Electrical Problem with a Simplicity Conquest

canadave(Ontario Canada)June 16, 2013

ItâÂÂs been a while since I posted here. I bought my Simplicity Conquest garden tractor (which has a 20 HP Vanguard engine) 10 years ago based on a recommendation from this site. It originally came with an 18 HP Vanguard but I learned the hard way that mice love to build a comfy nest in tractor engines over the winter and the engine subsequently cooked the following spring from over heating. One of the guys on this site suggested I contact Small Engine Warehouse to get a good deal on a new engine which I did and at a terrific price and the new engine was actually the 20 HP Vanguard. ItâÂÂs been a fantastic tractor but I recently acquired an electrical problem. A few weeks ago I was cutting my field when the battery warning light came on. I kept going and after a short while, another warning light came on indicating an electrical problem. A few minutes later both the fuel gauge and electrical warning light went out so I was obviously electrical power. Obviously things were deteriorating so I shut down the mower deck and returned to the garage. When I got there I tried to turn the deck back on but it wouldnâÂÂt start up because the electrical power was so low. I shut down the tractor and checked the battery with a gauge and to no surprise found it almost totally dead. I charged up the battery, and everything started up normally including the mower deck so I went back out to continue cutting. After about HALF AN HOUR the exact same thing happened again and in the same order. I took the tractor into a local Massey Ferguson dealer who to make a long story short determined that the problem was the voltage regulator. They also advised me that the voltage regulator was back ordered at Briggs and Stratten which means who knows how long it might take to get one. I contacted good olâ Small Engine Warehouse again who fortunately had one in stock which they sent to me by UPS and it was installed by the MF dealer. I cut grass again and things were fine after between 4 ý to 5 hours of cutting. I went out the next day to cut some more, the tractor started up just fine but after about half an hour the exact same thing happened again. I recharged the battery and it was back to normal but I know if I went back out the same thing would happen again. It has been suggested that the problem could be a problem with the new but possibly faulty voltage regulator which I hope would be the case because it would be a simple matter of installing a new one and that would be the end of it. I would hate to buy another one if I was to run into the same problem again in which case I perhaps would have purchased two voltage regulators if the problem was something else entirely. A problem with the magneto has been suggested but also as highly unlikely as apparently that is a very rare occurrence. Does anyone of you experts out there have any ideas what the problem might be? Any advice would be gratefully appreciated.

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Hopefully the MF dealer checked the charging system completely before deciding the problem was the regulator. Easy enough to check the output before and after the regulator.

Remove the battery and take it to an auto parts store that can load test it right in front of you. If it passes then the battery is good. If not then buy a quality battery with at least the CCA of the original battery. A reading of 12v on a static battery tells you little and charging up a defective battery is a waste of electricity. A good battery should have 13.2 volts sitting and around 14.2 volts when the tractor is charging it.

With a known good battery start the tractor and let it idle. Looks at the headlights and run it up to WOT. Do the headlights get brighter? If they do then the charging system is working.

If so far is so good then you have to check the electric clutch (PTO) that drives the mower deck.

Unplug the connector at the PTO and you should read 2.8 - 3.2 OHMS across the two wires going TO the clutch.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 10:40PM
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A problem with a magneto causing this is not just rare...........it is impossible.
The magneto is an entirely different and separate electrical system whose only task is to generate high voltage for the spark plug. The magneto has nothing to do with charging the battery, and the battery charging system has nothing to do with magneto functions.
I wish I could see a wiring diagram for this tractor.
Sometimes there may be conditions such as corrosion at connectors that prevent charging current from reaching the battery and electrical components despite having an otherwise operating charging system.
Sometimes issues with lack of continuity can mimic (to the owner's chagrin) a defective regulator or stator coil.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 12:42AM
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canadave(Ontario Canada)

