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Craftsman 42" dies after starting


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02-19-07, 04:51 PM   #1  
Craftsman 42" dies after starting

Have a Craftsman 16.0 HP, 42" electric start riding mower model #917.270642. Has been sitting for a few months, but has a relatively new battery. At first it wouldn't turn over at all, so I charged the battery. It registers as a full charge, but trying to start the engine makes a sound as if I've completely depleted the charge. Once I put the battery charger on it, it registers full charge again. If I DO get the mower started, it cuts off once I release the clutch. It's as if I got up off the seat to kill the engine. It has always been a little hard to start and I found that I had to "rock" the mower to actually get the engine to engage. Someone told me that it might be a wiring harness and that the battery, clutch/brake and seat are all connected, but I can't seem to find that connection. Have the manual that came with the tractor, but maybe if I could see a picture, I could relate. I hesitate to call Sears for a service call. I've already been that route and it was miserable.

Can anyone give me a clue as to where to start? Don't make fun of me, guys. I'm a woman, but I'm pretty handy at repairs. I've managed to do all of them around my house.

Thanks.

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02-19-07, 05:23 PM   #2  
Craftsman machines are made by different manufacturers for Craftsman but will use either a Tecumseh engine or Briggs and Stratton.
My experience with Craftsman has generally been good but I, (we), need to know what engine you have, make, model, etc.
I think you have a fuel problem but can not offer anything further until I know what engine we're talking about.

 
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02-19-07, 05:30 PM   #3  
Craftsman 42" dies after starting

Engine is a Briggs & Stratton model #28U707, Type number 1174-E1.

I hope this is enough information for a response. I really appreciate the help.

Sneakers

 
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02-19-07, 07:04 PM   #4  
You can go to the Briggs and Stratton web site and register your engine. This will give you access to various resources.
You don't need to deal with Sears.
I suggest making sure that the carb is clean and the fuel supply is fresh and reaching the engine first of all. Then we can look at the electrical problem.
Let's get the engine running first; then we can look at the operation of the machine.

 
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02-19-07, 07:23 PM   #5  
Azis
The battery may need a complete charge or replaced. It may also be poor connections. Clean the connections and charge it overnight with the positive lead disconnected. If it still does not hold a charge then replace the battery.

The other problem you mention sounds like a bad "Operator Present" (seat switch) switch sears part # 121305X "Switch Plunger NC" Best to check the switch with an ohm meter if possible.


Last edited by the_tow_guy; 04-03-07 at 04:26 AM. Reason: Not necessary to quote entire post.
 
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02-19-07, 07:54 PM   #6  
Hello Sneakers, and welcome!

It sounds to me like you have multiple problems. I don't think fuel or carburetor problems are among them just yet. When you say you have to rock the engine to get it started, do you mean by hand, turning the screen on top of the engine to "help" it turn? If so, you need to adjust the valves. If this is an accurate description, let us know and we'll help you with the procedure.

As for it shutting off when you release the clutch, try this:
Push the connector onto the seat switch tightly. If this doesn't solve the problem, you may have to use a wire tie or something similar to help keep the connector tight onto the switch. It must be pushed up tight. There is a small bump on the switch that activates a shunt button in the connector. I find that the connector relaxes enough over the years that the bump doesn't push in the button in the connector far enough, and it shorts the circuit on the seat switch, making the connection as if there was no-one on the seat, even when there is.

Incidentally, Craftsman riding mowers come with Briggs and Kohlers. Some came with Hondas not long ago. Tecumseh hasn't come on Craftsman tractor style mowers for many years.


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God bless!

 
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02-22-07, 06:39 AM   #7  
Wanted to say thank you for your advice. Will attempt solutions this weekend and if I can't solve my problem, believe me I'LL BE BACK!

Thanks again

 
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03-10-07, 10:00 AM   #8  
Okay. After much ado I'm back. Sorry this has been so drawn out, but I'm a number crucher and it's tax season.

The seat switch seems to be on tight. As a matter of fact I can't even budge it - couldn't tighten it any tighter than it is.

