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Old 05-01-2011, 07:10 AM   #1
white1j0
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Wheel Horse won't start

I have an older Wheel Horse B-115 lawn tractor, it ran good up to about a week ago, it turns over, but doesn't even try to start, it's getting gas, I put in a new coil, when I tested the spark plug on a volt meter, the needle jumps like it has plenty of juice, but you can't see any spark, the spark plug is new, every once in a while you can see very faint sparks jumping around the outer edge of the plug. Any help would be greatly apreciated. Thanks Whitey



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Old 05-01-2011, 07:18 PM   #2
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Check plug wire for cracks etc..try a new plug.
Was the gas old?



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Old 05-01-2011, 10:48 PM   #3
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How are you testing the spark? You really need a true spark tester, not just holding the plug to the block like many do. A spark plug can fire with a few hundred volts in free air, but if you put it under compression, it takes several thousand volts to fire. A spark tester has a very large gap for the spark to jump, and that takes the same voltage that it takes to fire under compression (Kohler testers require 18kv for example). If the spark jumps that, and is a nice blue spark, then your ignition system is fine. If it is a weak yellow spark, then the ignition is weak, and if it doesn't jump at all, then something is seriously wrong. Is this an electronic ignition engine, or does it have points and a condenser? If its electronic, and you have replaced the coil already and still have a weak spark, then it could be your flywheel magnets getting weak (not likely) or a flywheel key that has sheared. If the key sheared, you will still get a strong spark, but at the wrong time. I'd start with checking the gas to be sure you have good, clean, fresh fuel. I have found that 80+ percent of the problems I find with lawnmowers is bad gas.

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Old 05-03-2011, 09:06 PM   #4
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I took it to the repair shop, he checked the spark and there is none, the key is not sheared, it does not have electronic ign. I have new gas in it, It won't even try to start using starting fluid, I also took the flywheel off and cleaned the outside up with scotch brite on my lathe. The magnet seems plenty strong, any suggesten would be greatly apppreciated, Thanks Whitey, Also I was wandering would this engine have points and if so where are they located

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Old 05-03-2011, 10:23 PM   #5
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I think it's time for a shop maneul, I am, would be at a loss without them.

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Old 05-04-2011, 07:33 AM   #6
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Does this tractor have any safety switches that could be shorted out? Like seat pressure switch or mower deck switch, Neutral switch..etc

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Old 05-04-2011, 05:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BelarusBulldog View Post
Does this tractor have any safety switches that could be shorted out? Like seat pressure switch or mower deck switch, Neutral switch..etc
Sorry, I went back over your post and saw that the engine does turn over but doesn't fire up. Please ignore my other answer. Like Thomas said, inspect the wire going into the spark plug cap and make sure you're getting a good connection. Worked on an old water pump that just died and after many hours of trouble shooting, stumbled upon this. Worth a try.
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:00 PM   #8
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What brand of engine is in the unit, and how old is it? Briggs started using electronic ignition by the mid to late '80s, and the rest were all in that same time frame. Points are either located under the flywheel or on the side of the block under a small cover. From my quick search online, it appears to be an 11hp Briggs engine and they were produced 1980-84 or thereabouts. Could very well be a points style engine. If you pop the flywheel off, is there a round tin cover underneath it? Probably held on with two screws. If there is one, then the points are under it. There should be a wire coming out from under the cover and going to the ignition coil mounted next to the flywheel.

If you have points, I would take some emery cloth and fold it in half (rough side out). Turn the engine by hand until the points are closed, then manually open the points with your finger and insert the emery cloth in between. Quickly pull the cloth out, and repeat a few times until both sides are shiny. Reinstall the cover and flywheel, then try turning the engine over again. If you have spark now, then the points should probably be replaced. You can keep running them as is, but if they were burnt, they will just get bad again in a hurry. Probably means the condenser failed and is allowing the points to arc when they open. The condenser is supposed to act like a sponge, when the points open the current travels into the condenser rather than arc across the point gap. When the condenser fails, the points start to arc and they fail quickly. Its easier and better to just replace them if they are bad.

If the above doesn't get you spark, the coil may be bad. There are testers out there to test the old non-electronic coil packs, but not every shop has one. Usually if a coil fails, it will start to show signs of being bad, like running for a few minutes before dying, then having to leave it sit for a while before you get a spark again. Not all do, so it could still be a problem.

