LX188 Power
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    LX188 Power

    Hi all -

    I picked up an LX188 from an elderly gentleman who bought it new and had it maintained at the local John Deere dealer all its life. Some of you helped me diagnose an issue with it stalling when I engage the PTO. Well it's much better now after running fresh gas through it. I put new blades on it so it doesn't have to work as hard when mowing. Someone made a comment in my previous thread about the 48" deck being "a lot" for the 17HP Kawasaki engine. Indeed, this thing will barely pull itself up my front yard (which is admittedly steep) with the blades running. To get the blades running, I have to have no load on it (can't be in the grass) and the engine bogs almost to the point of stalling. I have to wait for it to catch up before I begin to cut. When I let out the brake, the hydrostatic transmission draws it down a bit too - before I even try to move it. Deep grass and it crawls along barely running (though does continued to cut). Downhill is no problem. Overall it cuts really nice after performing the manual-recommended height and leveling procedure. It just seems to lack power. Is that just the way it is? If so I can live with it, but if there's something wrong I'd like to address it.

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    There is something wrong! The 17HP engine can run a 48C deck and not even break a sweat in normal grass.
    From the description of how it runs, and you did very well BTW, my first thought is it is only running on one cylinder. There are a lot of reasons for this and some are very expensive, others not too much.

    With the parking brake engaged, engine running, slowly remove one spark plug wire. You should hear it ticking as it sparks. If it keeps running when you get the plug wire away about an inch, reconnect it and do the same to the other side. If there is an ignition problem, it will probably quit when you remove the "good" side. Could mean a bad plug, coil, plug wire, pulser coil, or heaven forbid, the ignition module. Something I highly recommend with this engine is to set the spark plug gap as nearly the same as possible on both plugs. And this might be the first thing you should check, even if you just installed new plugs.

    Another thing that happens is a pushrod can fall out of position and compression will be incorrect on that cylinder. It may still try to fire occasionally, but won't make enough power to do it's share of the work. This can easily happen if a piece of carbon gets under a valve, a valve sticks open for just a split second, or the lash just got too loose. Removing the valve cover on the side with low or no compression is best to check this. A compression test can be done if you have a tester.

    Let us know what you find out and we'll go from there.

    tommyhawk

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    Turbojimmy,

    I have a LX-188 myself with a 48" deck and as Tommyhawk mentioned, a 48 nice deck is no problem for a 17hp Kawasaki. I do agree with Tommyhawk's analysis that you might only be running on one cylinder. Please keep us posted with your findings.
    John Deere LX-188
    John Deere GX-325

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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyhawk View Post
    There is something wrong! The 17HP engine can run a 48C deck and not even break a sweat in normal grass.
    From the description of how it runs, and you did very well BTW, my first thought is it is only running on one cylinder. There are a lot of reasons for this and some are very expensive, others not too much.

    With the parking brake engaged, engine running, slowly remove one spark plug wire. You should hear it ticking as it sparks. If it keeps running when you get the plug wire away about an inch, reconnect it and do the same to the other side. If there is an ignition problem, it will probably quit when you remove the "good" side. Could mean a bad plug, coil, plug wire, pulser coil, or heaven forbid, the ignition module. Something I highly recommend with this engine is to set the spark plug gap as nearly the same as possible on both plugs. And this might be the first thing you should check, even if you just installed new plugs.

    Another thing that happens is a pushrod can fall out of position and compression will be incorrect on that cylinder. It may still try to fire occasionally, but won't make enough power to do it's share of the work. This can easily happen if a piece of carbon gets under a valve, a valve sticks open for just a split second, or the lash just got too loose. Removing the valve cover on the side with low or no compression is best to check this. A compression test can be done if you have a tester.

    Let us know what you find out and we'll go from there.

    tommyhawk
    Thanks. I was hoping it was something that could be fixed, hopefully relatively inexpensively. I'll do those checks. I do have a compression tester, too. It does smoke birefly at startup, but only when choked. Gray smoke so I figured it was fuel - it goes away pretty quick.

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    Thanks both for your replies!

    It is indeed running on one cylinder. I pulled the left-side plug wire while it was running. It didn't affect the idle so I figured that was a clue right there. There was spark on that plug though. I walked around to the other side and yanked the right-side plug. It quit immediately. Probably also explains the smoke (unburned fuel). The plugs are new so I'm not sure that's the issue. I can swap them out and see if that's the problem tomorrow.

    So now I need to find my compression tester. I saw it not too long ago - one of those things that you always find when you're not looking for it.

