Author Topic: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start (Read 36303 times)

Gimesalot

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Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« on: September 22, 2014, 09:26:53 AM »
I have an older lawn mower tha I bought off of craigslist. It has worked well for several months, however, yesterday, it stopped working. My husband said that it just stopped after a few minutes of running. He determined that it needed oil, so we went and bought some. This morning, he is reporting "little puffs of smoke coming out of the carburetor when he pulls the cord."

We bought this mower for $100 and I really don't want to replace it!

Your help is greatly appreciated.

MDM

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2014, 09:47:56 AM »
Things you can try:
1) Remove, clean, and replace the air filter.
2) Remove, clean, and replace the carburetor (see YouTube for help - particularly the part about tilting the mower to minimize gas leakage - it's actually simple to do)
3) Remove, clean, and replace the gas tank. Get fresh gas from a station and refill.
4) Replace the hose from gas tank to carburetor.

...and if you try all those and it still doesn't start, you'll be exactly where we are now.... Good luck!

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2014, 10:13:56 AM »

This may not apply (especially with the little puffs of smoke coming out the carb)...

I have found lawn equipment in general really is not built to handle the ethanol we put in gasoline. I actually run premium in all my lawn equipment because (at least at one point in time) it had no ethanol in it. I'm skeptical this is still true, though.

In many cases the parts to rebuild carbs and/or small motors cost more than buying a replacement. This isn't always true, but for the really inexpensive, mass produced stuff, it is common.

The one thing that bothers me here is that the engine quit "when it needed oil". If i was truly out of oil when the engine quit -- you may have a broken piston rod or seized bearing. It would probably have quit with quite a clunk if that is the case.
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Bob W

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2014, 10:20:10 AM »
Power equipment that is out of oil and run that way will generally not run again. This time of year is the cheapest for lawn mowers at many stores.

Conversely, you could consider a reel mower, powered entirely by human muscles. You could probably find a used one? Didn't say how big your lawn was?

My mower went belly up after 5 years of use at the beginning of summer, so I ran to the store and got me a new one. In my experience 5 years is about the time they go down. At 250 that means I'm spending $50 on the mower. Not too bad. I mow 3/4 an acre by push mower. My neighbors all are riders. I laugh in their direction! lol
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Gimesalot

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2014, 10:43:09 AM »
Conversely, you could consider a reel mower, powered entirely by human muscles. You could probably find a used one? Didn't say how big your lawn was?

Our lawn is small enough for a reel mower but my husband was completely opposed. He does most of the mowing so I have to agree to mower.

Sounds like it died with a clunk, so it seems like it may have a broken piston rod or seized bearing. Hubby says that it was low on oil but not out of oil.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2014, 10:46:48 AM by Gimesalot »

Bob W

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2014, 10:49:47 AM »
Conversely, you could consider a reel mower, powered entirely by human muscles. You could probably find a used one? Didn't say how big your lawn was?

Our lawn is small enough for a reel mower but my husband was completely opposed. He does most of the mowing so I have to agree to mower.

Sounds like it died with a clunk, so it seems like it may have a broken piston rod or seized bearing. Hubby says that it was low on oil but not out of oil.

You might google the repair question for some good options.

Meanwhile -- You could borrow a neighbors mower, put an ad on Craigslist for a decent used one, hire a neighbor kid.

Not sure where you live but in our hood we are down to maybe one or two more cuttings this year. If you are too that would buy you some time. In the scope of things this is a smallish event, so try not to overstress or overthink.
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hoodedfalcon

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2014, 11:01:07 AM »
My mower recently did the same thing. I am horrible with keeping mowers alive - this was my third dead mower in 7 years (one actually caught on fire...). So I put a call out on Facebook and within an hour had (multiple) offers for a free reel mower or a free electric mower. I decided to go with the push reel mower and I. Love. It. I look forward to mowing. I don't smell like fumes when I am done. It doesn't take any longer to mow with the push mower. My yard is flat, so that helps. The mower had been unused for a few years, so I spent a few buck on some lapping compound and now it's sharp as a razor.

I was also surprised at how many people just had mowers laying around....

Timmmy

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2014, 11:19:19 AM »
All gas engines need 3 things in order to work.

Fuel
Compression
Spark

Fuel - Check to make sure fuel is flowing in to carburetor and then in to engine. You can remove the spark plug, spray some starting fluid in there, re-install and try starting. If it starts (just for a second), you are not getting fuel. If it doesn't start move on down the list.

