Craftsman 13.5 HP Mid-Engine Rider won't start

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  #1  
Old 07-03-07, 08:23 AM
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Question Craftsman 13.5 HP Mid-Engine Rider won't start

I'm trying to figure out why my Craftsman riding mower will no longer start.

It's an electric start and when I turn the ignition key, then nothing really sounds out of the ordinary...it just won't catch.

I performed all of the steps listed in the owner's manual troubleshooting section underneath the section for "Engine Won't Start", but nothing seems to work.

I have done everything else that I can think of (new spark plug, air cleaner, checked for blown fuse, checked to see if battery charged), but to no avail.

Does anybody know what other avenues that I have left unexplored?..

I recorded the sound (in mono) that the mower makes when I try to crank it using a laptop and a cheap microphone and I also took a couple of photos of the engine on the mower hoping that it might help for diagnosis sake.

(link to engine photos):
http://www.putfile.com/millard/images/115542

(link to cranking sound):
http://media.putfile.com/Craftsman-135-HP-Mid-Engine-Rider

All tips are certainly welcome and appreciated!

Thanks in advance!
 
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  #2  
Old 07-03-07, 09:51 AM
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Check for spark. Pull your spark plug, ground it to the engine and see if you have good spark.
 
  #3  
Old 07-03-07, 05:55 PM
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Did this suddenly start happening? Or is this the first time you've tried to use it this year? Could be a bad coil so do as duigoose said and check for spark.
 
  #4  
Old 07-04-07, 04:07 AM
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The audio clip gives me the impression you may have a compressionless engine. Remove the spark plug, tie the plug wire out of harms way, place the fat of your thumb over the spark plug hole in the cylinder head and crank the engine over. Do you feel any compression, or release thereof past your thumb? Did you inspect for spark, as duigoose recommended? If so, did you have any at the spark plug?
 
  #5  
Old 07-04-07, 04:12 PM
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Re:

Thanks for the replies..

My 1st opportunity to check for spark (like 'duigoose' said) didn't come until late this afternoon..

Anyways...I hope that I did this correctly (since I am little more than an amateur beyond regular maintenance)..

I had a leftover piece of 12-gauge wire laying around, so I unscrewed the plug from the engine...then I put the boot of the plug wire from the engine back on the plug...and then I stripped the ends of the 12-gauge wire and wrapped one end of it around the threads of the plug and then I looked for a possible screw or bolt that I could easily fasten the other end of the 12-gauge wire to..

I took a photo of what I did and posted it..

(Did I do this correctly??):
http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=5886004

I drew the yellow arrows on the photo to show where I attached each end of the 12-gauge wire (the purple arrow indicates where the plug hole is)...

If indeed I followed your recommendations correctly, then I did not notice an arc at the end of the plug whenever I turned the ignition key to the cranking position..

Also, (in response to 'msidan') I want to say that this did just start suddenly happening.....however, I cranked it only about a month ago and I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary (severe drought has eliminated the need to mow grass up until recently!). But, this mower belongs to my folks and the last time it was used before I used it a month ago was back in April and they said that it was really hard to start then.

Finally, (in response to 'puey61' 's comment) I did what you said and put my thumb over the empty plug hole while I looked for a spark and I could feel a pretty good burst of air rush over my thumb and even the rest of my hand. This mower was bought in Sept. 2005 so it's not even 2 years old yet which would make me think that it is not yet old enough to start worrying about losing compression.

Like I said, I'm an amateur at this beyond regular maintenance so I may not have done this correctly, but in the event that I did do it correctly and I have discovered that there is no arc at the end of the plug, then what should I do next??

Once again, thanks for the helpful tips!
 
  #6  
Old 07-04-07, 08:57 PM
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dixie I have spent more time thinking about your grounding procedure than anything. just remove the spark plug, put it back in the plug boot and hold it to a ground source such as a head bolt or engine part close thereby. crank it over and look for spark. I see what you were doing but think you overthought this.
 
  #7  
Old 07-05-07, 05:27 AM
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Your test still worked and proves the coil to be good, but all you had to do was touch the spark plug to a metal part of the engine.
 
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Old 07-05-07, 06:53 AM
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I certainly like the idea behind your test apparatus, I use a 14 awg wire with large alligator clips, or one side of a set of jumper cables work well too.
From the pic I think I see the kill wire that connects to the coil. The white single wire going to the underside of the coil. It should slip onto a spade terminal. If you remove this wire and perform your test again, and still have no spark, then you can assume the coil is bad.
 
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Old 07-05-07, 08:54 AM
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Oh wait... I misread your response. I thought you said you DID see spark.

Oh well, do as BHFFixit and if there is still no spark then your coil is bad.
 
  #10  
Old 07-05-07, 12:15 PM
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Re:

I went back and did (at least partially) what 'BFHFixit' said about using one side of a set of battery cables to ground the spark plug (I also tried it by just touching the end of the plug to both the engine housing and to just a bolt on the engine)..

In all instances though, I DID NOT see a spark at the end of the plug..

I wasn't exactly sure how to locate the kill wire (that 'BFHFixit') spoke about and I am not sure what the coil looks like either...so I took another set of photos hoping that someone can point me to it..

Photo #1:
http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=5895534
(the yellow arrows indicate where I attached each end of the battery cable clamps to)

Photo #2:
http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=5895535
(the green arrow indicates where the seat sensor switch is)

Photos #'s 3 - 5
http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=5895536
http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=5895537
http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=5895538

(In photos 3 through 5, then I am taking the shotgun approach that the coil and/or kill wire will appear somewhere in these photos)

Can anyone point me to the kill wire and coil?..