If you do not have points, or if they have been bypassed with a Briggs Magnetron kit, then about the only way to test the coil pack is to remove the thin wire that grounds the coil when the key is in the OFF postition and see if you get spark. If not, then the coil is bad and needs to be replaced. If you do, then there's a short somewhere in the kill system. Could be a bad wire somewhere or simply a bad key switch. That you will have to track down by systematic testing of all components. I'd start at the switch and see if the magneto ground terminal has continuity with either the casing of the switch or the Ground terminal on the switch as applicable with the key in the run and start positions. It should not be making contact at those times. If it does, the switch is bad. It should only be grounded when the switch is OFF. If that checks out, then follow the wires and see if there are any breaks in the insulation.

When I mentioned that the points may have been bypassed with a Magnetron kit, I was referring to the kit Briggs came up with to convert older engines to electronic ignition. It clips onto the ignition coil, you cut the wire to the points (abandon them in place), and wire this in instead. Its the way to go if you don't want to screw around with points in the future, and it doesn't cost much more than a set of points. Instructions are pretty easy to follow.

Any questions, feel free to ask. I work at a small engine shop/hardware store in town as my day job when I am not farming. I'm the guy that everyone brings their stuff to when they can't figure it out, so I have gotten pretty efficient at trouble shooting problems like these.

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Old 05-04-2011, 10:17 PM   #9
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Wow Country Boy, I hope he's got a printer. Great info. Thanks.

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Old 05-04-2011, 10:41 PM   #10
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Here is an info blurb sent by the folks upstairs: Sorry I couldn't figure out how to up load the whole document (pic and all)

