All posts by RoninsGrips

We're a small business made up of myself and my wife working nights and weekends to hand make items for AK and related rifles as well Nepalese khukuris! We've been in business for over four years and pride ourselves in providing quality products and exceptional customer service.

The SpitJack Rotisserie System – Part One: Getting Ready

For my daughter’s wedding, we plan to cook a whole pig on a spit with the spirit of traditional Filipino “Lechon” in mind. My wife is from the Philippines and we’ve been married for 28 years so I’ve met tons and tons of close and extended family. Over the years, there have been tons of barbecues and Filipinos seriously know how to grill. When my wife first brought up the idea of our cooking a whole pig and making lechon, I got excited because it would combine some things I really like doing – grilling, figuring out some mechanical stuff and bringing family together.

How do you cook lechon?

In the traditional manner, a bamboo pole serves as the “spit” rod. The pig is cleaned, filled with a stuffing that varies from family to family. The spit is rested on two posts and the pig is turned over a charcoal fire that is in the a trench in the ground. The family members will then turn the pig continuously for 4-6 hours usually while drinking alcohol the whole time :-). In the next post I will get into the details of the recipe but you get the idea – it takes a long time and the Filipinos will tell you “low and slow” meaning it is relatively low heat and it’s going to take a while – as in and hour and 15 minutes per 10 pounds of pig slow. Now, your’s truly can’t sit still for hours so I needed to figure out how to do this mechanically and that is really the focus of this first post.

How do you make a rotisserie big enough to turn a pig?

Okay, I have no experience with big spit rotisserie systems so I had to start reading and talking to people. They say you get about half the weight of the cleaned pig in meat – so if you get a 100 pound then you get about 50 pounds of meat. A number of folks told me to think of the pig as presentation and do extra meat via pork butts to keep things easier. At any rate, my wife was thinking 75-80 pounds – maybe 100 pounds so I figured I needed something that had a working load around 85 pounds.

In reading about rotisseries, I found guys either built or bought them. Well, I have never seen a rotisserie for a full size pig – just cooked pigs. I watched a few videos and decided I better buy one to get started. That way I could see one first-hand and learn what worked and what didn’t.

Since we were planning a 100+ pound pig, that ruled out all of the little rotisseries and we would also need the longest spit pole I could find – they tend to be 72″/6 feet max. If you plan to only do 40 pound pigs you can get a lot smaller units – including the enclosed ones that will cook the pig faster since the heat surrounds them kind of like an oven.

In my case, I couldn’t justify some of the beautiful trailers and the custom rotisserie systems that were out there but I did read the read-to-go units very carefully. I also decided to go with something largely ready to go vs. making it piece by piece – why? Again, brand new territory for me. Nobody had written a “here, now think about these things to build your rotisserie system” guide. I found some posts that touched lightly on it but not enough for me to gamble on building a machine I had never seen in action.

Moving on, I read just a tons of Amazon product ads, reviews, forum posts and Youtube videos about pig/hog rotisseries. One thing I noticed were recurring warnings that many Chinese rotisseries way overstated their weight capacity and also the capacity of the motor they used.

Need a quality motor

One of the things vendors do with the rotisseries is to brag about how many watts their motor is. That drives me nuts. “Watts” are a measure of energy transfer over time. A poorly made motor may draw more watts and have have less output power than a high quality motor that draws fewer watts but outputs more power to the spit. So, to brag that a motor uses 40 watts doesn’t help matters – you will see this a lot when vendors try to hype up whatever they are trying to sell with an electric motor – vacuums, tools, or in this case, spit motors.

The quality of the motor is extremely critical – it will need to turn whatever size pig (goat or whatever) that you plan to cook for hours and hours. By the way, a 100 pound pig / 10 x 1.25 hours per 10 # means it will be turning for 12.5 hours and need to handle a load that is relatively balanced while also being exposed to some degree of heat.

I read once that cook an animal on a spit is a big deal – if you fail then there are going to be a lot of hungry disappointed people who know it. Bottom line, don’t get a poorly made system or motor.

