Craftsman Lawn Tractor won't start

jackfox68November 3, 2012

Hi all! I have a 19.5 Briggs and Stratton that will not start. Installed a brand new battery, replaced the ignition switch and cleaned all the terminals. When I turn the key I can hear a click or more like a tap which sounds like it is coming from the starter. It also feels like it is coming from the starter as well. I put my hand on it and can feel a tap when I try to turn it over. Any advice would be appreciated.

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A few things to check-
If the battery is 2 or more years old get it charged & load tested.
They ARE suspect at that age.

IF it's a Briggs OHV engine, get the valve lash properly set.
The compression release function requires it.

You might also want to pull the spark plug(s) and see if the cylinders have filled with fuel.

Posting the Sears 917.xxxxxx number and/or Briggs Model & Type #'s would allow us to know WHAT tractor and/or engine you have.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 9:21PM
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Like Bill says, you need to do more checking, we can't see/feel it from here.

Walt Conner

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 10:01PM
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Sorry all, I should have more clear. The tractor won't turn over at all. The battery is brand new and starts another tractor just fine. What happens when I try to turn it over is I can hear a click coming from the starter.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 7:19AM
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Well, that answers 1 of 3 EASY things to check that I posted.
Still doesn't answer any specifics about WHICH engine/tractor.

Apparently, you aren't in a hurry.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 7:47AM
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Still looking for that info Bill.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 9:00AM
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jackfox68 - try raising up the tilting seat of your tractor - look in the cavity below the seat bottom for a plate/decal that carries the mfgr's full model # (917.xxxxxx) and serial #.
Similarly, look in the engine compartment for either a decal or a set of numbers stamped into the engine's cooling sheet metal shroud that give the model #, type #, etc....
Post all that info here - will help the "experts" give you advice..

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 1:57PM
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Thanks all - been straight out at work so just getting back to this post now. This is what I have.

Owner's Manual
19.5 HP
Model No.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 1:58PM
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The engine is a Briggs-
Which is an opposed twin (non OHV)

Try removing the spark plugs and see if it cranks.
Ground the spark plug leads in case the cylinder(s) are full of gasoline. You don't want a spark at this time.

You may want to pull the dip stick and smell the oil for the presence of gasoline first.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 3:33PM
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So I did some trouble shooting today and for the hell of it tried putting a set of jumpers on the battery. Guess what, it turned right over. Pulled them off and tried to start it again, no go. Hooked the battery up to another tractor and it started fine. Not sure why it would start one tractor and not another.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 4:44PM
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The engine on the other tractor is likely easier to crank.
You didn't specify WHAT the other motor is.

An opposed Briggs is pretty old. Chances are the starter motor has worn bushings & brushes. That will usually require the motor to draw more amps than it should.
The Briggs is 42 cubic inches. How many is the "other"?

Why not try the "other" battery on this mower and see what happens?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 5:34PM
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That makes sense. I am not sure of the other size tractor, but it is smaller than mine so I am pretty sure the engine is not as big.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 6:31PM
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Just as a follow up. Hooked it up to a car battery (with the car not running) and it would not start. However when I turned the car on it turned right over. Going to order a new starter, will let you know what the outcome is.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 7:33AM
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Likely outcome is you'll be back wondering why it still doesn't crank.
Autozone et al will load test batteries.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 10:23AM
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This is a common problem with this series of engine. I have a list of the most common causes IF you would like them. It is foolish to start putting new parts on before you know what the problem really is.

Address below, put in proper format and remind me, engine model number and what you want.

Walt Conner
wconer at frontier dot com

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 8:58PM
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Also, make sure you have the battery connected to the cables correctly. If you connect it backwards, the starter will turn the wrong way, and the little starter gear will not rise up to meet the flywheel. That mis-connection sells lots of starters for the uninitiated! Red is + positive. Black is - Negative ,minus. And, do not buy any expensive parts, until you pick some brains of guys who know something about lawn tractors, etc., either locally, or here in these columns!

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 7:21PM
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Elaine Hunter Photography

I have the same issue every single year... just charged my battery... will turn over but not start, no gas gets to the engine. it is so very frustrating every year, i am single female... not got a handyman near by. battery is charged... will not kick in. i have a lot of grass to cut . guess i will have to try to find some help somewhere, i am sorry i bought this tractor , it has never started well and i would not recommend it.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2015 at 4:26PM
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