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  • Block heater for air cooled engine

    My mini-loader with a 20HP Kohler gas engine is real reluctant to start now that it's cold out. It starts, but I'm on the key for 20-30 seconds and I'm afraid the battery may die and then I'll be stuck where I can't easily move or service the machine.

    It occurred to me to put a block heater on it, but I'm not sure if it would work or, frankly where exactly would be the best place to put heater on the engine.

    Any ideas??

    I saw this one:

    http://www.jcwhitney.com/OUR-BEST-UL...FQQrFQodg1W--w
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  • #2
    Re: Block heater for air cooled engine

    Looks like that would work.
    Brad

    You will never stand taller than when kneeling to help a child.

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    • #3
      Re: Block heater for air cooled engine

      How about a tuneup?
      HERS Rater • BPI Building Analyst • BPI Envelope Professional
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      • #4
        Re: Block heater for air cooled engine

        lighter weight oil for winter time. or switch to synthetic.

        there are also available stick on pad heaters- they are permanently glued to the oil pan. I picked up a 150 watt unit for $20 @ fleet farm. but dont bother with a dipstick heater.

        or put a 100w light bulb under there on a timer.
        The bitterness of a shoddy job is remembered long after the sweetness of a cheap price is forgotten...

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        • #5
          Re: Block heater for air cooled engine

          Originally posted by BeachBoy View Post
          How about a tuneup?
          Just had one before I took delivery of the machine. It runs fine once it's started, but starting it is the tough part. When it's warm, it turns over in 2 seconds.
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          • #6
            Re: Block heater for air cooled engine

            Cold starts are rough.

            I have heaters on my truck and skidsteer. I did not install them; but recommend them. They say when it gets below 20 degrees it is a benefit to use them for air quality.

            The other day it was 8 degrees and I started the skid steer w/no pre-heating. Never again, I thought it was in the upper 20's.

            As far as installing, I did not install either so I have no clue; but they are definitely worth it IMO.
            “Racism is man's gravest threat to man - the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.”
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            • #7
              Re: Block heater for air cooled engine

              Hey Greg, Do you ever feel like it's constantly something? ;)
              Louisville Exteriors
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              • #8
                Re: Block heater for air cooled engine

                Originally posted by J.Buesking View Post
                Hey Greg, Do you ever feel like it's constantly something? ;)
                Oh...it's ALWAYS something!
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                • #9
                  Re: Block heater for air cooled engine

                  Originally posted by davenorthup View Post
                  Cold starts are rough.

                  I have heaters on my truck and skidsteer. I did not install them; but recommend them. They say when it gets below 20 degrees it is a benefit to use them for air quality.

                  The other day it was 8 degrees and I started the skid steer w/no pre-heating. Never again, I thought it was in the upper 20's.

                  As far as installing, I did not install either so I have no clue; but they are definitely worth it IMO.
                  Thanks for nuthin', Dave!
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                  • #10
                    Re: Block heater for air cooled engine

                    If it's turning over slowly, I'd go to a lower viscosity oil. If it's cranking fine, just not starting, how about a quick shot of starter fluid ?
                    (For you youngsters, it's a spray can of ether we used in the old days when cars had carburetors)
                    "I stand corrected"
                    Last edited by SteveC; 11-24-2008, 09:06 PM.
                    SteveC
                    The improbable takes time, the impossible takes a little longer.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Block heater for air cooled engine

                      SteveC- I think you mean lower viscosity oil.
                      ie- switch from 10w40 to 5w30...

                      another thought may be to use a battery warmer.
                      the thing is with air cooled engine, there is no coolant to heat, so an oil pan heater is the way to go. I would suggest an oil change to a 5-30 true synthetic oil- like mobil1 or amsoil. that would prolly solve your issues in that climate.
                      you would not need to worry about forgetting to plug it in, running over your cord, etc, and I bet you change the oil like once a year, so would not really raise maintenance cost very much.

                      if that is not enough, then it may be time for a heater.

                      Does it have a choke? manual/ electric/ vac??
                      does it operate properly?


                      and I personally would not recommend ether for anything other than potato guns and to seat tire beads on rims....but thats just me...YMMV

                      good luck, mo
                      The bitterness of a shoddy job is remembered long after the sweetness of a cheap price is forgotten...

