Ariens Zoom XL 54 Riding Mower - No crank

rhombus00April 13, 2014

I have an Ariens Zoom XL 54 (model: 915149). I tried starting it up today and I could hear a click from the solenoid but it does not crank. It does not seem to be related to any of the safety features because the solenoid does not click if I engage PTO, disable parking break or get off the seat.

My multimeter is showing 12.6V at the battery and at the line-in post on the solenoid. When I turn the ignition to START, the line-out post that runs to the starter does not show any voltage. But, if I disconnect that line (between solenoid and starter), I do get 12.6V on that post.

When I jumped between the two posts on the solenoid, the starter made a weird spinning sound. It definitely was not the normal cranking sound I'm used to hearing. It did the same thing when I jumped directly from the battery to the starter. For reference, I found a video of someone else with a similar issue on their bike:

Is there anything I could look at to further diagnose a starter issue? The engine is a Kawasaki FR691V.

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Does this starter have the solenoid mounted directly to it like an automotive starter? If so, check the small wire on the solenoid to see if you are getting battery voltage on it when the key is turned to start. Do this both with the small wire connected to its terminal and with it disconnected from the terminal.
If you get battery voltage at the small wire when disconnected, that shows the circuit is complete to the solenoid control.
If when you check while the small wire is connected and the voltage drops way down, it is possible the solenoid itself may be bad, but it can also mean that the solenoid control circuit is suffering from some voltage drop/loss issues due to age.
You can test the solenoid itself by jumping from the battery positive post on the solenoid to the small wire terminal of the solenoid with a short wire. If the starter kicks in and spins in that test, the starter and solenoid are good.
There is a cure for the problem if it turns out to be a voltage drop in the solenoid control circuit that involves the addition of a relay at the starter to do what the OEM control wire is supposed to do. After this fix is done, the OEM control wire will control the added relay and the added relay will assume control of the solenoid, but only when the key is operated and all other safety interlocks are in order (exactly by the OEM design).
If this is the kind of starter you have, the weird noises you heard are simply the starter motor winding up but not engaging the flywheel because the solenoid itself is what engages the starter drive gear to the flywheel, and the solenoid is not operating when you do a direct jump like you did
Jumping to the small wire will tell..

This post was edited by mownie on Mon, Apr 14, 14 at 11:52

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 12:37AM
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I'll defer to mownie, since he seems to be knowledgeable about this machine-
Has the mower sat over the winter?
IF so, the battery is suspect.
It can show proper voltage, but have insufficient cranking power. IF mownies suggestions don't cure the problem, I'd suggest charging the battery and getting it LOAD tested.
8 penlight batteries will produce 12V, but are far under capacity.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 11:46AM
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Thanks for the responses. Just to confirm the starter does not have the solenoid mounted directly to it. It did sit over the winter but I did pull the battery and had it trickle charged.
In any case, I called a local shop and they are going to swing by and check it out. I just don't have the time and expertise to take this much further. I'll update once I know what is going on.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 2:43AM
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