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Old 09-16-2016, 07:32 PM   #1
bigdog
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Default Garden Tractor does not start ?

My garden tractor will not start ?

Been having my lawn cut by landscaper for the past 2 months, but have give them a furlough,
and decided to resume cutting lawn myself.

Wouldn't you know it, I jumped on my tractor today, and it wouldn't start ?
Battery check proved 14 volts, not an issue there. When I turn the ignition, I hear a click but that's all ! Repeated attempts have proved the same results.

Checked all wiring, battery cables, etc., however a lot of the wiring is buried in the body frame.
All I can see and reach appear OK. I put battery charger on battery for about 6 hrs just to see if it would make a difference, no change starting, just a click on ignition.

Can I check spark at the coil terminal and ground ?

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Thanks !
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Old 09-16-2016, 08:25 PM   #2
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Before you carried away did you check battery terminal connections to be sure they are tight and that there is no corrosion? Tap starter with hammer? I would also load test battery if above doesn't work. Then I would look at the stator.
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Old 09-16-2016, 08:34 PM   #3
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Previously did all recommend before masking Post.
I cleaned battery terminal connections, no corrosion...

Tapped on coil, but not starter, will do that next.

How do I 'laid test' battery ?

What is the 'stator'?

Thanks !
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Old 09-16-2016, 08:42 PM   #4
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Make sure you have the parking brake fully engaged and the cutting blade control knob is OFF. The safety stuff can cause issues.
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Old 09-16-2016, 09:41 PM   #5
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Tummyman...

Parking brake engaged, Cutting blades dis-engaged.
Case you were thinking I disconnected the seat safety switch years ago !

Any other thoughts ?
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Old 09-16-2016, 11:36 PM   #6
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Can you turn the motor by hand? You may me mouse nest bound.
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Old 09-16-2016, 11:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdog View Post
Any other thoughts ?
Gently taping on the solenoid switch while simultaneously trying to start the tractor with the ignition key is probably your next best thing to try.

Tapping on the ignition coil will do nothing. And more than likely your problem has nothing to do with the stator with regards to getting it started.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdog View Post
When I turn the ignition, I hear a click but that's all ! Repeated attempts have proved the same results.
If you are getting a clicking sound, that is (kinda good) meaning the electrical circuits up to the solenoid is probably functioning properly.

If I had to "guess" without knowing exactly what your tractor has for an engine or its history I would say your battery is to weak to operate the solenoid switch or the solenoid switch is defective. Sounds to me that you are not getting the heavy duty high current (for lack of a better term) from the battery to the starter itself.

There is a way to by-pass the solenoid switch, (for poor mans testing purposes) with good jumper cables or a screwdriver but you have to have a very keen understanding of just what is going to happen when you do something like this.

The link is for a generic google search for "solenoid switch" note the images, you would be looking for something that looks like one of the photos.

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourcei...enoid%20switch

Try tapping the solenoid switch (if you can locate it) and turning (and holding) the key in the start position all at the same time. You might need an extra person to help you if the solenoid switch is in an awkward location and prevents you from sitting on the tractor properly to engage the safety features / push on the pedals.
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Old 09-16-2016, 11:42 PM   #8
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I'm not there and I am also not a lawnmower mechanic but here is the problem:

Your battery is shot.

It has a surface charge which makes your meter happy.

If your charger has a "start" or "jump" option, try it. The mower will start.

My motorcycle battery did the same thing this spring.

I spent a couple of hours and all the verbal lubrication I could muster without a solution. I then headed to WalMart for a new battery. BINGO!
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Old 09-17-2016, 12:19 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 8gv View Post
I'm not there and I am also not a lawnmower mechanic but here is the problem:

Your battery is shot.

It has a surface charge which makes your meter happy.

If your charger has a "start" or "jump" option, try it. The mower will start.

My motorcycle battery did the same thing this spring.

I spent a couple of hours and all the verbal lubrication I could muster without a solution. I then headed to WalMart for a new battery. BINGO!
.

All this is correct too...... to some extent.