Some vendors fluff up the weight capacity of their rotisseries

The second thing some vendors do is to overstate the weight capacity of their system. This is where you need to read up on each vendor using Amazon and Internet in general to find out what people say. You also need to look very carefully at the design.

The capacity of the system will be limited by the motor, the spit (how thick and long it is) and how you support the loaded spit.

What is can you look for in photos to start to form an opinion about the quality of the rotisserie?

When I look at a product, I look at the design and look for weaknesses. If a person is going to turn a relatively heavy load, what would be critical? How the spit is supported and how it connects to the motor. Now this is how we can immediately set apart the serious contenders. If I were to design a rotisserie, I would put the spit on sealed roller bearings that at least contact it on the bottom and then I would have a way to take the strain off the shaft of the motor. Boom – immediately something I could look for in productt photos that would rule a model in or out. The cheap ones connect the spit pole straight to the motor shaft via a coupling and/or have the spit sitting on a piece of sheet metal vs. bearings.

I went with SpitJack

Now that you have some background, I went with a brand known as SpitJack. You can find many of their products on Amazon or deal with them directly. Spitjack was formed in 2014 by Bruce Frankel who has a passion for grilling and is a former chef and restraunteur in the Northhampton, MA, area. I called their 800# and Bruce himself answered the phone. He did a great job at answering my questions and you can see from all of the photos and YouTube videos that these are quality systems.

They have two models of complete systems that I considered – the CXB85 – rated for 85 pounds and the CXB125 – rated for 125 pounds. I wound up doing a bit of a hybrid. Since I was talking to Bruce, I ordered the CXB84 with the accessories that come with it but upgraded the motor and spit to the ones from the CXB125. In hindsight, I would tell you to get the CXB125 so you have more accessories for fastening bigger pigs – I found this out when we cooked our 101 pound pig that I will tell you more about in the next post.

While the SpitJack systems are more expensive than their imported competitors, the engineering and build quality are far superior plus Bruce and team support what they sell.

What arrived?

The system arrived very well packed and Bruce will tell you to inspect everything and test it. Their system comes with instructions and suggestions plus their videos help. As far as assembly goes, it was simple. Three screws and nuts to fasten the upright columns of the stands to their bases, I had to tighten the screws on the roller bearing assembly on the end column and that was it.

Now this is where customer services makes a huge difference. When I looked at the motor, they had shipped the standard 40 watt motor vs. the 125 watt model I had ordered. I called Bruce and he told me to use the 40 watt motor if I needed to, he would get the 125 watt model out that day via UPS and then send the 40 watt motor back. He would include a UPS label for that also. Wow. No hassle and he moved fast to make it right. Folks, that kind of customer service is worth a lot to me. No filling out forms, no arguing just a rapid correction of an honest mistake on their part.

Making a rotisserie grill area

One of Bruce’s recommendations was to just dig a slit in the ground for the charcoal and cook the first time to see how things go. My wife didn’t like that idea and wanted it to be neater so we did two things – we made a 4×8 area with patio blocks and I welded together a 36×54″ firebox from 1/8″ thick steel to hold the charcoal.

