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Kohler 4cyl 32v Lighting Plant

Paul Richardson

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
01/05/2020
I was out poking around for a load of wood today and thought I would go have another look at this little lighting plant again.Its the first I have seen of one of these,although that is not saying a lot.It had a bit of id on it but I didn't take any pics of the brass tags yet.The owners son seemed to think it might be something his father would part with.Time will tell.
Any information on this style of KOHLER unit would be welcomed.tia.
 

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Paul Richardson

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Last Subscription Date
01/05/2020
Re: KOHLER 4cyl 32v lighting plant.

Trying another pic.I wish I could see a way of keeping the picture from loading on its side or wrong way up?Anyway,here goes!
 

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Paul Richardson

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Last Subscription Date
01/05/2020
Re: KOHLER 4cyl 32v lighting plant.

One more,....I think the pic falling on its side is an iPhone thing?..that's getting the blame anyway!?
 

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BHoward

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Last Subscription Date
05/04/2018
Re: KOHLER 4cyl 32v lighting plant.

Paul, I think you,l find it,s 110 volt DC or AC . Someone can correct me if I,m wrong. Bill H.
 

Paul Richardson

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
01/05/2020
Re: KOHLER 4cyl 32v lighting plant.

Hi Bill,.you might be right?The first time I looked at this generator there was a story about the owners father making modification to the voltage output?
The early home lighting systems in my part of the world were mostly 32 volt to my knowledge?
Perhaps the voltage was changed to suit existing battery storage?
I'm really not sure and will be asking the owner again soon for the history.
I have found a very similar unit in youtube with mostly identical magneto,carburettor and fittings,and another one in ebay(USA) which is also very similar.The youtube example was said to be made in 1924.
 

Bill Hazzard

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Last Subscription Date
08/28/2008
That is a DC unit and I am guessing it was built pre WW2. It is probably 110V but 32V was available.
 

Vanman

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/10/2019
Yes, Definitely DC, and agree it is pre-WWII, though looks like a V belt on the fan. We can get the year by the serial number.

It *was* automatic, as evidenced by the electric choke. Controller is not present, but isn't necessary to have a functional generating unit. Also would have had the vacuum type fuel pump (unless it was gaseous fueled only?), but can be gravity fed or used with an electric pump of some type.

In addition to 110-115 volt, they did make battery charging plants in, 140 volt, for 56 cells (112 volt nominal), and, I believe, 40 volt, for 16 cells, ie the 32 volt nominal systems. I have never seen either of these battery charging sets, except in literature. It would be VERY cool if that is what you have there!

The DC ones came in 1-1/2 kW (1000 rpm) and 2 kW (1350 rpm) varieties.

VERY neat "little" (~475 lbs) units. Indeed, these are my favorite to collect. :brows:

Lastly, just a little rant- I HATE it when stuff gets left out like that! :rant:

The guy should GIVE it to you, since he obviously places zero value on it.
 

Paul Richardson

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
01/05/2020
Nice information!,thanks for the response guys.
This little setup is one of those items that comes under my own personal ruling principle,.."i see,...I want,...I MUST have",..and I'm afraid that was the effect on first sight a few months back.The brass embossed radiator drew me like a moth to a light:D.I was curious to know what is going on under what looks like a little valve cover at the top,and I'm beginning to think it might be an "overhead-side" valve arrangement?I see some later units that I think were Kohler on the net(around '55)that were side valve?
Vanman,i might be a little short of the real picture here,but the only early household systems I have seen have been 32 volt with a bank of batteries?
I have seen the odd larger vintage Caterpillar unit in the bush that are perhaps not as old,and I think they have been mostly 240 volt?
I know that this particular household had 32 volt for many years after the 240 volt was readily available to it.The family retired a Lister diesel unit that had worked for 25 years at 32volt.There is a chance that the little Kholer was imported from another household and never used on the property?
I'm pretty sure it's a 'v' belt on the fan,and yes,i get your comment about storage.As a matter of fact the first unconscious words from the owner were something about "that(the generator) really shouldn't be sitting out here".
 

E27N

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
01/06/2020
Paul, I have an early Kohler inline twin DC genes that from the mid twenties and the data plate shows it as 800w 110v DC. It seemed like a funny voltage to me for DC as the US is 110-120 AC and I like you assumed Oz was all 32v DC.

Mines an interesting little rig, the crank is parallel not 180 offset and has an electromagnetic governor. It's a rusty glob at the moment but I'll get to it one day.........

http://www.smokstak.com/forum/showthread.php?t=59253
 

Robbo

Subscriber
Age
70
Last Subscription Date
09/01/2019
I have a Kohler 4 cyl 110 v DC Lighting plant. There is an American site devoted to these plants. Mine is dated 1925. When running at rallies I tie a piece of wire to the top of the muffler, and thin strips of cloth or wool that are moved by the exhaust gasses, so that spectators can see that the engine is running. I have never seen an engine run as smooth and quiet as this one. I have restored it with an original vacuum type fuel pump. I have the original workshop manual that came with mine.
I had it at the Kalbar show (QLD) last weekend, but I don't have a photo, some of my fellow club members probably have one that they can post.
Robbo
 

Paul Richardson

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
01/05/2020
Thanks Robbo,i hope you can stir one of your mates into putting a pic of your Kohler up here.
I have read through some of the technical information found in some of the links posted here and I tend to think they are a well made little machine?
I'm hoping I can acquire the one I am looking at?There are numerous other desirables laying around the yard,including a dismantled farm pumper,an antiqe

---------- Post added at 06:41:16 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:34:50 PM ----------

(wrong button!)..?... antique Webb windmill,a very early Fargo ute to name just a few interesting items,so I struggle to know which direction to head first when I get to the owners yard?
I think the Fargo is mine,although we haven't quite finished talking about it yet.I made a big noise about the Kohler to the owners son last visit,and I'm sure my interest will be relayed to the owner before I return for the Fargo.
 