14 volts on a meter means nothing. If the battery is more than a few years old, toss it. As mentioned you could waste many hours trying to convince yourself the battery is good. Eliminate it right from the get go as a potential part of the problem. Especially if it might need to be changed soon anyway. If you change the battery and you still have problems then you have to move on the solenoid switch.
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Old 09-17-2016, 07:24 AM   #10
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I agree with Top-Water. Get a battery charger....put it on start. May wait a couple of minutes, then try...it may be all you need. It does sound like a battery issue. If no charger, try jumper cables from your car battery.
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Old 09-17-2016, 10:29 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tummyman View Post
I agree with Top-Water. Get a battery charger....put it on start. May wait a couple of minutes, then try...it may be all you need. It does sound like a battery issue. If no charger, try jumper cables from your car battery.
Just make sure your car isn't running if you go this route. Car alternators supply far more power than necessary and can damage the charging system on your mower.
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Old 09-17-2016, 10:35 AM   #12
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Could be vapor lock. Take the spark plug out and see if it will turn over.
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Old 09-17-2016, 11:54 AM   #13
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Before you toss the battery, turn the key to "Run" and manually jump the positive terminal of the battery to the positive terminal of the starter motor.

If the engine turns over, the battery is good and you have some kind of solenoid/electrical wiring problem.

If the starter spins and you get slight lunge and then it freezes when the starter gear engages the engine you have a good battery and starter, but a frozen engine (unlikely, IMO).

If the starter doesn't twitch, it's a bad/weak battery, or a bad starter. Hit the starter with the battery charger just to see what happens, that'll narrow it down further.

Should take no more than 5 minutes to get closer to a root cause.
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Old 09-17-2016, 04:30 PM   #14
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I just put a starter in mine, was doing the exact same thing. Took about 15 minutes. I don't know if you have yet, but definitely buy a battery too.
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Old 09-17-2016, 05:52 PM   #15
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OK...

I have a battery charger, but over 25 yrs old, and basically a 'trickle' charger
for 6/12 volts. Was inherited from family. I did initially attach charger to battery for several hours but didn't make any difference in starting...

I attached jumper cables from the tractor to my car, and tried to start.

Nothing ! Same results, juts a click sounds as before.
Will try to find starter, but suspect it's buried under cowling somewhere...

Next steps.... When I find Starter, I'll attach a jumper cable between Starter and Battery, to see if I can get Starter to spin.

Really stranger behavior because I had engine started and running just a few days before?

Oh.. never mentioned the engine type from beginning.....
It's a Brigs & Stratton INTEK OHV 19hp 2 cylinder.
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Old 09-18-2016, 11:33 AM   #16
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It sounds like you have a volt meter. You need to check to see if current is reaching the starter. Do this by finding the starter, attach the meter to the power lug on the starter and to ground. Turn the key, you should see 12 Volts at the starter. If not, then you have a bad relay or a broken wire, or a safety that is tripped. Sometimes you luck out and there is a wiring diagram you can follow to make sure things are working. Also check your seat bypass. 2 months allows mice to do a lot of damage. I would diagnose the problem before spending money. Coil and spark are not a problem, at least at this point. You need to get the engine spinning first.
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Old 09-18-2016, 01:41 PM   #17
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Voltage meter got trashed when it dropped onto concrete... Arg.......

Anyway, one test I didn't do up to now, was one mentioned near top of post by 'VitaBene'.... Try to spin the flywheel ! Simple....

Had to remove 6 screws holding down flywheel cover, then got a big wrench and turned flywheel nut. At first it was extremely difficult to turn the flywheel, then it spun free easy !

I turned a few more times and it did turn hard at one point in the cycle, I suspect when cylinders were going up and down. That first turn was definitely hard turn.

I turned engine off, and then was able to restart again, without issues?

OK, so what's going on here Forum folks, has me stumped?

Thanks again for all your great comments especially to 'VitaBene' !
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Old 09-18-2016, 01:45 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdog View Post
Voltage meter got trashed when it dropped onto concrete... Arg.......

Anyway, one test I didn't do up to now, was one mentioned near top of post by 'VitaBene'.... Try to spin the flywheel ! Simple....

