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My Orange Jane Deere
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:thanku: for sharing that.:thThumbsU
 

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I use 10w30 in mine. I put synthetic in it after 50 hours.
 

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Very solid troubleshooting you've done there - I too applaud your perseverance!

This is a common problem with the Courage single cylinder engines. Some are worse than others. Any drop in cranking power (from something as simple as a weak battery to a weak starter or poor connections) results in about a 1/2 a turn of the engine, and that's it. The older techs in the shop have mentioned that the Courage single cylinder engines have always cranked harder, due to the compression release mechanism not functioning as well as it should.

After hearing that, I realized that every Courage single cylinder engine I'd worked on had the problem - You really have to hold that starter on sometimes and make it work for its money. This is why, in my opinion, I am seeing so many starter failures on these units.

I recently had an LTX1050 come back to the shop because it wouldn't crank over. I checked voltage at the battery and starter, turned the engine over by hand, and then pulled the starter. The pinion gear on the starter had seized to the shaft. Lubed it up, reinstalled, charged the battery - and then barely, just BARELY, would it turn over. Curious, I tried to fire up the LTX1040 next to me with the same engine - EXACT same thing. That engine really is a hard cranker to start with. The exhaust valve nut backing off I'd say is a rare circumstance, but it's a good thing to note, as the Courages need all the help they can get in this area.

As for oil, we use 10w-30 in all of our Kohlers, regardless of what family they belong to.

Keep an eye on that oil level as well. The Courages also have a problem with oil leaks at the valve cover. I've seen too many engines with low hours come in smoking like a freight train and be almost empty of oil in the crankcase.
 

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Proud Wheel Horse Owner
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the advice on the oil!

Thought I'd share another update.

Was doing another test mow/run last Thurs when it backfired twice, died, and wouldn't restart. Cranked like it had no compression and there was a nice clinking sound from inside the crankcase. I figured it probably broke the connecting rod, or the end of the rod fell off due to rod cap bolts that either broke, or vibrated loose.

Pulled the top cover off the engine and found that the hook end of the compression release lever spring had broken off, and the curved part of the lever had apparently smacked back and forth so much/so hard, that it had snapped off the curved plastic "rest" that's molded into the big plastic exhaust cam gear's face.

Figured that since both cam gears are the same, but the intake side doesn't use the compression release components, I'd just swap the gears and make a new spring.

While I was in there, I drained and mopped up all the oil in order to check for broken parts laying in the bottom, and find that broken curved plastic "rest" piece. Glad I did, because I found some curious pieces of round steel. Like a little steel disc that had broken up.

Anyway, 50 cents (for a spring a the hardware store) later, it was back together, but still cranked like there was no compression......which there wasn't. Pulled the valve cover to find the exhaust valve loose, it's spring just sort of laying there, the top spring seat all blown out in the center and missing pieces ( the pieces I'd found in the crankcase) and the C shaped valve stem keeper snapped in half. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!!!

Removed the spring, held the ex. valve closed, cranked 'er over, and still had no compression. So, I knew it was either a bent valve, or a holed piston. Removed the head and sure enough, the valve head was bent. Piston was fine.

I've got the valve stem keeper, spring seat, new head gasket, and new valve cover gasket on order and they should be here tomorrow.

Not real impressed with how this Courage engine is built.

BTW, a little tip on the leaking valve cover gasket. On cork gaskets, I like to use Permatex Aviation Form-A-Gasket. It's that liquidy brown stuff in the little white jar. Build an engine with this product on all your gaskets (except the head gasket of course) and you'll have a leak free engine. You can even reuse gaskets with it. I like "Hylomar" too, but the Permatex Aviation is my mainstay.

And a comment on your hard to start Courage engines. I wonder if the compression release lever spring is broken in them. That spring keeps the exhaust valve held slightly open during initial cranking, until she fires and the cam gear spins so fast that centrifical force on the lever overcomes the spring tension and the lever swings out and then rests against that plastic "rest" on the gear face. I could see that if the spring was broken, as soon as you start cranking, the lever will swing out, and cause the exhaust valve to seal tightly.....thus ramping up the compression on that huge piston, and nearly stopping the starter completely. Be fun to pop the lid off one of those engines and see. I can't believe how thin and week the spring is. Talk about a failure point!
 

