The grass is starting to grow so I need our riding mower. After a winter of
non-use and a battery charge I managed to get it started. Briefly. Not
unusual, frequently dies if I don't get the choke/throttle set properly
after it starts. The battery was shot, just put in a new one.
The main problem I have with starting it after not using it is that the
engine cranks erratically. By that I mean that it will turn a couple of
times, stop for a couple of seconds, stop again, etc. (all the while holding
the key on). I then stop for a minute or two to let stuff cool down, then
In the past - this is not a new problem - after three or four crank/rest
cycles - it would start and run well; sometimes it started on an one of the
"erratic" cranks, sometimes the starter would crank it continuously.
Once started and run for a while it would still crank erratically but less
so and the engine catches much more easily (as expected).
Any one have any idea about the cause of the "erratic" cranking?
A neighbor had a riding mower where the starter was at
first acting erratically, then wouldn't start at all. It wasn't
more than a few years old, he just uses is on a small lawn.
I helped him diagnose it a bit. He had a new fully charged
battery in it. I used a jumper cable to go right from the battery to
the starter terminal, eliminating the solenoid, key circuit, etc.
When I made the connection there was a reasonable amount
of sparks, ie it was gettting current, but it would not move
the engine. From that, I concluded the starter was bad.
He bought a new one and it didn't fix it. He finally had
Sears service come out and fix it. They told him it was
the valve adjustment. Still leaves me mystefied. I know
they use some kind of compression release during starting on
some of these to make them easier to turn over. I guess
maybe that was affected by the valve adjustment to the
point that the starter couldn't generate enough torque to
turn it over? IDK, but it may be food for thought for DaddiOH
That's what I'd... check the valve clearance. The exhaust is the
compression release on most of them and it's critical for easy starts.
Be sure you read how to do this and follow the directions or your apt to
do more damage than good.
You can remove the spark plug and test crank it also, if it spins fast
it's probably not the starter. Other things would be a dragging belt,
thick oil, connections, starter solenoid.
In the case with my neighbor where the starter would not
move the engine even when directly connected to the
battery, an apparenty it was a valve problem, I wish
I would have thought of the very simple
test of removing the spark plug and then trying to crank it.
If it's a compression release issue, then with no plug it
should spin easily. It also quickly rules out issues with
the solenoid, start key circuit, safety circuits, etc.
I wonder, are they now downsizing the starters to save
money so that without compression release, they can't
effectively spin the engine? I mean back when I last had
a garden tractor I don't think they had compression release
for starting. In fact, I kind of thought that was reserved for
hand start engines.
When I was doing a lot of generator service I ran into hard start
problems caused when engines needed valve adjustments. The overhead
valve engines were very easy to adjust the valves on but the older
design in block valve engines weren't as easy to adjust. I could heat
the head and jug on one of the older engines with a propane torch for
a few minutes and it would crank right up. ^_^
Thanks. Cables all seem good. They do get warm, though, after a bit of
attempting. With lots of attempting they get hot.
I'm thinking it is time to call the repair shop tomorrow, too many
possibilities for me :(
Thanks to all of you for your input. I'll try cranking without the spark
plug (there are two, need both be removed?) to see if compression is the
If the compression is the problem, it is off to the repair shop with it
tomorrow. Same thing if it appears to be *NOT* the compression...too many
variable for me.
Agaun, thanks to all.
I wonder if the ground side of the circuit might be an issue?
Does the deadman circuit impact the starting circuit? (shuts the engine
off when tractor is in drive and no one is sitting on seat or on many if
mower deck is running and you select reverse).
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