I guess it's time to give up on my lawn tractor - Fuelly Forums

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Old 05-22-2009, 09:02 AM   #1
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Exclamation I guess it's time to give up on my lawn tractor

4 years ago when I got my house, I bought a used Craftsman lawn tractor for $250. I have done various repairs to it, such as brakes that weren't working right; and I've ignored various problems, like the blades being very difficult to disengage.

Last year I began struggling with a smoking problem. I'm told it was caused by a solenoid in the carburetor which prevents the bowl from overflowing into the cylinder (then washing past the rings into the oil); the solenoid was definitely not working and the oil was overflowed and thinned with gas as I was told it would be. After installing a fuel shutoff valve, it was supposed to eventually clear out, but in the meantime it would smoke from residue in the exhaust. I mowed a few times and it kept smoking.

So, today I got it started and began mowing. As I was mowing, the small amount of smoke once again turned to belching smoke. I turned off the blades, thought for a second, then tried to re-engage the blades. The lever felt like it worked but the blades didn't start. I drove up to the backyard so I could work on level land and parked it, then opened the hood.

That's when I saw the fire.

I guess I'll give up on it.
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Old 05-22-2009, 09:08 AM   #2
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How bad was the fire? Much damage?

I haven't ever heard of an electric solenoid that controlled fuel level in the carb. I thought the electronic solenoid on most of these lawnmowers was an antideiseling solenoid- that cuts fuel to the idle circuit when the key is turned off so it doesn't run on.

Maybe the float valve has dirt in it or the float is sunk- that would be my guess as to why it is flooding so bad and diluting the oil/catching fire.

Maybe the blade belt was slipping and got so hot that it caught fire.
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Old 05-22-2009, 09:09 AM   #3
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Sorry to hear about it. My dad still has a Ford lawn tractor from the early 80's that looks & runs like new, and he also has a 1954 Simplicity tractor that he bought used in 1976
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Old 05-22-2009, 09:41 AM   #4
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The solenoid is probably that anti-dieseling thing, but as long as the fuel supply is cut off, it would prevent the bowl from overflowing too so it does that job as well.

The blade belt merely fell off, I just looked. I'm guessing it fell off from the heat and/or the load, the blades were more heavily loaded than...well, ever. I was in a thick, tall patch, and I had the deck lower than usual. The engine wasn't loaded from driving (downhill) so all of its power could push the blades...

I'm thinking maybe I won't give up on it. I can't tell how the fire started or what kept it going but I think it might have been grease/debris buildup on the outside of the head. I don't see anything else there that could have continued fueling the fire so it must have been grease burning. The spark plug wire, which was right in the inferno, doesn't appear any worse than it was before, and I think everything else there is metal.

I may try taking the whole thing apart, cleaning everything up, and try to find a carb or carb kit...I guess...that's a lot of work but I'm a lot of broke and the going rate for a running lawn tractor is $150. Even a used push mower that runs is $75...whatever happened to new push mowers for $60 at Benny's? I could swear it was no more than 3 years ago that they were still $60 for a basic brand new push mower.
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Old 05-22-2009, 09:47 AM   #5
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Driving vehicles (or lawnmowers) which were on fire at one point is cool and manly. Fix it and keep going!

I once had an Aries K which kept catching on fire. The underside of the hood had insulation which was oil-saturated, and would catch on fire after long highway drives. Or sometimes it would just smoke a lot. Good times!

(For the record, however, I would advise a bit more sensible approach and completely repair everything on the mower. The still-catches-on-fire thing is not as cool as the formerly-on-fire thing.)

-Bob C.
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Old 05-22-2009, 09:50 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theholycow View Post
Even a used push mower that runs is $75...whatever happened to new push mowers for $60 at Benny's?.
Is Benny's still around? Amazing!
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Old 05-22-2009, 10:20 AM   #7
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Yep. I'm always amazed that Benny's still exists, but despite the stores empty of customers, they seem to be thriving. There's dozens of locations, even surprisingly near my house (and your friend in Pascoag too).

http://www.hellobennys.com/stores.asp
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Old 05-22-2009, 11:08 AM   #8
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I never give up on old junk!

Had a Bolens that I'd totally gone through from end to end except for the trans- new wheel bushings, welded up and reinforced the cracked front axle beam, fabricated new spindles, the works. Then I wrecked it by allowing it to get a bit too low on oil and mowing on a slope. Pa said junk it but I was thinking of all that work and all those new parts I put in there so I quietly decided to fix it. Takes patience and being in the right place at the right time... but I found a good used B&S 11HP short block... for FREE... put it all together and now it's better than ever. Glad I stuck with it.
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Old 05-22-2009, 12:19 PM   #9
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Well, I took it apart enough to clean it up. I want to take care of the carburetor while I've got it apart but I have no idea where to get the parts.

I think it doesn't flood while running, I think it's just when it's off. It usually starts easy.

The smoke it makes is whiteish, a little darker than antifreeze smoke but no specific smell, just a very generic smoke smell. Any directions I should go with that, or continue assuming it's related to the carburetor overflowing/oil overfilling issue?

I've got the PCV routed to a catch can instead of into the intake, where it normally goes, because it has been spewing far too much gunk since the carb overflow issue started.

So, anyway...I took it apart and decided to hose it clean. I figure the water will either clean it off right, or finish the death sentence. I did remove the ignition stuff first. Once it all looks right I'll partially put it back together and see if it starts...then invest in carburetor parts and maybe ignition stuff since the spark plug wire is very mouse-eaten.
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Old 05-22-2009, 12:45 PM   #10
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I remember my mom's 88 LeBaron (Fancy K-car) caught on fire... The power steering pump was bad and caught on fire. It started rught as dad was pulling into the parking lot of the auto parts store. He ran into the store, grabbed a fire extuingisher off the shelf, threw his credit card on the counter on his way out and said I'll be back in a minute... LOL. He then returned to pay for the fire extuingisher and a new PS pump...
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