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Wheel Horse won't start

Discussion in 'General Lawn Garden Tractor Forum' started by white1j0, May 1, 2011.

  1. white1j0

    white1j0 New Member

    May 1, 2011
    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
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2006
    Check plug wire for cracks etc..try a new plug.
    Was the gas old?

  3. Country Boy

    Country Boy Bovi-Sapiens

    Mar 18, 2010
    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.
  4. white1j0

    white1j0 New Member

    May 1, 2011
    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
  5. rsmith335

    rsmith335 RICK THE PLUMBER Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2010
    I think it's time for a shop maneul, I am, would be at a loss without them.
  6. BelarusBulldog

    BelarusBulldog Registered User

    Feb 19, 2011
    Does this tractor have any safety switches that could be shorted out? Like seat pressure switch or mower deck switch, Neutral switch..etc Bye
  7. BelarusBulldog

    BelarusBulldog Registered User

    Feb 19, 2011
    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. Bye
  8. Country Boy

    Country Boy Bovi-Sapiens

    Mar 18, 2010
    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.
  9. rsmith335

    rsmith335 RICK THE PLUMBER Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2010
    Wow Country Boy, I hope he's got a printer. Great info. Thanks.:cool:
  10. Foxfire

    Foxfire New Member

    Apr 17, 2011
    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)

    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
    Educating customers about fuel issues can avoid future “won’t start” service hassles.
    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
    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
    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.
  11. white1j0

    white1j0 New Member

    May 1, 2011
    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
  12. Country Boy

    Country Boy Bovi-Sapiens

    Mar 18, 2010
    Glad to hear you got it going!