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The Courage Twin OHVs aren't so bad, but the Courage Single OHVs.....ugh. I agree, not very well designed. They are a price-point build (well, what isn't nowadays, I guess), but I think that they still could have put a little more effort into making the engine quieter, smoother, and less prone to problems. There's also the problem that they have with the counterbalance weights as well.

It would be fun to pop off the cap on one of the Courage Singles. Maybe I'll get a customer who just can't stand the hard-crank issue and I'll get a warranty excuse to get in there.

Oh, and thanks, by the way for giving us the in depth low-down on what steps you took throughout the whole process. There are a TON of these engines out there, and I guarantee that someone else will encounter such issues as well.
 

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Proud Wheel Horse Owner
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The parts arrived and I finally got a chance to put it all back together. Pretty straight forward. Even adjusted the intake and exhaust valves (spec. is .003"-.005").

The head gasket kit (I only ordered a headgasket and valve cover gasket, but received the whole gasket kit with new head bolts) came with new carb base plate gaskets. That wound up being a good thing because with new base plate gaskets the engine no longer runs with a lean surge at idle to mid throttle. It's got a nice smooth meaty idle, like you'd expect from a big single. That was a happy improvement, because my next bit of work was going to be to strip down the carb for a thorough clean.

End result, it starts right up, runs like normal with now weird noises, and has a smooth transition from idle to full throttle.
 

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Right on! Way to tackle the problem head on. :)
 

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Proud Wheel Horse Owner
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Logged a little time in the seat today. Started and ran great, and mowed like it owned the place. So far so good.

I like the automatic with the motion pedal. Really allows a person to zip around effortlessly.

And on another good note, sold that new starter on ebay today, so that takes a bit of the sting off my mis-diagnosis.
 

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Logged a little time in the seat today. Started and ran great, and mowed like it owned the place. So far so good.

I like the automatic with the motion pedal. Really allows a person to zip around effortlessly.

And on another good note, sold that new starter on ebay today, so that takes a bit of the sting off my mis-diagnosis.


Yes--maybe not a MIS-diagnois--but a learning curve...you came out of this on the higher side , for sure--:fing32: A good thing--

Thanks for the knowledge!!

glenn
 

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austinado16 - even though your initial post was about 5 years ago, it just saved me a bunch of time and money. My Cub LT1042 had the EXACT same symptoms and sure enough, the rocker arm was loose just like you described. Without your post, I wouldn't have had a clue what to do and probably would have bought a snowblower to get me through the winter so I wish there was a way for me to buy you a beer because you just saved me several hundred beers.

Thanks for taking the time to post and best of luck in the new year!

Cheers,

websta
 

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Hello fellow "MTD" Cub Cadet owners!:howdy:

Thought I'd share this little tidbit in case it helps someone in the future.

Recently purchase an LT1045 with the Kohler Courage 20hp engine. Owner was selling it because the battery was old and wouldn't crank the engine over....at least that's the story he was slinging.

Got it home, charged the battery, and sure enough, it wouldn't crank the engine over. Did a load test on the battery and it failed.

Installed a new battery, same problem: The starter would engage the flywheel and spin the engine about 1/4-1/2 a turn, and then stop turning, as if the battery was dead.

Jumped the battery using my Suburban, same scenario.

Jumped from the Suburban's battery directly to the Kohler engine block (with the black ground jumper cable, and the to the starter itself (with the red jumper cable) and same scenario.

Engine cranked over great with the spark plug out, and with the spark plug installed, the engine could be rotated by hand.....so I knew the engine wasn't locked up.

Did the typical ohm and voltage tests and had good ground and good voltage.......plus, using jumper cables from my 'burb didn't solve the problem, so I knew it wasn't in the tractor's wiring.

