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Kohler and Delco Light Plant Help Needed

Grape

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
12/16/2019
Hello everyone, this is my first time venturing into the world of power generation. I just bought 2 light plants, both look like the engines have ran in the not so distant past but are missing parts now (I think). I'd like to make sure they are complete before I attempt to fire them up. Any suggestions, PDF's of manuals or other advice will be greatly appreciated. Photos will be added tomorrow when its light enough to get some good ones.
#1: 1922 Kohler power and light plant. Model B2389 110Volt 1500 watt DC with 4 cyl gas engine, water cooled.
Is this crank start or will it start on demand with battery. Also don't know if its 12 or 24 volt. It has battery cables coming from the power box but nothing else. It has a fairbanks Morse magneto and I don't see any kill switch or switch wiring. Where should I start.
#2: Delco light 600w 32 Volt
It has the square cast iron base with the built in fuel tank. Its a very nice looking unit. It does not have a coil and all the wires have been disconnected from the power panel so I don't know where to start. I'm almost positive this is a manual start only but is it crank only or is there a way to start it with the battery?

AS a related question, what can I find or build to use 110V DC if I would take it to shows?

Thats enough for now, Thanks in advance for all your input.
 

Birken Vogt

Registered
Re: Kohler and Delco light plant help needed

AS a related question, what can I find or build to use 110V DC if I would take it to shows?

Thats enough for now, Thanks in advance for all your input.
Light bulb, waffle iron, anything with a heating element, some motors such as electric drills.
 

Vanman

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/10/2019
Re: Kohler and Delco light plant help needed

Is the Kohler a Model B? Or a Model D?

That is an early one, I believe that they came out in 1921.

They typically use a 24 volt battery, and are automatic, meaning they start and stop by sensing the presence or absence of a load on the line.

There should be a wire connected to the magneto which allows the controller to stop the engine.

I'm a Kohler guy, not a Delco guy, so I don't know much about them.
 

Grape

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
12/16/2019
Re: Kohler and Delco light plant help needed

Thanks for the reply. It is a model B. The data plate lists the date as 1922. It looks very nice and I can't wait to run it. I can mount 2 12v batteries to make 24V. I'm thinking I should get a small space heater to create a load. I see no place for a kill wire to the mag but I'll look closer tomorrow.
Any idea where to get manuals and diagrams?
Thanks!
 

Grape

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
12/16/2019
Re: Kohler and Delco light plant help needed

Last Kohler photos

Kohlere.jpg

Kohlerf.jpg

Kohlerg.jpg
 

Grape

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
12/16/2019
Re: Kohler and Delco light plant help needed

Delco photos

Delco1.jpg

Delco2.jpg

Delco3.jpg

Delco4.jpg
 

Grape

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
12/16/2019
Re: Kohler and Delco light plant help needed

Last of the Delco photos

Delco5.jpg

Delco6.jpg
 

BHoward

Registered
Last Subscription Date
05/04/2018
Re: Kohler and Delco light plant help needed

Kieth , if that Kohler was a 1921 or 22 would it have a mechanical fuel pump ? My,n had a vacuum tank. Bill H
 

Vanman

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/10/2019
Re: Kohler and Delco light plant help needed

Bill, I certainly would have thought that it would have had the vacuum fuel pump. My '34 has one as well. Perhaps they offered both for a while? I have an early manual, I'll have to see if it shows both. Of course there is the possibility (probability?) that someone switched over the parts from a donor machine at some point.

Those are both nice looking machines. The Kohler definitely looks to be automatic, with slightly different looking components in the controller, presumably earlier versions. Love how KOHLER is boldly cast into the side. Neat! Lots of little differences with this earlier one. The generator itself sure is different looking.

The little hole in the rocker cover is to enable the verification of oil flow. There's a pump in the bottom that supplies the main bearings and the rocker shaft. The oil draining out of that goes past the little hole and down into the connecting rod dip tray. I would pull the rocker cover first, make sure that there are no stuck valves, then pour some fresh oil over all of the valve gear, letting it drain back down where the push rods come through. That'll get oil to the dip tray. The pump should have a strainer on its inlet, and this may be clogged. Best to pull it (draining old oil in the process) and make sure it's clean. I believe that they hold seven quarts. If the oil looks ok, I suppose that you could reuse it for testing purposes. When you first get it running, make sure oil comes out of the little drain from the rocker shaft. You also may well find that the base is full of sludge, which means that the dip tray probably is as well. All things to look into once it proves that it is going to be a runner. May very well need to lap the valves too. Hopefully it's as good on the inside as it looks on the outside!

