My Kohler Light PUZZLE


| November/December 1995



Brass hex rod

Photo 1: Brass hex rod held by my son Richard used to bop loose pistons on quarry engine.

26 Mott Place Rockaway, New Jersey 07866-3022

This story begins on a cool August evening in 1993. The North Jersey Antique Engine and Machine Club was holding one of its monthly meetings at the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show grounds. At the end of the meeting Jim Quince, the club's president, asked me if I wanted a Kohler 4-cylinder light plant he had. said, 'It's all apart, but know where second unit is that you can use for parts.' told had tried to locate parts his at home, could not find what needed, and thought maybe do something with the two units combined. him was interested, we set date get together.

About two weeks later I went to Jim's home in order to pick up the two light plants. I came home with more than I'd asked for! First, Jim showed me several mid-sized boxes of parts he had in his garage. These included nuts and bolts of all sizes, a lot of broken rings and ring pieces (?!!) and more. 'Where did all of the rings come from?' I asked. 'Well, we kind a broke a few getting the pistons out,' Jim said. 'A few!,' I thought. Other boxed items included a semi-stripped Eiseman magneto (still hot, but the spark distribution assembly had been removed for unknown reasons), a valve rocker shaft with a broken support (that broke too; it was stuck), a couple of broken and whole sparkplugs, as well as a whole lot of pushrods, rockers, and springs galore! What did I get into now, I thought! I soon found out. Next, we went out to collect the parts outfit. It had been used in a sand and gravel pit up until about five years ago, to provide light for nighttime operations at the pit. When A.C. power was installed, the Kohler was taken off line and was abandoned to the elements. The quarry owner said that I could have the unit so long as I took it right away. 'Load it up,' I said and the owner walked away.

This unit was a 1,000 watt, 110 VDC generator which looked like it was all there. It had a Kohler 4-cylinder manual-start engine, a Zenith carb, and an American-Bosch mag that was all there. A tin can had been placed over the upturned exhaust pipe, to keep out water and other uninvited guests and their related materials. A quick look at the oil dipstick told another story though the crankcase was full to the top with water and emulsified oil (you know that milky white corrosive gunk that gets into everything). Then I noticed that the tin can had rusted through over the exhaust pipe. I also noted that the nose bearing that supports the hand crank had been recently broken. I later found out that the owner had stood and jumped on the crank in an effort to free the stuck engine, in order to sell it, but the support broke instead.

Well about now, the owner comes up to us in one of the quarry's big loaders in order to pick up the heavy outfit. It was loaded post-haste with the expert help of the operator. You should see this thing! You could fit two of my Grand Caravan automobiles into the bucket of this huge machine, and yet it set the Kohler generator onto my trailer as gently as a feather! We thanked the owner for the machine and the help loading it and headed back to Jim's house in order to pick up the unit he had.

I backed into Jim's yard, got out of my car and went to look at my 'puzzle.' This was a true basket case! The entire unit had been disassembled soup-to-nuts, with the exception of the field cores in the stator housing, the control box for the auto start mechanism (although the cover and the wiring had been removed unlabeled of course), and the generator's rotor and armature was still mounted on the end of the engine crankshaft. All of this was on the deck of Jim's trailer. Oh yes! I forgot to mention the trailer!!! The three-foot by five-foot trailer was covered by an Army green tarp that was well weather worn. Jim said it had sat out back about two years, and now he needed the trailer to haul engines to the local shows.