Craftsman Mower (w/Tecumseh )- recoil starter unscrews itself off

actionclawJune 14, 2011

The machine:

Sears Craftsman 22" Self-propelled, Lightweight Magnesium

Model # 131 97800 (CRAFTSMAN, Model # 13197800)

Patents: 2,774,439 / 2,915,318

The Engine:

Craftsman Four-Stroke Models - Vertical Crankshaft

Model no:143-197032

Serial no.: 9157 15057

(Tecumseh Model Number: ECV105-147002 )

The problem:

The recoil starter functions fine until, after several pulls, it unscrews itself from the center shaft and comes off!

A while ago, I found that the center hub that the spring latches onto was a little cracked & bent all out of whack (just from the spring tension or over-tensioned?)

I hammered it back into shape, tried again but got same result.

Got grease in the area, thought maybe it was causing it to slip so cleaned all off, tried again, came off again after a few pulls.

Without an example, I thought maybe my reconstruction of the part may not have been correct. I bought a new one, cleaned everything up again, installed the new hub but again it came off after half a dozen or so pulls. I had previously oiled the spring. I just took it all apart and fairly thoroughly degreased it.

I don't think there were any additional parts that I forgot to install. I don't recall any lock washer or similar and I don't think it's possible that the rope, spring or anything else could be on backwards.

Under the cover the screw goes through the hub, the plastic reel (that hold the spring and rope)then into the shaft.

I've been unable to locate an exploded view of the inside of the starter.

Any ideas what the problem is?

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rustyj14(W/PA)

How old is this mower? Is it an older model, or a new late model one? The way you describe it, i can't figure out just what it is that is giving the problem. They should not be loaded up with grease, just a light oil, sparingly. Your description of the starter seems a bit odd. All of the ones i have seen were held on by 2, 1/4 inch, hex head screws, into the top flange of the flywheel tin cover. I haven't worked on any really new ones. Maybe some factory egg-head has changed the starter design.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 7:51PM
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actionclaw

I believe it's from the late 1970's.

I'll try to later post a picture (rather than 1000 words) but, in the meantime, this photo I already had on hand might help. It's of the (earlier broken) hub I mention that bolts onto the shaft/that the spring clips onto.

(Click to enlarge)

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 8:04PM
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actionclaw

..and here it is mounted, cover off:

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 1:21PM
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actionclaw

Is it possible that, in order to put a socket on the center screw head, I may have rounded the inner end of the spring, where perhaps it's actually supposed to, kind of, "dig in" and act like a lock washer?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 1:33PM
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tomplum

It has been a long time since I've serviced these. The keeper has to lock to the shaft, correct? If I were in your shoes i would double check the two mating surfaces and then use locktite on the screw. The plastic pulley has to freewheel and not bind also. Or i've forgotten everything about these and everything i just said is irrelevant... Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 11:21PM
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actionclaw

The keeper has to lock to the shaft, correct?
Not sure what you mean. Is the keeper the central hub?
Not wanting to spring the spring, I haven't tried it much with the cover off but I think the center hub stays fixed while the plastic reel freewheels. This almost tempts me to think that maybe I'm both over-tightening the screw and overwinding the spring? but if that were the case wouldn't it loosen up just enough to work properly?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 1:50AM
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rustyj14(W/PA)

From the looks of the engine, pertaining to age--I think you are whipping a dead horse! WOWEE__I haven't seen one of those Old-timers for quite a while! RJ

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 11:17PM
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actionclaw

Old-timer?! It's just a little dirty ..and you're giving away your age! This is relatively NEW ..from the late 1970's early '80's!
In all it's years this mower's engine has probably run less that your car's does in a day.

When something was originally manufactured means nothing. In fact, with everything getting shoddier all the time, with the exception of electronics, computers and such, to me, the older the better!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 1:01AM
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actionclaw

So, I was able to locate this diagram and it doesn't appear that any parts are missing. I know this seems like such a simple, silly -- yet very frustrating!-- problem. It seems natural that something spinning a central screw would unscrew it. Why wouldn't it? Why did it not before? Why don't they all?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 2:23AM
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rustyj14(W/PA)

Why don't they all? Because their engineers figured out a much better recoil starter, instead of the one in your photos. Maybe they used Lock-tight, to keep the screw in place.
I was referring to the newer type, not one like yours.
Those type were used some years before i got into the lawn mower work. I can see why they changed the starting process. It looks like reassembling those starters was a mind-boggling process for the mechanics, and after a sea of complaints, they were changed to the type used later, with the metal cup on the crankshaft threaded end, under the hold-down nut! I can visualize the coiled spring suddenly flying out of position, as the mech tried to install the cover! I can also imagine the mechanic loosing his patience with it, and beating the machine to death with a BFH! (An SASE will bring the definition of a BFH, if you don't know what it is!) Rusty J.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 12:11PM
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