Just so I would know it wasn't the battery for sure, I purchased a new one and installed. Now the engine won't even turn over. I don't even get a "clunk" an the starter like you would if your battery was quicking draining. All I can hear is the "click" of the key turning.

I know I'm looking a gift horse in the mouth, but now what?

 
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03-12-07, 11:43 PM   #9  
Do you have a test light or voltmeter? If so, test for voltage at the starter lug when turning the key to start. If there is, reply back with that info and we'll go from there. If none, follow the cable to the solenoid. There should be 2 large red wires, 2 small black wires (on one terminal) and a small white wire. Check for voltage on the small white wire while trying to start engine. If none, reply back with that info and we'll go from there. If there is 12v on the white wire, check to be sure the 2 small black wires are grounded. If so, replace the solenoid.


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03-13-07, 04:27 AM   #10  
If all your safety switches are working, I think cheese has you in the right direction. I've had to replace the solenoid on my Craftsman, so don't be surprised if that's where the problem is.


Measure it with a micrometer; cut it with an ax.

 
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03-13-07, 09:18 AM   #11  
Thank you. Will give all a try and let you know.

Sneakers

 
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03-14-07, 12:03 PM   #12  
Just something to keep in mind as you go. This model series is the one that had trouble with the MCR (mechanical compression release) mechanism on the camshaft wherein the mechanism fails and you now have no lift on the exhaust valve (as intended) during starting RPM's. This creates more compression than these relatively light-weight starter motors can handle and gives the impression of a weak battery or a lazy starter motor or corroded starter cables when it is actually the cam to blame. By all means, check for sufficient starter components and go from there. If you have no luck with the starter circuit then you should have a look at the MCR action by removing the rocker cover and removing the spark plug (to eliminate compression and aid in turning over by hand) and spin the engine over by hand and watch for the exhaust valve to open slightly just before TDC on the compression stroke. If no movement is observed you need to be sure you have proper valve clearance(s) and with proper clearance set you still have no lift at the exhaust valve then this means the cam is to blame. The Briggs camshaft part number for the camshaft is 790400, should you need it.

 
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03-27-07, 05:45 PM   #13  
Hello cheese,
I seem to have at least one problem in common with Sneakers on my Craftsman 21.5 horse, 42" cut B&S. Turn the key, no click, so whir, nada.

After being sure the battery was fully charged and the posts were clean, the first thing I did was to pull the flywheel cover and disconnect the small wire from the magneto in order to disable the safety switches (just as a check...wouldn't think about running it that way - the fact that the key will not turn it off in that condition aside). Still nada, so I'm assuming the safety switches are all in order. Had my wife turn the key to the "start" position (ensuring the seat safety switch and clutch safety switch were engaged) while checking the lug on the starter motor as per your advice above, and the meter read a MINUS 11V (????)

Followed the harness back to the solenoid, tested the white wire and got a reading of 15V. The black wires are both grounded. Does this mean I need to replace the solenoid? That's the way I think I am reading your directions, but want to make sure I haven't misunderstood before I order and replace the solenoid, then have to take even more time to order and replace the ignition switch. The reading I got on the starter confuses me a bit...I am hoping that it doesn't indicate a bad starter, as the starter motor will cost me about a hundred bucks after shipping, as compared to the sixteen bucks for the solenoid or the twelve for the ignition switch.

I would grateful for any further advice with this little machine. It has been a good one, and when it does run, it runs strong. Would like to keep it around for a bit longer. I have a four acre yard, and realize that it is a bit small for that area, and plan to have a bigger brother in the garage for it soon, and keep it in order to extend the life of the new one. Who knows? I might even get lucky enough to have the wife join me for an elegant afternoon of mowing now and again. Sure would make four acres seem smaller.


Last edited by the_tow_guy; 04-03-07 at 04:28 AM. Reason: Not necessary to quote entire post.
 
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03-28-07, 06:21 AM   #14  
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Posted By: elgee ..... the first thing I did was to pull the flywheel cover and disconnect the small wire from the magneto in order to disable the safety switches .....
This is incorrect. Removing the wire from the magneto does NOT disable or bypass the safety switches.


