Briggs & Stratton Vanguard Small Block V-Twin

Briggs & Stratton Vanguard Small Block V-Twin

The words “small block” may bring to mind classic muscle cars, but when it comes to outdoor equipment, it’s the label given to Briggs & Stratton’s small displacement V-twins. Found in everything from residential lawn tractors to high power professional landscaping and construction equipment, these motors have become a staple of the industry. What is it that makes these engines so popular?

V-Twin Power in a Single Cylinder Package

The overhead valve design keeps the engine light and compact while offering excellent valve life and fuel economy along with lower emissions and vibrations. In fact, it’s so small that manufacturers can design their equipment to work with both this engine and single cylinder engines, giving the buyers the option of more power without stepping up to a heavier, more expensive model.

Lower Temperatures and Less Vibration for Better Reliability

Briggs & Stratton’s “Cooler / Cleaner Technology” high-efficiency fan reduces engine and oil temperatures by 25 to 30 degrees compared to competitor’s designs while also pre-filtering air before pushing it into the air cleaner. It’s surrounded by a poly core housing that helps reduce noise coming from the engine.

The air box uses a paper filter with foam pre-cleaner to minimize dirt entering the engine while lengthening service intervals. Dirt is also reduced by a full pressure lubrication system that uses a spin-on filter like you’d find on an automobile engine.

Inside the engine, cast iron cylinder sleeves provide maximum resistance against wear, while angled intake ports tumble the air fuel mixture as it enters the cylinder. This action helps with fuel mixing for increased power and better fuel economy. The electronic ignition requires no maintenance and ensures a reliable spark for clean ignition.

A dynamically balanced crankshaft reduces vibrations that can make equipment uncomfortable during use while also decreasing wear on the bearings and other engine components.

All small blocks have a mechanical compression release system that makes the engine easy to turn over when starting. For electric start models, the reduced power requirements are easier on batteries and allow the engine to be turned over with a smaller starter motor.

This motor is guaranteed by Briggs & Stratton for three years of commercial use with no limit on operation hours.


Briggs & Stratton makes 9 versions of the small block Vanguard:

Horizontal Shaft
479 cc, 13, 16 and 18 hp
627 cc, 21 and 23 hp

Vertical Shaft
479 cc, 16 hp
570 cc, 18 hp
627 cc, 21 and 23 hp


Since these engines are used in a range of operating environments and temperatures, Briggs & Stratton offers equipment that can improve reliability.

An oil cooler can be added to engines used in high-temperature applications such as lawn mowing, and it can be paired with an oil pressure switch to prevent engine damage if the pump fails or the oil level is too low for effective lubrication.

For engines fitted to equipment like wheeled blowers and truck loaders that are used in dusty environments, a cyclonic air cleaner can be added to remove large dirt particles using centrifugal force before the air reaches the filter.

Getting Parts For Your Vanguard Small Block Engine

Briggs & Stratton stamps the model number into the engine itself, which will be an 11 or 12 digit code, either as a string of numbers and letters, such as “12A345-6789-B1,” or separated into “Model” and “Type” categories that will be clearly engraved on the motor. On these engines, this engraving can be found next to the oil filter, and it includes all the information about the engine and any extra equipment that came with it from the factory.

Need to pick up some parts for your small block or have it serviced? Shank’s Lawn Equipment is a certified dealer for Briggs & Stratton as well as many of the equipment companies that use their engines. Stop by our shop at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway, Chambersburg, PA. That’s just off Route 11, or you can take Exit 10 to Marion from I-81 and drive one mile east.

Not in the area and just need some parts? We ship across the U.S. and Canada. To order, visit

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