Kohler K321AS - Governor problem

njdpoJuly 18, 2009

Hi all,

Regarding : Kohler K321AS - Spec No.: 60410


I have a case Ingersol 444 with the 14 HP Kohler engine - which I am not sure, is setup properly.

The engine starts and runs great no smoke and it seems to have a lot of torque.

The issue I have with the tractor is that the motor does not seem to adapt to the hilly terrain my property is plagued with.

For example, I can be mowing the lawn with the blades running and as long as I am on level ground life is good. But as I turn the tractor up inclines and hills  the engine will slow down as if the governor is not compensating for the additional load. Its never stalled and the motor will idle me up the hill. But IÂve been thinking - something is not right in governor-ville.

If I increase the throttle  the motor will respond nicely and power up the hill nicely. But of course when I get to the top of the hill then I need to slow the motor down a bit.

With the motor running - I can touch the governor arm and it will increase the RPM, so I know its not seized up.

I am searching for a plow blade for this tractor  and I suspect that once I find a good used blade this governor problem will be more obvious once I start pushing fill around.

I am hoping some Kohler K321 expert can help me:

1) Diagnose this situation  im not sure where to begin. I was wondering if the Governor is broken (internally), nothing looks broken externally. (I have no reason to believe its broken).

2) Ive seen the spring that goes to the governor arm is in good condition (or seems to be), but there is a bit of slop in its current position (not much). Im not sure how this should be setup either.

Any ideas or suggestions are appreciated.

IÂm looking forward to seeing this problem resolved, as this is a really nice machine. Even the neighbors have commented on my new "farm tractor"...

Thanks - Dave

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Dave, I think you are a bit off course in what you believe YOUR governor is supposed to do on your tractor. The governor on your Ingersol K321AS is a "Variable Speed Governor". VSGs govern ONLY the MAXIMUM RPM to keep the engine from overspeeding. But YOU, the operator, control all the other RPM settings by selecting a position of the throttle plate that matches the following parameters: The throttle position selected makes the engine run at the desired RPM chosen by the operator that will permit the tractor ground speed to be satisfactory to the operator under the conditions of carried or towed load, and incline angle, AT THE PRESENT TIME AND IN THE TRANSMISSION GEAR SELECTED. Any time you set the throttle position at an RPM that is less than the MAXIMUM RPM setting of the governor, the throttle will not be wide open and therefore, maximum fuel is not being fed to the engine, and the engine is not making maximum horsepower. At this setting, any changes in the operating parameters will result in a change of engine RPM. If you increase the load on the tractor or cart, the engine RPM will drop. If you decrease the load on the tractor or cart, the engine RPM will rise. If you increase the steepness of an incline, the engine RPM will drop. If you decrease the incline, the engine RPM will increase. A Variable Speed Governor is not cruise control. It only controls the maximum RPM, you control RPM otherwise, and the engine will require some input from you, the operator, to keep the throttle adjusted to compensate for changing parameters of operation. The only way you can get a VSG to perform like you "think you want it to", is to select the wide open throttle position, letting the governor keep the RPM at the maximum RPM rate. In this manner, the governor will function sort of like cruise control in that it will open the throttle plate for you when the engine RPM attempt to drop when one of the operating parameters change. But running the engine wide open is probably something you don't want to do, so get used to needing to manually compensate with the throttle when running at less than WOT. You may be expecting your governor to act like a "Constant Speed Governor" and run at a constant RPM. The governor on your tractor is a VSG.
The Kohler manual gives reasonably good instructions on governor adjustment. Does your Ingersol feature a "throttle over rule foot pedal" so you can open the throttle with your right foot when you need to get a brief increase of throttle?? Most tractors beginning somewhere in the sub CUT or CUT category feature such a pedal, or it is at least offered as a very desirable option, so you can compensate the throttle with foot action when need be. When you get past the need for more throttle, you take your foot off the pedal and the throttle plate returns to the setting you made with the friction lock, or detent lock, hand throttle adjustment lever. I hope this info will get you out of the disappointment you obviously have been feeling in finding your new toy to be less than perfect. If not....as Jimmy Buffet said, "There's juice in the blender, and soon it will render...." I bet you know the song "by heart". Have a good one :^)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 10:59PM
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Hey Mownie,

What a bummer (i guess) I'll just have to deal with it and figure on making up some kind of foot over ride mechanism.