Last edited by the_tow_guy; 04-03-07 at 04:30 AM. Reason: Editted quote for clarity
 
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03-28-07, 09:25 AM   #15  
Posted By: Azis This is incorrect. Removing the wire from the magneto does NOT disable or bypass the safety switches.
Okay....I guess that leads me back to square one then. Any ideas on where to start when you have a mower that won't?

My first thought was of the safety switches, as that is how it acts when I turn the key. As if one of the safety switches is keeping it from doing anything. There is no noise at all. No "click", no "snick", nothing. It's as if someone had disconnected the battery and left the county with it. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions on where to start.

Thanks.

 
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03-28-07, 11:11 AM   #16  
Azis
You are on the right track I think. I would check and verify your safety switches. The seat switch is the most common to fail I believe. One for the clutch and PTO or blade engagement.
You can use a multi meter to test if visual inspection reveals they are operating mechanically.

 
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04-02-07, 06:33 PM   #17  
Posted By: Azis You are on the right track I think. I would check and verify your safety switches. The seat switch is the most common to fail I believe. One for the clutch and PTO or blade engagement.
You can use a multi meter to test if visual inspection reveals they are operating mechanically.

Still having problems with the Craftsman. I went ahead and replaced the solenoid, as per cheese's advice. Still getting nothing. I will most readily admit to not being an electrical engineer (in fact it still amazes me when I flip the wall switch and light comes out of my ceiling ). Voltage is no problem for me to grasp - you either are getting it or you aren't. The switches do have me confuzzled, though, I must admit. The way I understand the ohm meter readings are as follows (please feel free to correct me if I am wrong - please!) I set my ohm meter to it's lowest reading (in this case 200). When I touch the two leads together, I get a reading of "0.00", which (I think) tells me that I have a closed circuit, and thus no resistance. When I separate the leads I get "OL" (or infinite resistance) of an open circuit. So far, so good (once again, I THINK). When I pulled the switch on the seat out (no power to it - working on it on a workbench), I once again set the meter to it's lowest setting, and tested it in the "open circuit" position (as it would be with no operator on the seat). I got a reading of 0.00. When I depressed the button (as it would be with an operator in the seat) I got a reading of "OL"! This seems to me to be logically backwards. Is this indicative of a bad switch? And if I get no resistence in the "open" (unoccupied seat) position, shouldn't the mower start if there were not some other problem down line? (either way I realize would mean the switch needs to be replaced...as I don't want to have the safety feature over ridden)...but I AM scratching my head in bewilderment over exactly is going on with this machine. Once again, any advice or further suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

 
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04-02-07, 06:47 PM   #18  
Azis
You are using and reading your meter correctly. The seat switch is a "Normally Closed" Switch, which means with the switch "at rest" its contacts are closed. However for the newer seat switches, I am not sure this is an accruate test. They are in a circuit with the clutch and PTO switches, and basically work in a simple "ladder logic" pattern.
If the PTO is disengaged, and the clutch is depressed or held with the parking brake, then the seat switch will not cause it to NOT start. It will cause the mower to die when the clutch is released or the PTO is engaged.
You mentioned replacing the solenoid?
Did you check for 12v on the small terminal with the key in the start position?
If not your key switch is prolly bad.
Check your clutch and PTO switches the same way if your key checks good.

 
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04-02-07, 08:15 PM   #19  
Azis,

I can't tell you how much I appreciate your patience and your directions, and how badly I hate to keep coming back and asking yet other questions...buuuut...

I did change out the solenoid. When I now try to get a voltage reading at the white wire on that leads to the solenoid (with the meter set to 20V DC), I get no voltage showing. I live right up the road from a former Sears parts distributor, and was lucky enough that he had an ignition (key) switch in stock. After changing that out, I still get the same results...no voltage at the small wire. I am checking by disconnecting the wire, placing the positive lead in the crimp on the wire, and grounding the negative lead to a scraped clean area on the frame. I hope I am doing this correctly?

Anyway, I really do hate to keep bothering you, but am glad that you are willing to help keep furthering my efforts at mowing the lawn.