We picked an area, put down leveling sand and made a 4’x8′ area using 12″x24″ patio blocks from Lowes. They are nice and thick too.
We then brought out the newly assembled SpitJack system. I had plugged the motor in and turned it on in the house just to make sure it would start. The 125 watt motor had so much torque that I could not stop it by hand. I ran it for maybe 10-20 seconds and turned it off. Read the instructions that come with the unit – they have some warnings you need to be aware of – don’t run it without load or try to turn it by hand for example.
This is a view of the oppose end. The spit is basically on stainless jack stands. Note how the spit is on the roller bearings. On my unit, I did have to tighten down the bolts holding the bearings. I’m not sure if they were installed loose on purpose or not so just double check your’s.
Note how the load of the spit is on the roller bearings and not on the shaft of the motor. On cheaper models there are no external bearings and they make the motor’s bearings take the load. Not a good idea. By taking the load off the motor’s bearings, the motor will last longer. I had worried about vertical play in the spit but after having the pig on there it seems like most of the force is downward plus maybe a bit of left and right play due to the 4-6 RPM rotation speed. Note, the spit goes into the collar you see and is secured by the bolt and nut you also see. We found it easier to truss the pig to the spit and install the motor onto the spit on the table and then take it all over to the charcoal. It’s not a super easy fit so plan accordingly. Using a gear or chain would have made it so but the costs of such a design and price of the model would have jumped for sure. By the way, the motor assembly, bearings and mount were all pre-assembled. I didn’t need to do anything.
The motor must not be over the fire when you are grilling the pig so your actual cooking area is about 54-57″ long once you factor in the distance between the bases and how much of the spit you want to extend past the jack stand on the opposite end. The spit tracks true is what I found out but I want a safety margin of a few inches vs. having the last set of roller bearings being too close to the end of the spit and risk falling for whatever reason.
The spit comes in three stainless steel parts – the two tubes and then a solid stainless rod that goes inside and connects them. To handle the weight of the pig, the XB125 spit is heavier gauge stainless tube. Be sure to tighten these down with a wrench and not just by hand.
Each end of the rotisserie can be raised or lowered on the jack stand. Locking pins hold it in position so you can find your sweet spot.
I was relieved to find that assembling the jack stands just meant installing three bolts and nuts on each side of the stainless steel channel that forms the upright column.
View from one end
View from the other. By the way, 125 watts is not much draw – although probably higher when first turned on. I just ran a decent 15 amp rated extension cord from a nearby shed and didn’t have any problems at all.

Making a firebox

Again, to look cleaner, my wife had me fabricate a firebox. A pig is cooked via indirect heat so you have a 4″ wide gap or so right under the centerline of the spit with charcoal to the left and the right. I made mine 36″ wide, 3″ tall sides and you will need to confirm your length – it will likely be 54-57″.

I don’t have the strenghth to easily muscle around this much steel all at once so I made 12″ wide sections that I could bolt together.
I used my Miller 211 MIG to do the welds. I love this machine. I will tell you I ran out of my normal Lincoln .030 wire and tried some cheap PGN brand .035 wire off Amazon and it spattered so much that I thought I was running flux core wire. I’ve had very good luck with Lincoln wire and ordered another 10# spool after this project. The PGN will either go in a garage sale or the trash – yeah, I didn’t like the spattering.
Before I put the firebox in place, I applied to coats of grape seed oil and heated it up with a ground torch. Because food would be above it, I did not want to apply any paint that would bake off contaminate the meat. Grape seed oil is commonly used to season cast iron pans and in this case I just want to slow up the rust some. Combine the 1/8″ thick steel with the grape seed oil and hope it will be around for a while.


I felt really good about the SkipJack rotisserie. We had it assembled, tested, the firebox ready – now it was time to test cook a 60 pound pig so we invited some friends over for a cookout on July first. How did it go? How did we season the pig? What were my lessons learned? I’ll tell you in the next post.

By the way, jumping the gun slightly, I can tell you I now recommend SkipJack wholeheartedly and they sell just a ton of stuff for grilling – rotisserie-style and otherwise – check out their Amazon store.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Palmetto State Armory has a great sale price on Winchester 5.56 NATO 62gr Green tip XM855 ammo

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Palmetto State Armory has 500 round boxes of Winchester XM855 on sale for $279.

I have shot tons of the stuff and found it to be reliable and accurate. It’s a pretty good price plus they’re offering a bundle where you can get 10 PMAG magazines also for a discount if you’re interested

Definitely a good sale price if you’re interested.

I just snagged the box and thought I would share the news.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

An Update On My Char-Griller Competition Pro Grill

Back in July of 2020, my kids bought me my first new grill in years – a Char-Griller model 8125 grill that I then converted to use firewood. I wrote a blog post about the conversion work including making the firebox and adding in heavy aftermarket grates [click here to read it]. At any rate, here we are three years later and thought I would write an update – why? Because I love grilling and smoking.

