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Old 04-10-2010, 11:52 AM   #1
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Murrary Riding Lawnmower Won't Start


Hi Everyone,

I have a Murray riding mower and I'm getting a clicking sound when trying to start. Best I can tell it's coming from somewhere inside the engine (like somewhere inside the engine block.) Here's what I've done:

1. Replaced solenoid (from last time this happened..also tried the bypass trick)
2. Replaced key ignition
3. Replaced battery (I've tried two different batteries)
4. Cleaned seat and battery contacts
5. Cleaned solenoid and starter contacts
6. Checked inline fuse

I put the battery on a charger and left it overnite and tried starting it. It cranks a few times then just gives the clicking sound.

I removed the starter (thinking that might be it) and reconnected the positive wire and grounded it to the engine block and the starter spins up but then dies after abut 30 seconds (which I'm guessing is the battery dying.)

So I'm thinking either
a) the batteries are bad (won't hold a charge)
b) there is something shorting out the battery
c) the starter really is bad
d) something much, much worse

Anyone have any suggestions? My lawn is getting tall

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Old 04-11-2010, 06:39 AM   #2
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Murrary Riding Lawnmower Won't Start


I would try a new battery. Sounds like yours is dry and won't hold a charge. Double check all cables and grounds make sure they are clean and free of corrosion.

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Old 04-11-2010, 10:13 AM   #3
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Murrary Riding Lawnmower Won't Start


Quote:
Originally Posted by lerxstrulz View Post
I'm getting a clicking sound when trying to start.
I'm surprised that replacing all that didn't fix the problem. Perhaps you are making some basic, false assumptions.

Post a legible schematic and borrow a VOM or a 12v test [incand] lamp.

The cranking circuit is simple so there are not that many points to check with a symptom like this.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 04-11-2010 at 10:33 AM.
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Old 04-11-2010, 10:26 AM   #4
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Murrary Riding Lawnmower Won't Start


A lot of money and anger is associated with batteries.
In most cases, the best way to identify a bad battery is to use jumper cables connected to a known good car battery. I say--"in most cases"-- because a dead shorted battery will not yield good results.
Just last week, a friend of mine called me for help on a small tractor he just bought. He had replaced the almost new battery with a new one, changed the startor selenoid, then changed the starter, and continued to check out wireing system.
He had bought the tractor knowing it had this problem.
The first thing I did was to jump the tractor off with his truck and it fired right up.
Two new batteries were bad.
Both batteries were, you gessed it, Made in China!
This may not be your problem but it is easy to check.
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Old 04-11-2010, 01:09 PM   #5
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Murrary Riding Lawnmower Won't Start


On second thought. . .

The current drawn from the battery while attempting to crank the engine is a good indicator of what is going on.

You can measure this with a clamp-on DC ammeter, or, with a DVM and knowing the length and wire gauge of the heavy wires that carry cranking current, you can use this wire as a shunt.
I'd expect less than 1/4th volt across the length of this wire while drawing normal cranking current. There'll be about 30 mVdc across one foot of #8 copper wire @ 50A. Pierce the cable insulation with safety pins to make your millivolt measurement.

This test should also indicate if the engine is seized. Locked rotor current for a car starter motor is about 400A [@4v across the motor] so this should be much less.

What is the Amp-Hour rating of the battery?

Last edited by Yoyizit; 04-11-2010 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 04-11-2010, 02:37 PM   #6
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Murrary Riding Lawnmower Won't Start


lerxstrulz,
How old is the mower? Have you tried jumping it with a car to see if it is a power issue?
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Old 04-12-2010, 08:32 PM   #7
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Murrary Riding Lawnmower Won't Start


Hi guys and thanks for all the replies. I was able to go take another look at it today and here's were we are (getting closer!)

I hooked it up to the car and it cranks continuously but won't fire, so I know I'll have to replace the battery. I pulled the armature and cleaned it and reset it but still no good. I pulled and cleaned the spark plug and still no good. I cranked it while the plug was out and gas is getting to the plug just fine so it's not a fuel line issue.

However I did notice that there was no "spark" in the plug when I cranked it, so I replaced the spark plug and still no go. So I'm thinking it's the armature (again dadgummit I replaced it just last year....)