Compression - Harder to test on a small engine but still possible. Compression testers (in my area) can be loaned from auto parts stores. They install in place of the spark plug and then you pull the cord. Small engines should be around 100PSI +/- 15. If compression is low you have internal engine damage and at $100 you are likely better off replacing the mower.

Spark - This is the "fun" one. Remove the spark plug and re-install the plug in the spark plug boot. Hold (with pliers or be careful not to be a conducter) the spark plug so that you can see the gap and the threads are touching a metal part of the engine. Have someone pull the cord and look for an arc across the gap. Or you can buy/borrow a spark plug tester if you are felling less adventurous. No spark or weak spark can be fixed with a new spark plug/wire & coil. Start with the plug and then the coil.

MikeBear

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2014, 03:49:34 PM »
Conversely, you could consider a reel mower, powered entirely by human muscles. You could probably find a used one? Didn't say how big your lawn was?

Our lawn is small enough for a reel mower but my husband was completely opposed. He does most of the mowing so I have to agree to mower.

Sounds like it died with a clunk, so it seems like it may have a broken piston rod or seized bearing. Hubby says that it was low on oil but not out of oil.

Could he have hit something like a brick or big root? If so, the shear pin (flywheel key) may have sheared to protect it. That will cause the blade to be out of time, and the mower won't start. The fix is to go to the hardware store and purchase a new shear pin, line up the blade and install it, then tighten the bolt. https://youtube.com/watch?v=n4aFXHwxuhs

P.S. Make SURE you disconnect the spark plug wire (and place it so it's not close to the plug) if you turn the blade by hand! You wouldn't want to chance it starting itself, and chopping your hand off!
« Last Edit: September 22, 2014, 03:53:20 PM by MikeBear »

Rage

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2014, 04:28:42 PM »
Our lawn is small enough for a reel mower but my husband was completely opposed.

Well there's your problem right there. In my area you can get a very used reel mower off craigslist for $40 to $60. Did you know that lawn mowers account for 5% of USA greenhouse emissions? And probably 90% of noise pollution by my estimation. Why would you want to contribute to that? Do you hate our planet *and* your neighbors? They are also much easier to store and maintain.

plantingourpennies

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2014, 04:57:35 PM »
+1 for the flywheel key, but its really impossible to diagnose over the net. What kind of mower is it?

The bigger problem is that your husband doesn't know how to, or isn't willing to diagnose or fix his equipment. Everybody starts somewhere-tell him to check out a manual from the net (if you let us know what kind of mower it is we can send you in the right direction) and then get crackin. If he can't fix the mower, he probably can't do car maintenance, or even work on a bike, or your home. Mowers are an easy place to start.

A reel mower isn't a solution either-they require adjustment, sharpening, etc.

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Rage

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2014, 05:06:04 PM »
A reel mower isn't a solution either-they require adjustment, sharpening, etc.

What are you talking about? Sharpening every 5 to 10 years? Compared to the same frequency of sharpening for a gas mower, not to mention: changing the oil annually, emptying the gas to winterize every year, refilling the gas about once a month, storing the volatile gasoline - not in your garage! that's a massive fire hazard - and other maintenance headaches. And all for what? So that you don't have to push a mower around with your own muscles?

big_owl

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2014, 06:31:39 PM »
Woah, so many responses but every one of them incorrect. Your husband reports that "it just stopped running"? Seriously, he's just sick of cutting the grass and wants somebody else to do it. $1 says you go out there and it starts on the 3rd pull.

Either pay someone else to cut the lawn or get less of it so it's easier to cut...the writing's on the wall for this one...just sayin'.
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okashira

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2014, 06:49:57 PM »
Go buy a reel mower and say "here you go."

your hubby isn't mechanically inclined, can't fix a gas mower, and refuses to "use" a reel mower?
Sheesh.

Mine cost $80, no gas no oil, no diagnosing. You do have to adjust the blade 1 per year and pick up sticks from the grass. Big Whoop.
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plantingourpennies

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2014, 04:22:58 AM »
Guys, be serious. Everybody knows that reel mowers are for hippies that can't figure out internal combustion.

I kid, I kid!