All in all, the grill has been great other than the ultra cheap low temp paint they coated the grill with at the factory. That stuff would regularly bake off in an unchanged area and then I would have to touch it up with Rustoleum High Heat Ultra – that’s the best paint I have found for a grill.

Way back when I bought a cover for the grill and was pretty good about keeping it on for the first year. For the last two years it has largely stayed off because I would forget it at first and then the rodents got to it and it has a bunch of holes now.

At any rate, I was grilling this spring before we were going to have a bunch of relatives over and realized I really needed to wire brush the grill to get off loose paint and rust and then put on some new coats of paint.

The rust was superficial and the trick is to keep it that way – either keep paint on it by touching uop the spots needed or if it is past that, like this one is, wirebrush and paint it when needed.
I use a circular wire brush in my drill to go all around and remove as much surface rust and loose paint as I can.
Go all around and get the front, back and sides – don’t forget the bottom either. If yyou keepo your grill painted it will last for years and years. Kind of an interesting note, the firebox I added worked wonderfully – the botttom is in great shape with hardly any rust or loose paint. If the burning wood were to sit right on the bottom steel of the grill, it would be in far worse shape.
Rustoleum High Heat Ultra – specifically the Ultra blend – is the best paint I have found for the grill. No finish is perfect and this grill gets real hot as I burn down wood to embers so the finish will burn/oxidize over time. I keep a can on hand and do spot touch ups regularly but sooner or later you will need to wire brush and redo certain areas.
Follow the instructions for curing the paint. I’ve found it makes a world of difference if you do. I apply 3-4 coats on the areas that get really hot – for me it is the two ends of the main body and nearly the entire back plus the front below the door.
Here I had just started a fire and was getting ready to grill. Again, this is after curing the finish per instructions.
I’m letting the wood cook down. You can see why the sheet metal gets so hot.
Kind of off topic but this is what I was grilling chicken that night – I do find the use of hot and cold zones (or some folks call them direct and indirect heat zones. Here, the open lid has really allowed the embers to flare up and I then closed the lid and to dampen (reduce) the flames by controlling the amount of air that can get to the chicken.

By the way, the aftermarket grates I put in it have been awesome from the start. They’re nice and thick and cook the food evenly. Totally worth it. There are photos and information about them in the first post.


I still like my Chargriller. It was a great gift from my kids and by keeping it painted it ought to last a long time. If you need to touch up your grill – definitely try out Rustoleum High Heat Ultra. I’ve found it to hold up the best but you will still need to do touchups.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Use Super Glue to Seal and Stabilize Wood

Have you ever had wood that is in tough shape or is too soft to work with? A quick fix is to use super glue on the wood and let it set. Let’s talk about this for a minute.

Super glue is actually a family of glues called “Cyanoacrylates“. The patent for the original product goes back to 1942 when BF Goodrich was looking for a clear adhesive for gun sights in WWII. As they say, the rest is history.

There are many different brands and types of super glue. For the brand, I stick with name brand and usually get biggger bottles from firms such as Bob Smith Inc (BSI), Starbond, Loctite, Gorilla Glue, etc. With the no-name generics, you never quite know what is really in the formula or how good it is.

The glues are available in different viscocities/thicknesses also ranging from Super thin to normal, to gel, etc. For our purposes, we want th thinnest glue we can buy. Why? Because it will really soak into the wood and follow all of the little cracks that are opening, seal and reinforce them.

So, when I say I am using it to seal and stabilize, what do I mean? To seal means that water can’t get in. To stabilize means it is soaking into the soft wood, filling small cracks and when it dries it will harden the treated area. I’ve used this to fill small cracks in wood rifle stocks, knife handles, tools, furniture – anything with wood.

Super Glue is good for stabilizing but not filling an area. If you need to build something up, fill in a gap, or rebuild an area, then use an epoxy.

These slats bench slats had chunks of wood missing that I built up using epoxy. I sanded them down flush and then applied two coats of thin CA glue to the surrounding wood to stabilize it. I then used an opaqe wood deck stain and you couldn’t even see the repairs.