BY J.D. FERNSTROM
one of the greatest challenges facing
both dealers and manufacturers
is educating customers regarding
the importance of using fresh,
quality fuel. Every salesperson should
warn customers about the damage that
can occur if old or poor quality fuel is
used in their equipment. The instruction
manual covers fuel recommendations in
depth. However, it seems that every
spring dealerships are inundated with
customers with “no-start” complaints
about their lawn and garden equipment.
In many cases complaints are related to
bad fuel problems, either from letting
the unit sit all winter with fuel in it or
using fuel from a storage container.
Fuel-related failures are possibly the
number one reason for customer dissatisfaction
with a small engine product. It
is very frustrating to have to explain
why a customer must spend $75 or
more to repair a product that is still
under warranty. The purpose of this article
is to offer information that will assist
dealers in helping customers understand
not only the importance of using
fresh, quality fuel but why the repair
cannot be covered under a manufacturer’s
limited warranty policy.
If you read a manufacturer’s warranty
policy, and you should, be familiar
with all of your manufacturer’s policies.
Most, if not all, are called “Limited
Warranty Policy.” Just stating it’s a
warranty can make it more difficult to
resolve these types of issues with customers.
Gasoline Basics
At its most basic level, gasoline is
made up of carbon and hydrogen
molecules. It is believed that organic material
mixed with mud under extreme
pressure without oxygen created crude
oil. Crude oil is pumped out of the
ground and then processed by refineries
into various petroleum products from
heavy material such as lubricating oils to
lighter products such as gasoline.
The highest quality gasoline with
the longest shelf life is a product the
refineries are able to make from
crude oil in one refining process.
Additional refining steps or chemicals
added to the fuel may decrease
the quality and therefore useable
life of the gasoline.
It’s also important to keep in
mind there is no such thing as a
“standard” gasoline. Gasoline is
formulated to meet the requirements
for air quality and other factors
in specific geographic areas.
Gasoline is produced with the expectation
that it will be used within
one or two weeks after it is
sold. The fuel available today is
different than it was 10 years ago,
in order to cause less impact on
the environment in regard to pollution
and emissions coming from
the engine. Nearly all fuel currently
sold in the U.S. will have up to
10% ethanol added in an attempt
to lessen our dependence on foreign
sources of oil. It is formulated
for the time of year it will be
Consumer Education Reduces
Fuel-Related Service Issues
Customers need to know
about fuel concerns when
operating and storing
equipment
O
Educating customers about fuel issues can avoid future “won’t start” service hassles.
18 ■ APRIL 2008 ■ POWER EQUIPMENT TRADE
used and is marketed specifically for
modern automobiles, which are
equipped with fuel injection and computerized
engine management systems
that can tune the engine as it is running
to make the best use of the fuel being
burned. Homeowners’ lawn and garden
power equipment engines generally
only see occasional use and, for the
most part, are equipped with carburetors
and magneto ignitions.
Aging Fuel
As stated above, gasoline is an organic
product. And like any other organic material,
gasoline begins to deteriorate once it
is exposed to oxygen and sunlight. This
may cause the lighter, more volatile
molecules to evaporate out of the gasoline,
making it harder for the spark plug
to ignite the fuel. Once the lighter components
evaporate, the chemical properties
of the fuel have changed dramatically.
The gasoline becomes corrosive, and particles
of sticky, gummy residue form.
Ethanol further complicates the chemistry
of gasoline and causes it to absorb moisture
from the air.
Fuel System Impact
The gummy residue from old gas
may coat the fuel filter, making it difficult
for gasoline to flow through. These
sticky particles may plug the passages
within the carburetor itself. At this
point, the fuel system is not able to deliver
sufficient fuel to the engine, which
can then cause engine damage, especially
in 2-stroke engines. But even 4-
stroke equipment can be damaged when
the fuel is not combusting properly,
which will leave unusual deposits in the
combustion chamber and on the intake
and exhaust valves, or even cause damage
to internal engine components.
Service Options
On older small engines without some
of the design features implemented to
lower emissions, there is a better-thanaverage
chance that a new fuel filter, a
new fuel line, carburetor cleaning and a
carburetor rebuild kit will bring the fuel
system back to working condition. A
successful carburetor rebuild is less
likely with emission-compliant designs
because the passages are smaller and
therefore harder to clean; and these carburetors
are equipped with accelerator
pumps, check valves and other design
features that chemical carburetor cleaners
may damage. In most cases, the
most reliable repair is to replace the carburetor.
Warranty, Not Warranty
Often, the customer believes that everything
that fails within the warranty
period should be covered under the warranty
policy. It is important that the customer
understand what a limited warranty
is when the unit is purchased. A
limited warranty protects the customer
from a defect in materials or workmanship.
A limited warranty has nothing to
do with the brand, age or quality of fuel
the customer chooses to use.
Here’s a common scenario we’ve all
dealt with; “I just bought this saw nine
months ago, and now it won’t start.” The
technician finds old, stale fuel in the unit,
replaces the fuel filter, fuel line and carburetor,
and the customer is charged for
the repair. Unfortunately, this is what
may also happen next: the customer
comes back an hour or a day later and
says, “You just fixed my saw, it ran great
for the first tank of gas, and now it won’t
start again.” The technician opens the
tank and finds the customer put the same
stale fuel from their gas can into the saw
after using up the fresh fuel the dealer put
in the fuel tank previously.
Solution: Education
The best solution is getting the message
regarding fuel quality to customers
in a manner that gets their attention.
Here are some methods to try:
Spend extra time to explain the consequences
of leaving old, stale fuel in
the unit. Give them some examples of
the average cost to repair the unit and
explain that it will not be covered under
the manufacturer’s limited warranty
policy. Consider having an old, fueldamaged
carburetor on hand to demonstrate
the result of using old fuel.
Attach a statement regarding unit
storage and fuel quality to the instruction
manual.
Many dealers send “thank you” cards
to the customer after the sale; here’s a
great opportunity to reinforce the warning
about fuel quality.
When checking the unit into the service
department, open the fuel cap in
the customer’s presence so that they can
smell and see that the fuel is spoiled. It
might even be worth having a sample of
good fuel versus old fuel at the service
counter to show the difference between
good and bad fuel.
In summary, many times the units entering
the service department are there
because of fuel- related problems, and the
majority of customer complaints happen
for the same reason. Educating the customer
is the key to reducing these complaints
and reducing customer dissatisfaction.
Hopefully the information in this
article will help you be proactive in educating
your customers about the importance
of using fresh, quality fuel. PET
J. D. Fernstrom is the technical services
manager for Stihl Northwest and has
worked in the industry as a service technician
for nearly 30 years.
This trimmer engine was damaged due to
the use of old, stale fuel mix. As the fuel
ages, the lighter molecules combust differently
and will interact differently with the mix
oil. In this case the combustion of the fuel
deposited a heavy layer of carbon and fuel
residue throughout the combustion chamber.
This is an example of the damage that occurs
when water is present in the fuel. This
carburetor cannot be repaired and would require
replacement.
Here’s another example of the residue left in
the carburetor metering chamber due to the
use of old, stale fuel. Again the inlet needle
is stuck and the main nozzle is partially
blocked. There is less than a 50/50 chance
the carburetor can be cleaned and returned
to serviceable condition. Most technicians
would consider replacing the carburetor as
the more reliable repair.
POWER EQUIPMENT TRADE ■ APRIL 2008 ■ 19

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Old 05-05-2011, 08:42 AM   #11
white1j0
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Thanks for all the helpful and useful information, my repair man gave me three coils to try, thinking the first one was bad, I tried all three and still no spark, I retried the first one he gave me but I put it on up-side down with the kill wire on the bottom, unlike the original and I got plenty of spark, The engine started right up and runs better then it ever did, Great forum, Thanks Whitey

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Old 05-09-2011, 07:09 AM   #12
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Glad to hear you got it going!



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