Also, since I haven't seen a spark from the plug so far (when grounded), then is that an extremely strong indication that the coil is no longer functioning?
 
  #11  
Old 07-05-07, 02:44 PM
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Here is the kill wire to the coil. (circled in green)

http://i187.photobucket.com/albums/x320/msidan/18514582534.jpg

The problem could also be a malfunctioning safety switch. That is why you have to unhook the kill wire and check for spark; it will bypass all the safety switches and even prevent the key switch from turning off the engine. If still no spark, then your coil is bad.
 

Last edited by msidan; 07-05-07 at 02:45 PM. Reason: added more info
  #12  
Old 07-05-07, 04:04 PM
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Re:

Thanks for guiding me to the kill wire, 'msidan'...

I did exactly what you said to do..I kept the plug ground (using one side of a set of jumper cables like 'BSHFixit' suggested), then I unplugged the kill wire from the coil..

Voila! This time I could see the spark at the end of the plug.

I'm guessing that this means that my coil is actually good..however, that means that something else is defective..

Any suggestions?..

If it helps any, then here is the electrical system diagram for this mower (copied directly from the owner's manual from my Craftsman mower):

http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=5897430
 
  #13  
Old 07-05-07, 04:05 PM
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The starter spins the engine when you turn the key?
 
  #14  
Old 07-05-07, 04:34 PM
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Re:

Originally Posted by BFHFixit View Post
The starter spins the engine when you turn the key?
I'm almost positive that the starter spins the engine..

Cranking sounds no different than when I had the kill wire plugged up.
 
  #15  
Old 07-05-07, 04:42 PM
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It seems you must have a short in your kill circuit. Your safety switches appear to only tie into the starting circuit and if one were at fault, the starter would not engage.
The kill/stop wire from the coil should go to a plastic connector and then to the key switch. Follow the wire out and look for any place it may have worn, pinched or other wise shorted to ground. Check the connector and the terminals on the back of the key switch as well.
 
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Old 07-05-07, 06:46 PM
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Re:

Originally Posted by BFHFixit View Post
It seems you must have a short in your kill circuit. Your safety switches appear to only tie into the starting circuit and if one were at fault, the starter would not engage.
The kill/stop wire from the coil should go to a plastic connector and then to the key switch. Follow the wire out and look for any place it may have worn, pinched or other wise shorted to ground. Check the connector and the terminals on the back of the key switch as well.
I have traced the kill wire all the way from the spade connector at the coil to the plastic connector but the kill wire looks to be in good condition though....there aren't any crimps or gouges or cuts at all and I don't see any place along the length of the kill wire where the copper wire is exposed at all..

At the moment, it has gotten too dark to see well enough (even with a worklight) to look for any more damaged wires, so I'll have to look some more tomorrow..

Again though, the kill wire seems to be in perfect condition.
 
  #17  
Old 07-06-07, 05:12 AM
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Did you trace the kill wire to the key switch? That is where your problem might be.
 
  #18  
Old 07-06-07, 07:52 AM
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If you have or can use or purchase an ohm meter you can check for continuity to ground on the wire. Disconnect the connector from the back of the ignition switch and test the wire for continuity to ground. If it shows continuity, then there is contact somewhere along the wire to ground. If not reconnect the connector to the ignition switch, turn the key to the run position, and test again. If you find continuity the problem may be the switch itself. If still not showing continuity to ground, remove the battery cables from the battery, hold the key in the start position and test once again.
If you find the short to only be when the connector for the ignition switch is plugged in, then the key switch is likely corroded, or simply bad.
 
  #19  
Old 07-06-07, 01:14 PM
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Replace the seat safety switch, Murray part number 094159MA. This is the only safety switch related to the kill circuit and if you have found no bare wire(s) then it must be the seat switch.
 
  #20  
Old 07-06-07, 05:59 PM
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Re:

I didn't get the chance today to trace the kill wire the rest of the way from the plastic connector all the way to the ignition switch..

However, this might take a little time though because the ignition switch is located within the confines of the big tall console that the steering wheel sits in and I'll have to figure a way to detach it from the seat deck long enough for me to have a go at the back side of the ignition switch..

'puey61', you may be on to something (the seat safety switch)...I noticed that all of the wiring that leaves the solenoid and most of the other wiring that eventually winds up leading to the ignition switch is encased inside a protective hard plastic conduit and it would be difficult for me to imagine how a wire that runs through this plastic conduit could possibly get damaged.

Also, this mower has a switch that is toggled by the pressing of the brake/clutch pedal...

The pedal has to be pressed down in order for the starter to turn...otherwise, turning the key does absolutely nothing...

This switch is really close by the ignition switch, however this switch seems to be performing exactly as it should..

When I was testing for a spark, then I found myself in an awkward position as I ended up standing on the deck with a foot pressing down on the pedal and the other foot pressing down on the seat safety switch (because the seat was currently raised up at the time to access the engine compartment).....I did this all while I turned the ignition key with my right hand (left hand used to hold on!, LOL)..

Now that I think about it, as long as I had my foot down on the brake/clutch pedal then I am almost positive that the starter would turn regardless of whether I was pressing down on the seat safety switch or not.

Is the starter supposed to turn when the seat safety switch is not being pressed down (as if you were sitting in the seat and getting ready to crank it up to go cut grass)?
 
  #21  
Old 07-06-07, 09:17 PM
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Puey is correct about the seat switch. I was in the frame of mind that if it were bad, you would be unable to turn the starter. The parking brake/clutch bypasses the seat switch. I believe you should be able to start it with out the brake/clutch being depressed as long as the PTO and transmission is in neutral and the seat switch is made. If not, that would indicate the seat switch.
 
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