Had to remove 6 screws holding down flywheel cover, then got a big wrench and turned flywheel nut. At first it was extremely difficult to turn the flywheel, then it spun free easy !

I turned a few more times and it did turn hard at one point in the cycle, I suspect when cylinders were going up and down. That first turn was definitely hard turn.

I turned engine off, and then was able to restart again, without issues?

OK, so what's going on here Forum folks, has me stumped?

Thanks again for all your great comments especially to 'VitaBene' !
Button it up and run it, good job. Is it stored outside? Things could have rusted up.
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Old 09-18-2016, 01:57 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdog View Post
That first turn was definitely hard turn.

I turned engine off, and then was able to restart again, without issues?

OK, so what's going on here Forum folks, has me stumped?

Thanks again for all your great comments especially to 'VitaBene' !

Check your oil level before you go on. Takes just a few seconds. If it was locked up you might have pure gas making its way into the crankcase and combustion chamber, or water getting past the air filter if its stored outside.
But we have not had much rain so I doubt that is a problem

If the oil level is (high / above normal) then you might have a problem with the carburetor float. (I've had this problem once myself on a garden tractor)

Well at least you know it starts.


Did it smoke a lot when you got it started?
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Old 09-18-2016, 02:24 PM   #20
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FYI... Engine has NEVER smoked !

Tractor has been stored outside, but only for last month but 'had it covered' ! I've always stored in shed since I purchased 18 yrs ago. Ways kept up mechanically....

I check oil before starting each time, change oil & filter annually, ALWAYS use Sta-Bil in gas. For that matter use Sta-Bill in all small engines.

Grass will be ready to be cut in a few days, will report back if issues resurface.

Thanks again
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Old 09-18-2016, 03:04 PM   #21
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Those engines are bullet proof, the way you take care of that you'll get 18 more years out of it.
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Old 09-18-2016, 03:50 PM   #22
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With nothing to lose...

I'm sticking with a weak battery as part of the problem.

Whatever caused binding in the cylinders (gas, oil, mouse nest) was too much for the weak battery.

As Top-Water has stated above...

Hydrolock occurs when gas leaks into the cylinder.

Some mowers have a valve that keeps the gas from flowing until the key is turned on. This helps when the mower is bouncing along on a trailer. If this valve is shot and the float leaks or is stuck open, you can put enough gas into the cylinder to cause a lot of trouble. The best one could hope for is the engine won't turn. Under the right conditions, (strong battery, strong starter, piston positioned just so), damage can be done by the piston compressing what cannot be compressed.

One way of knowing if gas leaked into the cylinder is to check the quantity and quality of the crankcase oil. If you gained oil, it's likely contaminated with gas.
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Old 09-20-2016, 07:19 AM   #23
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A few weeks ago I started blowing white smoke like crazy on a Toro rider and the engine soon cut out. I thought I seized the engine, called a dealer and they said it sounded like a head gasket which does go on those things. Come to find out the carb had clogged up with crap and the gas blew past it and entered the oil causing the smoking. A good "tune-up" and carburetor rebuild/cleanout solved the problem got the machine back and it's running great. Everything they did and changed was around 350 bucks I believe worth it to me to keep the mower running for now.
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Old 09-20-2016, 10:33 PM   #24
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Like i stated I use Stabile in all gas for small engines.

I also out a little 'Gumout' gas treatment or SeaFoam into the gas can.....
Engine seems to run better, and this will prevent carbs clogging,
at least it's worked for me for years.

Has anyone used Marvel Mystery Oil in their gas, would be interesting hearing feedback on this product. I hear you can use in both gas an oil.
Many folks swear by this product, as it's been around for years !
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Old 09-21-2016, 08:26 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdog View Post
Voltage meter got trashed when it dropped onto concrete... Arg.......

Anyway, one test I didn't do up to now, was one mentioned near top of post by 'VitaBene'.... Try to spin the flywheel ! Simple....

Had to remove 6 screws holding down flywheel cover, then got a big wrench and turned flywheel nut. At first it was extremely difficult to turn the flywheel, then it spun free easy !

I turned a few more times and it did turn hard at one point in the cycle, I suspect when cylinders were going up and down. That first turn was definitely hard turn.