My main point stands though-dude should download a manual and learn how the machine works-it will give him confidence to tackle other things like cars, bikes, houses, finances, etc. Reel mowers require maintenance as well; you have to adjust the blades every two weeks (see here- https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BzDc2L0iOBTaWTRNVzdleThLeWc/edit)

It doesn't matter what he uses-"Give up and buy a different one" is almost never a good answer.

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TomTX

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #15 on: September 23, 2014, 05:14:13 AM »
I have found lawn equipment in general really is not built to handle the ethanol we put in gasoline. I actually run premium in all my lawn equipment because (at least at one point in time) it had no ethanol in it. I'm skeptical this is still true, though.

In many cases the parts to rebuild carbs and/or small motors cost more than buying a replacement. This isn't always true, but for the really inexpensive, mass produced stuff, it is common.

...which is why I buy "camping gas"* in the camping section at Walmart for my mower. Yes, it costs ~$4 more per gallon - but I use about a gallon per year, and I don't have to buy ethanol-scavenging additives and/or gunk up the motor in my mower. It comes in a convenient, resealable square metal can and doesn't go bad nearly as fast as pump gasoline kept in a plastic can. I don't have to make a separate trip to buy it. Smells better too.

*Also known as "white gas" or "white gasoline" - it's essentially a much cleaner version of pump gasoline.
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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2014, 12:59:57 PM »
I have found lawn equipment in general really is not built to handle the ethanol we put in gasoline. I actually run premium in all my lawn equipment because (at least at one point in time) it had no ethanol in it. I'm skeptical this is still true, though.

In many cases the parts to rebuild carbs and/or small motors cost more than buying a replacement. This isn't always true, but for the really inexpensive, mass produced stuff, it is common.

...which is why I buy "camping gas"* in the camping section at Walmart for my mower. Yes, it costs ~$4 more per gallon - but I use about a gallon per year, and I don't have to buy ethanol-scavenging additives and/or gunk up the motor in my mower. It comes in a convenient, resealable square metal can and doesn't go bad nearly as fast as pump gasoline kept in a plastic can. I don't have to make a separate trip to buy it. Smells better too.

*Also known as "white gas" or "white gasoline" - it's essentially a much cleaner version of pump gasoline.

woah. Good suggestion. It seems so obvious now, but I would have never thought of it. Thanks!
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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2014, 01:18:26 PM »
I have found lawn equipment in general really is not built to handle the ethanol we put in gasoline. I actually run premium in all my lawn equipment because (at least at one point in time) it had no ethanol in it. I'm skeptical this is still true, though.

In many cases the parts to rebuild carbs and/or small motors cost more than buying a replacement. This isn't always true, but for the really inexpensive, mass produced stuff, it is common.

...which is why I buy "camping gas"* in the camping section at Walmart for my mower. Yes, it costs ~$4 more per gallon - but I use about a gallon per year, and I don't have to buy ethanol-scavenging additives and/or gunk up the motor in my mower. It comes in a convenient, resealable square metal can and doesn't go bad nearly as fast as pump gasoline kept in a plastic can. I don't have to make a separate trip to buy it. Smells better too.

*Also known as "white gas" or "white gasoline" - it's essentially a much cleaner version of pump gasoline.

woah. Good suggestion. It seems so obvious now, but I would have never thought of it. Thanks!

Along the same lines and as another poster above said about winterizing (for those in the north), I use stabil in every can of gas I buy for non automotive use. I find it keeps them running very well. It also means winterizing is just a matter of topping off the tank.

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #18 on: September 24, 2014, 05:39:34 AM »
I have found lawn equipment in general really is not built to handle the ethanol we put in gasoline. I actually run premium in all my lawn equipment because (at least at one point in time) it had no ethanol in it. I'm skeptical this is still true, though.

In many cases the parts to rebuild carbs and/or small motors cost more than buying a replacement. This isn't always true, but for the really inexpensive, mass produced stuff, it is common.

...which is why I buy "camping gas"* in the camping section at Walmart for my mower. Yes, it costs ~$4 more per gallon - but I use about a gallon per year, and I don't have to buy ethanol-scavenging additives and/or gunk up the motor in my mower. It comes in a convenient, resealable square metal can and doesn't go bad nearly as fast as pump gasoline kept in a plastic can. I don't have to make a separate trip to buy it. Smells better too.

*Also known as "white gas" or "white gasoline" - it's essentially a much cleaner version of pump gasoline.

woah. Good suggestion. It seems so obvious now, but I would have never thought of it. Thanks!

