craftsman lawn tractor won't start

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  #1  
Old 07-22-13, 01:44 PM
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craftsman lawn tractor won't start

I purchased a used Craftsman 42 inch riding lawn mower (917 270781) several weeks ago.

It ran great initially, then would not start. Cranks great. After sitting overnight, it started instantly, and ran several more times. Sounds great at all speeds. Plenty of power. Now it will not start at all. Still cranks fine. The engine is a Briggs and Stratton opposed twin 19.5 HP model 42E707, type 2631, trim E1.

I have replaced plugs with E3-10's. Changed the battery when it died (it was 4 years old). An OEM spark tester from Autozone shows spark at both plugs. Taking off the air filter and spraying starting fluid doesn't help. I can smell gas after cranking, but the plugs are not wet.

What is the best next step? Does seeing spark on the spark tester rule out a coil issue? Any help is appreciated.

Thanks much.
 
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Old 07-22-13, 07:02 PM
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I'd be removing and rebuilding the carburetor.
 
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Old 07-22-13, 07:09 PM
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Is the choke disengaging?
 
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Old 07-23-13, 05:45 AM
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Choke seems to work fine. Joecaption1, that was my first thought also. (This mower was not used for years... with today's ethanol-containing fuels, gunk in the carburetor seems likely.)
 
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Old 07-24-13, 06:41 PM
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So I went to push the lawn tractor out into the driveway where the light is better to work on the carburetor. The transmission won't disengage with the pull out stem in the back. Tried several times. This worked fine earlier when I bought the mower. The gear shift says it is in neutral. Eventually got the tractor outside. Pulled the air filter and its housing off. The carburetor looks very clean, like it had just been overhauled. Checked for spark again to be sure... this time no spark at either plug with the inline tester.

I called the guy who sold me the mower to find out what he had done already. He cleaned the carb but didn't rebuild it. He thinks the problem is a safety lockout. If it is not really in neutral, or the sensing switch is broke, that would keep the transmission from disengaging, and keep it from getting spark?

The seat switch is easy to bypass, but I don't know where to look for the neutral switch, or the brake switch.

Anyone have any info on the safety lockouts?

Thanks.
 
  #6  
Old 07-25-13, 12:18 AM
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No, the switch won't cause your problem. You said earlier that it was getting spark... I assume it still is, correct... or did you ask that because it now does not have spark?

Sounds to me like the carb is flooding.
 
  #7  
Old 07-25-13, 03:50 AM
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No spark at either plug now with in line Autozone OEM tester.
 
  #8  
Old 07-25-13, 08:16 AM
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There is a plug on the lower side of the engine that disconnects all safeties. You may try that to see if you get a spark then, If so you will have to check each safety. Do not operate without safeties.
 
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Old 07-25-13, 09:46 AM
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I re-read and see now that you said there was no spark in the second post, sorry for missing that. A switch could cause the problem then. I would start by disconnecting the kill wire and checking for spark to verify the coils are okay, then trace the grounded kill wire to the offending switch. Do you have an ohmmeter?
 
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Old 07-25-13, 09:57 AM
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if you want to check the switch and you know how to check for continuity using a meter .
on the back side where the terminals are you will see the letters B,S,M,L,G, =battery , solenoid , magneto , lights , ground .
with the key is in the off position m and g will have continuity. ONLY
with the key in first position B and L will have it. ONLY
with key held in start position B ,S, L ONLY
that is for a 5 terminal key switch they may be hard to see but they are there .
I just went through this with my older mower note mine did not turn over at all and according to my drawing if it did it would rule out the clutch switch and the attachment switch leaving only the seat switch for no spark .
I don`t know your tractor set-up .
 
  #11  
Old 07-25-13, 07:56 PM
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Since last post, there have been a couple revelations:

1. There is spark, but it is very weak and worse on left than right. I thought maybe the tester was bad. Hooked it up to my TroyBilt mower, and you can see definite spark. Only when it was nearly dark outside could I see a flicker on the Craftsman rider. And it is no different with or without the kill wire attached, and with or without the safety wire harness plug attached or out.

2. The transmission disengaged! This happened by rocking the mower back and forth and tweaking the pull pin over and over. Something clicked, and then I can push the riding mower.

3. I do have a multimeter, and checked the seat safety switch and it works right.

Being able to push the mower at least makes it possible to take it to the local pros. Problem not solved, but I am feeling a little better.

Any advice?
 
  #12  
Old 07-25-13, 08:16 PM
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The spark sounds questionable. The coil on these engines is prone to be problematic. Enough so, that I'd venture to guess it's your problem. If the spark is not close to the same strength on both sides, and neither is close to the strength of that on your other engine, it is likely the problem. The coil is easy to replace. I suggest not using anything other than an original briggs coil though, as I have had nothing but problems with aftermarkets.
 
  #13  
Old 07-26-13, 09:04 PM
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Replaced the coil with original Briggs part ($51) and it starts easily! And purrs like a kitten!
Well worth a couple dollars more for peace of mind.

Thanks everyone for your advice.
 
  #14  
Old 07-26-13, 09:34 PM
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Great! Glad we could help!
 
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