Experience with Briggs Vanguard engines?

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Knots

Minister of Fire
Mar 13, 2013
1,173
Alfred, Maine
I bought an Iron & Oak splitter a number of years ago with a B&S "Vanguard" engine on it. It's got about 60 hours on it. I've maintained it and stored it indoors. In spite of draining the carb religiously and using nothing but 100% gasoline in it, I had to replace the carb last year. Now I went to start it, and it won't even kick over with ether. It's getting fuel, so now it looks like its spark that's the problem.

Meanwhile, my brother has a splitter with the same pump but the old-style B&S single cylinder engine that they made for years. The unit must have 300 hours on it. My brother maintains it well, but stores it outside under a tarp and the thing always starts on the first pull.

Are the Vanguard engines junk? Should I look at retrofitting my splitter? Ugh.
 

festerw

Minister of Fire
Nov 16, 2009
532
Cambridge Springs, PA
Not the Vanguard engines but my Intek requires valve adjustment every year. Found that out the hard way this summer when the push rods dropped and bent.

If you do replace, I was really impressed with the $100 HF Predator engine I put on my FIL's old Troy-Bilt.
 

DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
696
West Michigan
I LOVE the Vanguards. I currently have 5 of them in tractors, gens, and a big pressure washer.

They are comparable to the Honda GX series without a doubt, but cost much less, and parts are a ton cheaper. The best small engine guys tend to put Kawasaki, Honda GX, and Vanguards as some of the best small engines on the planet.

Made in Japan by Toyota's small engine division, and labelled as Briggs over here.
 
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DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
696
West Michigan
I get that you're having some issues, but something in the equation isn't adding up at that low hours. Did you buy the splitter new or used? I've never had to swap a carb out on one of these, although I have had to run a couple that I picked up used through the ultrasonic cleaner to get them back to as new operation.

Do the normal diagnostics, plug, wire, coil, flywheel airgap, etc.. But start with the easy stuff first.

Here's a nice link that might help: https://www.briggsandstratton.com/n...rowse/ignition-system-theory-and-testing.html
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,844
Northern Maine
If you want to buy a near new Honda for a fair price let me know. It's at my house in Northern Maine and I could bring it south this weekend. It came on my Super Split that I bought new then decided to put the electric motor on it. I'm sure it doesn't have 6 tanks of fuel thru it. Pretty sure it's 5.5 HP
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,724
Philadelphia
Not the Vanguard engines but my Intek requires valve adjustment every year. Found that out the hard way this summer when the push rods dropped and bent.
Sorry to hijack, but which Intek?
 

DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
696
West Michigan
You need to set the valve lash on the Vanguards also. Easy to do though.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,724
Philadelphia
You need to set the valve lash on the Vanguards also. Easy to do though.

You need to set valve lash on all mower engines I’ve owned... nothing new. But every 50 hours is absurd! My other brands (eg. Kawasaki) are to be reset every 500 hours. Most landscapers put 50+ hours on their mowers every fifth day!
 
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DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
696
West Michigan
You need to set valve lash on all mower engines I’ve owned... nothing new. But every 50 hours is absurd! My other brands (eg. Kawasaki) are to be reset every 500 hours. Most landscapers put 50+ hours on their mowers every fifth day!

I don't know anyone who adjusts them every 50. I do mine every 30 hours after break in, then check it every couple hundred hours or so.

I've not had one come out of spec after they were finally set, and the engine was fully broke in.

By the way, the Vanguard twins are good for 2000 hours if taken care of. I have one that's got 1994 hours on it in a Simplicity GTH tractor that runs like new, and I do mean new. I've seen them with over 3000 hours that were still original and untouched but for tuneup and basic maintenance.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,724
Philadelphia
I don't know anyone who adjusts them every 50. I do mine every 30 hours after break in, then check it every couple hundred hours or so.

I've not had one come out of spec after they were finally set, and the engine was fully broke in.

By the way, the Vanguard twins are good for 2000 hours if taken care of. I have one that's got 1994 hours on it in a Simplicity GTH tractor that runs like new, and I do mean new. I've seen them with over 3000 hours that were still original and untouched but for tuneup and basic maintenance.

Good to know. Other than yearly fluid, lube, and filter changes, I usually wait until my machines have 500 - 600 hours on them, before even looking at the engine. However, I just put an Intek OHV on my log splitter.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,863
Nova Scotia
I have never looked at anything valve related on any of my small engines in my life. And some of them have lots of years and hours on them. Have never had an engine failure, they have always outlasted what they were hooked to.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,844
Northern Maine
We all do realize that needing adjustments to the valves is purely a sign of wear. Right? Otherwise there is no need to check such an item.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,724
Philadelphia
We all do realize that needing adjustments to the valves is purely a sign of wear. Right? Otherwise there is no need to check such an item.
Guess as you will at the reasoning, all of my pro-grade small engines have a defined valve adjustment interval. I'm not talking throw-away Briggs flat-head crap.
 

DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
696
West Michigan
I have never looked at anything valve related on any of my small engines in my life. And some of them have lots of years and hours on them. Have never had an engine failure, they have always outlasted what they were hooked to.