    EDIT: The curiosity was killing me so I swapped the plugs. The plug on the non-firing cylinder looked like the day I put it in. Brand new. Not fouled, no fuel on it either. Swapping the plugs did NOT move the problem. So there's something going on with that one cylinder. Starting to feel more expensive....
    Last edited by turbojimmy; 05-30-2017 at 07:34 PM.

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    Eventually you may want to get the latest version of the Component Technical Manual CTM39 for info on the JD K series liquid cooled engines. The Service Manual gives little to no info for engine servicing. In my older version, Rev. Oct. 93, I have noted several errors in the metric to inch conversions. Use the metric figures and do your own conversions to verify.
    To do a compression test, ground both spark plug leads, throttle lever full open without engaging the choke. Seems like you know your way around this procedure already, so it should not be anything new for you. Just a reminder. This engine has no compression release to throw you off.
    A couple things you will want to know is compression should be around 170 PSI, max. variation 20 PSI. I wouldn't be too concerned if the compression figure is somewhat below 170. (Seems kinda high to me as premium fuel is not required)
    Valve to tappet lash for the FD501V is listed as .006".
    Spark plug gap is .028".
    Valve lash adjustment recommendation is 300 hours.

    An occasional cloud of smoke on start up is pretty normal for these vertical Kawasakis. As long as it doesn't use a lot of oil, don't let it bother you. Embarrassing, yes, but normal for it's age.

    I commend you for taking the bull by the horns. When you get this rascal all figured out, you will really enjoy this rig. One of my favorites!

    tommyhawk

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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyhawk View Post
    Eventually you may want to get the latest version of the Component Technical Manual CTM39 for info on the JD K series liquid cooled engines. The Service Manual gives little to no info for engine servicing. In my older version, Rev. Oct. 93, I have noted several errors in the metric to inch conversions. Use the metric figures and do your own conversions to verify.
    To do a compression test, ground both spark plug leads, throttle lever full open without engaging the choke. Seems like you know your way around this procedure already, so it should not be anything new for you. Just a reminder. This engine has no compression release to throw you off.
    Yeah the manual doesn't give you much mechanical info at all. I'm going to pull the valve cover off to make sure everything's moving like it should, then find my compression tester. A google search found a couple other people with the same issue where cleaning the carb fixed it. When I first got it, it wouldn't run at all. I took the carb off and blasted the passages with compressed air. That got it running. It's hard to envision a carb issue where just one cylinder is getting no fuel at all but that appears to be the case. I'm still going to check the compression, but I would think even a low compression cylinder would still be drawing in fuel if it was present in the intake manifold. If compression were really weak I'd think I'd see oil in that cylinder. Unless the exhaust valve is stuck open. Dunno. Lots of variables.

    Hopefully something simple. I'm looking forward to seeing how this thing really performs. Based on the looks of the new plug, that cylinder has not fired in the few months I've owned it. I have about an acre-and-a-half of steep terrain to mow and it did okay yesterday. I can't imagine what it would be like with double the power!

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    So I went home around lunch time and pulled the valve cover off of the "bad" cylinder. A pushrod fell out. A clue! Or rather a smoking gun! It wasn't damaged from being out of place, so I just popped it back in. It runs awesome! Totally different attitude now. It sounds mean, and the 48" deck now roars like a monster. Now that I have enough power and RPMs, the mulching blades actually mulch! I could smell the dust and dirt burning off that cylinder's exhaust manifold so that cylinder hasn't had fire in a while.

    Thanks for the advice!

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    Quote Originally Posted by turbojimmy View Post
    So I went home around lunch time and pulled the valve cover off of the "bad" cylinder. A pushrod fell out. A clue! Or rather a smoking gun! It wasn't damaged from being out of place, so I just popped it back in. It runs awesome! Totally different attitude now. It sounds mean, and the 48" deck now roars like a monster. Now that I have enough power and RPMs, the mulching blades actually mulch! I could smell the dust and dirt burning off that cylinder's exhaust manifold so that cylinder hasn't had fire in a while.

    Thanks for the advice!
    Did you set the lash???
    Bob - 2011 2520

    2520 Mods - http://www.greentractortalk.com/foru...2520-mods.html
    Posted for general info only. Not suggesting you alter your tractor based upon my feeble minded posts. Do so at your own risk. Maintenance and mods should be performed by a JD Dealer, or refer to your owners and maintenance manuals for proper procedures.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bulitt View Post
    Did you set the lash???
    No but I will. It will fall out again if I don't.

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