Thanks justalurker and mownie for the replies. For what it's worth and if it's of any help, a friend came over yesterday to test the battery. The tester was at 12 volts when the tractor wasn't running and after I started it, it dropped to close to 11 volts. Pardon my ignorance but I'm a technopeasant. I may not be handy but I sure am handsome. Since the tractor doesn't have a generator or an alternator then what does charge the battery? I'm also wondering why the battery is close to dead half an hour after cutting and after the battery warning light first came on but went about 5 hours with a new voltage regulator with nothing detrimental happening cuz it started fine the next day but the same problem started half an hour after starting that next day. Maybe it's demons or Hussein Obama.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 8:08AM
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The engine on your tractor does not have a visible generator, or alternator. Instead, it has a hidden alternator. The engine flywheel has permanent magnets embedded in the perimeter. There is an adjacent assembly of coiled wire, mounted near the flywheel. When the engine is started, the flywheel turns, and the fixed assembly of coiled wire acts as an alternator. It produces alternating, or AC, current. This part is generally referred to as a stator, and it can fail. A service shop should be able to check the output voltage of the stator, and confirm that it is working OK.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 9:38AM
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canadave(Ontario Canada)

Thanx Eric

What'll they think of next eh? I'm sure that Hussein isn't smart enough to invent something like that. I'll pass that along to the mechanic at the MF dealer.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 10:01AM
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If the dealer didn't know that goin' in then get your rider outta that shop and find someone that knows something about what they're doing.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 10:19AM
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Uh, yeah. All except maybe the handsome part :^)
I agree with Lurk on his assessment of the MF dealer.
I can say that if the dealer tech came to the conclusion that your regulator was defective based solely on the fact that the charging system was not "putting out"...................they have woefully missed the mark if they did not also test the alternator stator coils in several different ways.
How much of this MF dealer's work load falls into the lawn & garden class of machines?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 10:50AM
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canadave(Ontario Canada)

Actually it's primarily a farm tractor dealer. They seem to be good guys and have not charged based on what would seem to be a lot of time trying to figure out the problem. They only charged for one hour. They seem to be very technically knowledgeable but to a technopeasant like me, if I have no idea what they're talking about when they explained everything I think they must be a bunch of geniuses (or is that genii). I'm going to take it back to the dealer tomorrow with a friend who understands all that goggledegook.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 1:17PM
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A car, truck, tractor, light aircraft, and L&G tractors have charging systems that can all be tested the same way.

Use a VOM (DVM) to measure output at the regulator and then the output from the regulator.

So far your "seem to be very technically knowledgeable" dealer may have cost you a regulator that you may not have needed.

Surely there's a knowledgeable L&G shop somewhere up there and I suggest you find it cause you can't do worse than the dealer you're going back to.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 1:28PM
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canadave(Ontario Canada)

The plot thickens. I ordered and received a new (second new) voltage regulator from Small Engine Warehouse, I fully charged the battery and then installed it. This time the voltage meter showed 14.5 volts at idle which is fine but went up to 17 volts and stayed there at open throttle. Poor me!!! Any ideas?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 9:17AM
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The plot hasn't thickened... it remains the same.

Until the battery is load tested it is an unknown commodity and any attempted diagnosis of the charging system will be questionable. GET YOUR BATTERY LOAD TESTED..

13.2 VDC is correct for a new fresh battery static. At idle VDC will rise a touch and at WOT should be around 14VDC. Seems that your latest regulator may be physically similar to the correct one but 14.5 VDC at idle and 17VDC at WOT will make life very difficult for your battery so the following question rises...

Is this latest regulator a REAL Briggs part or an anonymous third party part? If a third party part then most likely you're the victim of a regulator that is defective and should have failed QC on the production line. You can continue to buy regulators and you might get one that actually meets specification and you might not but AGAIN, until the battery is proven good you can't diagnose the charging system.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 10:15AM
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If that reading of 17VDC is correct (accurate meter? using proper testing procedure?) it certainly indicates a defective voltage regulator, or possibly an open circuit in the regulator output. (an open circuit reading would require that the regulator output IS NOT CONNECTED to the vehicle battery, and that is not an actual test of the regulator)
If there is more than 1 volt meter in your town I suggest doing the test with a different meter just to rule out the METER itself as an erroneous factor in the test.
At this point in the game it might help if somebody can come up with a wiring schematic for this tractor.
If the 17VDC reading is in fact "accurate"...........it may indicate an "open circuit" condition (though it is a puzzle right now how that could be true if the battery connections/regulator connections are sound).
Curiouser and curiouser!!!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 12:17PM
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canadave(Ontario Canada)

Thanks mownie and justalurker ...