So........must be the starter, right? I've worked on a ton of riding mowers and no matter how old and thrashed they were, I've never seen a bad starter. But still, it was sure looking like a bad starter.

Fast forward to today, and the arrival of a new Kohler starter from ebay. Popped it in, and sure enough...........NO CHANGE:crybaby:

Added some extra ground cables just for kicks and it cranked over for real for about 3 rotations and then back to being locked up. Tried the jumper cable trick again, no change.

So then it dawned on me.......wonder if this thing is sucking in a load of air and fuel, and then the exhaust valve isn't opening, and it's just sort of hydraulically locking up the engine with a cylinder full of air pressure.

Pulled off the valve cover to find that the nutted stud that holds the rocker arm to the cylinder head had backed itself completely out of the cylinder head. Needless to say, the rocker arm was so far away from the pushrod that the exhaust valve wasn't being depressed.

Tighted that stud back into the head fully, hit the starter and the engine cranked over normal and fired in about 2 seconds:fing32:

Put the old starter back on, and of course it's fine. (Anyone want a good deal on a brand new Kohler starter?

I've been spinning wrenches a long time, and this is the first time I've ever seen something like this. Hope my little adventure saves someone some time and frustration.....and the price of a $79 starter.
How do you rule out if it is a bad solenoid??
 

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just fyi, this is a 3 year old thread, and austinado16 hasn't logged into the site since 2016. Maybe make a new thread with your question?
 

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Just getting the valve cover on ( with the goofy muffler bracket/mount = vibration = VERY bad idea ) with out it leaking a month later is a feat in itself .
 

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Hello fellow "MTD" Cub Cadet owners!:howdy:

Thought I'd share this little tidbit in case it helps someone in the future.

Recently purchase an LT1045 with the Kohler Courage 20hp engine. Owner was selling it because the battery was old and wouldn't crank the engine over....at least that's the story he was slinging.

Got it home, charged the battery, and sure enough, it wouldn't crank the engine over. Did a load test on the battery and it failed.

Installed a new battery, same problem: The starter would engage the flywheel and spin the engine about 1/4-1/2 a turn, and then stop turning, as if the battery was dead.

Jumped the battery using my Suburban, same scenario.

Jumped from the Suburban's battery directly to the Kohler engine block (with the black ground jumper cable, and the to the starter itself (with the red jumper cable) and same scenario.

Engine cranked over great with the spark plug out, and with the spark plug installed, the engine could be rotated by hand.....so I knew the engine wasn't locked up.

Did the typical ohm and voltage tests and had good ground and good voltage.......plus, using jumper cables from my 'burb didn't solve the problem, so I knew it wasn't in the tractor's wiring.

So........must be the starter, right? I've worked on a ton of riding mowers and no matter how old and thrashed they were, I've never seen a bad starter. But still, it was sure looking like a bad starter.

Fast forward to today, and the arrival of a new Kohler starter from ebay. Popped it in, and sure enough...........NO CHANGE:crybaby:

Added some extra ground cables just for kicks and it cranked over for real for about 3 rotations and then back to being locked up. Tried the jumper cable trick again, no change.

So then it dawned on me.......wonder if this thing is sucking in a load of air and fuel, and then the exhaust valve isn't opening, and it's just sort of hydraulically locking up the engine with a cylinder full of air pressure.

Pulled off the valve cover to find that the nutted stud that holds the rocker arm to the cylinder head had backed itself completely out of the cylinder head. Needless to say, the rocker arm was so far away from the pushrod that the exhaust valve wasn't being depressed.

Tighted that stud back into the head fully, hit the starter and the engine cranked over normal and fired in about 2 seconds:fing32:

Put the old starter back on, and of course it's fine. (Anyone want a good deal on a brand new Kohler starter?

I've been spinning wrenches a long time, and this is the first time I've ever seen something like this. Hope my little adventure saves someone some time and frustration.....and the price of a $79 starter.
Can you tell me the steps you took to fix this?
 
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