4/05/2011

Sixty Dollar Mower

The house Karrie's renting has a huge yard, probably like a half acre and it would take hours to mow. So i looked on Craigslist for a while and saw a riding mower for $100. The add said it cranks over but won't start. When i showed up the guy turned the key and nothing happened. He fiddled around with it for a while but still nothing. He said how about $60, so i said sure.

What i know is that it's a Lawn Chief riding mower. I think the 11 - 36 means that it's an 11 horse power engine with a 36" wide cutting deck. I have no idea what year it is. The model number is completely worn off.
lawn chief riding mower, craigslist, 11hp, 11-36
As always, using what i've learning:
Compression
Spark/Timing
Fuel/Air

I had a checklist
fix riding mower check list
First i washed and cleaned everything
riding lawn mower clean, polish, wash
The air filter was full of oil and falling apartlawn chief engine, air filter, oil, fall apart
Then i had to see if i could get it to turn over. I used a screw driver to jump the connection across the solenoid. It worked, the engine started to crank. So following the wires back from the solenoid i realized the problem was a loose wire at the starter. I cut it, rewired it and soldered it in place and the problem was fixed.wiring for lawn chief riding lawn mower, engine
I checked the compression and it was around 55psi. Good enough
riding mower engine compression check, psi
After working on the last mower i made sure i checked to see that the timing pin wasn't sheared. It looked ok. I was going to remove the fly wheel but after an hour of hitting with a hammer and prying i couldn't get it off so i gave up.riding mower engine timing pin, fly wheel, timing wheel
repair riding lawn mower, lawn chief, 36" deck, 11hp
The guy i bought it from said that it just wouldn't start one day so he tried messing with the carburetor but it still didn't work. When i took the carburetor apart it was super dry and lots of powdered gas. It's there on the concrete next to the bowl.carburetor bowl, powdered fuel, clean, carb cleaner, riding mower
I cleaned the carburetor and even soaked the jets in a coffee can full of carb cleaner for 24 hours. My hope was that the engine was fine and all it needed was a good cleaning and some fresh fuel. So i put everything back together, added gas and after about 2 minutes it started up.

The engine ran ok but the carburetor needs to be tweaked a bit so it doesn't stall. After driving it around the yard a couple times it was a lot better. Now it starts just fine.

I oiled and WD-40'd everything, changed the oil, sharpened the blades, wrapped all exposed wires with electrical tape and it was set to go. All 4 tires were flat and i thought i'd have to get at least 1 new inner tube, but when i filled them up with air there were no leaks.

It has 3 gears, all of them slow. The shifter must have broken at some point so the previous owner used a lug nut.
3 speed riding mower, lawn chief, cutting deck
I didn't like it so i made a new wood one from a branch in the yard. I cut a section of it that fit my hand, then stained it and covered it in 4 coats of polyurethane.

new homemade shifter handle, riding mower
I thought i was all done. But i wasn't.

For some reason the mower would move, but only in first gear and only really slowly. It turned out to be the belt and pulley on the transmission were slipping. There wasn't enough tension because a frame bracket broke off. It was only being held on by one side.
So i fixed the bracket with a piece of angled steel. Now the frame was actually attached to the transmission with enough tension.
make a new mounting bracket for riding mower frame
It ran great in 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear. Then it broke again...
Very confused I checked everything again and saw that the spark plug wasn't sparking. I had to re-solder an old cracked wire and then bend the tip of the spark plug to decrease the gap.

Finally, all done.
fixed, repaired, riding mower, lawn mower, lawn chief, spark plug

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