What do you think?
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Old 04-12-2010, 08:35 PM   #8
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Murrary Riding Lawnmower Won't Start


Quote:
Originally Posted by lerxstrulz View Post
there was no "spark" in the plug when I cranked it
You may need a new ignition coil, in addition to the cranking problems.
When you test for the spark, don't have it jump more than the gap on these small engine spark testers. Larger gaps overstress the coil insulation.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 04-12-2010 at 08:37 PM.
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Old 04-12-2010, 09:29 PM   #9
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Murrary Riding Lawnmower Won't Start


On closer inspection of the coil wire leading to the plug its got a spot that's thicker and the paint (printed numbers) on the insulation are a little messed up so I'm leaning towards a spent coil. I'll order a new one and let you guys know if that was it.
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Old 04-13-2010, 09:33 AM   #10
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Murrary Riding Lawnmower Won't Start


Did you leave gas in it over the winter?

I usually do as well (though I shouldn't) but my stuff usually works fine.

However, this weekend, I pulled out the pressure washer (a 5HP Honda / Troy Built). It wouldn't even attempt to fire.
I choked it, I checked the spark plug all were fine. I pulled and pulled and pulled some more and it wouldn't even puff smoke like it wanted to light a spark in there AT ALL.
I checked the gas, and it had a 1/3 tank.

Finally, I said what the heck, let me fill it with fuel, (2/3 good fresh fuel).

It fired within 3 pulls!!
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Old 04-13-2010, 09:57 AM   #11
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Murrary Riding Lawnmower Won't Start


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhizzlebop View Post

Finally, I said what the heck, let me fill it with fuel, (2/3 good fresh fuel).

It fired within 3 pulls!!
Yep first thing
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Old 05-05-2010, 02:49 PM   #12
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Murrary Riding Lawnmower Won't Start


Well...still not working. I replaced the ignition coil and the result is the same. It will sit there and crank but just will not fire.

On a hunch I disconnected the safety switch under the seat and it does the same things....cranks but no fire. So now I'm thinking there is something in the safety system preventing it from firing? Next thing is to pull a schematic and trace the electrical system for the ignition. I unplugged the under-seat safety switch from the harness and jumped it with a heavy copper wire but same result. I did notice there are 3 wires coming off that harness: 1 to the battery positive and 1 to ground and then another just hanging there. I thought maybe it was disconnected from something but I can find another wire that's not connected

I'm going to pull a schematic and see if I can figure it out but if anyone has any ideas I would appreciate them.

Thanks!
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Old 05-06-2010, 12:10 PM   #13
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Murrary Riding Lawnmower Won't Start


Hi Everyone,

Just wanted to let you know I FINALLY got the mower working yesterday. I traced the "safety" electrical system and bypassed the clutch switch and it works, but unfortunately that also bypasses the seat safety switch.

Anyway, I'm giving the entire thing a good clean out and making sure to take apart and clean all of the electrical connections really well, but it sure was nice to be able to mow my yard with the tractor for the first time in nearly a year

Thanks again for all of your help!
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Old 05-07-2010, 04:59 PM   #14
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Murrary Riding Lawnmower Won't Start


I'm glad you finally got the mower going!

To constructively critique:
Quote:
Perhaps you are making some basic, false assumptions.
Yoyizit makes a very good point. That was a lot of work and expense you went through to find something this (sort of) basic. But then, that's why I would rather work on almost anything than troubleshooting electricals.
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Old 05-08-2010, 12:27 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by downunder View Post
I'm glad you finally got the mower going!

To constructively critique:

Yoyizit makes a very good point. That was a lot of work and expense you went through to find something this (sort of) basic. But then, that's why I would rather work on almost anything than troubleshooting electricals.
That's ok for me, because now I REALLY understand how this thing is put together. The solenoid and ignition/key were from a couple of years ago, and this time I only replaced the spark plug and ignition coil (less than $40 total.) I don't know how long a coil is supposed to last, but it's got a new one now A repair shop said it would be at least $300 to get in there and figure it out, so I figured if I spend $50 or so and can't fix it then I'll determine if it's worth it to get it fixed or sell it for parts. The timeframe was more of being lazy then anything else, I still had working push mower and although it took significantly more time to mow the yard, it was good exercise

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