CM tractor starting problem

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  #1  
Old 05-26-04, 08:27 PM
DIY_Man
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CM tractor starting problem

Hi,
This is my first post to this site. I have read some of the threads and have learned so much. I hope to learn a lot more.

I have a 1996 Craftsman Lawn Tractor. The model number is 917256524. It has a Briggs I/C Platinum 15.5 HP OHV engine. The engine's model number is 28N707.

The tractor won't start unless I jump start it. When I jump start it the engine starts right away and it runs without any problems. However, if I don't jump start it the engine doesn't turn over at all. I don't hear a click or buzzing sound when I turn the key. I do see the ammeter jiggle a little but it stays around the zero area.

I have noticed that when I am using the tractor the ammeter is on the charging (+) side. Not sure if this is important but I thought I would include this information.

I think the problem is with the starter or the solenoid but I don't know how to narrow it down. Do any of you experts have any advice?

Thanks,
Sam
 
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  #2  
Old 05-26-04, 08:54 PM
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If you can jump start the motor then the problem isn't with the solenoid. This problem sounds more like a defective battery. Your description includes an ammeter reading that seems to imply that the battery is being charged while the engine is running. The ammeter reading tells me that the alternator is recharging the battery but the battery isn't accepting the charge. Check to make sure the battery has water in it. Add distilled water to the cells that are low. Try recharging the battery to see if that will help. My guess is that you will have to get a new battery as the old one has seen better days.
 
  #3  
Old 05-27-04, 12:15 AM
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Hello DIY_man!

I agree...sounds like a dead battery. If the battery is more than 2 years old, you might as well replace it. Lawn and garden batteries usually don't recover by adding water once they bite the dust. You should be able to pick up a new one at an auto parts store for $20 to $25.
 
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Old 05-27-04, 11:08 AM
DIY_Man
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Thanks for the replies. I am going to have the battery tested and recharged. As you can tell, I don't know much about tractors, batteries, and electrical systems. Are there any other signs of a bad battery besides the ammeter reading and an inability to start without jump starting? I am wondering because the tractor runs fine once I get it started.

Also, can I keep on using my battery even if I have to jump start the tractor all the time? It isn't that annoying to jump start the tractor. I just want to make sure that I am not damaging or overstressing another part of the tractor by using a weak battery.
 
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Old 05-27-04, 11:17 AM
DIY_Man
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Would someone please explain how to test the solenoid and starter using a cable from the battery? I read about a technique in the past but I am not sure about the exact steps. I think to test the solenoid you run a battery cable from the + terminal on the battery to some wire on the solenoid. I am not sure about which wire on the solenoid. To test the starter I think you are supposed to use a jumper cable but I don't know which wire to test or where to ground the negative cable by the starter.
 
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Old 05-27-04, 11:43 AM
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You can test the solenoid easily with a jumper wire, but you can also cause yourself some trouble if you don't know exacly what you are doing. Some solenoids have four connections on the outside, and some only have three. The ones with three connections will have one side of the internal coil connected internally to the mounting bracket. If your solenoid has four connections TWO connections should be small, and TWO will be heavy. One of the small terminals will be connected to ground. If you energize the OTHER SMALL terminal with a jumper wire to the battery then the solenoid should click. Try not to connect the terminal going to the ground or you create a short an probably burn your hands because the jumper wire will get real hot real fast. The test is easy with the three terminal solenoid because you can't get the ground terminal mixed up. Simply jumper the SMALL terminal to the plus side of the battery and you should hear a click. These test WILL NOT completly test the solenoid as you still could have heavy contact problems inside, but at least it's a start.

As for testing a starter...you don't really need to hook up the negative lead if the starter is installed because it should already be grounded by the mounting brackets. You could simply connect one side of a jumper cable up to the positive side of the battery, and quickly touch the other side of the jumper to the heavy wire going to the starter solenoid. If the starter is good it will crank when you connect up the jumper cable, assuming the battery is good.

As with anything else, it really helps if you know exactly what you are doing. Not completely understanding this can cause you to damage your equipment or hurt yourself. I know this is a DIY forum but there are lots of things that shouldn't be attempted by someone who has to ask how. I'm attempting to help those who can accept the consequences of damage or injury by trying some of the things I advocate. My warnings are from my OWN hard experience because I've already done most of the things you can do wrong at least once myself and have paid for my mistakes many times with equipment damage and/or injury, so be careful.
 

Last edited by jughead; 05-27-04 at 11:55 AM.
  #7  
Old 05-27-04, 03:17 PM
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I'm in agreement with the dead battery theory. But don't overlook the possibility of corroded wires/connections. This will exhibit the same symptoms. BTW The ammeter should read on the positive side, indicating the charging circuit is sufficient.
 
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Old 05-27-04, 08:06 PM
DIY_Man
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Jughead, thanks for the directions and the warning. I think I will wait until I am more experienced before I test the starter and solenoid.

Did I misinterpret your post about the ammeter reading? Your post sounded like a positive ammeter reading was a bad thing. Puey said the ammeter should read on the positive side so now I am a bit confused.
 
  #9  
Old 05-27-04, 11:13 PM
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The positive ammeter reading is a GOOD thing in that it shows that the charging system seems to be working. A machine with a functional charging sytem that still doesn't start is a BAD thing and almost certainly is the result of a defective battery. That assumes, of course, that the battery isn't being discharged by the lights being left on, or from some other electrical system malfunction. Sorry about the confusion.
 
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