Kohler engine on Gravely

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  #1  
Old 04-23-03, 04:40 AM
blinky2
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Kohler engine on Gravely

Hello, I have a Gravely 14G lawn tractor fitted with a Kohler 14-horsepower electric start engine. The tractor is 6 years old and has been serviced by a Gravely dealer annually.

Yesterday, after I've mowed 3 times without incident, the engine wouldn't start. According to my owner's manual the symptoms (solenoid clicks, but starter doesn't engage) point to a bad battery, battery cable. or starter. I charged the battery (it's only 3 years old and has enough juice to run the headlights), and cleaned the battery cable leads without success. I checked the carburator and saw it was wet with gas; the choke cable works properly; the air filter and spark plug are new.

Is there a way to check the starter (I have a voltmeter), and is it reasonable to expect to have to replace it after 6 years? The tractor is only used as a mower, with no heavy pulling done.

Thanks for any advice.
 
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Old 04-23-03, 06:47 PM
mikejmerritt
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Hello blinky2, I think you need to rule out a bad battery first. Three years is about the life of a mid line lawn and garden battery. Some may disagree with this thought but I would simply jump it with my car battery to see if the added power will get the starter going. Another idea would be to have the battery checked at an Auto Zone or other parts house. They can cycle it and determine if its any good......Mike
 
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Old 04-23-03, 10:58 PM
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I agree. Lawn mower batteries are doing good to last 2 or 3 years. Check it out, or try jumping it with the car battery. If it starts, then you know. You could also have a bad solenoid. To find out, check for 12v at the starter when you turn the key. A bad solenoid can click, but still be bad.

Another thought...check to be sure your engine isn't siezed.
 
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Old 04-24-03, 06:39 AM
blinky2
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Thank you for your replies. The solenoid is looking to be the problem right now. I measured the voltage to the solenoid from the battery, and it was about 12 V. However, when the key in the ignition was turned, the current in the battery-to-solenoid line dropped (as expected?), but no current flowed in the solenoid-to-starter line. The solenoid clicks like a champ, but I don't think it's sending any juice back. I've ordered a new solenoid and will let you know if that fixed it.

I contemplated trying to run the starter directly from the battery (bypassing the solenoid), but I was worried I'd burn up the starter because I wasn't sure it's supposed to take the full battery amperage.
 
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Old 04-24-03, 11:08 AM
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If the voltage dropped when you engaged the starter that is a good indication your battery is no good.
 
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Old 04-24-03, 07:58 PM
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Yes...If the voltage dropped, but the starter did not spin, it could be the battery. It could also be that the starter is engaged into a siezed engine's flywheel and CANT turn, or a shorted starter. Sometimes a battery will show 12v when no load is applied, but the second a load is applied, it drops violently due to a shorted cell. It shows a "surface charge", but has no cranking amps. How far did the readings drop? Have you checked to be sure your engine is free?
 
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Old 04-25-03, 04:45 AM
blinky2
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Hello, well you guys were right---it was the battery. After Joed said the voltage drop may not be normal, I used Mike's suggestion and jumped it. After a couple of cranks, it started right up.

I was really surprised it worked, but I'm glad of it obviously. I would have sworn the battery was good. It's only 3 years old, and it's supposed to be a 5-year battery. And it has started 3 times this year, even after sitting idle over the winter. And I charged it (or so I thought) prior to thinking about the starter. And it fired the solenoid, headlights, and oil pressure light easily. And it showed 12 V with no load.

Oh well, I'll be off to the battery store. I've actually learned a lot about how my mower works through this whole process.

Thank you very much for all your help.
 
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