I apply several coats. The first one I apply quite a bit of glue and just let it keep soaking in. You’ll see it following cracks and what not. Once I get the surface soaked, I stop and let it cure. I typically wil do 2-3 coats/applications depending on how bad the wood looks. Usually after the second coat everything is sealed stabilized.

As it cures you will see a light white-ish smoke. Don’t get the fumes in your eyes or it really stings – you don’t want to breath them either. Small pieces like a knife handle aren’t too bad. For pieces bigger than that, all of the fumes really make this something you either want to do outside or in a room with really good ventilation.

Let me show you a few photos form a recent project where I needed ro reinforce the area around a wood gate latch. The wood was in really tough shape and I didn’t have the time to go to buy the lumber, cut it and make a new one. I keep thin super glue in stock at all times for all kinds of projects so I just did that

Starbond makes good CA glues from my experience. I’ve used a number of their forumlas and been happy with the results. As you can see, the wood is in tough shape. It probably should be replaced but I don’t have the time.
I let gravity work with me and apply the glue to the top of the wood and let it soak into the end grain. I could see it going down the board and the wood looking wet where it travelled. You’ll use a fair amount of glue doing this, I went across the entire top of that board and watched for the glue to penetrate – in this case I wanted it down near the screws. When it the glue cures, the stabilized wood will still a bit darker than the surrounding untreated areas.
This board was in really tough shape. It soaked in a lot of glue and I kept adding it until I saw it saw it in that big crack.
Here, the CA can help seal the top and stop the small cracks but there is no way it can fill the big crack.


You can definitely use thin super glue to seal and stabilize wood. Use a reputable brand and work in a well ventilated area.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

We are Labelling Our Custom 10mm Mags For Rock Island Armory A2 HC Pistols

We’ve made and sold hundreds of our custom magazines for the Rock Island Armory (RIA) A2 HC (High Cap) 10mm & .40 S&W pistols. These pistols are based on the Para design with a staggereed magazines that hold 15 rounds normally. Our mags hold 16 and are slightly longer.

The main reason I am writing this post is that our magazines use tubes originally made for the Para P14 pistol chambered in .45 ACP so they are stamped “P14-45” and there hasn’t been an elegant way to change that – the tubes are hardened and trying to stamp something else in would be messy. A laser engraver is an option but I don’t have one.

I was working on another project involving “permanent” labels – these are labels that have a really strong adhesive and last far better than regular labels. “Permanent” is a marketing term though – they can wear off, etc.

At any rate, it dawned on me that with the right size, I could have a clear thick vinyl label made with white ink that has “10mm & .40 S&W” written on it and that’s just what I did. You’ll find these on the baseplates going forward

So, yes, our tubes still have P14-.45 on them but now they have the correct chambering on the decal on the baseplate.

This is a normal baseplate with the label.
This is a baseplate that has been riveted closed because the tube has been blocked to 10 rounds. We also make 15 round limited mags. They are for folks who live in an area that has magazine limits.

By the way, if you ever want to confirm whether one of my mags is for 10mm or .40 S&W, the gap between the front feed lips will be between .370 and .390.

If you are interested in buying a magazine, please click here to go to our store. All of our magazines are converted, tuned and tested by hand one at a time.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

We Have A New Online Store!!

July 18th Update: Hi everyone! Our new website is up and running and have the bugs worked out.. The old one was called “Quick Shopping Cart” and was shut off – literally – by the provider at the end of June so we had to change.

