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Wisconsin Engine Troubleshooting Runability Issues

bolens ek-10 estate keeper 850 wisconsin tra-10d s8d zenith

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#1 MailmAn OFFLINE  

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Posted August 16, 2017 - 01:48 PM

Okay, so before I start, in case anyone tries to flame me or give me a hard time saying that this topic has already been covered elsewhere on the forums and if I just searched for the answers, they are already out there, I have been SUPER busy lately with everything going on in my life at the moment and I just don't have a ton of time to hunt down answers on the Internet.  (I am working 3 jobs currently and I am also in the middle of trying to buy a house right now and juggling everything needed with that, from dealing with mortgage brokers, lawyers, the sellers, inspectors, appraisers, realtors, etc...  It has just been so hectic for me right now!)  So anyways, I am hoping that someone might have some answers for me or can point me in the right direction as I am at a loss right now of what to try next to get these engines running right.

 

So, right now I am dealing with two different tractors trying to get them both running right:

 

The first tractor is an EK-10 Estate Keeper with the Wisconsin TRA-10D engine.  I have been using this tractor lately to mow the lawn with and it runs and drives okay now, but it is still not running great.  I have already had the Zenith carburetor apart and soaked it in carb cleaner for a while and blew it all out last year.  It has a brand new set of points with condenser on it and I set the points with a feeler gauge according to the service manual for the engine, but I do not have a timing light to try to make sure the timing is perfectly set on the engine either.  It also has a brand new coil, spark plug wire, and spark plug on the engine.  I also put new rubber fuel lines, a fuel filter, and gas tank on the engine.  I have run several tanks of fresh 91 octane, ethanol free gas through it already, so the fuel can't really be a problem I wouldn't think.

 

The EK-10 starts right up every time I go to use it without even needing any choke and the engine seems to both idle and run at high RPMs well with no load.  While driving in transport mode, everything seems to work well also.  The engine runs okay, the tractor drives well, and there are no real issues.  However, the problems start to show up once I turn the PTO on and start mowing with the tractor.  Once it gets under a heavy load (deck running and tractor moving, especially when trying to cut tall grass), the engine starts to bog down and feels like it is losing power.  It occasionally sounds like the engine starts skipping and it will backfire on me as well.  If the engine starts running particularly bad like this and the blades and tractor speed start slowing down significantly, if I push the clutch pedal down and stop the tractor and let the engine kind of "catch back up", it will eventually smooth out and start running okay again until I start moving again and putting the engine back under a heavy load and it starts acting up on me again.

 

The second tractor is a Bolens 850 with the Wisconsin S8D engine.  This one may be a bit trickier as I don't have a lot of symptoms and I'm not really sure what happened to it.  It has been sitting for over 3 years though since it last ran.  The battery is dead and the engine won't turn over.  I'm trying to see if it will take a charge right now, but if necessary, I may have to replace the battery first.  As far as I recall what happened to this tractor (it has been a few years...), I believe that I was snow blowing with it one winter and we had a lot of heavy snow, so I'm sure I was taxing the engine under a very heavy load, when all of a sudden I heard like a "POP" and the engine lost power and stalled.  I turned the PTO off and tried to start the engine again, but it didn't want to start or stay running really.  I also heard a sort of "hissing" sound, like the sound of air leaking out of a pin hole somewhere, while the engine was running.  As I recall, I barely got it to run well enough to load it back on the trailer and bring it back to the garage where it has sat for over 3 years now before I did anything with it.  But, I had bought the EK-10 (see above) shortly after the 850 blew up on me, so I have been using that and the 850 was put on the back burner for now.  However, as I am looking at buying a new house right now (see further above), I would like to get this tractor working again ASAP as I have a few attachments for it that would be useful right now that I cannot use with the EK-10.  However, I'm not sure where to even start with this engine.  I'm not sure if it will run at all right now or what.  From the sounds of what happened to it years ago, do you think I am looking at just a blown head gasket, a stuck valve or broken valve spring, blown piston rings, or something else entirely?

 

I know it can be hard to try to diagnose problems over the Internet where you're not right at the engine to check things out or hear it run, but I would appreciate any help ya'll can give me!  If possible, I can try to get video of the engines running if that will help in troubleshooting them.  Part of the problem right now that I have is that I also do not have a truck and/or a trailer to try to transport these tractors to a small engine repair shop or anything to try to have them checked out and repaired.  So, I am attempting to fix them myself, if possible.  If I need any hard parts to repair these engines, how available are parts for these old Wisconsin engines anyways?  I have heard from people that they can be hard to get parts for, which is why a lot of them don't ever get fixed and end up on the scrap heap.  I would like to keep them running though and I would like to keep my Bolens' as original as possible and not end up swapping out the engine for a newer Briggs and Stratton or anything.

