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  • OT Lawn Mower Starter

    My JD mower, for quite awhile now, has been very erratic at starting.
    Sometimes the starter will activate, but more often it will not. Yet after a long wait it will sometimes start.

    I found a tip on the internet, recommending puting a relay in the circuit. The explanation being that the circuit doesn't have enough oomph to drive the solenoid and/or starter. So I did that, and it worked last time. But today - the same old problem.

    Pulled the starter and solenoid off, applied power to the starter directly at the output lug on the solenoid, and the starter shaft spins ok, but the pinion does NOT pop up. Should it? ...if I'm bypassing the solenoid circuit?

    Is there something in the solenoid circuitry that makes the pinion pop up, independently of the main power to the starter shaft?

  • #2
    Afaik, Most starters use helix grooves between the gear and starter shaft to make the pinion gear pop up. Maybe it needs a nice oil massage to free it up?
    Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.

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    • #3
      Maybe it needs a new battery with enough starting capacity or else the charging circuit needs checking out.

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      • #4
        If the starter doesn't have a fork to move the pinion, the pinion will slide on a spiral spline. The inertia of the pinion causes it to move toward the engaged position when the motor starts turning. Once it touches the flywheel gear, the torque on the spiral spline forces the pinion into complete engagement.
        Any products mentioned in my posts have been endorsed by their manufacturer.

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        • #5
          I had a similar problem with my "Toro" and "Simplicity" RO mowers on occassion. Both had singlem cylinder B&S engines. I just "jump started" it with a good fully charged battery to get the job done and until I could check it out. It was almost always a poor (just about buggered) battery on the mower. A trip to the mower shop for a new battery and I was on my way. Both of those machines had lead-acid batteries.

          I now have a "zero turn" "Husquana" (sp?) mower (a great machine) that has a "gel" battery (to turn over a 19HP B&S single cylinder OHV motor). Never a problem.

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          • #6
            Yep. Mower batteries are worthless lately. If I get a year out of mine they are doing well. Tried a larger GelCell and that worked a bit better but still no more than two years max. I figured it's the poor charge circuit in BS engines and the fact I only run the thing once every couple of weeks in the summer and once a month over the winter. May try a trickle charger to see if that helps.

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            • #7
              Clean connections and a good battery are a must. If you really have to crank it to start and then don't spend much time mowing, the charging system can't get the battery back up to full charge.

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              • #8
                I have a Battery Minder that I use on my various pieces of machinery to keep the batteries up to full charge. Works well. Supposedly increases the life of the batteries but without doing a side by side test I can't vouch for that claim.

                Steve

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                • #9
                  I must be living on borrowed time.

                  I'm going on my fourth season on the OEM battery in my Snapper with a B&S engine. When I got the mower, the dealer told me to bring the battery indoors for the winters. I did, and gave it an occasional topping-up charge; usually a half-hour or less on a trickle charger was enough.

                  But nothing lasts forever...
                  Weston Bye - Author, The Mechatronist column, Digital Machinist magazine
                  ~Practitioner of the Electromechanical Arts~

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                  • #10
                    Low battery could be a problem, but the pinion gear should be free enough to move out even with a sluggish battery on the bench. Give it a drink of penetrating oil on the spiral grooves and make sure it is free to move. It should move with little effort and no restrictions.

                    After that go for battery and connections. The internal contacts of the solenoid eventually wear and get pitted and starters can get dead spots on the commutator. These are lasts stop after the cheaper fixes have failed.
                    Jim H.

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                    • #11
                      The battery is not the issue. It's relatively new and fully charged; also I've tried starting with a battery charger hooked up, in "Boost" or "Start" mode - makes no difference, I'll still get only the "click" response.

                      As I said, it will sporadically work, and on those occasions the starter spins up with plenty of power.

                      I can't see any helix or splines inside. What's the insides of a starter and a solenoid like? If I take it apart, are there things that go "sproin-nnng", or difficult to put back together?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by winchman
                        .....
                        The inertia of the pinion causes it to move toward the engaged position when the motor starts turning. Once it touches the flywheel gear, the torque on the spiral spline forces the pinion into complete engagement.
                        Is that to say that since I've removed it from the mower and it can no longer touch the flywheel gear, I should not expect the pinion to move very much?

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                        • #13
                          On mine there is just really coarse threads on the gear and shaft. The gear is just a loose fitting nut on the shaft. I can manually twist the gear on the shaft and it will raise up. Hope this explains what we're talking about. I've been through the same process and found a fresh battery as the solution. I use a $30 charger/maintainer (Battery Tender) all winter and get 4 - 6 years where I used to get 1 or 2.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lynnl
                            The battery is not the issue. It's relatively new and fully charged; also I've tried starting with a battery charger hooked up, in "Boost" or "Start" mode - makes no difference, I'll still get only the "click" response.

                            As I said, it will sporadically work, and on those occasions the starter spins up with plenty of power.

                            I can't see any helix or splines inside. What's the insides of a starter and a solenoid like? If I take it apart, are there things that go "sproin-nnng", or difficult to put back together?
                            Does the starter make any noise when it 'does not work'?

                            If the starter makes no sound other then the solenoid clicking, its something stopping the starter from turning (Low battery, Brushes, etc)

                            If the starter sounds like it spins up and down, then its the pinion not extending (Rust? Debris?)
                            Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.

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                            • #15
                              On the side of the starter that faces the engine when installed, there's a little hole. I stuck a screwdriver in that hole and engaged a small slot in the bottom of the pinion, and I could pry the pinion upward. I could feel a spring tension resisting the upward motion.

                              The motion appeared to be straight up, not spiraling.

                              I'd kinda like to tear into both starter and solenoid, but I don't know what problems to expect, since I don't know how the innards work.

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