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I have a 1999 Cub with a single cylinder Kohler Courage engine. This engine has always started hard since it was new. I need help with ideas on what could be wrong. Here are the symptoms:

- When cold, the engine must be cranked over and over a half-minute or more. When cranking, nothing happens, then it finally starts as though nothing was wrong - a little choke stumbling, but same as if it had fired up right away.
- Once started it runs well at speed, power and idle - no misfiring, stuttering or anything - just a good-running engine.
- It always starts...eventually. If the battery is weak, jumping or charging it will crank the engine normally...forever.
- When warm it starts on the first key turn and runs easily.
- air and fuel filters clean.
- It has a manual choke that closes properly and completely, and a throttle that works properly.
- I thought the valves were out of adjustment. I have adjusted them several times and this works for about one cold start cycle and then it's the same thing. Last time I used red loctite on the adjuster screws. no change.
- these have a crankcase-vacuum-operated fuel pump, but it seems the engine would have problems even after it starts if that was defective??
- the fuel tank is under the seat, so it's not gravity fed.
- It has several safety interlocks, but these should not allow it to start at all, right? There is an oil sentry switch.
- It never acts flooded. When it does start, the choke will flood it if I don't pay attention - a perfectly normal condition.

Any thoughts about what to do or where to look?
 

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I have a 1999 Cub with a single cylinder Kohler Courage engine. This engine has always started hard since it was new. I need help with ideas on what could be wrong. Here are the symptoms:

- When cold, the engine must be cranked over and over a half-minute or more. When cranking, nothing happens, then it finally starts as though nothing was wrong - a little choke stumbling, but same as if it had fired up right away.
- Once started it runs well at speed, power and idle - no misfiring, stuttering or anything - just a good-running engine.
- It always starts...eventually. If the battery is weak, jumping or charging it will crank the engine normally...forever.
- When warm it starts on the first key turn and runs easily.
- air and fuel filters clean.
- It has a manual choke that closes properly and completely, and a throttle that works properly.
- I thought the valves were out of adjustment. I have adjusted them several times and this works for about one cold start cycle and then it's the same thing. Last time I used red loctite on the adjuster screws. no change.
- these have a crankcase-vacuum-operated fuel pump, but it seems the engine would have problems even after it starts if that was defective??
- the fuel tank is under the seat, so it's not gravity fed.
- It has several safety interlocks, but these should not allow it to start at all, right? There is an oil sentry switch.
- It never acts flooded. When it does start, the choke will flood it if I don't pay attention - a perfectly normal condition.

Any thoughts about what to do or where to look?
Give it a little shot of starting fluid into carb next time.If it fires right up the choke is not fully closing or the butterfly is not closed off enough.
I have seen many single courages that needed the purple coated screw turned in a few turns to push choke closed tighter.


If not then I would suspect fuel pump losing prime BUT in less than a week the carb should still be full of fuel and start normally and the fast speed and vacuum pulses would put fuel to carb quickly. I have seen fuel pump issues that would fire right up and only run for 15 seconds and then carb bowl runs low and hasn't sucked fuel from tank yet.

I have had several with plugged or restricted lines or gas tank outlet nipples.

Take line off at fuel filter and you should be able to suck fuel easily out of line by mouth. Half the time it runs our even though not gravity design.
I have blown grass, sticks, lady bugs, japanese beetles out of lines in last 2 years alone.

Old cracked slightly air leaking lines to fuel pump will cause it to lose prime after sitting.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Good troubleshooting guide, thanks.

I have figured it is a lack of fuel problem so your sequence looks good. Since it always starts eventually and then runs well, I have been less than diligent in trying to find the trouble. This has been there since the beginning, so I am thinking some fuel tank plastic that partially blocks the line or something like that. I have believed the choke is closing fully but need to check that closely, first!
 

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Good troubleshooting guide, thanks.

I have figured it is a lack of fuel problem so your sequence looks good. Since it always starts eventually and then runs well, I have been less than diligent in trying to find the trouble. This has been there since the beginning, so I am thinking some fuel tank plastic that partially blocks the line or something like that. I have believed the choke is closing fully but need to check that closely, first!
I had one customer that was on his 2nd season with his. He told me he had to take air filter cover off and squirt starting fluid in every time but once he did that it ran like a champ.
I held the tab all the way with my finger and it started right up.

