Craftsman tractor starting problem

robtracApril 23, 2014

First time post here, trying to resolve a frustrating starting problem. I have a 20 year old Craftsman lawn tractor with a Kohler 15HP engine. Recently I've encountered an intermittent problem while trying to start the motor. When I turn the key to start it, it will attempt to crank but stops, mimicking a dead battery condition, but the battery is not the problem. I've had it serviced, they replaced the starter and battery and did other work, but the problem persists. If I keep bumping the key on and off, it will eventually keep cranking and fire up. Once started it runs fine and always re-starts when warm. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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bill_kapaun

Besides cleaning the battery cable connections to the starter motor, were the ground connections from the motor back to the battery cleaned?
This includes making sure the engine mounting bolts are tight.
IF you have a voltmeter, you can do voltage drop tests over various parts of the circuit to isolate the high resistance section.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 9:59AM
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tomplum

Model numbers of both the tractor and engine could be helpful here.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:02PM
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robtrac

Tractor model #256552. Engine is Kohler CV15S. Thanks, I'll check the grounds and mounting bolts.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 9:14AM
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tomplum

Are you saying that the starter still makes some noise- like the battery was low or it starts to go and then nothing at all?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:42AM
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robtrac

When I'm having the problem, every time I turn the key the starter tries to spin, but stops. Sometimes, it keeps cranking normally and the engine starts. It's an intermittent problem.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:31PM
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rcbe(6)

OP - If you've cleaned all start circuit elect connection points INCLUDING the ground side and engine mounts and are still experiencing the intermittent start problem, suspect problem may be in your starter solenoid - if your tractor is equipped with a separate solenoid bolted to the frame and is of the old Ford motor type.This solenoid has a round internal plate that is pulled down by a coil to make contact for the heavy starter motor current draw.. and that plate rotates randomly, sometimes becoming burnt in spots. When the plate happens to pulls down on the burnt spots, no contact is made. Multiple tries with the ignition switch sometimes cause this plate to rotate to an useable spot - and then the starter turns.
First try jumping across the two large posts ( watch out for sparks) - starter should engage.
Another thing - that solenoid should have either one or two smaller wires coming to it to energize the internal coil.. if only one, then the mounting of the solenoid to the frame is the GROUND for the energizing circuit and must be clean and solid.
Lastly - if the component is suspect, they are not that expensive.. just be sure to get an exact replacement and take before/during/after pixs to keep from getting screwed up on what gets hooked where.
Good luck

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 2:10PM
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bill_kapaun

99%of the time, if the solenoid is bad, it just clicks and no engine cranking takes place.
It's seldom that it exhibits enough resistance to slow cranking.

Your charge system is only 3 AMPS.
If you don't run the engine long enough to charge the battery well, you may be in a state of always having the battery at low charge?

A totally discharged battery would take 10-12 hours to fully charge with your system.
Maybe you simply need to give it a good charge to get you "over the hump"?
Extended starting/cranking as you describe takes a lot more out of a battery than a quick start.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 2:43PM
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robtrac

I keep the battery connected to a Battery Tender device, and have tested the battery so I think it's safe to rule out the battery. I'll check the solenoid and all the electrical connections that everyone has suggested and see if things improve. Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 8:08AM
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bill_kapaun

Did you LOAD TEST the battery?
If not, you haven't tested the battery.

You might also smell the oil in the crankcase for the presence of gasoline.
You may have another contributing issue.

This post was edited by bill_kapaun on Fri, Apr 25, 14 at 12:26

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 12:11PM
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