The guy who installed the new regulator tested it with his voltage tester and it went to the upper end of his tester which was 16 volts but it looked like it would go higher if it could. I further tested it with a friends tester that went to 18 volts and that's where it went to 17 volts and stayed there. The boxes that the last two new regulators came in were Briggs & Stratton boxes that have "Genuine Briggs & Stratton Parts" printed on them. That may or may not mean that Briggs actually manufacturers them and they could have been made by an outside supplier. I doubt if Briggs would use an unreliable manufacturer if that was the case as they have a reputation to protect but it's a possibility I suppose. For whatever it's worth, the parts number on the boxes is # BS-809176 but the number on the new regulators is 809154 and without a BS in front of it. I also noticed that the three wires coming out of the regulator are red (on the left, brown (in the centre) and orange (on the right). On the other side of the connector, the red does connect with red but the brown connects with the orange which is in the centre on the other side. The orange that comes out of the regulator on the right doesn't connect with anything. I guess that hasn't been a problem because the engine has been operating fine for 5 years connected that way. I have to go to Kingston this afternoon but I'll stop off at Canadian Tire in Gananoque on the way to get the battery load tested. I'll let you know the results of that when I get home or tomorrow morning.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 1:47PM
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canadave(Ontario Canada)

I had the battery load tested at Canadian Tire and it's in "good" condition. The thot plickens.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 8:45PM
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OK, now we know the battery is good.

Things I'd check...

1. engine mounting bolts are tight.

2. battery cable connections are tight and clean ON BOTH ENDS.

3. regulator ground is clean and tight

4. fuse connections are clean and tight.

5. ignition switch connections are clean and tight

Questions for you to answer...

1. Do you have a service manual for that replacement engine?

2. You said there was one part number on the regulator box and a different number on the regulator itself. Which part number is what you ordered... box # or regulator #? Are you ordering and getting the correct part number regulator for the REPLACEMENT engine?

3. Has your parts replacer tested the output of the stator before the regulator?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 11:15PM
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Please post the engine Model Number and Type Number found on the engine. This will let us determine the correct part number regulator for your engine.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 12:36AM
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canadave(Ontario Canada)

There are two plates on the engine. One plate has:

The other plate has:
MODEL # 35777A TYPE 0113-E1
CODE 02030711. It also has a bar code with the number 0113002030711 under it which may be a serial number.

An information sheet came with the 20 HP engine from Small Engine Warehouse that replaced the first 18 HP original engine that the mice played with that is titled: Briggs & Stratton 20 HP Model #35777A-0113 and has the following description which is underlined so it must be important although it's all Greek to me... " Red wire coming off the regulator is the 12 volt wire to charge the battery (Do not use the orange or Tan wire in this three wire set up) The brown shielded wire is the fuel solenoid wire that needs 12 volts to it to open up the plunger for fuel to flow. All engines do not have the same wiring set ups. The large brown wire with the shield around it will NOT be used. This wiring was for the Briggs "Powerlink generator which they no longer make. Just disregard it and tape it up. If your engine does not have a solenoid on it you can bypass this one by adding a jumper wire from the spade on the solenoid to the large post on the outside of it and connect your starter wire to it also."

justalurker ... I do not have a COMPLETE service manual although Briggs did email "Section 7. Electrical System Service" which is 35 pages long to the Massey Ferguson dealer that replaced the original voltage regulator and who made a copy of it for me. This must be from their complete service manual. I got the voltage regulator number from Briggs which was 809176 but they were back ordered there which is why I started looking around for one on my own and called Small Engine Warehouse and gave them that number. They said they had two in stock and I ended up ordering the second one when the first one failed. That was the number on the box of the second one when it arrived but I noticed that the number on the actual part was different. You will recall from my description that I ended up ordering the second one when the first new replacement failed. I don't know the number on the box of the first one since I just gave the box to the MF dealer when I gave it to them to install but it was probably the same. When the second one was replaced I noticed that the numbers ON the regulator was the same on both. Am I confusing you yet?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 9:19AM
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According to the information from you and Briggs, the regulator is the correct one for the application.
And, it appears that the wiring color code is being used correctly.
It would be nice to know exactly where the voltmeter is being placed/connected to get the reading of 17 volts.
I am having a problem believing that the charging system could INSTANTLY raise the BATTERY voltage to a 17 volt point, even considering that this is a 20 amp alternator.
Electronic voltage regulators have been around for nearly 50 years in automotive and aviation are are now nearly "bullet proof" within their specific applications. For a voltage regulator to even ALLOW a reading of 17 volts (when it should have a limiting point of about 14.5 volts) kind of implies that the voltage regulator "can't see" the rest of the machine's electrical system, and therefore it may be "hunting". Am I confusing you yet?
Not being present to observe the machine and see how the testing is done is a significant handicap to drawing a conclusion on the issue.
Carry out ALL of the points suggested by justalurker because in that list are things that might contribute to the problem of too high system voltage, caused by intermittent, or lack of......continuity in a vital circuit. And don't forget to check the integrity of individual wires in all connectors, make sure that all terminal crimps are tight and corrosion free.
I still long to see a schematic for this tractor.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 10:17AM
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Now I am getting confused.

