• If you like antique engines, vintage tractors or old iron machinery, register and join us. When you register on Smokstak, please give complete answers and fill in all blanks. IF YOU ARE ON WIRELESS OR SATELLITE, GIVE YOUR CITY AND STATE! NO ZIPCODES! All registrations are manually approved.

Kohler K161 won't stay running

wh1630

Registered
I have a Kohler K161 engine on a generator that I have been in the process of restoring. I had it running normally two weeks ago, then it stopped starting. This was due to the fact that the breaker points had loosened up, and I wasn't getting enough of a spark. After correcting that issue, I'm getting a sufficient spark. I can get it to start (it has electric start) on starter fluid and with gas in the carburetor, but it runs for about two seconds before dying. When I flip the 'start' switch, the choke solenoid engages and the engine turns over and proceeds to start up. While doing so, it'll rev up and the governor arm will close the throttle, thus killing the engine. Moving the choke by hand sometimes causes the engine to try to get running again, but it still cuts out though.

Any ideas or suggestions as to what to do/look for would be greatly appreciated.
 

John Newman Jr.

Subscriber
Age
64
Last Subscription Date
12/23/2019
First off, don't use starting fluid to get it to fire. Way too volatile. Try spray carb cleaner. I've seen good engines destroyed by excessive starting fluid.
A few possibilities I can think of.
Why doesn't the governor open the throttle back up when the speed drops off? Are all springs present, not stretched or kinked? No binding or bent linkage?
Maybe the idle speed adjusting screw needs to be screwed in further. A generator engine will (should) never really slow down to idle speed (unless the unit specifically has that feature to idle down when there is no load), so it should always be running at either 1800 or 3600 RPM. You should not use the idle speed adjusting screw to hold operating speed, but if the carb throttle closes too far abruptly, it can kill the engine.
Or finally, maybe the carb just needs a good cleaning.
 

wh1630

Registered
First off, don't use starting fluid to get it to fire. Way too volatile. Try spray carb cleaner. I've seen good engines destroyed by excessive starting fluid.
A few possibilities I can think of.
Why doesn't the governor open the throttle back up when the speed drops off? Are all springs present, not stretched or kinked? No binding or bent linkage?
Maybe the idle speed adjusting screw needs to be screwed in further. A generator engine will (should) never really slow down to idle speed (unless the unit specifically has that feature to idle down when there is no load), so it should always be running at either 1800 or 3600 RPM. You should not use the idle speed adjusting screw to hold operating speed, but if the carb throttle closes too far abruptly, it can kill the engine.
Or finally, maybe the carb just needs a good cleaning.
Thanks, John

As it turns out, I had to turn the main screw on the carburetor to the left a few turns. I guess the engine was running too lean... After that, it started up and stayed running just fine!
 

Ogrebeast64

Registered
Thanks, John

As it turns out, I had to turn the main screw on the carburetor to the left a few turns. I guess the engine was running too lean... After that, it started up and stayed running just fine!
I had the opposite problem with my Briggs Model 8. Using the initial settings before starting it up after rebuild, it would just pour gas in and run like crap. I had to turn the main mixture screw almost all the way in before it would run/accelerate normally, and yes the carby was completely cleaned and rebuilt as well.
 
Top