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need serious input on k17 kohler

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gary noblit

Well-known member
IHCC Supporter
Jul 22, 2020
just got it running for a friend (in a 782)..found cyls had lots of water of course oil did also...Ran great after carb clean and new capacitor until it got up to temp then smoke was very real.I'm leaving out the abusive details but I'm sure rings rusted over the winter,maybe even broke a few.I have no experience with a 17.I've read several comments in the past about this engine and most are not fond of this engine..Would you rebuild or replace? Are parts available to rebuild? If replace then what engine fits the easiest mechanically?? This machine still looks pretty good all hyds worked while running so it's very worth saving....HELP please...
Gary, isavetractors has a rebuild for the kt 17 in stock. I'm not sure it's the same as what you're working on. I rebuilt a 17hp Kohler opposed twin that was shooting corn and smoke out the exhaust about 15 years ago. I didn't think it was a hard or complicated engine to work on. Your shovel head would be harder, in my opinion. But here's a link to the kit I found.https://isavetractors.com/piston-kit-for-kohler-kt17-mv16-m18-mv18-engines/?gad_source=1&gclid=CjwKCAjw34qzBhBmEiwAOUQcF4VdZdkV3tKRFz3dEWtgBCg9O8Lygp4GghLKZVpi-E-D3I8VEBjQKhoCiaQQAvD_BwE
Might just be sticky rings. I'd run it under load for a while and see if it improves.

If this is a Series I, I would not bother rebuilding it. The Series II was an improved design.
Put some marvel mystery oil in the oil and work it hard. It might clear up. If not, KT-17 Series II will swap right in, and an M18 will swap in with some minor electrical mods. Kohler Command V-twin is more work but also a good swap.

A Series I KT cannot be 'rebuilt' easily, as all of the parts not shared with the later versions were discontinued decades ago.
Gary, Matt and 1811 are probably correct on a stuck ring. I had a 351w that had a stuck ring once. My grandpa told me to add a quart of kerosene to the oil and drive it 100 miles or so. After about 10 miles, the smoke cleared up. The rings must have cleaned up. I then changed the oil, and never had an issue after. My brother is still running that 1980 bronco today. Smoke free!
While we are talking K17. I just pulled mine out of my 782. Does anyone want it as a parts engine?
It ran just weeks ago. It has a bad oil leak that never tracked down but Carb, air cleaner, coil, is all there. As I said it ran the day I pulled it.
update on k17...after removing all the water and changing oil...It smoked horrible but the longer it ran the better it was...Convinced the owner he had nothing to lose .He let it set and run at a fast idle for hours,just kept getting better....change oil again and it now runs smoke free..sharpened blades and it's back working .I'm amazed and most happy indeed !! Sometimes you get lucky and end up being the hero..

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