Dave posts...

"I got the voltage regulator number from Briggs which was 809176"

"the parts number on the boxes is # BS-809176 but the number on the new regulators is 809154"

and mownie posts... "According to the information from you and Briggs, the regulator is the correct one for the application."

I'm missing something... B&S says the correct part # is 809176 but the regulators in the box have a part # of 809154.

I've looked up the 809176 from 5 different suppliers and not one shows a part # revision from 809176 to 809154 so how is the 809154 the correct part #? The box might be correct but the part inside doesn't seem to be.

This post was edited by justalurker on Thu, Jun 27, 13 at 12:21

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 10:19AM
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The original complaint was a rundown battery, and a warning light that indicated a failure in the charging system. Since the engine can be started it is possible to check the AC output of the stator. This voltage will vary with engine rpm's, but a mechanic familiar with this particular system will be able to tell if the stator/alternator is producing power OK. Given the age of the tractor, there could be a problem in the wiring including an oxidized connector somewhere. A bad ground connection, due to oxidation, could prevent the voltage regulator from operating correctly. Anyone who is experienced with automotive electrics could diagnose and repair this charging system. An experienced electrician would be looking at the wiring and the connectors, looking for a flaw.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 3:12PM
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Yep, I got confused. I somehow thought I read that 809176 was the regulator that was purchased.
Further confused when I went to the Briggs website and searched for part number 809154.............the results were 0 parts with that number! ??????????????????

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 4:09AM
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canadave(Ontario Canada)

The good news is that my mechanic neighbour took another look and concluded that although the wiring description that came with the new engine and that I wrote down above, didn't work and produced the 17 volts, connecting the orange to orange should, but not just because of the colours. Lo and behold the meter went to about 14.3 volts (in the green on the meter) and stayed there. I went out and cut for an hour and so far so good. I checked again with the meter and it was staying at 14.3. Go figure. I hope the problem doesn't repeat after some more hours but I'll keep a close eye on it. I'm also going to see if I can get a volt meter for the tractor. I'm still concerned that if the problem reoccurs as it did after 5 hours on the first replacement regulator that it may yet again so I'm going to keep all of your comments for future reference and perhaps I should also have a good technician make the checks you suggested. Mownie ... If you send me your email address to Canadave@ripnet.com I'll call Briggs and ask them to send you the electric schematics. I'll also have them CC them to justalurker and ericwi if you two are interested and send me your email addresses. In the meantime I can't say enough about how helpful you guys have been and thank you profusely (if that's the right word). How about discaboobishly? I can't say enough about this site and not just because of your help on this issue. This site made the recommendation to buy a Simplicity based on my requirements of cutting about 5 acres. At the time I was a city boy who had retired to paradise on a 6.5 acre waterfront property in cottage country NE of Kingston Ontario from the corporate life in Toronto and I knew squat about boonies stuff like garden tractors. I believe that God invented the Yellow Pages for guys like me. They made the right suggestion and have been very pleased with my Simplicity Conquest. I can't complain about this problem because poop can happen on a 10 year old tractor. I have always tried my best to take good care of it in fact a handy man was over recently to do some work on my interlocking brick lower deck and congratulated me on getting a new tractor. While I was getting the second regulator installed by a local guy who works on cars and garden tractors, a guy drove up and without knowing the story stated that it was a shame that I was having a problem with a new tractor. I try hard to convince myself that if I can keep my tractor immaculately clean then I must also be a mechanical genius. A recommendation from this site to contact Small Engine Warehouse for a good price on a replacement Vanguard engine when the mice ate the original one saved me $670 dollars which can easily buy several gallons of booze and about 800 crack whores but my wife would only let me use it buy new underwear and take her out for dinner.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 8:56AM
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Canadave, if you are referring to Briggs & Stratton schematics for the Briggs & Stratton circuits.............not exactly what I wanted to see.
The wiring schematic I wished to see is the schematic from Simplicity that would show all the chassis wiring and devices that Simplicity built the tractor with.
And about the e-mail address.........mine is posted in my member profile.............same as yours is.
I (and lots of other members) will not publish an e-mail address in a post because of third party web crawler/trawler programs that collect visible addresses (for spamming).

