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Certainly also possibilities... with an unknown history anything's possible, but I'd first check that the engine is within proper mechanical tolerances. Dig deeper from there.
 

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Welcome to the site!

Good luck with the problem. I'm a single cylinder Kohler guy that just got my first diesel.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
Start motor and put a infrared thermo on exhaust pipes and see if big diff. Can have fire but have a valve lift problem with no compression. Also you can spray water on pipes to see if same temp.
I like this one. I'll try this too. Still trying to find time for this. Lots of fires in the world today that need putting out.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
I just bought an infra-red thermometer on a lark the other day, so - awesome. The front left cylinder is much cooler than the right. When I spun it up to full throttle and removed the spark plug wire ( getting a fun little tingle at the same time ) the engine pitch didn't change.

EDIT: When I removed the other one the engine died.

The left cylinder isn't firing. Explains why it smells "rich", the fuel/air is getting pumped right out the exhaust. I put an inline spark testor in and am getting a spark on the new plug.

So next thing is to pull the head and check the valve clearance and function, yes?

Hey, one quick thing - this community is awesome. I feel really welcome here. Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter #26
K - Valve clearances were fine ( ish ). I put the compression tester on the cylinder - 150 PSI on the functioning one, Zero ( 0 ) on the non-functioning one. I guess I'm tearing it down.

Good opportunity to teach my 12 year old how an engine works. Can't let her get too much taller without some basic understanding.
 

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K - Valve clearances were fine ( ish ). I put the compression tester on the cylinder - 150 PSI on the functioning one, Zero ( 0 ) on the non-functioning one. I guess I'm tearing it down.

Good opportunity to teach my 12 year old how an engine works. Can't let her get too much taller without some basic understanding.
Update? If a valve was sticking open you can normally tell by looking at the rocker arms.


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Discussion Starter #28
@Trentofdestiny - Thanks for following up. I've been meaning to get back to this, but so many projects and so much financial drama surrounding Covid-19.......

The valves looked okay. They are moving and appear to be sealing up the cylinder head as designed.

The oil is super liquidy and grey. I suspect the piston rings, but don't have a flywheel puller ( which is where I got stopped and haven't restarted ). I'm also going to need a full rebuild kit to get the engine sealed up.

Any advice on a decent flywheel puller and where to get the rebuild kit for this engine?
 

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@Trentofdestiny - Thanks for following up. I've been meaning to get back to this, but so many projects and so much financial drama surrounding Covid-19.......

The valves looked okay. They are moving and appear to be sealing up the cylinder head as designed.

The oil is super liquidy and grey. I suspect the piston rings, but don't have a flywheel puller ( which is where I got stopped and haven't restarted ). I'm also going to need a full rebuild kit to get the engine sealed up.

Any advice on a decent flywheel puller and where to get the rebuild kit for this engine?
For pulling the flywheel, I would use the pry and hammer method.

As for piston rings, I doubt they are the cause. I would hazard a guess you have a broken connecting rod. Does the piston move?


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Discussion Starter #30
For pulling the flywheel, I would use the pry and hammer method.

As for piston rings, I doubt they are the cause. I would hazard a guess you have a broken connecting rod. Does the piston move?


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I believe the piston moves ( I'll check when I get back ), but it seems to me that the fuel is getting "compressed" into the crank case which is causing the oil to get a thin grey liquid consistency.

Any other ideas ( beyond piston rings ) as to how the fuel is getting from the piston to the crank case?
 

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maybe a valve head broke off and poked a hole in the piston?
 

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I believe the piston moves ( I'll check when I get back ), but it seems to me that the fuel is getting "compressed" into the crank case which is causing the oil to get a thin grey liquid consistency.

Any other ideas ( beyond piston rings ) as to how the fuel is getting from the piston to the crank case?
Low compression could be caused by rings but you have absolutely none so it would have to be a hole in the piston or the rings are just missing (obviously they are not).

Does the oil smell like fuel? Normally fuel in the oil does not cause the grey color, but aluminum from the connecting rod would.

I believe since the cylinder is not firing (from lack of compression) the fuel will wash the oil off the cylinder walls and get into the crankcase so that is probably just a symptom.


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Discussion Starter #33
Okay - When I turn the flywheel there is no motion on the piston. So I guess I take it all the way down to see how bad the damage inside the crank case is.
 

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Okay - When I turn the flywheel there is no motion on the piston. So I guess I take it all the way down to see how bad the damage inside the crank case is.
Dang! I'm sorry to hear that. You can fix it, but taking it apart is probably going to be more of just an educational journey. Aluminum pieces big and small everywhere, us mechanics call that "glitter in the oil". May cause something else to fail after repair because of inadequate cleaning inside the engine.

Realistically, go on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace and find another Briggs vanguard or another gt235 that's been sitting. Or a part-out.

As far as price, under $200 I would consider okay. Seems like the whole tractor goes for less than just the engine. Use the carb from the engine you have, it's already working and you don't have to clean the "new" one.


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Discussion Starter #35
Unfortunately I'm in Hawaii where getting a dead GT235 shipped would cost more than a new mower. I'm working on this with my daughter ( 12 ) so we'll go ahead and take it all the way down, clean it till it shines and put it back together.

In the meantime I bought a Cub Cadet ZT1 to mow and it seems to be doing the job. Would be nice to have this one back together tho. It is cluttering up the shop.

In other news - the Craftsman M230 I use for touch-up ( with another Briggs and Stratton engine ) failed. The blower fan self-destructed and it overheated before I noticed. Now it pings and clicks.

I think I'm going to stick to Honda motors in the future. Not really impressed with the Briggs and Stratton.
 

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Okay. The engine in your M230 is built to meet a price point. Some people think they are junk. Anything will last if it is maintained, even a Predator engine.

The Briggs Vanguard V-Twin is built in Japan by a joint venture with Daihatsu, who are owned by Toyota. They are a very good engine, but at the same time are susceptible to lubrications problems like you have, caused by low/dirty oil, or blown head gaskets from overfilling the oil or overheating (normally from mouse nests).

If you plan to fix the broken connecting rod, it is about $30. The sump gasket has been redesigned to not get hard and leak. You should also replace the PTO oil seal, and if you want to be OCD, the governor shaft seal.

Muriatic acid can be applied to the rod journal to remove aluminum from the steel crankshaft. There are videos on YouTube on this. It would also really help to have a parts washer like a shop would have, and not just cans of brake cleaner and a drain pan, like in my garage.

The piston and rings should be okay, unless there is damage from the rod pieces hitting it.

Fortunately the rod doesn't normally go through the side of the engine block. Look for scoring on the upper and lower crankshaft bearings, camshaft and bearings. All the bearings are part of the aluminum (connecting rods, engine block, engine sump) so if one is scored, the engine will still run, but will not last a very long time.


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