I turned engine off, and then was able to restart again, without issues?

OK, so what's going on here Forum folks, has me stumped?

Thanks again for all your great comments especially to 'VitaBene' !
As others have mentioned, this sounds precisely like a hydro-lock condition and if so, you have two problems:

1. The electric fuel shut off valve is leaking. This valve is normally closed and only opens when voltage is applied. It is the only electrical device that is attached to your carburetor. You can find it on the bottom.

2. The float valve is leaking.

Fresh/treated fuel may cure both of these problems. In the mean time, there are two things you can do to prevent major engine failure:

1. Keep the fuel level in the tank lower than the top of the carburetor fuel bowl to prevent gravity from filling the fuel bowl when the engine is off (assuming it's a V-twin, your engine has a crankcase-pressure-pulse operated fuel pump on the right side cylinder that will fill the bowl when the engine is running even if the tank is low.).

2. Always crank the engine over a few revolutions before engaging the choke to keep it from firing until you are sure it is not hydro-locked. The starter does not have enough power to do any damage to a hydro-locked engine, but if one cylinder fires and the other is hydro-locked, it will bend a connecting rod. I do this every time I start my motorcycle. This is very similar to the technique used to start a radial aircraft engine. They always crank them over for 3+ full revolutions before turning the magnetos on to clear any oil out of the bottom cylinders. Hollywood uses this for dramatic effect trying to make the audience think the engine is struggling to start.
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Old 09-22-2016, 08:36 AM   #26
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Default Marvel Mystery Oil

In the mid-1970's, I worked at Great Bay Marine (Newington, NH), and during the haul-out and winterization period we used Marvel Mystery Oil on EVERY engine, generally to 'fog it out' and get the oil into the cylinders, and then put some in the fuel tank.

If my memory serves me correctly, we probably used at least two or three 55-gallon drums of Marvel Mystery Oil each fall. As a matter of fact, I still have a small can of it in my garage shop right now.
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Old 09-22-2016, 09:38 AM   #27
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Quote:
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My garden tractor will not start ?
What is the brand name? Model Number?
How old is this machine?
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Old 09-22-2016, 10:18 PM   #28
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Tractor is about 2001 vintage
Brand is Scotts was sold by either Home Depot or Lowes

Actually the tractor was made for Scotts by Murray Corp.
Has been a good workhorse and extremely dependable over the years with very few issues.

Also own a Murray 5hp B&S self-propelled mower over 20 yrs old.

For the price and value I couldn't ask for more. Hope to have this for many more years.
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Old 09-24-2016, 03:51 PM   #29
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I have a John Deere lawn tractor 300X 8 years old. Sometimes the tractor will not start so I put on the charger start position. OK. When shutting down during mowing the tractor starts fine except for once this summer. Battery is the original and I usually put it on charger prior to mowing for a short period.
I probably should get a new battery and will when this process doesn't work anymore.

I am a retired workaholic and continuing aquaholic.
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Old 09-26-2016, 10:44 AM   #30
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Think I spoke too soon !

Mowed the lawn now with no problems starting.... Covered tractor for last 2 days outside.

Today, I went to start tractor and it won't start again ?
Now, it makes a clicking sound, with a whining noise like its coming from the starter, but the starter is not actually turning.

Thoughts ?
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Old 09-26-2016, 11:15 AM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdog View Post
Think I spoke too soon !

Mowed the lawn now with no problems starting.... Covered tractor for last 2 days outside.

Today, I went to start tractor and it won't start again ?
Now, it makes a clicking sound, with a whining noise like its coming from the starter, but the starter is not actually turning.

Thoughts ?
I think it could be hydro lock. Take the spark plug out and see if it turns over.
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Old 09-26-2016, 01:36 PM   #32
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2 things. Could be the starter solenoid but it should be open or closed and I dont think it be a whining sound. Also, it sounds like the starter might be turning but not engaging. Could be teeth missing form the flywheel or the gear on the starter is not getting "thrown out" away from its stopped (retracted)position.
A simple ex. here:When you turn the ignition switch, the starter motor is energized, and the electromagnet inside the body engages. This pushes out a rod to which the pinion gear is attached. The gear meets the flywheel, and the starter turns.