All that cranking is tough on starter...drive mainly.
They are a weak design without a ratcheting bendix. Only metal gear bonded with rubber to the base plate that spools up the spiral shaft as it turns. The rubber (especially early ones before 2007 or so) comes loose and slips and then friction disintegrates it and no more engine spin.
All they need it new gear but hard to find and getting expensive.
The whole starter can be had on ebay for under 36.00 for many/ most models.
 

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My 16hp Kohler single was like this. It would start easliy if I turned it o er in 2-3 10sec blips followed by turning off the key. It'd hit off on the 2nd to 3rd blip. If I just let it turn it'd turn over forever before starting.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
My 16hp Kohler single was like this. It would start easliy if I turned it o er in 2-3 10sec blips followed by turning off the key. It'd hit off on the 2nd to 3rd blip. If I just let it turn it'd turn over forever before starting.
I have tried that in many different sequences but no dice. I'm thinking the choke adjustment is probably the key. I'll report back when I get the chance to try some troubleshooting.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
All that cranking is tough on starter...drive mainly.
They are a weak design without a ratcheting bendix. Only metal gear bonded with rubber to the base plate that spools up the spiral shaft as it turns. The rubber (especially early ones before 2007 or so) comes loose and slips and then friction disintegrates it and no more engine spin.
All they need it new gear but hard to find and getting expensive.
The whole starter can be had on ebay for under 36.00 for many/ most models.
Yep, I've seen the starter :tango_face_smile_bi:tango_face_smile_bi. Mine got saturated with oil from a defective oil sensor switch that sprayed oil all over the engine and had symptoms like a leaky valve cover - oil dripping on exhaust manifold and choking smoking. The starter disk doesn't stick well when it's coated with 10W30. It did clean up and has been working okay since then. Then the last time I had the blower cover off I noticed the starter bolts were loose - no wonder it cranked poorly. Did some loctite on them.

This engine seems to have annoying problems constantly, but it runs really well.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
AFTER FURTHER TESTING:

I have found
- Manual choke is fully closing and has a spring loaded control that holds it shut. There is no adjustment.
- Starting fluid (choke closed)..started up and died immediately. Second try...started up, stumbling out of fuel, then caught and ran.

- Working on fuel system...

---checked for clear lines and filter - all good
---the fuel line comes into top of fuel tank and sucks fuel through a dip tube, so no gravity flow unless it is siphoning.
---I attached a vacuum pump to the fuel line, including the dip tube, to check for leak-down - no leak-down.
---performed a fuel pump test as shown in service manual - it is pumping fuel.
---I took the fuel shutoff solenoid from carb and performed a bench test per service manual - IT'S NOT WORKING and the plunger can't be manually moved.

SOOO....My theory is that the solenoid is stuck partly closed. When a shot of fuel is needed for starting, it blocks flow enough to prevent starting easily, so it's like a cold start with the choke open. Once running there is enough fuel to keep it going. It is weird that the engine runs essentially perfectly - no stumbling, fuel starving, power loss or anything.

I am going shopping for a solenoid to see what happens.
 

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AFTER FURTHER TESTING:

I have found
- Manual choke is fully closing and has a spring loaded control that holds it shut. There is no adjustment.
- Starting fluid (choke closed)..started up and died immediately. Second try...started up, stumbling out of fuel, then caught and ran.

- Working on fuel system...

---checked for clear lines and filter - all good
---the fuel line comes into top of fuel tank and sucks fuel through a dip tube, so no gravity flow unless it is siphoning.
---I attached a vacuum pump to the fuel line, including the dip tube, to check for leak-down - no leak-down.
---performed a fuel pump test as shown in service manual - it is pumping fuel.
---I took the fuel shutoff solenoid from carb and performed a bench test per service manual - IT'S NOT WORKING and the plunger can't be manually moved.

SOOO....My theory is that the solenoid is stuck partly closed. When a shot of fuel is needed for starting, it blocks flow enough to prevent starting easily, so it's like a cold start with the choke open. Once running there is enough fuel to keep it going. It is weird that the engine runs essentially perfectly - no stumbling, fuel starving, power loss or anything.

I am going shopping for a solenoid to see what happens.
nice diagnosis, in the meantime snap off the needle on the solenoid so you can run the tractor & be sure that was the problem....I hate those things.
 