As the property is rather hilly the throttle on the machine is regularly being fiddled with... it can be inconvenient and almost dangerous having to fiddle the throttle settings so frequently.

When I had the Scotts (with a 20hp Briggs Intek) It seemed to do a bit better with the inclines as I approached them. However I do recall "occasionally" adjusting the tranny lever to a lower setting on the steepest parts of the property - but nothing like the Case/Ingersoll (C/I). I just never had to adjust the throttle.

Another thing I will have to experiment with is the engine RPM selection. I never run my stuff at WOT and while Im getting used to the big one lung Kohler - perhaps Im running it too low of an RPM and not getting enough power from the engine.

I do have a question however... Lets say were talking about a casual snapper push mower with a little 3.5 Briggs Vert. crank engine. When pushing the motor through the higher grass - it seems to slightly compensate for the additional load. OR IS THIS MY IMAGINATION ? What type of governor am I thinking about ?

As always - thanks for your time.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 9:05AM
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***"push mower with a little 3.5 Briggs Vert. crank engineWhat type of governor am I thinking about?"***
Dave, most all small Briggs engines in the 3.5 HP category have an air flow governor instead of a centrifugal governor. Air flow governors employ a "vane" (think of the vane as being analogous to the main sail of a sailboat) to catch the cooling air flowing from the "flywheel fan" on the crankshaft. The vane mounts on a pivot pin at one end. The vane is placed directly in the air flow plenum of the fan housing. A "calibrated spring" (this IS the "governor spring") pulls the vane "into the wind" as the wind tries to blow the vane away. The air flow and the calibrated spring accomplish a sort of push-pull balancing act. That is a general description of the operation principle. The control of RPM is like this: A stiff wire link connects from the vane to the throttle shaft bellcrank on the carb (may go through some linkage to get there). This throttle shaft bellcrank also has a spring that connects to the manual throttle control that the operator uses to select a certain RPM (actually, an "approximate" RPM). This spring, and the governor spring connected to the vane, play "tug of war", so to speak. The operator (human) moves the engine speed control to request higher RPM, this puts more tension on the manual control spring. The increased tension on the manual spring pulls against the tension of the governor spring. At this point, the manual spring is "in control" of the throttle shaft bellcrank, and the throttle shaft pivots to open the throttle "butterfly" further which allows more air/fuel to enter the engine "and away we go"....the engine RPM increases in response to the new throttle position. Well, the increased RPM also causes the fan to move a greater volume of air, which means that the governor vane now faces into a wind (sailboat time) of greater velocity and volume. With the more powerful wind pushing harder, the vane "regains control" of the throttle shaft bellcrank and stabilizes the throttle at the new, higher RPM setting. Because this type of governor uses two springs in a "tug'o war" fashion, the governor does have the capability to be "somewhat" self compensating and can react to a drop in RPM (lower fan output) by permitting the manual spring to pull the throttle bellcrank again because the slower fan speed has weakened the strength of the vane and thus, the governor spring is weaker too. The manual spring can once again open the throttle, and, hopefully, the engine RPM will recover and power the blades through that heavy crop of grass that grows over "the septic tank" (thank you Erma Bombeck, R.I.P.)
Some of the "econo-box" engines of today have eliminated the operator's "manual" control cable and instead have the throttle manual control "locked" in the "max governed speed" position. The push-pull tug'o war still takes place, but the operator cannot choose to run the engine at lower RPM than the OEM and EPA will allow.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 11:52AM
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Dave, hold everything!!!!!!!!!! I have been looking at the K321 ser man and I believe the governor used by Kohler actually will provide "self compensation" to maintain a chosen RPM. I guess I was thinking Kohler used a separate governor section in the intake manifold for limiting max RPM. Most of the industrial engines I have worked on featured a separate governor component that sandwiches between the bottom of the carb and the top of the intake manifold. These governors limit ONLY the MAX RPM of the engine and have their own separate butterfly to "stifle" the induction air. These governors have no physical connection to the carb throttle shaft and act independently of the carb. Back to your K321, You should go to the governor section of the K321 manual and study the text and pictures. We may be able to get your Kohler to behave a little more respectfully. Stay tuned.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 12:16PM
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Hi Mownie,

I appreciate your detailed description on the Air Flow governor worked (I did understand how its works).

