Engine Starting Problem

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  #1  
Old 05-12-02, 08:51 AM
raymo8
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2 Craftsman lawn tractors that won't start...

I have 2 craftsman lawn tractors that will not start. Here are the specs for both.

Tractor #1
Craftsman Riding Mower 8-9 years old
12.5 HP Briggs&Stratton Industrial/Commercial Gold Engine
Model # 286707 Type 0413-01

This tractor is usually difficult to start after each season. So this season, we bought a new battery for it. The new battery allows the engine to turn over several times but with a short pause in between each turn. This turning will run the battery down. I tried replacing the spark plug, fuel filter, fresh gas and oil, and removed the air filter. However, it still doesn't seem to have enough battery power to start.



Tractor #2
Craftsman Riding Mower 5 years old
15.5 HP Briggs & Stratton Indust/Comm. Platinum
Model # 28N707
Type 0173-01

This mower was fully functional until last week when someone used it in thick and high grass and continued to restart it when it kept stalling out. Finally, they said it would not start again. Although I thought the battery had just run down, now all that I get when I turn the key is a single click and then nothing. The troubleshooting guide said if it wasn't the battery/connections, spark plug, fuel filter, gas, etc. it was a solenoid or starter motor. Before I replace the last two items, is there anything else I should consider since they are over $150 from Sears.
 
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  #2  
Old 05-12-02, 10:53 PM
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Hi raymo8!

On tractor #1...There could be several causes of your condition. A corroded or loose battery cable connection at the battery, solenoid, starter, or ground. OR...a weak starter, OR...Fuel leaking into the cylinder while mower is not running, OR...a belt too tight, creating a load too heavy for the starter to turn. Check these things and we'll go from there.

Tractor #2...First of all, try to turn the engine by hand to be sure it hasn't locked up. If it won't turn, remove the black plastic cover over the starter gear. Make sure the starter gear is not engaged and stuck in the flywheel gear. That is a common problem. If the engine does turn manually, use a test light or volt meter to check for power at the starter connection. If there is power there when you hear the click, then the starter is bad.

If there is no power there, check for power at both posts on the solenoid. One should have constant power, the other should have 12V when the key is turned to start. (porvided the clutch and blade safety switches are depressed).

If you get no power on the side of the solenoid that the starter is connected to, check your fuse. If the fuse is good, check for power at the white wire that plugs on to the bottom of the solenoid while turning key to start. If no power there, most likely a bad keyswitch. If there is power there, then you have a bad solenoid.

Start this diagnosis procedure from the beginning, and let us know what you find.
 
  #3  
Old 05-13-02, 06:54 PM
raymo8
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Tractor #2 SOLVED!!!

Cheese,

Thanks a lot. Your suggestion for my tractor #2 worked. The flywheel was indeed jammed up by the starter gear. I ended up buying a new starter gear since it was torn up and replaced it. I can't believe that they make those things plastic nowadays! But anyway, it started right up afterwards. It now sits a little high though and rubs very slightly against the flywheel when it is spinning. Eventually, the top 1/8 inch of the plastic starter gear will wear down from this rubbing. I'm sure that I put it on correctly but it won't sit low enough down on the starter motor to keep out of the way completely of the flywheel. Is there any way to prevent this rubbing or make the starter gear sit lower on the starter motor?

Also, in order to get tractor #1 running, you suggested that I check several of the connections. In order to do this, I figure that I would need a digital ohmeter...? If so, where can I pick one up and how do I use it (or more specifically, where do I touch the prongs to on the starter, solenoid, etc. and what should the readings be.) Thanks for your help.
 
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Old 05-13-02, 08:35 PM
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You could just use a test light, and touch the studs that the battery cables are bolted to. Clip the other end of the light to the negative post on the battery.

The gear on the starter shouldn't be able to touch the ring gear when engine is running. Was the replacement gear made of nylon, or metal? Something doesn't sound right about it. Is the gear going all the way down?
 
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Old 05-14-02, 06:34 PM
raymo8
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Cheese,

Hey. The starter gear on tractor #2 finally sits lower now. I don't know why it was rubbing before, but fortunately it stopped. It was a nylon gear. Everything is working normally with that tractor now.

My concern is now with tractor #1. I tightened up the clutch/break because it was a little loose. I wanted to make sure that when it was depressed while starting, it would loosen the drive belt to make things easier on the starter. But that didn't seem to be the problem.
Next, I examined all of the wires and connections running from the battery to the starter, etc. They were all in good condition. I was going to also run the test light procedures on the solenoid and starter, but I hadn't had a chance to run out and get a device for that yet.
I did try starting it tonight though while spraying engine starter fluid in the air intake. It almost went. The engine turned over several times but still not quite fast enough or powerful enough to start the engine. This leads me to believe that it may be a carburator problem though rather than an electrical problem because it responded more than before when I sprayed the quick start engine fluid in the air intake. Maybe the carburator is fuel starved. Please let me know what you think. Thanks.
 
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Old 05-14-02, 11:58 PM
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I'm getting the 2 tractors confused, lol....had to go back and re-read the initial post. OK, if your battery connections are clean and tight, try this.....take the spark plug out and crank it. Does it turn fast? If so, I would suggest checking the valve clearance. This is an overhead valve engine, and they are known for hard start conditions due to excessive valve lash. Try it and let us know what you find.
 
  #7  
Old 05-15-02, 05:15 AM
raymo8
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Cheese,

I took the spark plug out and cranked the engine. It spun a lot faster than it ever had before and kept spinning as long as I kept the ignition key turned. It also didn't run the battery down like when the spark plug is in. Does that mean that the electrical system (starter motor, battery, solenoid, etc.) are all operating properly and are not the cause of the problem? If you want me to check the valve clearance next, how do I go about this?
 
  #8  
Old 05-16-02, 12:44 AM
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Sounds to me like the electrical sys. is fine. Remove the valve cover...the stamped metal cover at the end of the engine next to the spark plug. Four 3/8" bolts hold it on. Get a set of feeler gagues, and set the lash. To do this, it can be a little tricky for the first time. You must position the engine at top dead center, loosen the rocker arm nut, and change the position of the screw inside the rocker arm nut, then retighten the rocker arm nut. You basically do this until the feeler gague of the correct thickness just barely fits between the valve stem and the tappet. A service manual will be almost necessary.
 
  #9  
Old 05-21-02, 01:21 PM
raymo8
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Got em' both running...

Cheese,

I finally got the other tractor running. I took the starter out of the newer tractor and tried it in the older one that wouldn't start. Sure enough, it fired right up! Someone told me that after a while, these starters build up resistance in them with age and won't work as powerful. So, now both tractors are running great! Thanks for all of the help that you have given me. It was really appreciated.
 
  #10  
Old 05-21-02, 08:51 PM
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The starters can get weak over time, true. I would check your valve clearances though, because if they ARE out of spec, it can ruin your new starter. What happens when the valves are too loose is the compression release doesn't hold the exhaust valve open enough to let the compression out for easy starting. That makes the starter work much harder than it is designed to. It is a very common problem on OHV briggs engines when they get several hours on them. A new starter runs in the $115.00 neighborhood on these, so you don't want to take chances, lol.
 
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