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EBay for the carb solenoid. They are between 8 and $13 shipped. . Locally you can pay $68 for one of them.
 

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I'm impressed that a courage is that old and still running. They must have ruined them later on.
 

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Most of the ones from around 2002-2003 have already self-destructed in blown up. The ones up until 2006 are still running but a lot of them have the bolts quite loose and will be blowing up soon if people don't take out the covers and tighten up the top bolts. I have never seen a single one after 2007 that had loose top cover bolts and there are many still out there running perfectly. It's actually a fairly well designed engine even though I can't stand twin cans because that is a waste. The inverted sumpto is a much better design for leaks and stuff even though lawn mower engines rarely leak at the crankcase seal, and the gasket on the bottom, it's still a much better design to make a soup bowl with no gasket at all that you can actually rebuild the entire engine with it still on the machine.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
nice diagnosis, in the meantime snap off the needle on the solenoid so you can run the tractor & be sure that was the problem....I hate those things.
I shopped locally for a solenoid and no one nearby has one. While checking I thought of your suggestion that would pretty much take care of the problem more or less permanently. I really see no purpose in these shutoffs except to prevent fuel leakage and associated pollution control that is handled anyway by keeping carb systems in good repair. i.e. its overkill.

Actually the "needle" has a rubber button seal on the end so I just popped that off to disable the solenoid. I started the tractor and it was reluctant, but probably because the bowl and fuel line were emptied when working on it. Now that it's running I will try again in the morning to see if it has solved the problem. I am optimistic.

I have said before that I think they call these Kohler Courage engines is because it takes a lot of "courage" to own one:laugh:

Thanks for all the help everyone!
 

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Most of the ones from around 2002-2003 have already self-destructed in blown up. The ones up until 2006 are still running but a lot of them have the bolts quite loose and will be blowing up soon if people don't take out the covers and tighten up the top bolts. I have never seen a single one after 2007 that had loose top cover bolts and there are many still out there running perfectly. It's actually a fairly well designed engine even though I can't stand twin cans because that is a waste. The inverted sumpto is a much better design for leaks and stuff even though lawn mower engines rarely leak at the crankcase seal, and the gasket on the bottom, it's still a much better design to make a soup bowl with no gasket at all that you can actually rebuild the entire engine with it still on the machine.
Did I say it was a 1999 model? Actually it is a 2008 model based on the serial #, so maybe it is not set to self-destruct. I bought this the year before I retired in 2009 - my how time does fly when yer havin' fun!
 

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Did I say it was a 1999 model? Actually it is a 2008 model based on the serial #, so maybe it is not set to self-destruct. I bought this the year before I retired in 2009 - my how time does fly when yer havin' fun!
I was just responding to mowergene's comment that he thought they must have screwed up the newer ones. I have never seen any of them after 2007 with loose top cover bolts so you should be out of the woods and good to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I was just responding to mowergene's comment that he thought they must have screwed up the newer ones. I have never seen any of them after 2007 with loose top cover bolts so you should be out of the woods and good to go.
I have seen lots of comments about how awful the Courage single cylinders are (were?), starting right after I bought the ZTT Cub, of course. I had not heard just why the Courage was problematic and your comment answered that. I'm happy to hear that I might be OK.

I had never looked at any of the tractor forums until I started outfitting that tractor so had not found all the good info available from folks. Now I have several go-to sites that are more than helpful - unless it leads to accumulating more tractors - and it has.
 