A couple of other things:

  • I decided to not move over all of the products. We had stuff on the old site that would sell once or twice a year and we just discontinued them.
  • The one regret is that all of the links to products have changed. That means all of the many posts people have done over the years on AK Files, AK Forum, AR15, other forums, my blog and what not no longer work. The website does come up with a notice and a way to search for the item the person seeks but I am sure that will frustrate some folks. If you hear of somebody looking for something and the old link is broken, please let them know about the change – I would really appreciate it.
  • Paypal is now handled manually – you select that option, finish checking out and then I need you to Paypal the funds to and be sure to list your order #. Orders that aren’t paid in two hours will be cancelled. By the way, the reason for this is that the PayPal integration was real flakey and customers were having a ton of problems and the manual process works great.
  • Unrelated to the move but it happened at the same time, the USPS has now created a new ground service called “Ground Advantage” that combines a number of offerings into one — including first class packages. If you are wondering why you don’t see a first class mailing option and see Ground Advantage instead, now you know why.

The link to the site is the same: and just will go there too.

If you have any questions or need to report a bug, please email me.

How to change the transmission oil in your Simplicity Broadmor 16HP lawn tractor

If you ever notice that you are trying to push the foot pedal to back up your tractor and it is very slow, then you may have one or two things going on – your transmission could be low on oil or it could be really old and due for a change. How do I know this? Well, I just lived it.

We have a 1998 Simplicity Broadmor tractor with a 42″ deck. It’s been backing up slower and slower for quite some time. When I bought the tractor new, I asked the dealer what I needed to do with the transmission – he said just make sure it has fluid but that’s it because it is sealed. He told me this in 1998 … and it’s now 2023. Yeah, I know now.

What is 10W-30 CD/SG?

Well, I was getting my tractor ready for the season and checked the plastic case and saw a dark shadow at the full mark. I took off the lid and couldn’t see any oil at all – anywhere inside. The cap said “TRANSMISSION OIL FILL 10W-30 CD/SG”? I had no idea what that meant so I called my master auto mechanic friend John up and he told me to put in a good real oil, not synthetic 10W-30.

The CD/SG was the API (American Petroleum Institute) service category. The “S” meant it was for automotive gasoline engines and the “G” code is the for engine vintage. SG was introduced in 1989 but is not considered suitable for engines introduced after 1993. Regarding “CD”, the “C” is for automotive diesel engines. “D” means it should not be used in diesels made after 1994. In short, a modern car engine 10W-30 oil would work just fine. The simplicity owner’s manual also states this. It takes about 3.5 quarts.

The Reservoir

As to the dark mark on the plastic reservoir – I guess it is stained now due to age. You sure can’t see the fluid in the container unless you remove the cap. It had probably been low on transmission oil for a long time. I topped it off and it worked like new.

I was so happy about the speed in reverse that I called John. He paused and asked if I ever change my transmission oil. I told him that I hadn’t based on what the dealer told me way back when and he just chuckled “boy, you better drain that transmission or you’re going to have a problem”.

So, I listened to John. I looked up in the manual where the drain plug was at, removed it and out came pitch black oil. Have you ever felt guilty about what you did to a machine? I sure did. Wow.

According to the manual, Simplicity recommended that the oil be changed after the first 50 hours of run time and then every 250 hours after that. Folks, I kid you not, I was at 527.6 hours in the meter. Wow. I felt really bad about putting the tranny though that. I was also amazed that it was still working.

I’m going to show you some photos of what I did. One thing I want to point out to you is to make sure the area around the filler cap is clean. You do not want to get any dirt into the transmission oil tank. I cleaned mine with brake cleaner and then blew it off with compressed air just to be sure. I also used my compressed air to blow the work area clean to reduce the odds of dirt getting in the transmission oil tank. Just remember- getting dirt in a tranny can wreck it.

