Basic Starter Questions???

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  #1  
Old 08-16-04, 01:48 PM
J_M
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Basic Starter Questions???

I have a Craftsman 12.5hp lawn tractor/mower which is having some starter issues and I could use a little help. As I turn the key the starter clicks and then with additional turns of the key is will slowly get to the point of turning over.

I jumped the starter by connecting the main lead to the positive end of the starter and it will turn but not consistently. I'm assuming that there are 2 solenoids on a tractor, one that directs the electricity to the starter and one on the starter that engages the flywheel. The question that I have is what causes the starter to disengage the flywheel? This sometimes occurs when I have the key turned but the engine hasn't turned over.

Sorry about the basic question, but I'm missing the concept and it helps me to try to understand the problem if I can "get it". I'm not very good with autos and small engines, much better with computers and rock walls : )

thanks in advance,

J
 
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  #2  
Old 08-16-04, 02:57 PM
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Components of a typical electric start engine are as follows: Battery; Battery cables; Ignition switch; Solenoid (only one, by the way); Safety switches (typically three); and the starter motor. You weren't very clear on your method of "jumping" the starter. If you, as I read it (and also the absolute best way to check such), used a jumper battery and went directly to the starter motor - in other words, avoiding all other possible electrical connections/components - and it was intermittent, then (provided you did so properly) it is safe to say that the starter motor is bad. this may or may not be able to be repaired cost effectively. You may just have a brush set that is bad whereas replacement of such will get you back up and running. My best suggestion would be to bring the starter motor in to a qualified repair shop and get their opinion on the matter. They will be able to perform a draw test on the starter and determine if it is cost effectively repairable.
 
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Old 08-16-04, 09:18 PM
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Kind of sounds like you at least need a drive gear and bendix/clutch on the starter shaft. It could be buggered up and not meshing with the flywheel teeth properly (jamming). It may also need brushes and/or bushings.
 
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Old 08-17-04, 06:09 AM
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I've had simular problems with a riding lawn mower myself. You can have that particular problem if the drive belt for the blades don't disengage completely. The starter motor may only have enough torque to crank the motor but not enough to crank the motor and turn the blade at the same time. In my case the drive belt tightener needed to be adjusted a little so the blade wouldn't turn when the starter was engaged. Some of those higher powered motors barely have a big enough starter and they won't crank properly unless everything is disconnected.
 
  #5  
Old 08-17-04, 10:05 AM
J_M
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thanks

all great suggestions.

Yes...I did jump the starter by connecting the battery directly to the starter.

I do need to check the belts, although I think that when I heard the "clicking" that the starter wasn't even engaged.

Is the bendix usually a component of the starter motor if I were to purchase a new starter?

Someone also mentioned that I should have the battery "load" tested. Does that sound correct, or would the direct connection to the starter rule that out?

thanks again,

J
 
  #6  
Old 08-17-04, 10:51 AM
Azis
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The load test that was mentioned I think was in reference to your starter, although most automotive stores can and will also Load test your battery, and you do need to verify that your battery is up to par.
An easy test, while not as conclusive as a load test can still show some problems. Remove the starter from the engine, support it on the ground and use a battery and cables to activate it and observe. It should kick the drive gear out and spin. Testing this way with the starter installed on the engine may not bypass all possible problems, mainly if the grounding of the starter to the engine is not sufficient, unless you run a ground cable from the battery directly to the flange of the starter.
The drive gear and bendix will come with a new starter however they are also inexpensive (compared to a new starter) and easily replaced if found to be the or part of the problem.
If the starter tests good off the engine, try cleaning the flange where it mates to the engine and the mounting bolts.
Just to verify from your posts so far...
"I do need to check the belts, although I think that when I heard the "clicking" that the starter wasn't even engaged."

This sounds like a solenoid failing or possibly low battery or bad connection which if is the case can cause....
"The question that I have is what causes the starter to disengage the flywheel? This sometimes occurs when I have the key turned but the engine hasn't turned over."
The drive gear and clutch may now be damaged also.
Verify your battery is good, and test the starter on the floor as I mentioned and check the condition of the drive gear on the starter.
 
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Old 08-17-04, 12:44 PM
J_M
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I might be getting somewhere

My son just jumped on the tractor to cut the lawn (the benefits of being a father .

So I removed the cover from the starter and watched. The first thing that I noticed was that the gears that engage with the flywheel were already engaged! And the gears are pretty chewed up. So the clicking may have occurred because it wasn't able to spin up? or should the starter motor still have enough torque to spin the engine cold?

I guess if the Drive Gear and Bendix are cheap enough, then I should probably start with replacing that since the gear is visibly chewed. But I will take the starter off and test it also.

Sound like a plan?

J
 
  #8  
Old 08-17-04, 02:24 PM
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Sounds like you have a starter-only issue since you mentioned the "bendix" gear is chewed up. With this, the gear is jamming into the flywheel and not releasing. Other than the gear replacement you may also need to replace the clutch part of the starter...still an inexpensive procedure. Provide us with the engine ID #'s as well as the starter drive type (if it's a Briggs engine) and we'll provide part numbers with which you can pick up at a local repair shop. Once we know the engine we can advise you further on the procedure of actually repairing the starter.
 
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Old 08-18-04, 05:32 AM
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Does sound like a bendix drive issue with the starter. I'd figure on changing the drive gear first. Before you change the bendix drive try freeing it up first. Use lots of WD40 and work it back & forth. Try cleaning up any crud you find on the threads. Many times those bendix drives get stuck because they get dirty & corroded and all they need is some cleaning & lubrication to work good as new again. If you can't get it freed up then you'll probably be forced into replacing the bendix drive as well.
 
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Old 08-18-04, 06:01 PM
J_M
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working late

Unfortunately I won't have time today to look at it. But I'd like to take advantage of your offer to help look up part numbers. This forum is a great resource! Thank you!!!

Unfortunately the drive gear is definitely going to need replacement, it's teeth are actually damaged. I know that it is a Briggs 12.5 engine, and when I get a chance during daylight I try to get some more info.

thanks again,

J
 
  #11  
Old 08-19-04, 02:06 AM
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The gear is less than $5.00 and the clutch kit which includes the gear is around $20.00 if I remember right.
 
  #12  
Old 08-21-04, 08:31 AM
J_M
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Where do I send the check :)

With everyones help my tractor is up and running. The starter drive kit cost me $27.00 from our local shop (I might have been hit with a "homeowners" surcharge, but it was in stock and easy to install.

Once again, thanks for all the tips! You made it very easy.... maybe I'll head over to the roofing area and look into finding the answer to my leaky roof.

J
 
  #13  
Old 08-21-04, 01:26 PM
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Great! Thanks for letting us know how it went!
 
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