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Hey Guys,

I have a tough one for you today. I have a Craftsman tractor (model # 917.259551) with a kohler command 15.5HP (model cv15s) engine. I got this mower back in 1997 new and has run GREAT .... until last year. I go overboard on maintenance every year, syn oil, plug, oil filter, air etc....
Last year as I would try to start it the engine would lock up on me and gas would pour out the exhaust. I gave it a couple of mins and turned the engine from the top by hand to make sure it wasn't locked up anymore, it would start up and run fine. This went on every week last year. I cleaned it up put stabil in the gas and stored it for the winter as I always do. THIS year I go to change the oil and the gas from the gas tank drained into the crankcase (gravity fed tank). Changed the oil and started it up, NOW I DON'T HAVE THE LOCK UP PROBLEM ANYMORE AT START UP?? (go figure!!!)
This year I started belching blue smoke out the exhaust. Checked the oil again and sure enough 1/3 of the gas in the tank leaked down into the crank again. So I took the carb off thinking the float was stuck/dirty etc. Cleaned it out, nothing apparent seemed out of the ordinary. I added an inline fuel shut off after the fuel filter - this prevents the gas now from getting into the crank. But I am experiencing some hard starting. First it was 3 GOOD LONG cranks from the starter now it's seems like a couple of mins. I have to sit there and fiddle with it to get it going. I can hear it puffing out the exhaust so I am holding compression and it's backfiring once or twice so I am getting spark. It is getting plenty of gas as I stated before. It will fire up eventually and once it gets warmed up, she runs like I just got her yesterday, and when the engine is all warmed up I can turn it off and start it right up, no problem at all. It's just the cold starts are the problem and it seems to be getting worse. I have done internet searches on this problem and it "seems" to be a specific problem to this kohler engine family as I have heard this problem stated before, BUT no one seems to have an answer or I have to pay $30 to talk to a Kohler specialist.
ANY AND ALL thought or comments would be appreciated. I am at a loss here guys............... HELP!!!!!

THANKS FOR TIME
HOSS
 

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Hmm, yeah, a leaky float would've been my guess too.

Just out of curiosity, do you have it set on choke when you are cranking it over and it does this, or is it off choke? If it's off, you might try putting it on choke and seeing what happens. It *should* fire right up and when it does, take it off. If the engine is just cranking over for a long duration of time without starting, then that would explain why it's getting flooded as it's just adding more and more fuel.

Sometimes I find with small engines that they want a little choke to aid with starting if they are not completely warmed up, but this may not be related at all to your issue.

For what it's worth, here is a link to Kohler's troubleshooting tips: Kohler Engines
 

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What do the valves sound like once it starts? Maybe on the noisy side and then quiet down after a few minutes (kind of the norm for the engine) or do they stay noisy?

I'm wondering if it could be a problem with the hydraulic lifters slow pumping up. Gas is not a good lubricant and no doubt the lifters would have had some in them with the fuel leaking into the cylinder and crankcase.
 

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Quality of gas has proved to be a issue with this Kohler engine. Use gas without menthol, I use middle grade of gas and get good results otherwise I have hard starts and backfiring. Also check the head bolts, you may have blown the head gasket with excess gas and oil mixer in the crankcase.
 
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