JD Lawn Tractor Starter Problems

I've got a four year old John Deere L110 lawn tractor with the original battery still in it. It's been on a battery tender ever since it was new.
The problem I've got dates back to when I first got the lawn tractor at Home Depot: the starter seems to have a "sweet spot". If I'm in the sweet spot, the starter cranks rapidly and I get ignition. If I'm not in the sweet spot, I just get a grunt from the tractor. Repeatedly bumping the starter eventually puts me back in the sweet spot and suddenly the starter will start spinning rapidly again so the engine will start.
Here lately it's gotten worst. The other day I repeatedly had to bump the ignition a number of times before the starter suddenly started cranking energetically.
I recognize I've gotten more life out of the battery than I have a right to expect. OTOH, it will spin the hell out of the starter if it happens to be in the sweet spot.
My other candidates are the Bendix or the starter itself. I'm not sure what needs to be replaced and I'm not a fan of throwing parts at a problem. Anybody have any insight?
Mortimer Schnerd, RN mschnerd at carolina.rr.com
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Mortimer Schnerd wrote: ... I'd start by checking all terminal ends of all the cables for corrosion/loose connections. Include to the starter relay and at the starter as well as just the battery connections.
--
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dpb wrote:

The manual agrees.
http://manuals.deere.com/cceomview/OMGX21647_K3/Output/Index.html?tM=HO http://manuals.deere.com/cceomview/OMGX21647_K3/Output/OMGX21647_K314.html#1210873
--Winston
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Mortimer Schnerd wrote:

Hi, Solenoid ccontacts pitted or some thing is loose.
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wrote:

That seems to describe the way my 13 year old Simplicity garden tractor behaves. I turn the key and it just hums, sometimes for a good 10 or 15 seconds, until it starts cranking.
David
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wrote:

Is it a Kawasaki engine? If so, they tend to go click but no start as they get older, but several tries will finally get a crank and start. I fixed mine by putting an automotive relay between the starter and the battery using the existing trigger wire to trip that , and connecting the starter trigger wire to the hot post. I can't explain exactly why that works, but it does
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wrote:

IIRC the L110 would have a Kohler "one lunger". That engine can have an automatic compression release. What you may be experiencing is that the engine comes to rest at a position just before compression.
When you hit the starter and get a click it may just be that the compression is not being released at that engine position. Single cylinder engines can be a little odd to start.
You need to check the battery cables and put a DVM on the battery at rest. If you read less than (approx) 12.7 volts then it is battery time. Four years is about right for the OEM batteries in entry level L&G tractors.... battery tender or not.
Autozone has a nice replacement battery around $40 that has 425CA and 350CCA. A considerable upgrade from the battery you have now.
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justalurker . wrote:

> When you hit the starter and get a click it may just be that the > compression is not being released at that engine position. Single > cylinder engines can be a little odd to start.
I do have a Kohler engine and that is entirely possible. However, I went out this morning and cleaned off some crud from the battery terminals, then checked the snugness of the connections between battery and starter. Just doing that seemed to correct my problem as the three times I attempted to start the engine: it engaged vigorously each time. A very different experience from a couple of days ago.
I have been able to find a 300 page tech manual for the lawn tractor online and downloaded it. I just may let my employer print it out for me. <G>
> You need to check the battery cables and put a DVM on the battery at > rest. If you read less than (approx) 12.7 volts then it is battery > time. Four years is about right for the OEM batteries in entry level > L&G tractors.... battery tender or not. > > Autozone has a nice replacement battery around $40 that has 425CA and > 350CCA. A considerable upgrade from the battery you have now.
I didn't bother to check the voltage since the problem seems to be solved, at least for right now. I fully expect this battery to take a full dump at some point since it's getting on up there in age. I saw suitable replacements at Home Depot but I think they were only around 290CCA. The Autozone battery you've recommended sounds considerably stouter and for similar money. I appreciate the lead.
Mortimer Schnerd, RN mschnerd at carolina.rr.com
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wrote:

Always check positive and negative battery cable connections at both ends for tightness and cleanliness at the first sign of any electrical trouble.
Things are a lot harder on your starter towards the end of battery life. As the current capability of the battery diminishes abuse of the starter increases. Your battery is nearing it end of life and you're going to buy a battery soon... want to buy a starter too?
Buy 2x4s at HD but buy your battery at Autozone and ask (demand) that they do a load test on it before you buy. That will eliminate a Monday or Friday morning battery and their infant mortality.
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justalurker . wrote:

http://www.autozone.com/autozone/catalog/accessories/accProductDetails.jsp?displayName ttery-IndustrialandCommercial&itemId95-10&navValue1195&parentId=5-10&productId!706&fromString=search&itemIdentifier!706_0_0_&filterByKeyWord=lawnmower&categoryNValue0005&store@6&skuDisplayNameVolts,340CAlawnmowerbattery&categoryDisplayName=StartingandCharging&_requestid'0062
Good advice. I found the battery you referred to. $34.99! A much better deal than anything offered at Home Cheapo. I'll go get one in the morning.
Mortimer Schnerd, RN mschnerd at carolina.rr.com
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Mortimer Schnerd wrote: ...

...
What did I suggest in very first response???? :)
Remove each cable at each end and clean both cable ends and mounting locations thoroughly. At battery ends particularly one of the foaming battery cleaners/neutralizers would be good followed by the thorough rinse they recommend and then a terminal protectant.
Also make sure to trace the negative battery cable to the ground mount location and do your duty there as well.
--
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dpb wrote:

It's true; you said it and I did it. I want to thank everybody who contributed to helping me out by offering advice.
And I suspect I will be shopping for a battery tomorrow to avoid buying a starter later. It's not like I didn't get my money's worth out of this one. Even the batteries in my cars are usually ready to fail after four years. Lawn tractor batteries aren't usually known for their longevity so I must have gotten a good one by accident. That and religious use of a battery tender.
Mortimer Schnerd, RN mschnerd at carolina.rr.com
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