John Deere 185 small lawn tractor - running poor

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  #1  
Old 05-22-14, 10:00 PM
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John Deere 185 small lawn tractor - running poor

I have owned this tractor for over 20 years. It has been very reliable until this year. Pulled it out of winter hibernation for the first time; started it (it took a little extra cranking to get fuel back up to the carb); started to cut the grass. A few minutes (4 or 5) into cutting the engine did not sound right. There seemed to be a slight popping out of the exhaust. Shut off the deck and drove it back to the driveway. Checked the air filter and the spark plug. Both were fine and the plug was new last year. Started the engine back up and it sounded fine. Within a minute of starting on the grass once more the engine sounded wrong again, like it was missing occasionally. Shut the deck down and parked it. Pulled out the trusty push mower and spent a lot of time finishing the grass. Back to the tractor, started it once more and it sounded fine. Drove it around for five minutes without the deck engaged and the symptoms returned. As best as I can tell it seems to be heat related. Since it runs it is getting fuel and spark. Because it sound normal when cold I believe the plug is doing its job. Based on the symptoms I am going to guess that I have some type of ignition issue. What is the most likely item to cause the symptoms I have described? I am thinking of taking the cowling off the engine to see if there is any debris internally in the engine but that seems unlikely as I have never had that problem since I had the tractor. Engine is a Kawasaki FC540V-BS00.
 
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Old 05-31-14, 07:16 AM
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Follow up: I have not taken the cowling off the engine yet. I purchased an inexpensive ignition module and installed it as a thought this was the likely source of the problem. The engine starts with it but exhibits the same symptoms I originally described. So it was probably not the ignition module. I have a new plug and will try that in a short while but the plug in there currently was new last July / August so I do not believe that will change anything. ANy additional thoughts appreciated.
 
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Old 05-31-14, 09:52 PM
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It's hard to guess what the engine is doing. An occasional miss would be not much of an issue. Is it surging? Does it not have power to cut?
 
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Old 06-02-14, 04:10 PM
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Barely. I have now replaced the spark plug as well as the ignition module. The engine sounded slightly better with the new plug but that may just be that it was not carbon fouled. The engine is definitely missing quite a bit but only after it starts to heat up. Typically around 5 minutes after I start up the deck. I did not realize that air intake occurred though the shroud until yesterday. I removed the air clearer and pointed a flash light into the air cleaner opening and saw no debris. Once the engine starts to miss it is running rich as the exhaust smells of fuel and pushing the throttle from idle up to 2/3 produces a puff or two of black smoke.

I put a HF spark tester in line with the plug and the blub was bright and flashed on and off at a steady rpm without any indication of missing. I also tested compression and got 130psi which should be good.

Any other thoughts?
 
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Old 06-02-14, 06:20 PM
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Sounds like your float needle may not be working and the fuel level is getting to high in the bowl. Is there a gassy smell in the oil? Also, I just recently had one that the air filter was causing it to do exactly as you're describing. It looked clean, but it just wasn't letting enough air through. Same engine as yours too. Try it momentarily without the filter and see if it does better.
 
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Old 06-03-14, 05:53 PM
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Answer to question one: Yes, there is a faint gas smell from the oil. It is not very strong. Question two: removing the air cleaner did not change the engine operation. Based on your questions and my answers I will guess that you want me to rebuild the carb next. Or, do I simply need to focus on the bowl, needle and seat?
 
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Old 06-03-14, 08:07 PM
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I think I would focus on the needle and seat. Clean them well and see what happens. Make sure the float can move freely. The needle may need replacement, but normally just a cleaning is all they require.
 
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Old 06-30-14, 09:50 PM
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Just wanted to provide final feedback on this thread. Cheese, you were on the right track but I had a tough time finding the problem. Turned out the pin that held the float in place was gummed up and was not allowing it to readily react to the fuel bowl filling. I had it apart several times without finding the problem. It was maybe the third or fourth time that I had it off the engine that I finally realized that the float was not moving nearly as freely as it should. So the bowl would fill up with fuel but not stop gas from overfilling and flooding into the motor.
 
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Old 06-30-14, 10:00 PM
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Great! Glad to help, and thanks for the update!
 
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