800 CW for $670??............highly doubtful! More realistic to think maybe 80 CW for $670. And if you had spent your $$ on that you would probably need more than just new underwear by now.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 12:02PM
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canadave(Ontario Canada)

Mownie ... It was a guy named Joe at Simplicity tech support (1-888-477-8650) that I originally spoke to and he emailed the 36 page ``Section 7 - Electrical System Service`` schematics to the Massey Ferguson dealer who printed a copy for me. I can see that it appears to cover all or at least most of the electric components such as lights, PTO switch, battery, seat switch, plunger etc. etc. I can see from the dash that it`s my Conquest so it must be the one that you would like to see. If I can click on your handle I get a link where I can email you but it doesn`t actually show your email address. It does for ericwi but not for you or justalurker.

The way I figure it, $170 would buy a lot of booze and in fact twice as much in the U.S. since it`s half the price down there compared to Canada where it`s highly taxed by the government to ensure our being morally superior and probably is a factor in our being known around the world to be friendly folks who say ``eh`` a lot and who wouldn`t harm a flea. Anyway that leaves $400 for the CWs. Now at 50 cents a pop you can`t be too picky but if you get all liquored up before hand and put a bag over your head you could probably swing it. Ya ever heard the expression `a two bit whore.`` If they`re still around you could get 1,600 of them.

justalurker ... I`m as mystified as you. I originally got the part number 809176 from Briggs, ordered that number from Small Engine Warehouse which came in a box with the number 809176 but the number on the actual part in the box was 809154. I`ll call Briggs next week to see if I can sort out the number thing in case I do need a different one than 809176.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 5:57PM
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Dave, I'm not mystified at all. Lots of online parts hucksters who are not authorized dealers sell questionably marked parts from anonymous sources and some with packaging that appears to be OEM.

When the part arrived and the number on the box did not match the number on the part inside you should have come to a screeching halt and contacted Briggs for the facts and then the parts seller for their story and an RMA.

Now that this problem seems solved you ought to search out a competent small engine and LT shop and get to know them so next time you need them you'll know where they are.

Any Simplicity dealers up there?

This post was edited by justalurker on Fri, Jun 28, 13 at 20:05

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 6:53PM
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canadave(Ontario Canada)

I`ll call Briggs on Monday or Tuesday about the part number discrepency. There is a small Simplicity dealer about 15 miles away who was just a mower repair place who ended up as a dealer when the dealer from whom i originally bought the tractor died a couple of years ago. I`ll post the results of my inquiry. For what it`s worth, I noticed that the cooling fins appeared to be very slightly different between the two regulators that I bought from Small Engine Warehouse.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 11:31AM
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The voltage regulator should be securely fastened down to a metal component of the tractor, so that it cools correctly. It will pass some of its heat to the metal frame. If the cooling fins on the voltage regulator get matted with grass clippings, it should be cleaned up regularly. As equipment ages, the electric wiring gets oxidized, and this affects connectors. Sometimes this can be fixed by simply disassembly/reassembly on the connector. The mechanical action of removing the connector, and then re-attaching it, is often enough to wear through accumulated oxidation. If you notice that oxidation is a problem with certain connectors, electrical parts stores sell a protective paste that can be applied to the connector before it is assembled, to prevent oxidation.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 12:58PM
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canadave(Ontario Canada)

Thanx for that info eric

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 1:09PM
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