JD 180 backfiring and shooting flames

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  #1  
Old 11-21-08, 08:43 AM
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JD 180 backfiring and shooting flames

Have a John Deere 180 lawn tractor. Few months ago replaced the plug, oil, oil filter, air filter and fuel filter. Did this after it had been running poorly for a little while (hesitating every few seconds while grass cutting). Seemed to run good after this maintenance, but then started feeling poor again.

After having it sit for 6 weeks or so, I took it out and put the snowthrower attachment on. Ran real rough, but I put it away. Now, just last night, I took it out to test. Tried to start it and it cranked away but wouldn't start. Waited a bit and tried again but it wouldn't even turn over (it's had a starting problem for years so this was totally unusual). I gave up and boosted it. It turned over right away while the choke was on and started then I took the choke off, but then there was some good smoke coming out of the exhaust and it stalled and backfired after a few seconds. I tried again and the same thing. Tried a third time and when it backfired there was definitely flames coming out the exhaust. Needless to say I stopped there!

Need to track down the problem. Where should I start, keeping in mind I'm only an average do-it-myselfer?
 
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  #2  
Old 11-21-08, 12:01 PM
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Where to start? The carb would be my guess, Having sat for 6 weeks, I'm thinking the gas in the carb left some varnish behind and had plugged up the innards.
 
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Old 11-21-08, 02:46 PM
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Can you post the brand, model and spec numbers off your engine?
 
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Old 11-22-08, 02:21 PM
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Engine is a Kawasaki FC540V. Tried to start it again today and it would turn over but not start. Checked the obvious stuff over. Oil, oil filter and air filter are fine. The spark plug however is dark and definitely has gas on it.
 
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Old 11-22-08, 07:58 PM
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I'd start by replacing the plug. Kawasakis are finicky about spark plugs...go ahead and try a new one. If still no-go, check for spark at the plug.
 
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Old 11-23-08, 04:00 PM
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Well, I replaced the plug with a Champion RN11YC4 (manual calls for RN11YC) and it now is alive again. Don't know if it mattered but doesn't look like the one I had in there (given to me by JD dealer) was a direct replacement for this one according to all the info I've seen on the 'net.

Problem that remains is difficulty starting. I'll turn the key and get a clunk and it doesn't turn over. Have to go through this 5-10 times every time I go to use it. When it does finally decide to turn over, it always starts. Tractor's been like this for at least 5 years and I've just put up with it. Would be nice to fix.
 
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Old 11-23-08, 04:25 PM
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Have you ever adjusted the valves?

These OHV models with solid lifters require periodic maintenance so the valve clearances remain within specifications. Too much clearance results in the ACR not working and higher cranking compression that causes the starter to kind of drag or not crank the engine over. If it's been awhile since the valves were adjusted, then that may be the problem. If you want to tackle this and need help, just let us know and we can walk you through the procedure. You will need a set of "feeler gauges" to accomplish this.
 
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Old 11-24-08, 12:19 AM
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If the engine does not try to move at all when you hear this "clunk", I'd say you have solenoid trouble. The starter-mounted solenoid used on Kawasakis commonly go bad in the manner you've described. They usually clunk (the solenoid moves, and pulls the bendix drive fork to lift the gear to engage the teeth on the flywheel)..but the electrical contacts do not make contact and the starter doesn't turn. Repeated attempts usually gets it to make contact eventually. Replacement of the solenoid is easy, but a little expensive. They run around $100 for the solenoid.
 
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Old 11-24-08, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by 30yearTech View Post
Have you ever adjusted the valves?
To the best of my knowledge the valves have NEVER been adjusted in the 20 years we've owned this tractor. Picking up a set of feeler gauges today. Much appreciate any guidance you can offer.

Originally Posted by cheese View Post
If the engine does not try to move at all when you hear this "clunk", I'd say you have solenoid trouble.
This certainly sounds like the trouble I'm having. I see there's a solenoid on eBay for the FC540V at $30. Also see a full starter+solenoid for a bunch more. Would you advise to replace just the solenoid or the starter as well?
 
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Old 11-24-08, 11:05 AM
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The starter's on these engines are extremely durable. I am with cheese that it's probably the starter solenoid. They can be a little tricky to put in, but that's most likely all you need. The starter solenoid on ebay is probably an aftermarket and that is why it is cheaper. I use a lot of aftermarket parts and have had very good luck, but many prefer to use OEM parts. That decision would have to be up to you.
 
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Old 11-24-08, 12:09 PM
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Auction says the manufacturer is Denso. I've heard of them so may just go ahead and get it and hope for the best. Any tips on the install?
 
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Old 11-24-08, 04:07 PM
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Denso is short for nippondenso which most likely is the OEM supplier of the starter on your engine. So if the part is genuine Denso then it's as good as any OEM part you would obtain from Kawasaki.

I have some old starters at the shop, I will try and take some pictures that hopefully will help illustrate the procedure for you.
 
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Old 11-24-08, 07:20 PM
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Actually the auction does say Nippondenso, you're right. And I just cleaned off the sticker on the stock starter and the label indeed says it's a Nippondenso. Guess I lucked out!
 
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Old 11-24-08, 10:13 PM
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That's a good deal if it's a new solenoid!
 
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Old 11-26-08, 09:33 AM
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Solenoid should be on its way. Do I need to remove the starter to install it?
 
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Old 11-26-08, 06:50 PM
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Yep. Remove the starter, then you'll remove the top end cap from the starter and the solenoid.
 
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Old 04-26-09, 07:35 PM
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Not the solenoid

Finally got the solenoid replaced (it's been a long Winter!) and unfortunately the problem persists. Get a clunk when I turn the key and after getting 10 or so clunks (it was 20 this time but tractor hasn't been started since January) it will eventually turn over and start fine.

What should I look at next? Starter?
 
  #18  
Old 04-26-09, 10:42 PM
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Take the starter to an automotive starter shop. They can verify it, but it probably needs brushes. Usually they can put some in for less than $50.
 
  #19  
Old 08-15-10, 01:35 PM
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Sorry to resurrect my own old thread, but figured I'd provide closure on this while it's crossing my mind...

Found a new aftermarket starter on eBay earlier this year for about $70 and put it in. Physically a bit smaller than the original and don't imagine it's built as well. Probably won't last me the 23 years the original one did, but the price was right. Tractor starts up like new and has been running great all season.

Thanks to everyone for your help,
Dave.
 
  #20  
Old 08-16-10, 04:57 PM
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That's almost 2 years for the repair. Congrats!
 
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