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I had never gone to any outdoor power equipment forum or this one until I started repairing mowers as a business. This one seems to have the most information over the past years so when you're searching for a problem you will typically end up on this one fairly quickly. I despise the fact that it's call Tractor and that it looks like a John Deere site with the Greene. I hate the word tractor as far as residential riding mowers go. They should get rid of the garden tractor and lawn tractor. They are really just riding mowers. I know some people have a different opinion and they consider a lawn tractor a front engine craftsman style and they consider a riding lawn mower like a rear engine or like an old Snapper but I don't and most don't. There is nothing tractor about these light duty residential grade machines made from the 70s and up. The Ropers and Sears and Craftsman and all the AY peas. These are lawn mowers. Simply riding lawn mowers. I also hate the word PTO. Or I guess that's really an abbreviation. There is no power takeoff on a riding lawn mower at least very very very few. This is a tractor term that gets carried over and should have got been gotten rid of a long time ago. Certainly you can say you take power off of the engine for the pulley but duh, if it wasn't for that you'd be sitting there with it humming and not even moving.
A PTO is a rod with a universal joint or whatever that comes out of machine that spins something like a three-point I think they call it. I don't like those either. I fully understand that when you own a farm or lots of land you use a tractor like the Ford a tens and stuff. I think that's what they're called for hands and a TENS I don't know maybe I'm thinking of 40 and 8 D batteries but you use a tractor from more than one purpose. You pull something behind it to cut grass and then you use it to haul stuff and all kinds of other things I guess. I don't know, don't care to, and really don't care. I am a Suburban boy who has never ridden a horse. I will never bail hay. I have put some straw in the dog's Dog House in the winter time for warm along with his heat lamp but I'm not a farmer. All I use a mower for is cutting grass. That is probably 80 is 90% of the population too.
Now if you do it by land area you would have different numbers but if you do it by population numbers since so many people live in suburbs and cities and use a small mower or a rider, far higher numbers in higher percentage of people have riding lawn mowers than tractors.
Just one of my pet peeves.
I just think that calling a 42 in Craftsman or Husqvarna riding lawn mower a tractor is an insult to a real tractor. And it seems I rarely see any posts on here about standard walk behind mowers. 30% of the population is getting them fixed every season because they won't start but yet there seems to be no post on here. The last one I noticed was a few days ago about an old Toro or an old Lawn Boy. You never find post on this site about a standard 3 year old Toro with a new Briggs & Stratton plastic carburetor that won't run well or start. I know there is a sister forum but that one has very little use. So it frustrates me. I want everything in one place.
This forum is the best resource and the go-to for riding mower information unless maybe if you have a Cub Cadet. The Cub Cadet only site is excellent especially for older Cubs.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
"HOO DOGGIES!" I tried a true cold start this afternoon and barely got the key turned when it started and ran great. I can't believe I have put up with this for so many years. It always eventually started so it was easy to put off really getting into the problem. I had suspected the fuel solenoid for a long time but couldn't logically dope out how it would run fine but prevent starting. Due to good (or bad) luck it seems to have gotten stuck in just the right spot so it ran fine but was incredibly hard starting. Maybe the starter will last a while longer.

Not to play the blame game, but it's partly the box store thing. Home Depot (where I bought the tractor), Lowe's and any others don't have any warranty services nearby so any work takes weeks, if at all. They won't even talk about non-warranty stuff. From some other experiences I don't trust the independent mechanics around here, so I am left with my own expertise. I like wrenching but this type of problem can be frustrating since it only occurs on cold starts and I haven't had a lot of spare time during mowing season - forest fire fighting.

Thanks to all who commented!
 

