older craftsman 14.5 lawn tractor hydrolocked

mcmarsApril 3, 2014

Hello all, new here w an older rider that hydrolocked a year and half ago, but about to get resurrected if I can get it going. I have model #917.258513 w serial #051297400223 w 14.5 HP I.C gold B&S motor. Motor info is: model#287707,
Type: 0255-01, Code is #970508ZE. Bought this used at garage sale about 5-6 years ago w rubbermaid cart. Mower had been well maintained by previous owner by neighbor who owned a small engine business.

Worked great for 4 years till white smoke on startup incident w gas in cylinder and plug. I went back to my honda push mower, but now want to get her rolling for some yard/garden shed projects.

I see the problem is from lack of fuel shut off valve and fuel filter on the design so float gets stuck and leaks fuel into motor. The motor still cranks over great and surprised to see the die hard battery took a charge yesterday. Today I plan on dumping oil crankcase and changing out oil, new plug, clean up old air filter good enough for now and some carb cleaner sprayed into the carbs to see what happens. Will also adjust the valves prior to start up, guessing a snug .004 & .006 might be the right setting??? Might have to pull float bowl if float stuck. Also dump old gas and flush out the tank.

Figure I try to get it going first to see if I can get it going before I invest in new fuel line, shut off valve, air filter, etc. Very hard to get any info on the old beast, not even sure on the year or anything. Thought I join up and see if some of the more experienced folks here could help w any tips and advice. Would like to locate and owners manual for maintenance if any one has a link or could email me a copy. So there you have it, off the the parts house for some oil. Thanks in advance for your help.

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Your valve specs are correct. I would do everything you are saying but I would also install the fuel shut off valve right away. As soon as you put fuel in the gas tank that machine is going to immediately start leaking fuel into the cylinders and your new oil. It is a $7 part and takes 10 minutes to install and if it doesn't work out, save it and use it on your next machine.

Spraying anything into the carb is a waste of time, unless you take the carb apart. The carb cleaner just goes flying through the throat and doesn't actually do any carb cleaning. I would put a very large dose of seafoam (15% seafoam to gas) in the gas tank and let that run through the carb totally. Mix up a quart of gas and seafoam, then after you have ran it for 5 minutes or so, let it sit for an hour and then run it again for 5 or 10 minutes. Then add more gas to the tank to dilute the high concentration of seafoam to as low as you can get it.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 3:57PM
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Chances are your "stuck float" is actually a piece of crud preventing the needle & seat from sealing.
Possibly the fuel line is deteriorating internally.

In a nut shell, you should remove the float & needle, flush for a few seconds and reassemble.
New fuel line would probably be a good idea, along with the shut off valve.
OFTEN, when splicing old line, "stuff" chunks off the inside.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 4:06PM
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Great tips everyone.. I got hung up today getting some parts, new battery for truck, thrift store, etc. So will go get the fuel line and valve, probably two as I also want to service my 10 hp troy built chipper w a B&S motor as it probably has the same configuration. Then there is the power washer and push mower w honda motors, hoping the honda has a better design. My dirt bike mechanic friend suggested putting a 20% mix of ATF into the crankcase as a solvent to loosen up the varnish and then change out the oil again after running it for a while. Maybe I will try that as well as the dipstick tube smells pretty gassy. Thanks so much for the help. I will let you know my results.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 8:02PM
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If you've had gas in the oil, I really don't think there is a need for a crankcase "cleaner".

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 10:31PM
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I think I killed it. Changed oil, new fuel line w shut off valve and cleaned up plug. I turned over just fine, but did not want to start. After a few attempts to try and get it to turn over the motor seized up w a solid sounding clunck. Now only get the click noise of a starter solenoid. Pulled the plug, but still no go w plug out. suspect bent valve, push rod, etc??? It was getting close to dark and did not have time or light to go into the carb, probably should have waited till tomorrow and cleaned up the float bowl before trying to start it, bummer. Any other tips to try or should I decree it officially dead?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 10:55PM
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My advice?: Stick a fork in it--its done! From the sounds of it, it has done its last work! Go buy new, read the booklet before trying to start it, read what must be done to keep it running/starting, not going "BANG" in the future!
From the fertile brain of Rusty Jones! Yeah, I'm back, fellers! RJ