Along the same lines and as another poster above said about winterizing (for those in the north), I use stabil in every can of gas I buy for non automotive use. I find it keeps them running very well. It also means winterizing is just a matter of topping off the tank.

I used to do that with the pump gas as well. Haven't done it with the camping gas, and have had zero issues.

Of course, winter is relatively short and mild here.
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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #19 on: September 24, 2014, 08:45:00 AM »
I have found lawn equipment in general really is not built to handle the ethanol we put in gasoline. I actually run premium in all my lawn equipment because (at least at one point in time) it had no ethanol in it. I'm skeptical this is still true, though.

In many cases the parts to rebuild carbs and/or small motors cost more than buying a replacement. This isn't always true, but for the really inexpensive, mass produced stuff, it is common.

...which is why I buy "camping gas"* in the camping section at Walmart for my mower. Yes, it costs ~$4 more per gallon - but I use about a gallon per year, and I don't have to buy ethanol-scavenging additives and/or gunk up the motor in my mower. It comes in a convenient, resealable square metal can and doesn't go bad nearly as fast as pump gasoline kept in a plastic can. I don't have to make a separate trip to buy it. Smells better too.

*Also known as "white gas" or "white gasoline" - it's essentially a much cleaner version of pump gasoline.

woah. Good suggestion. It seems so obvious now, but I would have never thought of it. Thanks!

Along the same lines and as another poster above said about winterizing (for those in the north), I use stabil in every can of gas I buy for non automotive use. I find it keeps them running very well. It also means winterizing is just a matter of topping off the tank.

I used to do that with the pump gas as well. Haven't done it with the camping gas, and have had zero issues.

Of course, winter is relatively short and mild here.

I know we're threadjacking (sorry).

I just run my tanks dry for the winter.

...so back to white gas... Do you run it in 2 stroke engines as well?
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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #20 on: September 24, 2014, 10:35:35 AM »
I have found lawn equipment in general really is not built to handle the ethanol we put in gasoline. I actually run premium in all my lawn equipment because (at least at one point in time) it had no ethanol in it. I'm skeptical this is still true, though.

In many cases the parts to rebuild carbs and/or small motors cost more than buying a replacement. This isn't always true, but for the really inexpensive, mass produced stuff, it is common.

...which is why I buy "camping gas"* in the camping section at Walmart for my mower. Yes, it costs ~$4 more per gallon - but I use about a gallon per year, and I don't have to buy ethanol-scavenging additives and/or gunk up the motor in my mower. It comes in a convenient, resealable square metal can and doesn't go bad nearly as fast as pump gasoline kept in a plastic can. I don't have to make a separate trip to buy it. Smells better too.

*Also known as "white gas" or "white gasoline" - it's essentially a much cleaner version of pump gasoline.

woah. Good suggestion. It seems so obvious now, but I would have never thought of it. Thanks!

Along the same lines and as another poster above said about winterizing (for those in the north), I use stabil in every can of gas I buy for non automotive use. I find it keeps them running very well. It also means winterizing is just a matter of topping off the tank.

I used to do that with the pump gas as well. Haven't done it with the camping gas, and have had zero issues.

Of course, winter is relatively short and mild here.

I know we're threadjacking (sorry).

I just run my tanks dry for the winter.

...so back to white gas... Do you run it in 2 stroke engines as well?

Not sure if you are asking me or Tom but I'll answer either way. Yes, I make all my pre-mix gas with stabil and never have problems with it. I only have a tiny weed whip and chainsaw that use 2 stroke and a one gallon can lasts multiple years so I need to make sure it's still good the next year.

phred

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #21 on: September 24, 2014, 01:22:18 PM »
If it starts OK, but smokes, then more than likely he put in too much oil. Take some out. Next, you might look at the muffler to see if it is not plugged with rust. These are cheap to replace; screws off-screws on.

What happened the first time is oil is a coolant as well as a lubricant. Without enough coolant the piston gradually expanded until it could no longer slide up & down the cylinder until it cooled down (and shrunk back to normal).

If it starts OK and doesn't vibrate your hands all to heck, it should be OK. I would get the blades sharpened yearly.

Most adult ed/night school courses on small engines will allow you to work on your own equipment under supervision.