The fill cap was filthy with dust and is a tight fit against the fuel tank. I cleaned it off with brake cleaner, a rag and then blew the area off with compressed air.
That centered hex head is the drain plug. It came free pretty easily. Clean and blow this off too – you don’t want dirt sticking to your drain plug when you go to re-install it.
None of my car/truck drain pans would fit under the tractor’s transmission but I noticed a 5 quart oil container would so I took an empty one, cut out a section of the wall and used it. Note, a full transmission will have somewhere around 3.5 quarts of oil in it.
I removed the drain plug and out came black oil. I felt bad the minute I saw how black it was. I let it drain for 15-30 minutes then I put a clean shop towel in the mouth of the tank and blew shop air in to get out all of the oil I possibly could.
The transmission drain plug is an interesting looking creature. Note the length and two O-rings. I carefully cleaned it, made sure the O-rings looked okay and wrapped it in a clean towel for later installation. Don’t forget to put the drain plug back in before you start refilling the tranny with fresh oil.
The oil was black as night. Well, lesson learned – change the oil.
I went to my local Autozone and it seemed like all of the brand name engine oils they had were semi- or full-synthetics. John recommended I go with a good conventional oil so I went to Tractor Supply (TSC) and their house brand of oil was conventional, API certified and very affordable. Now, the one odd thing is trying to get oil into the filler mouth- it is a weird angle so I had to buy something and what I got I do not have anything good to say about. The funnel you see above is two pieces – unless you keep the white corrugated tube pulled down, oil goes everywhere. I trimmed about 6″ off the original tube so I could hold the funnel while keeping the tube pulled down with one hand and pour oil from the jug with the other. What a headache. I will buy a better gooseneck funnel next time – I had a metal one that I haven’t used in years and couldn’t find.
Thanks to that awful funnel plus the oxidized tank not longer showing the fluid level I couldn’t see what I was doing and overfilled the reservoir so I used my MityVac vacuum bleeder to remove fluid. Next time I will move the tractor some and let the oil go into the tranny before I bring it down to the final level.I started the tractor and the tranny made some noise for a few seconds – maybe 15-30 and then it was fine once oil got everywhere. In hindsight, I probably could have avoided that if I had followed the transmission purging procedure on page 34 of the manual and will do that next time. By the way, it dawned on me that it probably pulled more oil out of the tank as it filled the tranny and it did so I added just a bit more to bring the oil to the cold full mark.
Done – runs great!


My big lesson learned was that transmission oil does need to be changed. Luckily I found this out before damaged happened. The symptom that set this all in motion was a very slow/weak reverse gear.

]Also, with this vintage of tractor, that transmission fluid reservoir is not longer semi-transparent. What looks like the fluid level is not so you need to manually check and be sure to blow all of the debris away from the cap before you open it. I thought there was fluid but when I opened it, there was no oil in sight.

Last lesson – use good conventional 10W-30 engine oil for the fluid – it works just fine.

So, after I did this I mowed our 1.5 acre yard and it worked great – no scary sounds, reverse was solid and I would swear it went forward faster. It was totally worth the the half-hour to hour that it took. I spent more time trying to figure out what to do than actually doing it and I hope this post helps you skip some of that.

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Avoid Chinese Carbs on Your Kohler Command 16 Engine – Use a Kohler 12-853-93-S carb Instead

Back in 2020 my Simplicity Broadmor tractor with a Kohler Command 16 engine was running really bad and I suspected the carb was having issues so I bought two Chinese carbs off Amazon figuring one would work. They were different brands and about $19/each so I figured “why not?” Well, kind of wish I hadn’t so let me tell you what happened.

I replaced the carb but it really didn’t make a difference. I tried all kinds of stuff with no improvement and decided to use a small engine repair shop that shall go nameless. Turns out the ignition system had a known problems. The flawed Kohler Digital Spark Advanced Ignition (DSAI) was replaced with a Magneto Digital Ignition (MDI) model. Had I known about those issues and that the MDI part number was Kohler 12-707-01-S, I would have done it myself. But I didn’t, they did and they replaced the ignition.

So, let me recap – I had installed a Chinese carb and got it kind of working and the shop installed the MDI upgrade, got it running and called it even. On one hand it was running but it was rough, hard starting and often would backfire when either starting or stopping plus the power felt lower – it bogged down more when I got into tall grass. It got to the point that I had to do something but I wasn’t thrilled with the repair shop either.

Ok, so what did I do? I start reading up on the Command 16 engine in earnest – what I should have done the first time. The most likely culprit was the Chinese carb. The more I read about folks using Chinese carbs was that their quality was hit and miss. Guys who got them to work knew about how to tear down and rebuild a carb to fix what was overlooked by the factory. The guys who didn’t have that level of knowledge – like me – tended to run into problems. Hmmm…. yeah, I was definitely betting on the carb at that point.