Robbo

Subscriber
Age
70
Last Subscription Date
09/01/2019
I did find a photo of my plant. At this stage I was using a plastic vacuum fuel pump off a Kohler Mower engine, which worked quite well after some experimenting with positioning hieght, in relation to the carby. I have removed the brushes from the generator, and an electrician friend of mine in helping me rewire the control box. The engine now looks a lot better with an original vacuum fuel pump fitted.
Robbo
 

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Paul Richardson

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
01/05/2020
Thanks Keith,at least your little DC plant pictured looks to be all there and has been kept out of the elements;nice engines!
Thanks Robbo,i'm taking particular notice of fittings and I see the Bakelite distributor cap on the mag on mine differs slightly?I am telling myself the layout on the id tag is completelty different to yours and others shown,but it could simply be that I haven't looked closely enough in the first place?I can see pine sap rinning down the brass tag in my pic,and perhaps it is simply that the pine sap gave the appearance of the writing being layed out in two vertical columns of details when I stood there looking at it?
The best favour I could do myself is to take a drive out there again,and if I cant buy the generator itself at least I can interest myself with the serial number and genny output spec's?
At least I have some idea of the shape of the missing cowl and control box if they are possibly still there.
Getting back to your DC plant Robbo,the little brass tank I think I recognise?
I came home with parts of a USAF 2stroke generator a few years back now.It had a very similar tank with an oil measure tube built into the filler cap.The plant was 110 volt with an exciter mounted out on the end of the generator spindle.I think my mate might still have the wreck on his shelf but used the tank on another project?
 

Robbo

Subscriber
Age
70
Last Subscription Date
09/01/2019
Hi Paul, Would you do me a favour when you visit the generator again. I would like the actual dimensions of the control box please if it is still there. The photo you posted is of the same vintage as mine. Your manual choke lever is missing from the top of the carby and you have the electro magnetic choke setup, which was used for remote electrical starting. I think the picture posted by b Howard is a later version with the mechanical fuel pump mounted at the back. The fuel tank I purchased at the Toowoomba swap meet for $5 it has a nice original fuel gauge in the top. The cowl on the generator is cut from an old gas bottle from a car and panel beated 6mm larger for a snug fit.
Robbo
 

Paul Richardson

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
01/05/2020
Mines an interesting little rig, the crank is parallel not 180 offset and has an electromagnetic governor. It's a rusty glob at the moment but I'll get to it one day.........

http://www.smokstak.com/forum/showthread.php?t=59253
Gday E27N,
I don't want to derail my own thread,but I notice your nice little 2cyl find was a while back now,...I'm wondering how the resto' is going?...or has it taken a back seat like a few of my own?The internal rust looked a little discouraging?
Robbo,..I'm sure that's the same tank,all brass,sealed fuel guage in top,soldered lapped seam about 2 inches down from the top.I think from memory it had threaded mount holes in the sides?
The gas tank end was a good idea.I will be hunting high and low for any parts belonging if I get the go ahead.
 

Robbo

Subscriber
Age
70
Last Subscription Date
09/01/2019
You are spot on with the tank. When you get it, I will scan the manual for you if you like.
Robbo
 

Andrew Mackey

Moderator
Last Subscription Date
05/14/2017
Yhe tag on the side of the generator should have model and voltage on it. early units had a honeycomb radiator, later straight core, like the one pictured. If the model is a letter (A,B, C, D, K, KE, etc.), then it probably is a DC unit. Most were 110 VDC, with varying amp outputs, usually made by RPM increases.. If 1A or 1M starter, 110VAC units. The A meant auto start, the M manual start (hand crank). I see that the crank and nose bearing assembly are missing off the unit. Kohler used a crappy cast iron (porous) on the bearing, and it often broke. The crankshaft end support is internal, so if this is an auto start model, if the control box is good, you can run the engine without the starter installed. If manual start, you will have to locate the starter crank and nose bearing assembly. Not an easy item to find unless someone is parting out a unit. Some basics: engine rated around 5 HP. Pressure lube to cam and lifters, crank and rod throws splash lubricated from windage tray in the base, filled from lifter galley supply overflow. SAE 30 oil only! Engine is OHV, .010" exhaust, .008 intake clearance cold. Compression ratio between 4.5 to 6: 1 depending on model. comp pressure around 50 to 60 PSI max! 2" bore, 4" stroke. Smooth running and dependable units!. Let us know what the tag reads! Early units had a brass tag on the block (A thru C, later D and up, and numbered units had tags on the radiator mount. The AC units usually had aluminum or zinc tags. Most DC units had brass.

If you look carefully at the front of the head, you will see a brass block. This was a fuel distribution block, and was usually found with units using a below unit fuel tank and a Stewart Vacuum fuel pump. The unit serial number was usually stamped into this block.
Andrew
 
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