Engine Styling and Quality

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Old 04-17-10, 08:13 AM
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Engine Styling and Quality

For a good many decades, the styling of small gasoline engine appearance appeared to me to remain pretty static. I seem to remember old Clinton, Briggs and Stratton and other engines with stamped steel covers that looked pretty much the same.

Then in the later 1990s or so, my impression is that Honda came on the scene with it's plastic top that looked kind of aerodynamic, or at least had a different and distinctive appearance. Other engine makers adopted that style and now that seems to be very widespread, if not universal.

Honda seems to have entered the market and leads it in terms of perception of quality over Briggs, Tecumseh and such. I see other small engine manufacturers like Kawasaki that seem to have a good reputation as well.


From reading various threads, a lot of people are down on Tecumseh as an engine. Briggs seems to have a good reputation among you small engine guys.

Where do Honda, Kawasaki and others fit in? And what about "Chinese engines" I am hearing about but haven't seen?


Perhaps someone can explain some of these issues to me.
 
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Old 04-17-10, 08:32 AM
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I don't have any experience yet with any 'chinese' engines, but after many years of owning or repairing briggs, tecumseh, kaw, honda, kohler, I've found the durability of any is directly proportional to maintenance performed on them, i.e.,
change oil, clean air filter, fresh gas, etc.
They are good, or they couldn't stay in business.
Lots of people didn't like Tecumsehs, but, 1st push mower I bought new had a 3hp Tec, lasted 19 yrs. I think the throttle/govenor linkage confounded most.
My '89 12hp briggs/Murray still runs strong.
Most motors will outlast the unit they power, if properly serviced.

Did I mention maintenance is important?
 
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Old 04-17-10, 09:12 AM
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As far as appearance I favor the older no nonsense utility style. Metal housing metal gas tank...

When I look at the unnecessary fancy contours that get put on new small engines I just think man that's kind of embarrising. Am I supposed to get better gas mileage or something?

But as far as a comparison goes between the brands you mentioned, the previous post pretty much says it all.
 
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Old 04-17-10, 11:38 AM
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Kohlers & Kawasaki are probably the best engines out there. Briggs is the most popular engine cause it has been around for over 60 years. Tecumseh made the best snowblower engine ever!!! Their lawn mower engine are good, too. Tecumseh made engines for lawn tractors, but those just didn't seem to fair too well.
Everyone seems to go "GA GA" over Honda engines. Honda got their reputaion when they started making "professional commercial" engines. When they decided to make consumer engines, they had to make them cheaper so homeowners could afford to buy them. So Honda is 1 engine I will not buy.
As far as Chinese engines, they are Honda clones and most of them are throw awy engines. The only exception is the new MTD engines. They were designed in the U.S., but manufactured in China. I have only seen these engines on equipment at Lowes. Haven't been able to look them over good nor have I had a chance to work on 1 yet. So, the jury is still out on those.
 
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Old 04-17-10, 12:50 PM
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Honda and Kawasaki are likely the best engines still going (IMO )
Won't find too many Honda engines going to the scrap even if the equipment has given up, someone will rob the prize Honda engine. Most smaller utility type applications prefer Honda engines, and the initial cost is a bit more, but only once
Kawasaki has been powering John Deere for years and a couple of those engines are near bullet proof.
Kohler certainly has and may still make some good engines. Although the newer ones I have seen...not so much. Fact I have two in my shop now with catastrophic failures.
Briggs are common and less expensive and most are decent. Still, some of the newer train drivers (most likely due to cost cutting) have designed some very cheap and unreliable aspects into them. Many John Deere and even Snapper, both I consider good equipment, have also used briggs for years. One briggs engine I would swear by is the L-head opposed twin. I think they ranged from 14 to 20 HP. I have two of my own and they just do not quit, plenty of power and never fail to go.
Tecumseh's are not bad engines, however, the only parts I keep an inventory of is for Tecumseh carbs (other than spark plugs and chemicals/fluids etc.) They are the worse as far as needing carb maintenance (not routine either) to begin the season. I have a high wheeled trimmer with a Tecumseh on it (only Tec I own) and it is also the ONLY machine I HAVE to work on at the start of each season just to make it run. I would go along with the idea they make good snow blower engines since they do not have to deal with contamination from yard debris, adverse weather, and perhaps storage.

The chineese knock offs, I have only seen a couple so far, but have not heard any thing good about them to date.

(Reserving the right to add/edit ) Beer 4U2
 
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Old 04-17-10, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by BFHFixit View Post
One briggs engine I would swear by is the L-head opposed twin. I think they ranged from 14 to 20 HP. I have two of my own and they just do not quit, plenty of power and never fail to go.
I'll have to agree with you on the briggs opposed twin, one of my utility tractors has a 1984 18hp that was on a Scag commercial 60" for 24 yrs, still very dependable.

Now, of all my equipment, if I had to pick my favorite, it would be the 20hp vtwin ONAN that's on my '96 MTD GT 50". doesn't have the normal combustion engine sound, it kinda humms.
fwiw.
 
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Old 04-17-10, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by indypower1 View Post
Kohlers & Kawasaki are probably the best engines out there.

Hello Indy,


I happened to be at an Ace Hardware store earlier today and they had Husvarna brand mowers for sale with Kohler engines on them. I don't recall seeing Kohler engines on regular lawnmowers before, but I'm only just starting to look for such things.

In my former gig as a furnace repairman, my general observation was that the brand of the equipment was less important than the competence of the person and business installing it and repairing it. It sounds like something similar may apply in the small engine field.

I appreciate all the comments. They are an education to me.
 
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Old 04-17-10, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by SeattlePioneer View Post
Hello Indy,


I happened to be at an Ace Hardware store earlier today and they had Husvarna brand mowers for sale with Kohler engines on them. I don't recall seeing Kohler engines on regular lawnmowers before, but I'm only just starting to look for such things.

In my former gig as a furnace repairman, my general observation was that the brand of the equipment was less important than the competence of the person and business installing it and repairing it. It sounds like something similar may apply in the small engine field.

I appreciate all the comments. They are an education to me.
And did you look at the price? It was $$ higher then the same type of mower with a B&S engine.
 
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Old 04-17-10, 06:19 PM
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I think Kohler is trying to fill the void of smaller engines left when Tecumseh went out of business.
 
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Old 04-17-10, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by indypower1 View Post
And did you look at the price? It was $$ higher then the same type of mower with a B&S engine.

Yes, it was.


My guess was they were trying to distinguish themselves from mowers sold at the box stores.
 
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Old 04-17-10, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by GlenM View Post
I think Kohler is trying to fill the void of smaller engines left when Tecumseh went out of business.
Matching price by lowering quality...
 
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Old 04-17-10, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by SeattlePioneer View Post
Yes, it was.


My guess was they were trying to distinguish themselves from mowers sold at the box stores.
Did you happen to notice any other differences?
What size mower, gauge steel,options, push, rider, propelled?

You could find the same machines. some with different engines and more options at Sears, Lowe's, Home Depot TG&Y, Western Auto, Am-PM....made by AYP and owned by Electrolux.

I think it time to take my bow out of here as this looks to be going viral.

Peace to all ya's

Asis
 
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Old 04-17-10, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by BFHFixit View Post
Did you happen to notice any other differences?
What size mower, gauge steel,options, push, rider, propelled?

No, I just looked at them casually I can see from your questions.
 
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