I still had the original carb but it had been sitting empty for over three years and I wasn’t sure how the seals would be so I started digging on what OEM Kohler carb I should buy. Turns out that my original 12-053-83 carb was superseded (replaced with a new model) by the 12-853-93-S carb so I did some digging and found it on Amazon for $201.89. Yeah, it was a fair amount of money but buying a new tractor is a fortune these days so I took the gamble.

This was the original 12-053-83 carb the tractor’s Kohler Command 16 came with.

Replacing a carb on a Command 16 is very straight forward – remove the emissions hose, the two nuts that hold the air cleaner assembly in place, remove the fuel hose, the red electrical wire for the fuel solenoid and then you pull the carb off far enough so you can then move it around and remove the throttle and choke stiff wires. It took maybe 30 minutes – I was taking a photos too so that always slows things down.

Those two nuts hold the air cleaner assembly against the carb and the carb to the block. Once you remove them and disconnect the emissions hose, the air cleaner assembly slides right off and you will want to clean it and set it to the side.
Remove the fuel line on the right and disconnect the red fuel solonoid wire. The linkages can’t be removed until the carb is off the studs. You do not want to bend those linkage wires.
With the carb off the studs you now have enough freedom to move the carb and the linkages around until they come out of their respective holes. Take photos or a mental note of which linkage goes where and how they fit. Notice the little nylon bushing in the rear throttle linkage. That did not come with my new carb for some reason so I rescued it from the old carb and put it on the new one.
That little nylon bushing is what I am talking about – it’s upside down in this photo.
It will pushes into the throttle body linkage hole.
From left – New Kohler carb, middle is the Chinese carb and the right is the original Kohler carb.
Clean the area off carefully and put the new gasket that came in the kit on the studs. I am the process or replacing the old fuel solenoid wiring which is why you see two plug assemblies. Red to red and and the black ground wire goes under a screw on the block. I replaced them just to make sure the wiring was good and not wearing out from flexing over and over, oxidized, etc. A new one came with the carb kit so I did it.
So there is a step I couldn’t show because my hands were in use 🙂 Before you slide the new carb on the studs, attach the linkage wires/rods again. Once the carb is back on the studs, you will not be able to move things around enough to insert them. Attach the fuel line and the red fuel solenoid wire. If you turn on the ignition, you should definitely hear a “click” as the fuel solenoid opens. If not, check that the wires are seated, you have a good ground. There should be 12volts coming out of the red wire when you move the key to “on”. I had no problems.
Put the gasket on the carb, slide on the air cleaner, re-attach the emissions hose and tighten down the nuts. I brought them down a tad past snug but didn’t bother using a torque wrench. The studs are relatively small and in aluminum so don’t go crazy with tightening down the nuts.

I sprayed a bit of brake cleaner down the carb to give it some fuel and started it. I think I had to do it twice before there was enough gas in the carb for it to work but it ran great!! Wow – right out of the box. The one adjustment I made after I put on a new air cleaner was to the idle adjustment screw – shown in the top left of the photo. I lowered the throttle lever to where I wanted it to idle and then I screwed in the adjustment clockwise until I heard the RPM pick up. That acceleration told me the screw was engaging the throttle and opening it up more. When I then moved the lever down, the RPM would not go below that point. I then fine tuned it to the RPM that sounded good – yeah, I did it by ear.


The new Kohler carb ran like a champ. I wish I had just spent the money on it to begin with – yeah, it is expensive but worth it. I mowed our 1.5 acres the next day and what a difference it made! It hardly slowed down going through thick grass and I haven’t heard it run that good in years.

My recommendation to you is that unless you know small engine carbs and want to pull a cheap Chinese model apart and check it before you install it, spend the money on a Kohler as it is built right. By the way, I am not the only person who reports the Kohler carbs literally work right out of the box!

I hope this helps you out!

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.