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I had never gone to any outdoor power equipment forum or this one until I started repairing mowers as a business. This one seems to have the most information over the past years so when you're searching for a problem you will typically end up on this one fairly quickly. I despise the fact that it's call Tractor and that it looks like a John Deere site with the Greene. I hate the word tractor as far as residential riding mowers go. They should get rid of the garden tractor and lawn tractor. They are really just riding mowers. I know some people have a different opinion and they consider a lawn tractor a front engine craftsman style and they consider a riding lawn mower like a rear engine or like an old Snapper but I don't and most don't. There is nothing tractor about these light duty residential grade machines made from the 70s and up. The Ropers and Sears and Craftsman and all the AY peas. These are lawn mowers. Simply riding lawn mowers. I also hate the word PTO. Or I guess that's really an abbreviation. There is no power takeoff on a riding lawn mower at least very very very few. This is a tractor term that gets carried over and should have got been gotten rid of a long time ago. Certainly you can say you take power off of the engine for the pulley but duh, if it wasn't for that you'd be sitting there with it humming and not even moving.
A PTO is a rod with a universal joint or whatever that comes out of machine that spins something like a three-point I think they call it. I don't like those either. I fully understand that when you own a farm or lots of land you use a tractor like the Ford a tens and stuff. I think that's what they're called for hands and a TENS I don't know maybe I'm thinking of 40 and 8 D batteries but you use a tractor from more than one purpose. You pull something behind it to cut grass and then you use it to haul stuff and all kinds of other things I guess. I don't know, don't care to, and really don't care. I am a Suburban boy who has never ridden a horse. I will never bail hay. I have put some straw in the dog's Dog House in the winter time for warm along with his heat lamp but I'm not a farmer. All I use a mower for is cutting grass. That is probably 80 is 90% of the population too.
Now if you do it by land area you would have different numbers but if you do it by population numbers since so many people live in suburbs and cities and use a small mower or a rider, far higher numbers in higher percentage of people have riding lawn mowers than tractors.
Just one of my pet peeves.
I just think that calling a 42 in Craftsman or Husqvarna riding lawn mower a tractor is an insult to a real tractor. And it seems I rarely see any posts on here about standard walk behind mowers. 30% of the population is getting them fixed every season because they won't start but yet there seems to be no post on here. The last one I noticed was a few days ago about an old Toro or an old Lawn Boy. You never find post on this site about a standard 3 year old Toro with a new Briggs & Stratton plastic carburetor that won't run well or start. I know there is a sister forum but that one has very little use. So it frustrates me. I want everything in one place.
This forum is the best resource and the go-to for riding mower information unless maybe if you have a Cub Cadet. The Cub Cadet only site is excellent especially for older Cubs.
Interesting rant. You don't like the term PTO (power take-off), but whether it comes out the rear or the front, or even the side, that's where the power comes from. Terms like PTO probably came to be before you were born. Is a tiny sports car, not a car? Tractors come in all sizes. I personally have three different sized tractors. I don't understand where you're coming from. Color me perplexed!
 

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Interesting rant. You don't like the term PTO (power take-off), but whether it comes out the rear or the front, or even the side, that's where the power comes from. Terms like PTO probably came to be before you were born. Is a tiny sports car, not a car? Tractors come in all sizes. I personally have three different sized tractors. I don't understand where you're coming from. Color me perplexed!
I call them observations or opinions, or opinions on observations more than I do rants, but I am quite a rant filled person and extremely wordy. . So yes, it fits.

These 2 topics are not a big big concern or pet peeve of mine. Not nearly as much as many other things in life. I did address though that you could argue that the power is taking off from somewhere like the crankshaft of the engine but as I said that doesn't need a word for it because that is a given. Without hooking something to the engine it would be little point in an engine being mounted to a frame sitting there spinning in a circle doing nothing.

I don't think age has anything to do with it and I believe the word or phrase PTO was around before either of us.
It is a fairly overused or misapplication of the term though. PTO typically referred to a shaft for power was taken from a machine or tractor to manually Drive another item or an attachment. A lawn mower cuts grass so the deck isn't actually an attachment it's part of the mower. Once again just a given.
It's also funny how the term pto is used much more for a switch when you have an electric clutch than it is for a lever to engage the blades if you're arguing it is a PTO taking power from the engine to power the deck wouldn't they both be the same and both a pto?
I think of tractors as larger multi-use machines that can have different attachments for different purposes. I think of a riding mower as something that basically only cuts grass. That is what 95% plus of lawn tractors or garden tractors are. They have even cut back on accessories probably due to the lousy k46 transmission. Back in the eighties and nineties you would often see plow and snow blower attachments but you rarely see these anymore. So basically these residential grade machines are simply lawn mowers.
If size is no determination and not having a shaft PTO means no difference then technically a Craftsman LT1000 would be a smaller tractor. Then also, technically, a yard bug would be a smaller tractor. Nobody said the engine had to be up front. The F700 or similar John Deere's have a Kawasaki engine in the back.
A Forrest Gump Snapper would be a tractor or I guess a lawn tractor. Does calling it a lawn tractor specify its only used to cut grass but it's still a tractor. I don't know. I'm not going to Google the definition of tractor because I don't care what Google or what society today thinks it is. When I think of a tractor I think of a large farm implement like a John Deere or a Ford. They are tall and have very large back wheels and usually a 4 cylinder engine 3-cylinder diesel. They don't have as many underneath belly mowers as they do rear pull behind mowers which are powered by, you guessed it, a real PTO.
Unless we're talking about parent-teacher organization which they can power a lot of things but mostly aggravation and gossip or wait, maybe that's just PTA like in Harper Valley.
 
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