But mostly was looking for what its design might be called for example a "wind governor" Versus "Variable Speed Governor" you described on the Kohler.

Ill have to try and get my hands on a blown up Kolher as Id like to see the internal arrangement in these motors... There is a photo in there but not very good - mechanical things like this catch my interest.

Moving right along ...

I had the Ingersoll out for a run and I had the engine cranked up a bit higher and approached the hills and as expected - the motor once again struggled with the hills.

A little bit less mind you - but you can tell the throttle needs a bit of love on the inclines.

I know this motor has the power to deal with the hills it just needs the extra juice ...

So I'm keeping my fingers crossed - I found the details specific to the 321 on pg 57 of the PDF file. So Im going to have a read on it and see if I can determine anything from it before I start turning wrenches.

I think its best if I scribe some lines on the linkages before I start turning those wrenches first... and of course take a photo or two as well...

Mownie (and others) thanks for your time.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 10:20PM
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My experiences with K301s is that that the governor does indeed compensate for variable load.

I was shocked to see Mownie's incorrect post on this (he's one of the best on this forum), so I am happy to say he's caught himself !

The first thing you need to do is calibrate/synchronize the governor.

This consists loosening the governor shaft from the governor cross arm. You then turn the shaft all the way in one direction and also push the arm. Then tighten the linkage bolt.

This procedure must be done before attempting ANY adjustment on the governor.

Here is a post from another forum that has illustrations from the manual.

Best of luck

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 7:11PM
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I don't understand why the OP is running less than full throttle when mowing.Most,if not all,tractors are designed to run at full throttle for proper engine and hydro cooling.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 8:59PM
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Good point, but not relevant per se.

Even at "WOT" on the throttle control the throttle butterfly will not be all the way open except under heavy load.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 10:10AM
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I dont run any of my equipment at full throttle because I dont feel the need to... The only time Ive ever run at WOT is when I had to approach a lawn which was in dire need of mowing - and even then Im pretty sure it wasnt at WOT.

Ive experimented with several machines over the years of mowing and have not seen any improvement with the cut quality. But have noticed the gas consumption go down greatly. Mind you - i dont make my engines struggle with low RPMs either

Now if time-were-money and I was in a landscaping business I might consider running my equipment near WOT in order to get onto the next job.

Actually - This subject would probably make a good new thread - because Ive always wondered why others are running their stuff at WOT.

Thanks - Dave.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 10:36AM
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***"Mownie's incorrect post.....he's caught himself!"***
Well WHOC, "To err is human, but to...." Well, I'm glad you guys are the forgiving sort. It would not be the first time I rambled off track in pursuit of a subject, but I got to thinking back on some of the other governor configurations I have encountered and completely overlooked the fact of the K321 having the "spring versus spring" concept applied to it. The "spring vs. spring" arrangement of a governor controlled throttle plate is really the defining characteristic of a variable speed governor. The very nature of "varying" the tension of the "manual" spring to counter the tension of the governor spring IS what allows the governor to affect self compensation and adherence to a selected RPM under changing load conditions while also providing a MAX RPM limit capability. The other type of governor ("speed limiting") I was harking back to would only intervene to prevent the engine RPM from exceeding a pre-set MAX RPM. All RPM and throttle settings below the governed RPM were under the control of the operator only. If you encountered an incline, or otherwise increased the load on the engine, you had to push harder on the accelerator pedal (or nudge the hand lever) to keep the RPM from nose diving. Only when you raced up to the governed RPM "limit" would you feel the governor....begin to "govern".

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 10:58AM
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I have a Kohler K301AS engine on my old Cub Cadet tractor. The govenor maintains the speed with load changes by controling the fuel in the carburater. It works great. When I engage the blades, I can see the governor arm open the throttle in the carburator to maintain the engine speed set by the throttle control lever. Charles Ranheim

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 11:46AM
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