Need help about my rider mower

I have a 10-year old rider mower with a 18HP Briggs engine. The way it behaves mystifies me, and I wonder if anyone can suggest what is going on.
First of all. the original battery refused to start the mower (even after charging) after a few years, and I replaced it with a match even though it cost some $60! Then that battery did the same thing after another two years and so I replaced it with a cheaper battery from Lowes. It worked fine after I hack sawed the battery compartment to accommodate the larger battery. After two years it wouldn't hold a charge, so I bought still another (of the Lowes type), and it is in there now.
Having said that, I should add that all along, with all the batteries, when I would leave the mower unused between weekly mowing's, I would consistently find that the mower would not turn over. Since the voltage reading on the batteries read low, I assumed something was discharging the batteries. So I installed a switch on the battery cable to enable me to disconnect the battery completely whenever I am not using the mower.
That didn't work. Even though the battery voltage was holding at 12+ volts. the engine would not turn over. I found that if I connected my 10A charger just for a few minutes, the engine would turn over and start. It's almost as if the battery needed a 'boost'. To me the engine is acting as if it is semi-locked, and requires a strong battery source to overcome its initial inertia. The first turn-over always sounds like a real struggle, but if it makes it then the subsequent engine revolutions seem easier for the engine. Then I could then cut my lawn. Even if I turned the engine off as I was mowing, I could re-start the mower.
This is getting exasperating! Yesterday, I charged the battery with my 10A charger until the battery showed 12.3V. Then I left it overnight with my trickle charger connected. This AM the battery read 12.4V. I cut the lawn (2 hours) and then checked the battery. It read `14.1V! This tells me that the mower alternator (?) is working. I left the mower off for two hours (with the battery cutoff switch OFF), and the battery voltage was 13.3V!
Right now, it is some 4 hours later - the battery reads 12.3V and the mower starts, but with its usual reluctance.
I have rambled here, and for that I am sorry. I hope I have described things correctly. I am at my wits end as to what to do. I feel that I could connect several batteries to get a strong start, and I'll betcha that would do it. But golly. I can't do that.
Help
Duke
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The above voltage change is normal

It sounds to me like the engine turns over tougher than it should, or the starter is inefficient for some reason.
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On Tue, 18 Aug 2009 16:31:16 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@mucks.net wrote:

Hmmm I wonder if a new starter would improve things. No idea what that'll cost.
Thanks for suggestion.
Duke
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wrote:

Also check the solenoid and all connections.
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Will do.
Lightning last evening knocked out my central A/C and the whole furnace in general so now I have more pressing trouble. Woe is me.
Thanks
Duke
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Thanks for reply. I'll do these things when I can do it between mowings and after I work more on my A/C.
Duke
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wrote:

I never had a battery started lawnmower or other outdoor machine. My snowblower has a 115VAC starter motor which I most never use, as it starts easily with the pull cord. Anyway, on machines that use a battery starter, is there no type of alternator/generator that keeps the battery up to full charge while it is running? Do you have to use a plug in charger "every so often" to charge up the battery? If there is an alternator on the machine built into the engine, maybe it is not working. Nobody has mentioned this before here, so I am giving you my 2 cents on this. Batteries will fail sooner than their life expectancy if discharged and not recharged promptly, I believe.
RP
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Of the several riding mowers I have had and several more I have seen, they have a charging system. If the battery is really ran down, that is not usually enough to recharge the battery, but it is enough to keep them charged during normal starting and mowing. The one I bought 4 years ago has never needed an external charge.
I bought a portable generator (5000 watts) that has an electric start, but no charging system. The battery seems to be of the nicad type instead of the more common lead type. It comes with a wall cube that you plug in to charge it. Probably would take overnight to recharge the battery if it was very ran down. I have had it about 6 months and have not tried to start it. I had another generator and thought it had gone bad so I got the new one. Then I fixed the old one. Bad gas had stopped up a small hole in the carberator. The old one starts up just like always, usuall 2 pulls, 3 at the most.
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On Fri, 21 Aug 2009 16:02:13 -0400, "Ralph Mowery"

I am OP. I said originally - I cut the lawn (2 hours) and then checked the battery. It read `14.1V! This tells me that the mower alternator (?) is working.

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wrote:

I have a riding mower (Wards Signature 2000) that may have the same engine. It always pauses when I first try to start it then gets going and then turns the engine OK. Mine has a fairly new battery. I always recharge my batteries (on everything) occasionally, some more frequently than others. I use a 40 amp Smart Charger and periodically run the Desulfate cycle and Equalize cycle. On my mower I had a situation where it would not start (overheated or something) and the battery was ran down after only about six attempts at starting it. My conclusion is that the battery is too small. I have cleaned/checked/replaced all of the connections on mine (got mine used, for free). I have not yet pulled the heads and decarbonized the pistons/heads or taken apart the starter and checked the brushes and slip rings but it probably should be done. My spark plugs do not look carbonized so I suspect there is not very much carbon build-up plus unleaded gasoline supposedly will not cause as much carbon problems as old leaded gas used to. Your voltages sounds good and it sounds like it's charging when it's running. Do you have an ammeter on your dash? Mine is not real great but at least it indicates that it's charging and not discharging.
I have another riding mower with a Tecumseh 12.5 HP engine and I installed a car battery instead of the little Lawn and Garden battery but I had the room to do it. Now I can sit there with the headlights on with the engine off and have no worries. Plus it adds some weight to the rear tires and helps increase traction.
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snipped-for-privacy@eldorado.com;861566 Wrote:

--
French-laurie

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On Tue, 25 Aug 2009 11:27:05 +0100, French-laurie

Well, today is another day and the grass needed mowed. I haven't had the time to do anything to the mower except leave it stored in the shed with the trickle charger connected and working. The battery read 12.4V but the motor would not turn over. I did what I sometimes do and charged the battery for a mere 3 seconds at 8 amps, and then tried to start the mower. As usual, the motor did not want to turn over but did and the mower then started. I mowed the grass.
I really AM going to have to do something. As I recall, when I last bought a battery, the problem went away for a while. So I could do that again. I also could and will replace the starter, but I should wait until the grass doesn't need cut so frequently. I don't have the whole of any day right now as I am tending my semi-invalid wife as she recovers from surgery and prepares for a second surgery. I'm not complaining - I just have to budget my time. Thanks for all helps.
Life can be difficult sometimes.
Duke
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On Tue, 25 Aug 2009 13:53:42 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@eldorado.com wrote:
Good news.
I bought the bullet and bought and installed a new starter for the cantankerous mower. So far the mower is starting like a new mower. Problem solved, I hope.
Thanks for everyone's interest.
Duke
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