DIY: Craftsman lawnmower repair

Here’s a chronological set of experiences from learning to fix my Dad’s lawnmower. I went through many help videos on YouTube, personal experiences, and received help from a lawnmower mechanic and friend at key points in this journey. It took me about six months to learn it all.

May 3, 2018

Taking a cooling off break before finishing. Thankful for the breeze that comes at just the right time and amount. Since 10 a.m. I have blowed out old cut grass, spayed on Simple Green degreaser, let it sit five minutes, washed off with the hose, dried and wiped out grease with paper towels, then rolled it out to dry more in the sun. Then for all the greasy metal surfaces, I sprayed on odorless mineral spirits and after ten minutes back in the shed to cool off, I wiped off the grease with paper towels and latex gloves on. I’ve drunk two cups of water already. The hose popped a hole. Here’s a few photos showing the progress. This all started with a bad battery. More photos soon. 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. with oil drain. Drinking plenty of water. Hot day. Spent another hour taking down an electric fence around our property that no longer was in use. Come back tomorrow for the second part.

May 4, 2018

Beginning day two on the lawnmower. Come back to see updates on this post. Yesterday’s was updated. Took off the deck, flipped it over to discover three instead of two blades. Carburetor fluid helped remove one. Replaced the spark plugs.

May 8, 2018

The fuel filter came early today. Replaced the old with the new.

May 10, 2018

A little work before the rain drops started to fall and the lightning was apparent. Pulled the setup into the shed to struggle with the rusted bolts. Sprayed carburetor fluid, mineral spirits, and degreaser on them and walked away.

May 11, 2018

Worked up until night this evening on the tractor. Haven’t seen the new air filter yet. I won’t recommend Briggs and Stratton for parts in the future. I ordered all parts from their website on the same day. They sent a part each box from WI, first one took five days for the spark plug, second took two days for the fuel filter, and still waiting on the air filter. The blades came from RBI Corp that someone else recommended to me. I’ll be ordering from them in the future. I called them 30mns before closing time and they had it sent out that day on Friday and I got it on Wednesday. So today I got the new blades on, put the deck back on, my Dad came out as I was blowing dust out of the old air filter with the pump and it was 9:30 p.m. when I was connecting the new battery, then the spark plugs, then I cranked it until the fuel pumped in and it started. Ran it a while and did a second time. The dark videos are loud. 🙂

May 14, 2018

Still waiting for a new air filter, meanwhile I had to run the engine with the choke out. Cut down all the grass with high cut and resting engine here and there.

May 21, 2018

New air filter delivered this morning. In a few minutes I had it switched out. Next project is the carburetor.

July 5, 2018

Discovered where the carburetor was on the lawnmower. Sprayed carburetor fluid on the outside to get the grime off and hopefully tomorrow I can take it off and properly clean the inside.

August 8, 2019

A long ongoing troubleshooting project with my Dad’s riding lawnmower. Fixing it in between work. Battery, fuel filter, spark plugs, and blades replaced last year, worked fine for awhile. Then the battery kept dying on its own. Bad solenoid, nope still working (had it checked yesterday at Ace Hardware, had a strong impression to call them and didn’t even know they had a shop). Then it occurred to me that I had not cleaned the battery posts in a while after the positive post showed a little smoke on crank. Cleaned both of the posts, washers, and the terminals leads with a flat file. And the engine turned over yesterday but died because lack of fuel in the carburetor. I put the battery on a charger overnight. Bad diode, nope, continuity beeps one way but not the other—but for charging it occurred to me today that it wasn’t charging the battery because of the bad electrical connections on the battery. Today, it would not crank except for turning the flywheel and blower a couple times even after I safely pressurized the gas tank. Looking around front at the carburetor, the fuel pump was leaking from the hose output. I replaced the fuel hose from the new fuel filter to the carburetor input and added clamps that were missing. Now the bottom seal of the fuel pump diaphragm started to leak a lot and I thought it was the culprit of it all. I decided to take the air filter off, the carburetor off and even though it seemed hard it ended up being easier. I just had to do it and I prayed for mechanical know-how because it’s not my current self’s forté. In the past, I was better. I used a plier clamp on the fuel line to seal it off. Inside past the plastic mold with the tubes, the rubber diaphragm was broken at the screw hole and kinked on one side. With 320 fine sandpaper I cleaned off the metal face of grime and dirt. Made it all flat and shiny. Don’t use a coarse sandpaper as it will leave grooves in that soft metal on the carburetor and won’t seal off well. Then because the face of flat steel on the lawnmower was baking hot, I set a socket over the kink after pressing down the rubber diaphragm flat for a few seconds. Then let it sit there for a few minutes to warm up the rubber so it became pliable. I sanded around the lid of the cover to remove the grime there too. And I found a piece of loose rubber from the hose that could have caused the leak. At the broken screw hole in the diaphragm, I used a small amount of electrical tape with a hole for the screw to make a good seal as a temporary fix. Put it all back together very carefully because of the springs and alignment. So far it hasn’t leaked anymore and I am charging it now with the car running. I’ll update this post with details later or move this to my blog. I’m drinking plenty of water on this hot day and wearing my “dirty” clothes for this job. — Troubleshooted down to having to replace the starter coil and fuel pump. It’s cheaper than buying a new lawnmower. It’s been a long two days. I have learned much.

August 11, 2019

More on yesterday’s lawnmower progress. Took about five hours to replace the starter coil. Engine turned over without a jump and burned off the fuel from day before when it was flooded. It ran three minutes before cutting off. I clamped the fuel line and removed it from the fuel pump to check when I cranked if gas was flowing through the line and it was. I have to rebuild the fuel pump tomorrow and the carburetor after that. The old starter pictured.

August 12, 2019

Rebuilt the fuel pump in about two hours. Ran the engine, cut the grass along the road, added oil to engine, cut some more grass, looks like I need to give the carburetor a good clean. I cut it off after it stopped running smoothly and moving slower. Jumping it now. This is the second day that a butterfly has visited me, the first being yellow and this blue. Put the riding lawnmower away. Put oil and gas in the push mower and cut most of the grass in the backyard until the gas ran out and I was used up at that moment too. Drank lots of water today and wore an old farmer’s meshed cap.

August 29, 2019

Yesterday afternoon was spent taking off the air filter to get to the carburetor on the riding lawnmower. Started taking pictures after it was halfway cleaned. Used fine sandpaper, a soft bristle brush, and compressed air to clean out the jet and cases of the carburetor. I need to replace the seat in the carburetor with a 1/4-20 bolt and sleeve and set the needle spring right on the float. Put in a new needle and gasket on this Briggs and Stratton lawnmower.

September 11, 2019

This past week I replaced the lawnmower carburetor. Today I charged up the lawnmower battery with jumper cables connected to a running car. I went inside to eat lunch. Outside again, I added fuel and oil. Started the lawnmower after it twice coughed while choking on fuel and gasped for air. I ran it for a few minutes to let it breathe. Took off the jumper cables, turned off the car, sat back on it and it turned over at first light. The amp gauge indicated the alternator in the engine was charging the battery. I mowed my entire yard and it kept starting even after dismounting several times. I finished my yard in good time that I remembered my neighbor asking me back in July to tell her when I had it fixed. I flew over and down her drive and she said she was just about to give a call. It was good timing because it was almost ready for a trimming but some parts of her lawn reminded me of a bald man parting ways with a slim pocket comb. Pictures from my yard.

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