 

Also, if there are any members out there knowledgeable enough to help in fixing these engines who are local to the Albany, NY area and could possibly help me out in person, I would greatly appreciate the assistance as well!  (I would have no problem compensating financially for any in-person assistance that was rendered on these tractors as well!)  There aren't many mechanics out there who will make house calls though I have found.  I have had several people tell me that if I can bring the tractors to them, they will be happy to check them out for me, but I have no way of transporting them right now either.

 

Thanks in advance!  If you have any other questions for me about these engines, I will do my best to answer them to try to further along the troubleshooting process of these engines.


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#2 Bill 76 ONLINE  

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Posted August 16, 2017 - 03:15 PM

The first one sounds like carb and or governor may need adjusting also might want to check deck spindle bearings make sure they are all turning freely and not binding  which could rob horse power.

Second engine I would remove head and check the head gasket first , rings don't often just go bad suddenly.     


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#3 boyscout862 ONLINE  

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Posted August 16, 2017 - 03:17 PM

Many parts are available through several of our sponsors. The EK sounds like the carb or the governor are not working correctly. First I would visually look at the linkage and compare to the photos in the manual(download it from our Manuals Section). Try readjusting the carb inaccordance with the manual. I like to add Marvel Mystery Oil to my gas to help the engine run its best. Try checking the points again. Sometimes they slip.

 

Both engines probably need to be diagnosed by going step by step through the troubleshooting section of their manuals. It can be a pain but it is the best way to find a problem. Good Luck, Rick


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#4 Bruce Dorsi ONLINE  

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Posted August 16, 2017 - 09:49 PM

Hi, Kevin.

 

For the 850, it sounds like a bad head gasket.  ....By removing the head, you can also see the condition of the valves & the cylinder.

 

Clean the carbon from the block, head, piston, & valves.   .....A wire brush and/or a wire wheel in a drill should do well.  .....In addition to cleaning the top of the valves, be sure to raise them to wire brush the underside to clean the valve and valve seat sealing surfaces.

 

Flatten the head sealing area by rubbing the head on a full sheet of 120 grit sandpaper until a shiny area is obtained on the entire sealing surface.

 

If the sealing surface of the valves is pitted or burnt, they will need to be reground or replaced. 


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#5 MailmAn OFFLINE  

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Posted August 16, 2017 - 10:08 PM

Thanks, Bruce...  Although I would personally stay away from using a wire wheel on any internal engine components...  Maybe I could see using some medium to fine grit sandpaper or sanding discs on a die grinder to try to clean it up a bit, but I would still want to be very gentile with it so as not to damage anything.

 

I've never tried to regrind and reseat valves before though.  I'm hoping that it isn't too involved of a process.  I think I just need some valve lapping compound, right?


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#6 secondtry OFFLINE  

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Posted August 17, 2017 - 02:32 AM

With sandpaper grit is the killer. Any grit inadvertently left in the engine will be disastrous. I would do careful diagnosis before disassembling anything. Turning the engine over by hand can tell you a lot. Like is there compression, do you hear any leaks, if so where. The most important thing you can have when working on an engine is patience. Don    


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#7 boyscout862 ONLINE  

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Posted August 17, 2017 - 07:12 AM

Secondtry is absolutely correct. Do not use sand paper in the engine. When you use sand paper(I prefer emery cloth) to flatten the head, do it ontop of a piece of glass because that will be flat, wash it thoroughly when you are done. If you decarbon the top of the cylinder, have the piston at top of the cylinder. When you have cleanned it up, move the piston down and clean the ring of crap left in the cylinder. Spray some WD40 into the cylinder and move the piston to top of the cylinder and then back down. Clean the cylinder again. Do this atleast 4 times or until there is no more crap in the cylinder.

 

I use Marvel Mystery Oil in my gas for all engines. It removes carbon buildup, frees rings in their piston groves, and helps keep the valves cooler. It also reduces corrosion and shelac in the fuel system. Good Luck, Rick


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#8 BRIAN EK7&10 OFFLINE  

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Posted August 17, 2017 - 09:49 PM

The backfiring could be caused by a bad or improperly grounded condenser. The clip that comes in the Wisconsin yq 12 kit does not hold the condenser tight very well. I have been using a product called a transdenser, it is an electronic condenser that lowers the current across the point to milli amps which makes the points last a lot longer it mounts on to the coil bracket and eliminates the stock condenser,it also has a built in led light to make static timing very simple with no other tools except a screwdriver to adjust the points.
Go to Kirkengines.com. For more info on the transdenser
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#9 BRIAN EK7&10 OFFLINE  

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Posted August 18, 2017 - 06:23 PM

another issue with the tra 10d could be the cooling fins on the cylinder and head being clogged up with debris and causing the engine to over heat, especially if the front crankshaft seal has leaked oil, the oil gets blown through the fins and the dust and grass stick to the oily mess. take some of the shrouding off and check to see if the fins are clean, there is also a passage that goes between the cylinder and valves that is hard to access without removing the blower housing.