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                      • #12
                        Re: Block heater for air cooled engine

                        Greg,

                        I am sure SteveC meant lower viscosity oil.

                        Go to a synthetic, also synthetic in your air compressors really help them also.

                        If the engine is not fuel injected, most probably the operation of the choke is at fault.

                        The gasoline does not evaporate as well at lower temperatures. When the choke is closed the fuel is delivered through both the idle and main metering circuit. If the choke is not fully closed and the throttle valve not opened slightly above idle, the venturi is not "shifted" to above the main metering circuit. Upon starting the choke valve opens slightly to allow for the proper air fuel ratio.

                        Remove the air filter housing and filter, see if the choke valve is closed completely, crank the engine while holding the choke closed, let go once it fires, if it fires sooner the choke needs to be cleaned/set/adjusted.

                        If it functioned properly in warmer temperatures and starts fine when warm (after running) this is where I would look.

                        Other things occur in the choke circuit but those are the basics.

                        Double check on what was done in the tune-up, just checks and adjustments or parts and adjustments.

                        Tj
                        http://chicagocraftsmen.org/2011/06/261.html

                        Check with the AHJ, what we say doesn't matter.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Block heater for air cooled engine

                          Originally posted by tjbnwi View Post
                          Greg,

                          I am sure SteveC meant lower viscosity oil.

                          Go to a synthetic, also synthetic in your air compressors really help them also.

                          If the engine is not fuel injected, most probably the operation of the choke is at fault.

                          The gasoline does not evaporate as well at lower temperatures. When the choke is closed the fuel is delivered through both the idle and main metering circuit. If the choke is not fully closed and the throttle valve not opened slightly above idle, the venturi is not "shifted" to above the main metering circuit. Upon starting the choke valve opens slightly to allow for the proper air fuel ratio.

                          Remove the air filter housing and filter, see if the choke valve is closed completely, crank the engine while holding the choke closed, let go once it fires, if it fires sooner the choke needs to be cleaned/set/adjusted.

                          If it functioned properly in warmer temperatures and starts fine when warm (after running) this is where I would look.

                          Other things occur in the choke circuit but those are the basics.

                          Double check on what was done in the tune-up, just checks and adjustments or parts and adjustments.

                          Tj
                          Thanks TJ. It's a manual choke. Usually full-on and it starts up when warm. In the cold I have to horse it in and out a bit more while cranking.

                          I'm going to try the 5W and see how it goes. I have to see where my oil pan is and how accessible it is to put a pad heater on it.
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                          • #14
                            Re: Block heater for air cooled engine

                            Greg,

                            Being a manual choke there is an unloader spring, either on the choke valve linkage, or the choke cable its self.

                            Higher ambient temperatures do not require as much choke. Fuel evaporation is greater and it does not condense on the manifold as much.

                            If you can have someone can crank the engine while you view the choke valve, if it flutters wildly the unloader spring/linkage/adjustment is at fault.

                            Simply put gasoline in a liquid state is non-flammable, it must convert from liquid state to gaseous state to ignite. Cold air and cold steel exsacerbate this problem. More fuel in, more chance of evaporation.

                            The lower viscosity oil should give you a slightly higher crank speed. Higher crank speed equals greater negative pressure in the manifold (vacuum). Lowers boiling point of fuel, greater evaporation, easier starting win,win.

                            Go synthetic!

                            Good luck.

                            Tj
                            Last edited by tjbnwi; 11-24-2008, 07:22 PM. Reason: puncuation
                            http://chicagocraftsmen.org/2011/06/261.html

                            Check with the AHJ, what we say doesn't matter.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Block heater for air cooled engine

                              Holy crap...Could they make accessing the oil pan on this thing any more difficult? Granted it was dark out and I had nice clothes on, but it appears to me that the engine is sitting on the solid floor of the engine compartment more or less so I don't even think I'd be able to stick a magnetic heater or silcone pad heater on the oil pan if I wanted to.

                              I'll look better tomorrow during the day. Nothing is ever easy. Ever.
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