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 3:02PM
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yep, kinda what I think as well. I ordered a new carb and some gaskets for my honda push mower, hrs216pda, to fix the surging and will be happy to have a reliable small push mower for now. Would like to find a used but running lawn tractor in the future to use for lawn work and hauling stuff in the cart, but I think this one is toast for now. Maybe have a garage sale this weekend and see if it can go away. Anyone here needs parts let me know, maybe go that route if it is worth parting out.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 11:15PM
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being interested in what happened, I am going to inspect the valves and maybe pull the engine sump to look for parts. Any hints before I break it further, lol.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 11:52AM
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I would begin by removing the valve cover and see if either of the push rods is out of place (loose from the rocker arms).
If either push rod is out of place, go ahead and remove the other push rod. (keep up with which is which, there is 1 steel and 1 aluminum push rod).
With the push rods loose from the rocker arms, are BOTH valve springs sitting at equal distance from the head?
If one valve spring appears to be compressed (shorter than the other) remove the cylinder head and look for damage.
This might be due to a valve seat that ejected itself, holding the valve open for the piston to strike.
Pulling the valve cover is a good place to begin.
Busting open the sump should be the last thing you do, and it may not even be needed if the problem is isolated to the head.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 12:33PM
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well gosh, I guess it would need rocker arms in there and an exhaust valve. I remember when the white smoke incident happened a year an a half ago, a friend was here and tried a few things to help. I did not realize he removed the rocker arms and springs. It sucked the exhaust valve into the engine. I found the springs and rocker arms in my garage. I will pull the head and look for damage. Push rods are fine. thx for the help.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 2:58PM
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Got it apart. One broken exhaust valve, lots of carbon, but no sign of head gasket failure. Should I send the head off to machine shop and buy a set of new valves and head gasket? Thinking it is probably the right thing, motor always ran fine before the hydrolock incident. Wish i would have looked under the valve cover, had no idea my friend had taken it all apart and left it like that.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 3:40PM
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so local small engine guy i town looked at head and valves and said just order a exhaust valve and head gasket, clean it up and put her back together, valve seats, guides all good. Hope I can f the right part w the different models.out there. let me know if any other tips to get her running. thx all.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 8:01PM
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Wear full body armor when you crank it up.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 1:16AM
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I have some dirt bike gear to wear, that should be good, full face helmet and all. Maybe I start a poll to see who thinks it will go or not,lol.

Can you tell me the proper torque for the head bolts and is there a specific procedure for getting a good seal. I have the head soaking in some solvent over night and will pull the carb today to clean out the float bowl. probably order a $7 float needle as well.

BTW, the fuel line was so rotten, it just ripped apart when I replaced it a few days ago so that is probably the reason for the original hydrolock problem. Gas tank looked very clean.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 10:40AM
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What kind of solvent is the head soaking in? If something like mineral spirits or Safety Kleen, not a problem. But if it's something like dunk type carb cleaner or lacquer thinner, you definitely will need a new seal for the intake valve stem. It would not hurt to plan on putting a new seal in while the head is off anyhow. 690968 is the Briggs # for that seal and it is just on the intake valve, none on the exhaust valve.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 11:03AM
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The head bolts are torqued to 220 in/lbs. I would torque down to 70 in/lbs, then 140 in/lbs and then 220 in/lbs in the following sequence:

5 2 4



3 1 7

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 11:10AM
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thanks for the help. I just hosed it down good w some PB blaster, not real dunking, but I will get a new intake seal anyway for the old beast. Any tricks on installing the new seal? Today I was planning to clean up the carbon w a small brass brush, hoping that would descale the carbon deposits to clean things up.

I found two different needle valves on the RepairClinic site I am getting parts from. I could probably try matching it visually, but the two choices are B&S part #231855S and #696136. First one is cheaper.

They sell the spring compressor tool for $17 (#19347) I should probably get it or I pay the local guy to put it together for me?? Probably could use the tool again on my 10hp B&S chipper someday??

I will spring the $20 for new air filter and pre filter. Anything else while shopping?? You know how girls like to shop,lol. Thx again, determined to get the old relic going.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 12:08PM
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The springs are not so strong that you must have the Briggs compressor.
Lay the head on a table/bench with a balled up shop towel against the valve face (so the valve can't move down) and use your finger/thumb tips to push down on the valve spring cap.
You may need to place a socket that is about the same diameter as the valve spring cap and smack the socket very lightly with a mallet to break the stiction/varnish loose to get the spring cap free from the groove in the valve. Once you get the spring cap pushed down a bit, you have to slide the spring cap sideways toward the large open place in the cap. When the cap reaches the open spot it will come off of the valve stem.
The intake valve seal comes off using a pair of pliers.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 12:49PM
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Awesome, saved some bucks on the valve spring tool. Everything is already apart now, but I will use your advice to put it back together. Hopefully I can figure out that puzzle and get the adjustment right when I get to that stage, demo is easy, putting it together right is the challenge.

I will hold off on my parts order till I get some advice on the needle valve, hate to get the wrong parts. Can I post some pics of the work easily w the "add image" option, maybe help others w same issues?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 1:03PM
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