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#10 MailmAn OFFLINE  

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Posted August 30, 2017 - 10:49 AM

.

Alright!  Finally we have some VIDEO!  It took me a good week to get the video edited and re-encoded so I could upload it to YouTube, so sorry for the delays.  But I finally uploaded the video of the Bolens 850 engine issues that I am having.  It is definitely acting strange for sure.  (Spoiler alert though - I did manage to get the engine running!)  Does anyone have any idea what would be making the engine act like this so that I can try to fix it?  Any help would be greatly appreciated!

 

I wanted to get the video out of the 850 first.  I will now start working on editing the EK-10 Estate Keeper video, which I hope won't take QUITE as long to finish and upload now that I have all the video editing software re-installed on my new computer.  (I built a new computer last December and I just realized that I never re-installed the video editing software on it as I haven't edited any videos yet this year...)

 

 

 

 

More updates to come soon, hopefully!

 

.


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#11 BRIAN EK7&10 OFFLINE  

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Posted August 31, 2017 - 12:23 PM

sounds like you have a valve that is not closing properly.


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#12 Bruce Dorsi ONLINE  

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Posted August 31, 2017 - 06:44 PM

There seems to be another noise as well, Kevin.

 

Check to make sure the belt guides bolted to the rear of the engine are engaged in the slots of the crankcase cover and that the pulley is not rubbing against the belt guides.

 

If the above is OK, it may be a noisy bearing in the starter/generator. 

 

The cylinder head needs to come off.  ....I'm betting on a bad head gasket as well as a bad exhaust valve.


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#13 BRIAN EK7&10 OFFLINE  

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Posted August 31, 2017 - 08:34 PM

I had one that the exhaust valve spring broke on and was not closing the valve properly. take the valve cover off and look at the springs to see if they are broken.


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#14 logmillingman OFFLINE  

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Posted September 01, 2017 - 06:51 AM

It looks like you are getting a lot of good advice from the guys here!    :D 

 

Good luck with nailing these problems down, its always a little frustrating when your tractors are not working right. 


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#15 MailmAn OFFLINE  

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Posted September 01, 2017 - 02:28 PM

There seems to be another noise as well, Kevin.

 

Check to make sure the belt guides bolted to the rear of the engine are engaged in the slots of the crankcase cover and that the pulley is not rubbing against the belt guides.

 

If the above is OK, it may be a noisy bearing in the starter/generator.

 

Yeah.......  I'm pretty sure there is nothing touching any of the pulleys on the engine.  I'm not sure what you are talking about with there being another noise, Bruce...  Are you talking about that kind of high pitched whine when the engine is running?  These old Wisconsin engines have always done that as far as I know.  My Bolens 850 has always sounded like that as long as I have owned it and my Estate Keeper sounds the same way as well.

 

I believe that noise is coming from the Delco starter-generators that they used on these engines and that is just how they always sound.  The starter-generators have been completely rebuilt on both my 850 and on the EK-10 Estate Keeper and they still make this noise, so there is not much I can do about it.  There should be nothing wrong with the bearings or bushings in the starter-generator if they have been rebuilt.

 

Anyways...  so, from the sounds of the feedback I have gotten so far, I guess I am taking the engine apart to check the valves and valve springs to be sure they are seating properly and the springs are okay.  I have never tried to do a valve grind on an engine before to make sure they are seated properly.  Does anyone have any instructions, hints, or tips on how to do this?  Also, if I end up having to pull the head on this engine, I am assuming that I will need a new head gasket for it then?  Even if I recently replaced the head gasket on the engine (well, at least 2-3 years ago now, not like last week or anything...) I shouldn't try to reuse it?  If that is the case, then I probably need to be picking up some engine rebuilding parts to have on hand before I start tearing into this engine...

 

 

Thanks for the help so far!


Edited by MailmAn, September 01, 2017 - 02:31 PM.

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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: bolens, ek-10, estate keeper, 850, wisconsin, tra-10d, s8d, zenith

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