Many old appliances are rated to operate on DC. Start cruising your local thrift stores and flea markets and you should find some. A lot of modern appliances (resistive or series motor equipped) will run on DC, but their switch contacts are not generally up to the task of switching DC. Of course incandescent light bulbs and even some of the crap they're making now will actually run on DC as well.

I believe that the Delcos have no governor and no throttle. They depend on battery voltage to control their speed and they operate at constant power. I don't know that all were this way, as I said my knowledge on them is a lot less.

I would suggest starting a new thread for each. There are a number of Delco experts on here.
 
Last edited:

B.Sparks

Registered
Re: Kohler and Delco light plant help needed

"AS a related question, what can I find or build to use 110V DC if I would take it to shows?"

You can power a lot of things on DC. Most electronic devices these days use switch mode power supplies that will run off of DC. Look at the rating - if it a wide range, such as "100 - 260 volts 50 or 60 Hz" chances are it will accept DC as well. We routinely use power supplies intended for AC input on 120 volt station battery banks.

For starters, you can try compact fluorescent or LED lamps and phone chargers if they are less than 10 years old. Do not connect anything containing a transformer or induction motor, even if said transformer or motor is only a small component such as the fan motor in the heater.
 

Vanman

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/10/2019
I forgot about the switching power supplies. Back in '02 - '03 I worked for the railroad, and the cabs had an ordinary socket supplied from the 75 volt DC system. Most switching cell phone chargers would run just fine on it.
 
Vanman covered just about everything on your Kohler perfectly. If I can add one item though......if you check/adjust your valves BE CAREFUL! The rocker arm adjusting screws are harder than woodpecker lips and it's easy to snap them at the screwdriver slot if you get too ham fisted (go ahead, ask me how I know this).

I have a 1m21 Kohler, crank start, 110 volt A.C. Those little 4 cylinder engines only produce 4 h.p. at 1200 rpm if I remember correctly........which means that 90% of the time the engine is still in good shape, just needing minor "tune ups".

Try looking for a manual on line. I found one but it was years ago, so I don't remember where!
 

Grape

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
12/16/2019
Thanks for the comments and advice. George, I'll take your advice and be slow and gentle with any repairs or adjustments.
I'll post video when I get it running.
 

Andrew Mackey

Moderator
Last Subscription Date
05/14/2017
Most of the Kohler OHV 4 cylinder engines were rated at about 5 HP. The early letter versions were 4. Experimentally, Kohler got 20 HP out of that block, before breaking cranks!:eek: As for the units sold, virtually unbreakable, as long as you kept oil in them!

Smell the oil in the engine. if it smells varnished, drain and be very sure the pump gets oil to the rocker overflow. if you do not see oil pulsing out the overflow in less than 45 seconds, with the engine running, shut the engine off and dis-assemble the base. You will need to free the bakelite oil pump piston in its bore. If you hand crank the engine, it will take about a minute to get oil up top. SAE 30 at over 40 F temp, SAE 20 below that. The letter series pistons did not use oil rings, so use of multigrade oils is not advised. The late D and 1-A & M 21s had oil rings, which cut oil consumption. I would not use detergent or multigrade oil in these engines unless you pull the pan and sump tray and remove all gunk from same. These engines do not use an oil filter, just a 100 mesh screen on the pump intake. Some later engines used a filter, but that is a bypass type, not direct oiling. if there was crud in the oil, it hit the bearings first!

On my C, it was a 110 VDC unit. I ran sheep shears, a water pump, a fan and other brush type motors that had mechanical speed control (resister or on/off switch) flea markets were a great supplier of usable tools! regular 110 volt incandescent bulbs work for a while, I found I had to reverse the power lines after a while, so the filaments would last longer - especially in 200 and 250 watt bulbs!

On your unit, a 100 watt load should auto start the engine, with a 24 volt supply. The unit can be started manually, if the magneto kill is disconnected. be advised, the starter is also an auto flash for the generator. if you manually start, you may have to flash the unit at first run. After that, kt will take care of itself if all else is good. One thing of note - if that is an original brass kohler carb, you will find that it ices up under humid conditions, under a good load. the engine will slow, begin to stall, and the throttle will knock the ice loose. The cycle begins again! Later engines used zenith carbs, ending the problem. As for your unit, I believe the diaphragm AC pump was used on later engines. engines built in the early 20s used either gravity or the Stewart system. You might check with Ed wright with your S/N for an exact build date.
 
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