Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

I have a 24 hp 48" deck Craftsman lawn tractor, model 917.275702, just over two years old.
I have always (until this past month) started it at least weekly to maintain the charge. I let that go for about the last month, and now the engine won't turn over. If I switch the headlight switch on, there are no lights.
My guess (but not certain) is the battery is now undercharged.
If that's the problem, I need to recharge it or replace it. The manual says don't jump start the 12V battery unless your source is 12V. Dumb question - is a regular car battery 12V? Can I jump the tractor battery with a car battery? Should I buy a charger? The manual instructs to recharge at 6 to 10 Amps for 1 hour.
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Dimitrios Paskoudniakis wrote:

you can jump start from a car (it is 12V) or a cheap charger from your FLAPS will work too.
nate
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I took my jumper cables, connected my car battery negative, then positive, then tractor positive. As soon as I took the last negative lead and placed on a ground source on the tractor, it sparked and produced a puff of smoke. I immediately removed the cables and believe it or not, I then tried to start the tractor, and it started.
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Call Oprah Winfrey immediately. You are newsworthy.
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You are damn lucky the battery did not explode.
I stopped to help a woman whose car stalled out after driving through a flooded underpass. Two men in another car had stopped also, but they did not have cables. I made the mistake of connecting both cables to her battery while one of the other men hooked them to his car. It was raining and he could see clearly. After he connected the cables, I walked around the front of her car and motioned for her to start it. Her battery exploded and spewed plastic all over the inside of the hood and in the area where I had been standing. Not bright!
Dick
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wrote:

there something in the steps above I did wrong? I'd like to know for future reference. By the way, the car was already on and running for a few minutes before I hooked up the cables. You're supposed to do that, not connect cables then start the car with the good battery.
By the way, 24 hours later, the tractor started right up.
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wrote:

re: Did I do something wrong?
Yes, you did.
re: I followed basic jump start procedure
No, you didn't.
Compare the instructions here to what you did:
http://www.safetycenter.navy.mil/safetips/carbattery.htm
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wrote:

disconnecting them. When you get them shiny then bolt back together. Be careful not to get a metal tool touching both terminals at once.
You are suppossed to make your last jumper cable connection with the negative cable at the running vehicle, preferably at some heavy metal part of the car. This is so you will not be near either battery in case something goes wrong and a battery explodes. That is rare, but it can and does sometimes happen. The dead battery is more likely to explode than the good charged one. Exploding acid is not something you want to be near.
Don Young
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re: This is so you will not be near either battery in case something goes wrong and a battery explodes
I guess that depends on your definition of "near".
Most instructions say something like "Connect the other end of the negative cable to metal on the engine block on the car with the dead battery."
You really can't get to far away from either battery when connecting that last clip. I don't know how far an exploding battery spews acid and shrapnel, but I'm guessing the difference from being right next to the battery vs. a few feet away is minimal. Best case is that you won't be directly facing the exploding battery, which will at least prevent a direct hit to your mug. It's still gonna hurt like hell.
I believe the reason you don't connect the last clip to the battery is to move the sparks away from the battery thus preventing the explosion in the first place.
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The reason the manual states to use a 12 volt source is because many automotive battery chargers are not 12 volts. They are as high as 19 volts and may fry the electronics or starter of the mower.
Best bet it to use your car battery to jump or use a light or medium duty charger that measures with no load less than 15 volts.
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on 11/11/2007 3:26 PM Dimitrios Paskoudniakis said the following:

shed. When below freezing, the throttle and choke cables would freeze up, requiring that I try to heat up the cables with a propane torch. Many times the battery went dead before I could get it started in the winter. I often jump started it from my truck battery.
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On Sun, 11 Nov 2007 15:26:58 -0500, "Dimitrios Paskoudniakis"

Jump it with the vehicle and cables. Most important, IMO replace battery - if it wont hold a charge. Bad cell in the battery....?
Skip buying a charger, for the moment. My WAG is the battery failed.
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I'm with you. You don't want to be doing this all winter. Go buy another battery.
I do the same thing with my vehicles, I look for all kinds of reason why the battery is dead. The second time it happens, the battery gets replaced.
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wrote:

Consider buying one of these...
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber9954
It's much easier to take this to the tractor or a car that needs a jump than using your vehicle and jumper cables. Plus you get a somewhat useful air compressor, a flashlight and a 12 volt power supply. (I rigged mine to $2.00 flasher unit to flash the lights on my trailer on Halloween night.)
In addition, with the sophisticated electronics in cars/and truck these days, I'm reluctant to use my car to jump another vehicle.
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wrote:

As early as thirty years; is was suggested to pull the plug on the backside of the alternator (jump vehicle), before a jump.
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I use these little jump starters all the time. I have a bunch of tractors and several jump starters. I buy them on sale locally - a couple from Sears, 1 from Target and I can't remember where my red one came from. I have separate compressors - the kind that plug into cigarette lighters. The jump boxes all have cigarette lighter recepticales. I also plug a 12 volt fan in when using a Kerosun heater in a workshop in the winter. And a 12 volt tramp cord / light.
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First of all, your mower headlights are not run off the battery. There is a separate generator for them, so the engine has to be running before headlights will work. (At least this is the way it works on most mowers I have seen.)
Second, instead of starting your mower to charge the battery, I suggerst buying a battery charger - a very cheap one will do fine. Then, once a month, attach the charger to maintain a full charge all winter. After the battery is initially fully charged, it should take less than five or ten minutes to top it off, using the lowest setting on the charger (trickle charge). A battery charger will save $$ over the gasoline it takes to run the engine just to charge the battery.
I do this summer and winter and my batteries last a long time. I am still on the original battery on my tractor which is 11 years old. I have a trolling motor battery that will be fifteen years old next spring and still works, although not as peppy as when it was a teen ager.
Bob-tx
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Yup, battery charger is the way to go. It's not an instant start, but it only takes about an hour.
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