My cheapo self-propelled mower is on its 17th year. I do check the bore and have put in new rings; new oil seal once also. Yard is too large for a manual, and the town won't allow sheep

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #22 on: September 24, 2014, 03:16:44 PM »
If the bearings had seized or the piston rod broke, it most likely, in my experience, wouldn't turn over at all, and it sounds like it's turning, just not catching. If it's truly seized, you generally won't be able to pull the cord at all.

I second what phred said, check the dipstick and make sure it's not overfilled with oil. Check the blades and make sure there's nothing wrong with them that would keep the mower from starting. When I was a teenager I royally FUBAR'd a lawn mower by running over a stump and damaging the blades. If he heard a clunk, he may have hit a stump or rock or something and damaged the blades. Does it shake more than it used to when you pull the cord? Also (getting something painfully obvious out of the way) on some mowers, you have to prime the fuel line if it runs low on gas to get fuel to the motor again. It's a small rubber button on the side of the engine.

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #23 on: September 24, 2014, 04:39:46 PM »
@Phred-What kind of mower/engine do you have?


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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #24 on: September 27, 2014, 06:51:23 AM »
Conversely, you could consider a reel mower, powered entirely by human muscles. You could probably find a used one? Didn't say how big your lawn was?

Our lawn is small enough for a reel mower but my husband was completely opposed. He does most of the mowing so I have to agree to mower.

Sounds like it died with a clunk, so it seems like it may have a broken piston rod or seized bearing. Hubby says that it was low on oil but not out of oil.

Maybe when the motorized mower breaks again next Summer or the summer after that, he might open up to a reel mower. My neighbor fixes up motorized mowers as a hobby and re-sells them on craigslist. I am always amazed at how many free broken gasoline mowers he finds on the curbs of the local neighborhood streets on trash night. I swear places like lowes and home depot purposely build their equipment to last about 5 years and then die. It makes sense financially for them because this ensures repeat business and a steady flow of profits. Also, try going into lowes and looking for a reel mower. You will not find them anywhere. I got mine from Amazon for about $100.




guitar_stitch

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #25 on: September 29, 2014, 01:31:30 PM »
Puffs out of the carburetor point to either a valve seized open or a timing issue.

Worst case scenario, you can probably find a great motor in the trash bolted to a mower deck that is rusted out. CL is a second option. Moving sales are GREAT for this kind of thing.

I bought my 3-in-1 self propelled mower from a co-worker for a mere $50. The problem? Broken handle bolts.

As for the gas concerns... I don't get it. I see people touting Stabil and other additives all the time. I have never bothered to drain my gas (letting my carb seals dry out) or added anything to my 87 octane, 10% ethanol gas. My mower starts second pull on the first cut of the season year after year. The gas I have now is 3 years old. Additionally, I'm in Florida with high humidity, so the ethanol is pulling buckets of water out of the air. Am I just lucky?

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #26 on: September 29, 2014, 02:36:51 PM »
As for the gas concerns... I don't get it. I see people touting Stabil and other additives all the time. I have never bothered to drain my gas (letting my carb seals dry out) or added anything to my 87 octane, 10% ethanol gas. My mower starts second pull on the first cut of the season year after year. The gas I have now is 3 years old. Additionally, I'm in Florida with high humidity, so the ethanol is pulling buckets of water out of the air. Am I just lucky?

I never add Stabil either... but just drain the tanks at the end of summer (or the end of winter for the log splitter.)

I've had 2 different small engines (a mower and a chain saw) where the various bits and pieces just turned to mush. In the case of the chain saw, the carb rebuild parts and the tubing replacement was about $100. This thing was cheap and cost about $150 new (and I'd rebuilt the oil pickup mechanism and replaced the clutch over the years.) I applied the $100 towards a Stihl (with a few more dollars).

I hate throwing away something fixable... but I can't stand paying $100 for $1.50 worth of parts either.
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MDM

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #27 on: September 29, 2014, 02:49:33 PM »
...
Compression - Harder to test on a small engine but still possible. Compression testers (in my area) can be loaned from auto parts stores. They install in place of the spark plug and then you pull the cord. Small engines should be around 100PSI +/- 15. If compression is low you have internal engine damage and at $100 you are likely better off replacing the mower.
...

Things you can try:
1) Remove, clean, and replace the air filter.
2) Remove, clean, and replace the carburetor (see YouTube for help - particularly the part about tilting the mower to minimize gas leakage - it's actually simple to do)
3) Remove, clean, and replace the gas tank. Get fresh gas from a station and refill.
4) Replace the hose from gas tank to carburetor.