So the starter may be turning but the pinion gear might not be always extending.
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Old 09-26-2016, 04:54 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdog View Post
Think I spoke too soon !

Mowed the lawn now with no problems starting.... Covered tractor for last 2 days outside.

Today, I went to start tractor and it won't start again ?
Now, it makes a clicking sound, with a whining noise like its coming from the starter, but the starter is not actually turning.

Thoughts ?
This sounds like a bad/weak battery or bad connection causing high resistance.

The clicking sound is the starter solenoid. Basically when you turn the key, the solenoid engages, and then power goes to the starter. Current draw of the starter causes the voltage to drop below the level that will engage the solenoid, which causes the solenoid to cut out. A second later the battery has enough voltage to re-engage the solenoid and the process starts over.
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Old 09-26-2016, 05:52 PM   #34
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Thanks Brk-Int.....

Going to try to jump start off car battery again....

If that doesn't work, then guessing must be Solenoid or Starter motor.
If jumping off car battery works will get new battery.

FYI, battery is only a little over 1 yr old, and I think only had a 1 yr warranty.
Battery is a 'EverStart' battery purchased at Wal-Mart.
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Old 09-26-2016, 07:54 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SIKSUKR View Post
2 things. Could be the starter solenoid but it should be open or closed and I dont think it be a whining sound. Also, it sounds like the starter might be turning but not engaging. Could be teeth missing form the flywheel or the gear on the starter is not getting "thrown out" away from its stopped (retracted)position.
A simple ex. here:When you turn the ignition switch, the starter motor is energized, and the electromagnet inside the body engages. This pushes out a rod to which the pinion gear is attached. The gear meets the flywheel, and the starter turns.

So the starter may be turning but the pinion gear might not be always extending.
Excellent description, good job!
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Old 09-27-2016, 11:39 AM   #36
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Default Compression release / exhaust valve adjustment

I'm thinking that engine probably has a compression release for easier starting. At very low RPM (starting) it would open the exhaust valve just slightly on the compression stroke so the engine turns over easier at startup. I've run into this before on a Generator. Assuming it's an overhead valve (OHV) motor, you would look for the (probably silver) valve cover. It should be easy to remove and I was able to reuse the gasket as there's not a lot of oil pressure there. With the valve cover off, you'd see the rocker arms and where they engage the valves. With the spark plug out, turn the engine over slowly with a wrench. You should see the rocker arm for just the exhaust valve move slightly on the compression stroke. If the arm is moving, but not actually engaging / moving the valve then the arm probably needs adjustment. You'd need to look up the valve specs and set it with a feeler gauge, but it's really pretty easy to do and you should be able to adjust it right at the rocker arm.
I had a generator that used to be really hard to pull at startup and this was the problem.. Unfortunately I broke a couple pull starts before I worked that one out
Good luck!!!
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Old 10-01-2016, 08:17 PM   #37
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Just curious, how did you get 14 volts on a 12 volt system if the engine wasn't running??
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Old 10-02-2016, 01:53 PM   #38
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I am blowing a lot of gas out my exhaust when I try and start. It is a Koehler engine. Any thoughts...????
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Old 10-05-2016, 12:25 PM   #39
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I am blowing a lot of gas out my exhaust when I try and start. It is a Koehler engine. Any thoughts...????
Float stuck open or needle and seat are worn. The 14hp Kohler on my 48" commercial mower does that if I don't clamp off the fuel line. The shut off valve does not completely shut off the gas flow, so I use small vice grips on the line. The engine would even hydro-lock with gas, if it sat long enough. It runs fine but I'll need to change the needle and seat at some point. Just add it to the list of projects!
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Old 10-06-2016, 08:53 AM   #40
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Default Garden Tractor does not start ?

Well..... I have the final report regarding my tractor issue not starting.
Took me a while and a little thinking but finally got to the bottom of this !

Four letters, one word "M-I-C-E" !

I removed the top cowling that covers the entire engine. Not only did I find a lot of mouse remnants of cloth material (probably from building nests),
but also found two severed electrical wires, which were disconnected from what I think may be a coil ?