 
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04-02-07, 08:47 PM   #20  
Hello elgee,

It sounds like you're getting way off track here. Let me back you up a bit and rewind to the beginning. Lets put it all back together, and get the voltmeter out. First of all, with the blades off and the clutch pressed and locked in, check for 12 volts at the white wire on the solenoid while turning the key to start. If you have voltage there, the safety switches aren't your problem. If you don't have voltage there, let me know, and we'll proceed to the next step.

If you have voltage there, listen for the solenoid to click when you turn the key. If there is no click, check the double black wire plugged onto the solenoid for continuity to ground. It should have continuity. If not, find the bad ground connection and repair. The solenoid must click when the key is turned to start.

Perform these tests, post the results, and we'll go from there. This is a really simple system. I think you're getting confused by over-analysing and testing components at random.


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04-02-07, 08:53 PM   #21  
Hello Cheese,

Yeah, I am about to realize I am chasing my tail on this one, but you know how us silly old dogs can be once we start tail chasing. Get to going, and just can't seem to stop. lol

Everything is back together, and even though I put a new solenoid in, I do not get a reading of any voltage at the white wire. Which I find odd, since I WAS getting a reading before I changed it out. The blades are disengaged, and the clutch is depressed and locked.

 
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04-03-07, 05:17 AM   #22  
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Posted By: elgee Hello Cheese,

Everything is back together, and even though I put a new solenoid in, I do not get a reading of any voltage at the white wire. Which I find odd, since I WAS getting a reading before I changed it out. The blades are disengaged, and the clutch is depressed and locked.
Did check for voltage while holding the key in the "Start" position not "Run"?
Did you check for ground connection on the black wires cheese mentioned?
Did you plug all the safety switches back in?
Is the original key switch installed or the new?

 
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04-03-07, 07:45 AM   #23  
Posted By: Azis Did check for voltage while holding the key in the "Start" position not "Run"?
Did you check for ground connection on the black wires cheese mentioned?
Did you plug all the safety switches back in?
Is the original key switch installed or the new?
Azis,

I had my son sit in the seat (all safety switches in the "ready to go" state) and turn the switch to the "start" position and hold it while I tested for voltage. The black wires show a continuous loop to ground. The key switch is the new one. I got no voltage reading at the white wire.

 
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04-03-07, 08:13 AM   #24  
Azis
Ok, since you said you did have voltage before changing parts, make abosolute certain that the new key switch is exactly the same as the old one. Check the lettering on the back of each terminal to verify. The clutch and PTO switches could also cause no voltage to the key to transfer to the solenoid, so just make sure they are plugged in good.
Seems cheese has helped you in the past so I won't interupt his flow chart , just trying to fill in some holes as he usually doesn't show up till late in the evening.

 
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04-03-07, 09:32 AM   #25  
Posted By: Azis Ok, since you said you did have voltage before changing parts, make abosolute certain that the new key switch is exactly the same as the old one. Check the lettering on the back of each terminal to verify.
Verified that the switch is the correct one. One thing of note...after getting a good voltage reading on the old solenoid, but no "click", I changed the solenoid out before I changed the key switch. When I then again tried it (with the new solenoid and the old key switch) and got not so much as a "click" from the new solenoid, I checked voltage again. At this point I got no reading at the white wire. Assuming (yeah, I know what THAT gets you <grin> )this meant I had a bad key switch, that is when I replaced the ignition switch, only to have the same results.

The clutch and PTO switches could also cause no voltage to the key to transfer to the solenoid, so just make sure they are plugged in good.
Seems cheese has helped you in the past so I won't interupt his flow chart , just trying to fill in some holes as he usually doesn't show up till late in the evening.
Checked visually the operation of the clutch and PTO switches, and they seem outwardly to be in working order. The plug ins are seated nice and tightly. I do know that a couple of the switches work in a "backwards" manner, so will leave further testing to the "flow chart" method.

You guys have been great in attempting to lead me along...will keep poking at it til something cranks.

 
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04-03-07, 03:21 PM   #26  
I would have to go look, but I think my mower has at least one in-line fuse at some point in the starting/safety switches circuits. I'm guessing that would have leaped out at you if yours was so configured, but I thought I would mention it.


