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Riding Mower Help Needed

New Braunfels, TX(Zone 8b)

I have a Murray riding mower that normally works fine. I even had it over-hauled this spring. The other day I went to start it and it started to turn then nothing. I thought I'd let the battery go dead, so I put the battery on the charger. Charger showed it as full not long after putting it on. I put it back in the mower - nothing. My neighbor and his friend came over to see if he could help. He tried to start it using a portable battery jumper. Would not jump from the battery. They jumped it directly from the engine (which I thought was very scary, and is probably something dangerous.....) by attaching one cable to a rod looking protrusion coming from the engine and then tapping something else (it all happened so fast). It started and ran, and I mowed fine. Of course once I stopped it, it still wouldn't start. I can't figure out what's wrong, and I really hate to call out for service and pay the $$$ if it's something simple.

I have very little mechanical skills (though I'm trying to learn), but I like to tinker if I have something to go on. Anyone have any ideas?

Poquoson, VA(Zone 7b)

Disclaimer: My mechanical skills are limited...fro

But if it's not the battery, then it might be the wires. Are the wires whole and unbroken? How about the alternator? (I'm assuming a lawnmower will have one similar to a car).

Seems to me, if it runs fine once jumped, then it's just not getting the power somehow - which means the link between the battery and the engine is broken SOMEWHERE.

Hulbert, OK(Zone 7a)

Hi Veggie Happy,

Borrowing the same disclaimer from Zoo, hubby states the following.
Any typos are his. LOL.

From hubs:

I would say (99%) it will be the starter solenoid. It is a small, usually black, component located inside the access plate under the steering wheel but could be anywhere based on the model. It will have three electrical post, one to the positive side of the battery, the second to the starter solenoid, and the third to ground. It is usually bolted to the frame with one or two nuts.

Good luck!

New Braunfels, TX(Zone 8b)

Thank you for the advice. This weekend I'm going to poke around some and see if I can see anything obvious.

I wish I had at least some basic mechanical skills (or had a boyfriend or husband or brother who had some that I could consult) - that would make things so much easier.

I would so like to take a class or seminar or something for maintenance and repair of small engines etc.. I'm worse than a man with all the power equipment I have. :-)

Hulbert, OK(Zone 7a)

Oh, Veg, I hear you on the tools. Love 'em!

I'll take a grinder over a fashion purse any day of the week.
A drill bit over a diamond. Well, okay, let's not get carried away, shall we?


Poquoson, VA(Zone 7b)

Why not do both? Some bits have diamonds! ;-)

South Venice, FL(Zone 9b)

Psst, take the battery cables off and use fine sandpaper on all connections then put em back together. I bet you find it works fine again.

Hulbert, OK(Zone 7a)

Hi Veggie,

Any updates on the mower?

:-) Karen

New Braunfels, TX(Zone 8b)

Hey Karen - thanks for asking

I had a friend come out to look at it. He said it was either the solinoid or starter, and he took both to have them checked. That was over a week ago....... sigh.

I try to look at it on the bright side. I am mowing my middle section (over 1/2 acre of pasture like land) with my push reel mower and getting a very good workout. I mow 30 minutes every night after work in order to stay on top of it (I get off at 9pm, but the mower doesn't make any noise - so hopefully my neighbors aren't disturbed). I may continue after the riding mower get fixed - I might lose some weight :-) Thank goodness my 3rd section has my neighbors cow in it right now - no need to mow that part.

Hulbert, OK(Zone 7a)

A reel mower, how cool! We have one, but it is used as an
ornament in the garden, LOL.

Do tell, do they truly work decent?


New Braunfels, TX(Zone 8b)

If you get a good quality mower, they do work really good. They've made some style advances since the "old days" :-) I have the American Lawnmower Company Light Deluxe model, and it rocks. Only complaint I have is that it's only 16" wide. In the future I might get their Scotts 20" model.

The thing about mowing with a reel mower is you have to stay on top of it because they don't mow tall grass well at all. If the grass gets over 3" tall it's hard to push through it (doable - but a workout) - if they get over 4-5" tall you have to make many passes. Big fat tall weeds pretty much get left behind (I pull them up when I come to them).

If you mow regularly though - it's a pleasure. You can think of it as a walking meditation (unless you have your walkman on....) :-)

New Braunfels, TX(Zone 8b)

Just wanted to write an update on this since last year.

The problem was the solonoid. Replaced it and all was well.

This spring I took out the mower and it had a flat back tire. It wasn't a puncture - it happened because it was sitting with the weight primarily on one side. It was so flat that it came off the rim.

If this happens to anyone, here is how to fix it : Put a tire strap on it and crank it until the tire is pressing back on the rim hard. Then fill it with air until it reconnects tightly to the rim by itself - then let off of the tire strap and fill it the rest of the way up. This idea didn't come from me (I didn't even know those tires didn't have inner tubes in them....). It's my plumber who fixed it for me (I watched and cheered him on...) :-)

Fort Myers, FL

Just read your saga. My hubby always did the tractor thing until last year when he had a stroke. Now it's my turn to be both of us. We have a self propelled, which is a bit rough on my arthritic hands and a lawn tractor which is old but works (sometimes). Right now it needs the pulley that turns the blades. Waiting on some help with that. My question is, please don't laugh too hard--- what is a tire strap? We've had the same thing happen with tires in the past and getting someone to get the tire back on is, putting it mildly, an ordeal. If there is a way I could do it that would be WONDERFUL! We have 5 acres, about 3 1/2 that need to be mowed, so it really needs to be kept up. I like to be out walking this time of year but when it gets hotter and buggier I'd like to be out in the critters a little less. I appreciate any help and advice. The people who inhabit "the garden" seem to be great!

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

VeggieFla. The tire strap they mentioned is basically a strap that will fit around the tire, and that can be cinched up tighter, which will pull the center of the tread down and that pushes the bead out to the rim. I have used my belt to do the same thing.
The tires they put on most of the lower priced rider mowers are usually made in Taiwan. A new tire of the same brand can leak air right through the side wall. I have taken to just installing a tube. problem solved.
There is another way to seat the bead but it is not one I will mention here. It is not a safe method. it involves the rapid expansion of hot air.

New Braunfels, TX(Zone 8b)

I didn't know you could install a tube inside. That's a good idea.

My tire is once again flat, so I will be strapping and inflating it this weekend. Bah!

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

If you have problems. Trying to get the tire to inflate. and want to put in a tube. All that is needed is to use a couple of tire irons ( two screw drivers will work ) Work one side of the tire off the rim. Cut off the tubeless valve stem. Remove both pieces of it.
The valve stem hole in the rim is off set from the center of the rim.
Making sure the valve stem on the tube will go to the same side of the rim, by hand ( no sharp tools ) work the tube inside of the tire and over the edge of the rim. Line up the valve stem with the hole in the rim. Then work the tire bead back over the rim, making sure the valve stem does not slip back into the tire. You may have to use one of the tire tools ( screw driver) to help get the last little bit of the bead over the rim. If so be careful not to pinch the tube with the screw driver. This could cause the tube to leak.
Of course you could take all the fun out of it, by taking the problem tire to a lawnmower repair shop, and have them install a tube. Most farm and home stores have the correct tube and also service the mowers the sell. I usually do all my own repairs, due to the lack of sufficient funds. Of course having been a mechanic for 47 years, does have some bearing on that.
In this area The Bomgaars Store has every thing needed. Including the
lawn mower service. Another one would be the Sears store.
Have fun

New Braunfels, TX(Zone 8b)

Thank you for posting the instructions. I have no mechanical skills, but I'm good at following directions :-)

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