...and if you try all those and it still doesn't start, you'll be exactly where we are now.... Good luck!

Thanks Timmmy. After trying the 4 things above, and getting good spark as well, we brought the mower in for repair. Had them test compression for free...and got "zero". So it goes - at least we got ~12 years from the old one. We'll see how long the newly purchased one lasts.

acroy

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #28 on: September 29, 2014, 03:00:17 PM »
Guys, be serious. Everybody knows that reel mowers are for hippies that can't figure out internal combustion.


LOL, nice one :)
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Gimesalot

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #29 on: September 30, 2014, 08:17:48 AM »
Alright, I got some more info from Hubby. The white smoke came from the exhaust. When the cord is pulled, there is spinning but it doesn't even sound like it might start.

I bought a new air filter and spark plug, but I really couldn't get any further. I don't know how to work on this thing at all. I tried finding a manual, but all I got was the owner's guide. The repair manual is $30 new, and $25 used.

Our plan is to replace the spark plug and air filter, and see if that works. If not, we are going to take it to a repair shop. I looked for a replacement on craigslist and the pickin' is slim. Most lawnmowers listed are riding or other sorts of unnecessary.

After that, I am going to look into adult ed classes or some further education I can do to fix it next time.

By the way, I looked into borrowing a mower, but most ouf our neighbors have replaced their yards with concrete pads for parking, the rest have services. We *should* cut our grass once a week, but we don't. However, after three weeks, it is between knee and waist high depending on how much it has rained. A neighbor did come over to offer his services to cut our grass, but we have to supply the mower.

Spork

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #30 on: September 30, 2014, 08:44:00 AM »
When you replace the plug... take note of the previous plug. If it is coated in oil, then someone's suggestion of "overfilled oil" is a likely candidate.
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CanuckExpat

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #31 on: September 30, 2014, 11:37:18 PM »
We *should* cut our grass once a week, but we don't. However, after three weeks, it is between knee and waist high depending on how much it has rained. A neighbor did come over to offer his services to cut our grass, but we have to supply the mower.

I'm all for the reel mower as others have said, cheap, reliable, easily maintained, fun to use, good exercise, and environmentally friendly (relatively).
The downside is, reel mowers do kinda require you mow your grass somewhat regularly, or you will be getting some extra exercise in the unkempt grass :)

But, I found one on craigslist that meets our needs and traded an old pair of roller blades for it, so you can't beat the price.
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phred

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #32 on: October 01, 2014, 08:26:36 AM »
OK, smoke is from the exhaust. Most engines "smoke" when cold, but not once warmed up with proper oil level. So, check for an excess amount of oil. Too much oil will also create too much drag on the crankshaft - which won't allow starting.

You should have a solid state ignition system. Real old engines had points. The problem with those is that oil frequently seeped thru the plunger hole and coated the points so they never could set a spark.

Look at the end of the spark plug cable where it fits over the plug. Inside the rubber cap (boot) you should see a circular metal "clip". This clip is actually part of the electrical circuit that will fire the plug The problem here is that sometimes this clip will turn inside the boot so that just the side of it touches the end of the spark plug - this doesn't work too well. You want to make sure the entire circle - which you can bend slightly more closed with your fingers (such grammer!) - fits snugly all the way around the tip of the plug. If you've good hearing you may hear a slight snap.

Someone asked about my 17 yr old mower. It is a Murray with a mulching blade. As long as you don't try to use a mower as a bushhog - something it's not designed for - it should last a while

guitar_stitch

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #33 on: October 01, 2014, 08:36:41 AM »
You could always try squirting a little bit of gas in the intake and pull the rope a few times. If it fires up and runs for a few seconds, you have a fuel/carb problem.

When you pull the rope, does it feel like it's turning way too easy? Easier than normal?

plantingourpennies

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #34 on: October 01, 2014, 07:31:38 PM »
Post the make/model of the mower; we can probably find a free manual online.

Best,
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Gimesalot

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #35 on: October 02, 2014, 07:46:20 AM »
The model is Craftsman 917.387580. Thanks for the help.

phred

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #36 on: October 02, 2014, 08:37:19 AM »
You could always try squirting a little bit of gas in the intake and pull the rope a few times. If it fires up and runs for a few seconds, you have a fuel/carb problem.


