Lawnmower Question

I'm very much a novice at lawnmower and small engine repair, so hopefully this is an easy question for some of you.
I have a Snapper Hydro lawn tractor with a 14HP B&S engine. Over the past couple of weeks, it has been very slow to start. When I turn the key, the engine will turn over once, then after 5+ seconds, it will turn over again, 5+ more seconds and it turns over again, etc. After 20 - 30 seconds, it will gradually start to turn over quicker and quicker until it finally starts.
Now, it won't turn over at all. The other day, after I had the key turned to "start" for 20 second or so with no turning over, I noticed some smoke starting to curl up from the apparatus that turns the flywheel [solenoid?].
Yesterday, I replaced the battery thinking this may be the problem, but it still doesn't turn over at all. Stupid question - the battery should come already charged, right?
Could it be that I need a new solenoid? What's the best way to determine the source of the problem?
TIA,
Ryan
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herlihyboy wrote:

Sounds like starter motor problem.
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Could mean a bad starter, or it could mean excessive resistance to being cranked. Have you checked the oil lately?

The "apparatus that turns the flywheel" is the starter. The solenoid is part of the starter.

Usually, but not necessarily. Do you have a voltmeter to check it with? If not, and you intend doing your own repairs, go buy one.

Doubtful. You might need a new starter, though.

The *first* thing I'd to is check the oil. If the oil is full up, then remove the starter. Leave the wires connected to it (or reconnect them after removing it). Hold the starter against the frame of the mower, or against the negative battery terminal, to make sure it's grounded. Turn the key. If the starter motor doesn't spin, replace it. If it does spin, it's fine, and you have some other, more serious, problem. Take it to a small-engine repair shop.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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It sounds to me that the battery was low and you continued to crank it anyway which overheated something in the starting system. You should of checked the battery first.
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I agree with you. The poster should never have held the key in the start position when the motor was not turning. He may be lucky not to have fried the starter, just the solenoid or a fuse or a wire. I think he now needs help from someone who can check the starting system.

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herlihyboy wrote:

NEVER crank a lawn tractor more than 3 to 5 seconds at a time. If it doesn't start, wait 5 seconds before trying again.
If you turn the key and the engine does not crank, release the key IMMEDIATELY. Wait 5 seconds and try again.
If the engine starts to crank but then stops cranking, release the key IMMEDIATELY. Wait 5 seconds and try again.
You probably destroyed the starter motor.
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