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Lawn mower (LA120) died while cutting...thought out of fuel...added will not start....Service Reminder is not lit anymore...starter does turn engine...I see sparks when holding plug wires next to plug top

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  • puterjoe Sep 12, 2010

    Well I wasn't on it when it happened but my son was and he said it ran out of gas....I had to send him for more...when we put the gas in, I could not see any getting to the fuel was it was getting dark I waited till sat. morning to look at it this time there was plenty of fuel visible in the fuel filter and I felt certain it would crank...but it has not...could air be trapped in the carb? when I undo the hose from the carb and try to crank it I see fuel pumping from the dilemma. I did replace the fuel filter before we started mowing....but we cut for over an hour before the problem started.

  • puterjoe Sep 13, 2010

    I'm sorry but I haven't been able to look at it I went to work on it my daughter came to me with a high fever, so off to the Dr. but Mon. afternoon I will check the carb as you suggested. Thanks!

  • puterjoe Sep 19, 2010

    Hello again!
    Yesterday evening I was able to look at the lawn mower again....I took the bowl off and found trash in there and cleaned it out...I was sure this would take care of it but no....still would not crank....sounded like not firing so replaced spark plugs....same removed the valve covers and found that the top push rod was out of place....I tried to put it back but in looking at the other one it appears that the little balls on the end are too worn I removed the other valve cover and same thing on top valve...push rod worn out....can I just replace the rods? or is it something worse than that? Thanks!

  • puterjoe Sep 19, 2010

    I have had no problems w/ the mower at all...I will say that it has always backfired when I turned it off but that is all I can think I said before, the service meter is not working for some reason but if I remember right it was around 69 hours...I have followed the routine as far as maintenance though...lube and oil and filter change, etc. so I was completely surprised to see this...
    the Model # stamped on the valve cover is: 441677
    Type:0113 E1
    The valve cover is on each side, with the pushrods horizontal, will this be easier to look at what you suggested or harder?



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Hello Joe,

Couple of questions:
While you were cutting, did the mower stop all of a sudden (like something was hit), or did it bog down, or surge before it stopped?

Was it out of fuel? Or was the fuel level low and you were mowing on an incline?

If the engine stopped all of a sudden, then you may have partially sheared the flywheel key, throwing off the timing. You will have to pull off the air shroud and get a look at the key to see if it is damaged. The key itself should be rectangular in the groove, with no distortion.

If the engine was hunting / surging, fuel level may have gotten too low and started sucking air. It may take a bit for the trapped air to find its way back up to the tank. The fuel shutoff solenoid, on bottom of the carburetor bowls, may have an intermittent contact (loose connection?). If this solenoid doesn't open, fuel is prevented from going up the emulsion tube.

Check your fuel filter, it may be loaded with water or trash and coincidentally became clogged.

Posted on Sep 12, 2010

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  • Sheldon Dedek Sep 12, 2010

    That is odd.

    Fuel is being delivered, I didn't realize that it had an impulse type of pump (vacuum operated). That rules out air being trapped. Since filter was changed before running, it is likely clean, and you are able to see inside the filter as well. The filter can be ruled out.

    On the bottom of the carburetor, is the bowl. Is there a small solenoid mounted here, it would have at least 1, likely 2, wires going to it. I can't imagine what would cause it to stop working like it should when ran out of fuel, but I don't think that fuel is getting past the bowl into the carb.

    turn off your fuel / pinch off the fuel line. Drain the carburetor fuel bowl using the drain (if equipped), and carefully unplug the connections to the solenoid (if present), and remove the solenoid / bowl nut. This will allow the carb. bowl to drop down. If there wasn't a bowl drain, how much fuel ran out? Just a little, or a bowl full? Clean out any kind of trash that may have made its way.

    If you have a solenoid, leave the carb diassembled, and remove the plug boots from the spark plugs. Turn the ignition on, and you should see the solenoid pull in. If not, then the solenoid is not actuating and is preventing fuel from entering the carburetor.

    If there is no solenoid, use a mirror, and try to look up the the tube. You are looking for any kind of trash that may be present. If you see any debris, then remove the carburetor assy, and blow it out with carburetor / choke cleaner.

    Post back what you find.

  • Sheldon Dedek Sep 13, 2010

    No worries, hope you don't catch what she had.

  • Sheldon Dedek Sep 19, 2010

    Hi Joe,

    What has happened to your engine? Extreme wear on the push rods occurs only when the valve lash is way out of adjustment. If the valves were far outside specs, then you may be looking at accelerated wear on the tappets, and perhaps on the valve stems and guides / seals. This is unusual, even for a Briggs that has a couple, maybe 3 years(?), on it.

    You are able to change the push rods, but the tappets need to be checked as well. The only way to get to those is to crack the engine (chore on vertical shafts), and have a look.

    What other kinds of problems have you had with this lawn tractor in the past? What kind of service routine did you maintain? I am just trying to bridge the gap from a simple lean condition, to probable valve job.

    Could you post the Model Type Spec number of that Briggs engine? You should find it on a label on the engine itself. At the very least, it is a Vanguard or Intek?

  • Sheldon Dedek Sep 19, 2010

    The likely reason that your push rod ends are worn out is due to the exhaust push rod is made of aluminum (!!!). If the valve lash is not set correctly, the aluminum can be deformed / worn down quickly. It has been a while since I have seen these specific push rods. If the end is still spherical shape, without obvious deformation, it is likely still usable. Otherwise, keep reading.

    Your push rods are not that hard to change. The gotcha is keeping them in the tappet recess until you get the rocker arm on. Intek engines use a bolt to hold the rocker, and the rockers can be done independently. The Vanguards use a rocker arm shaft, and both have to be done at the same time. Which engine do you have? The model # is a valid number, but no information is available on it since it is a custom job for John Deere.

    If the engine were to be a horizontal shaft, gravity would keep the push rods in place, but since the push rods are horizontal, they will be prone to falling out unless tension is always kept on until rockers are replaced.

    I would not expect the push rods' apparent heavy wear to keep your engine from starting. Hard to start yes, but not from starting. Disable the starter (remove heavy cable to it and tape it off,this goes straight to battery). Then turn the key and try to crank. You should be able to hear / feel the solenoid at the carburetor click. If you don't, your carburetor is not having fuel delivered through main jet.



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