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04-03-07, 05:19 PM   #27  
Yessir, tow.

There is a twenty amp fuse inline, and it is good. You're right, it pretty much sticks out...one of the few things (other than the seat switch) you can get a clear gander at.

Wonder if they couldn't have hidden things a bit better with a little planning? lol

 
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04-03-07, 10:32 PM   #28  
No power at the white wire then. Ok, Go to the keyswitch. There should be one wire connected to the terminal on the switch marked with a B (and is usually the only brass colored terminal on a switch) that should have 12 volts on it at all times. Is this so? If not, recheck the fuse. Don't rely on visual inspection...use the meter.

here's an afterthought: After thinking about what the problem is, and when it happened, I think you might want to go have a look at the solenoid again. There should be a small red wire (the one with the fuse in it) connected to the battery post on the solenoid. How about double checking that and make sure that this wire is connected to the post with the battery cable, not the one with the starter cable. This may well be where your lack of voltage problem lies.


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04-04-07, 10:46 AM   #29  
Posted By: cheese No power at the white wire then. Ok, Go to the keyswitch. There should be one wire connected to the terminal on the switch marked with a B (and is usually the only brass colored terminal on a switch) that should have 12 volts on it at all times. Is this so? If not, recheck the fuse. Don't rely on visual inspection...use the meter.

here's an afterthought: After thinking about what the problem is, and when it happened, I think you might want to go have a look at the solenoid again. There should be a small red wire (the one with the fuse in it) connected to the battery post on the solenoid. How about double checking that and make sure that this wire is connected to the post with the battery cable, not the one with the starter cable. This may well be where your lack of voltage problem lies.
Cheese,
I am beginning to think that you guys are fighting a lost cause in trying to help me. I did check to make sure that the small red wire was connected to the battery post on the solenoid. It is indeed. HOWEVER, once I got to looking at it, it runs into a small fusable link that is connected to...nothing. It (the fusable link) is just hanging out there all by it's lonesome at the end of the small wire (about three inches from where it connected to the battery post on the solenoid), in other words, connected at one end to the battery cable on the solenoid, and to nothing on the other end. After going to the Craftsman site and looking at their wiring diagrams, and then looking at other mowers, I realize that there should be a wire coming out of the other end of the fusable link, going to either the 20 amp fuse or into the harness (as in the Sears diagram) and then into the fuse. After searching from one end of the harness to the other, I can not find a corresponding loose wire which might be the one that is supposed to complete this circuit.

There is no voltage at the "B" marked wire at all at the ignition switch. I am doubting that in all my scattergun approach in the beginning whether I even got an actual reading on the original solenoid, although I could have sworn I did. Frustration is about to set in.

 
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04-04-07, 08:34 PM   #30  
There's the problem. Or at least a major part of it...maybe the whole of it. This wire is the power supply to the entire mower harness, and with it disconnected, you have no power to anything. You'll need to find the end that broke or burned off at the fuse. It should be in near the solenoid sticking out of the loom cover on the harness. It should be the wire that goes to the B terminal of the switch.


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04-09-07, 05:17 PM   #31  
cheese,

You and azis were great in helping me run this one down. Sorry about getting back to you so late, but with the heart condition, I have to work on things fifteen minutes at the time - and when it is time to put it down for a few days, it is time to put it down.

Through you guys' patience and encouragement, the Craftsman is now once again functional. I NEVER would have found that wire had you not kept me going back and scratching my head. The best part is I learned some other things in the process. The wire had been pulled loose inside the harness, and when I took the protective cover off the harness and started tracing wires, I finally found that little red beggar doing it's best to hide from me and the world.

Once again, my gratitude to you and azis. Hopefully I won't have to be bothering you with many more problems this hard to track down - but it sure is nice to know there is some place where I can find such helpful folk if it does come up again.

Bless ya'll.

 
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04-09-07, 10:19 PM   #32  
Great! Glad we got this one nailed down. Sometimes they're just a bit more difficult, lol! Thank you for the update, and you know where to find us should you need us.


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