A lot of small engines don't have adjustable valvetrain. I'd venture to guess that most the motors you've had in operation have not required or even had adjustable valves.

I will say this, most people I know don't adjust the valves in their little engines, and they still run ok. But, I can also say that I've bought a lot of little engines over the years that make just a little bit more power when the valve adjustments are properly done.

But they'll run pretty good even when the valves aren't adjusted perfectly. It just so happens that Vanguards are overhead valve engines and that the valves are adjustable, and I for one appreciate that level of engineering and performance.
 

Knots

Minister of Fire
Mar 13, 2013
1,173
Alfred, Maine
If you want to buy a near new Honda for a fair price let me know. It's at my house in Northern Maine and I could bring it south this weekend.P

Thanks for the generous offer. After reading this thread though, I think I'm going to try get this engine up and running again.

You need to set the valve lash on the Vanguards also. Easy to do though.

OK - I'm usually pretty good about reading everything in the manual, but I missed the need for the valve adjust. I bet I'm so far out at this point that it's causing problems.

I bought the splitter new and have been changing the oil, hydraulic fluid/filter, air filter, and plugs, but haven't done the valve adjust.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,844
Northern Maine
Guess as you will at the reasoning, all of my pro-grade small engines have a defined valve adjustment interval. I'm not talking throw-away Briggs flat-head crap.

Please define what a pro grade small engine is. Never heard of it before.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,844
Northern Maine
Thanks for the generous offer. After reading this thread though, I think I'm going to try get this engine up and running again.

Not a problem
 

jwfirebird

Feeling the Heat
Sep 18, 2017
310
western ny
ive never had a vanguard, but a few inteks and would never buy any other b and s because of them, the one always need valve adjustment, started by ruining the starter and contactor. the other one wore out all kind of things plastic crap inside where it shouldn't be. know a bunch that had head gasket blow outs too. I will only buy kawi, Honda, kohler. things last forever
 

DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
696
West Michigan
ive never had a vanguard, but a few inteks and would never buy any other b and s because of them, the one always need valve adjustment, started by ruining the starter and contactor. the other one wore out all kind of things plastic crap inside where it shouldn't be. know a bunch that had head gasket blow outs too. I will only buy kawi, Honda, kohler. things last forever

Understandable. Kohler used to be a good motor, not so much anymore. Honda GX series are good, their lower lines are average. Kawasaki liquid cooled are considered the best, but they also have a few lower level entry motors that aren't well liked currently either.

Briggs Intek is a low end/big box store style motor. Cheap and basic. Vanguards are made in Japan by Toyota. Labelled as Briggs here in the USA. Big difference.

Kohler aren't at all what they used to be. I steer clear of them entirely now.
 

DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
696
West Michigan
Please define what a pro grade small engine is. Never heard of it before.

I'd say Honda GX, Kaw liquid cooled, Vanguard and Kaw air cooled, then the rest are somewhere underneath. Just my opinion.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,724
Philadelphia
Please define what a pro grade small engine is. Never heard of it before.

I’m sorry, I was typing quick on a phone, I should have taken the time to type: “engines used on pro equipment”. Specifically, my Kawasaki OHV V-twins, Yanmar, Honda GX, Subaru EX, old Kohler K301, etc. My only cheap Briggs flatheads are on my 1973 Toro push mower (rarely used) and my Excel pressure washer.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,844
Northern Maine
I've owned and run many of them including a two cylinder Onan and never adjusted a single one. I had one Honda engine on a trash pump that had a bizzilian hours on it fall apart. Stopped running for no reason so I went looking for why. Pulled the valve cover off to find loose parts and put it all back together. Couple of hours went by and it stopped running again. Popped the cover and same thing. Threw it out and bought another.

Many years back I was working on my 6B Cummins worried about valve lash because the book said so. Pulled off the first cover and the engine was .001 out of spec. It was going to be a long job to deal with .001 of an inch so I called a friend who was a certified Cummins instructor. His words to me were "don't bother". Truck went on in life for 130K that I owned it for and never touched the engine again.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,724
Philadelphia
I've owned and run many of them including a two cylinder Onan and never adjusted a single one. I had one Honda engine on a trash pump that had a bizzilian hours on it fall apart. Stopped running for no reason so I went looking for why. Pulled the valve cover off to find loose parts and put it all back together. Couple of hours went by and it stopped running again. Popped the cover and same thing. Threw it out and bought another.
I’m not sure if you’re still disagreeing with the premise that one should follow the manual on valve lash adjustment, when you cite an example of a motor that fell apart when you ignored that advice.

Bottom line, the engineers who designed these engines have forgotten more about them than the rest of us will ever know. I don’t understand anyone who thinks they somehow know better than the people who designed and built the product.

Cummins has a tolerance window of 0.007” on intake valve lash and 0.015” on exhaust. So, .001” out is really small, versus the specified window, even though you were technically out of it. On small motors, it’s more typical to see them far outside the factory lash settings, after 500 - 1000 hours.
 
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Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,844
Northern Maine
My point was that the Honda had a ton of hours on it with no adjustments. It deserved to die after the abuse it went thru. Poor thing didn't owe anybody anything.