One of the spark plugs wires that come off the plug, connects to coil, then has two 14 gauge wires that connect to someplace in engine, exactly where I could not see where it led ? Is this a coil, because it looked like it was wrapped with cooper wire.

Also, I removed long piece of cloth material from what looked like a gear, that I suspect is tied to the starter assembly. This long piece of material
(actually looked like a 4" piece of rope) was wrapped around the gear, preventing it from rotating. I noticed when I attempted to start the engine that gear would spin, I suspect it turns something within the engine ? What is this gear, and is my description correct?

Anyway, removed all cloth fiber mouse remnants, patched the 2 broken wires together. Long story, engine started immediately !

Lessons learned, think simple !
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Old 10-06-2016, 09:22 PM   #41
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Good detective work. You may want to find a way to toss some moth balls under your storage cover to discourage them from coming back. I've had them nest in a couple of my small equipment engines too, it's pretty common.
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Old 10-07-2016, 12:21 PM   #42
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Thanks Ursa MInor for suggesting to use moth balls under storage cover to deter the vermin critters
I've personally been using 'dry sheets' for years for same purpose and has not failed me yet.

This time around I failed my due-diligence and just forgot to do !
Note to self !

I have a convertible 'summer car', and when I store for the winter, place a dozen dryer sheets over the engine, tail pipe, and any other areas of access that mice can enter. My sister-in-law had an issue with her car with mice damage to electrical system that cost her over $1,000 in repairs ! Lessons learned !
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Old 10-07-2016, 12:29 PM   #43
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I had a fan cooled Arctic Cat sled years ago. The motor suddenly overheated and cooked a piston one day. Mouse house was built around one of the jugs under the engine cover. I did not know it was there until I started the tear down. I hate mice!
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Old 10-07-2016, 04:24 PM   #44
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I think I like your dryer sheet idea better! They definitely smell better than the moth balls. I'll put some under the hood and elsewhere when I put our "fun car" under cover in the garage this winter, great suggestion.
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Old 10-10-2016, 09:54 AM   #45
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I used dryer sheets in one of my snowmobiles a few years back. The mice used those dryer sheets to build their nest. So the dryer sheets may not always work.
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Old 10-10-2016, 11:03 AM   #46
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As I already said, they didn't work for us. We found mice in the boat.
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Old 10-10-2016, 11:09 AM   #47
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Pet stores sell bitter apple spray that keeps dogs from chewing things. I wonder if it would work for mice and if it would stay active long enough. Might be worth a try.
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Old 10-10-2016, 01:09 PM   #48
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This discussion is so timely. My wife just texted me that she pulled the mower out of the shed but it seemed a bit sluggish when she started it. She took it to a next door neighbor who fixes anything for $50. Fix the mower $50, fix a leaky faucet $50. You get the idea.

She came back an hour later and the mower was fixed. Replace the plug, new oil filter, sharpen blade , and remove the rat nest. Seems he removed the front cover and an 8" rat with her baby ran out of the mover. He suggested putting out some de-con in the shed.

My wife told me that I would be collecting on her life insurance, if she had witnessed this happening.
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Old 10-10-2016, 05:47 PM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HomeWood View Post
Float stuck open or needle and seat are worn. The 14hp Kohler on my 48" commercial mower does that if I don't clamp off the fuel line. The shut off valve does not completely shut off the gas flow, so I use small vice grips on the line. The engine would even hydro-lock with gas, if it sat long enough. It runs fine but I'll need to change the needle and seat at some point. Just add it to the list of projects!
My engine did not have a fuel shutoff valve. Ordered one on Ebay for $6. Installed it last week. Results after a few days being idle....perfect....no more raw gas coming out of exhaust. Thank you for a great and simple suggestion. It really worked very well!!!!!!
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Old 10-11-2016, 06:52 PM   #50
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Quote:
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My engine did not have a fuel shutoff valve. Ordered one on Ebay for $6. Installed it last week. Results after a few days being idle....perfect....no more raw gas coming out of exhaust. Thank you for a great and simple suggestion. It really worked very well!!!!!!
Excellent! Glad I could help.
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