I use wd-40 as it's already in a spray can

plantingourpennies

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #37 on: October 02, 2014, 06:19:32 PM »
The model is Craftsman 917.387580. Thanks for the help.

This is the owners manual-turn to page 15-16 and do the easy troubleshooting.

http://manualslib.com/manual/477176/Craftsman-917-387580.html

Ask your husband if there is any chance he hit something with the blade when the engine died. If he did, you'll likely need to replace the sheer key. Here is how:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=n4aFXHwxuhs

Failing that, consider checking your library for a book on troubleshooting small engines, or check amazon for one like this-

http://amazon.com/Briggs-Stratton-Single-Cylinder-Repair/dp/B00004TKNL/ref=pd_cp_b_1

Best,
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Glenstache

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #38 on: October 03, 2014, 05:10:01 PM »
If you do end up replacing your gas guzzler and a push reel mower is not an option, electric mowers are a good option.

I bought a $100 *plug in* mower and it has been working for 6 years now. Unless there is a logistical need for a battery powered mower, stay with the corded models that are less expensive and don't have a battery pack that will die long before the rest of the mower. Benefits of the electric mower: It never needs gas. I sharpen the blade once a year with a $20 angle grinder (that I have anyways, but would be cost-effective to buy just for that purpose). They are also quiet, don't spew emissions (other than at the power plant, which is hydro in my case), and are easier to use and maintain.

The mower has stopped working twice. Both times it was due to a wire or bushing working loose that I reattached or just pushed back into place and kept on going. 5 minutes with a screwdriver and it was good to go.

guitar_stitch

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #39 on: October 06, 2014, 09:43:49 AM »
I use wd-40 as it's already in a spray can

I'll have to try that. I didn't think WD-40 would ignite nearly as readily as gasoline (or Carb Cleaner/Brake Cleaner).

Homey The Clown

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #40 on: October 06, 2014, 11:28:02 PM »
A battery powered lawn mower is a great option. With the newer lithium ion batteries, they last much longer and are more powerful. I bought a battery powered weed eater and love it. I'm saving up for the same brand of battery powered mower (Ego from HD) and hope to have sold enough crap to buy it by next mowing season.

okashira

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #41 on: November 04, 2014, 02:01:36 PM »
A battery powered lawn mower is a great option. With the newer lithium ion batteries, they last much longer and are more powerful. I bought a battery powered weed eater and love it. I'm saving up for the same brand of battery powered mower (Ego from HD) and hope to have sold enough crap to buy it by next mowing season.

You can spend $500 for that mower. Or $50 for a used push mower.

Well, the battery would be great for an electric bike, though... 2-4 in parallel.
This forum has become way too soft with the surge in popularity. I try to keep it real and hold no facepunches.

CaroleWalters

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #42 on: November 23, 2014, 05:35:21 AM »
Usually when a lawn mower, any small engine won't start the cause is a problem with the gas or the carburetor. Just try checking it.
http://thegoodgears.com/Lawn-Mower/
« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 03:47:20 AM by CaroleWalters »

paddedhat

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #43 on: November 23, 2014, 10:25:14 AM »
Reel mowers require maintenance as well; you have to adjust the blades every two weeks (see here-

Umm, no. I grew up with a reel mower, that provided decades of service. Every so often it got a bit of WD-40 sprayed on the moving parts, and about every 4-5 years it got sent out to a sharpening service. I can assure you that no reel mower NEEDS to be fiddled with every two weeks, two months or even two years.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #44 on: February 03, 2015, 05:15:21 AM »
I use an antique reel mower that belonged to my wife's grandfather. (Free - can't beat the price.) I can pick it up with one arm, and I find that its lightness compensates for having to supply the cutting force - gas or electric lawn mowers are HEAVY.

PeachFuzzInVA

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Re: Lawn Mower Quit Suddenly and Won't Start
« Reply #45 on: February 05, 2015, 02:45:20 PM »
Things you can try:
1) Remove, clean, and replace the air filter.
2) Remove, clean, and replace the carburetor (see YouTube for help - particularly the part about tilting the mower to minimize gas leakage - it's actually simple to do)
3) Remove, clean, and replace the gas tank. Get fresh gas from a station and refill.
4) Replace the hose from gas tank to carburetor.

...and if you try all those and it still doesn't start, you'll be exactly where we are now.... Good luck!

This.