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post #1 of 11 Old 04-10-2019, 04:24 PM Thread Starter
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LA115 Weird Starter Issue

My trusty LA115 (in use mostly daily) has developed a weird starter issue. Went to start it this morning and the engine only turned over about half a turn. Same thing every time I turned the key. Turned the motor over past the compression stroke by hand (using hands on the flywheel screen) and it will then turn over just fine and start with the key. Runs just like normal. Bad battery, eh? Swapped a 6 month old battery (same size) out of my LGT145 into the LA115 and get the same thing. Starter won't turn the engine over past the compression stroke. Put the battery on the charger just in case. Fully charged battery, still the same - won't turn over past the compression stroke. Starter cable looks OK.

Is the starter getting weak? Is there a secret compression release that isn't working?

1995 Kubota L2350 with loader.
1973 Ford LGT 145, 36" PTO tiller and 50" deck.
2010 John Deere LA115 (Wife's ride)
Plus a few other doo dads to go along with this stuff
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post #2 of 11 Old 04-10-2019, 04:37 PM
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Re: LA115 Weird Starter Issue

I assume it's a 1 cylinder? Regardless, why not remove the spark plug (s) and try it. Who knows...could be flooded with gas.
Then voltmeter across battery...off and while cranking. Those two readings should be the same if you measure at starter motor (or very close).


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post #3 of 11 Old 04-10-2019, 05:02 PM
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Re: LA115 Weird Starter Issue

Well, there is a compression release, but it's not a secret. It is dependent upon proper valve clearance settings. As the valve train wears, and the valve clearance increases, the CR mechanism becomes less efficient until it is no longer working. Quick fix is to set the valves per the manual.

The symptoms you describe are textbook for the CR not working properly (maladjusted valves).

Paul

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post #4 of 11 Old 04-10-2019, 05:04 PM
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Re: LA115 Weird Starter Issue

Check the starter barrel bolts, make sure they have not come loose .
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post #5 of 11 Old 04-10-2019, 06:27 PM
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Re: LA115 Weird Starter Issue

Yes, adj the valves. Real easy. Just need a new valve cover gasket.
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post #6 of 11 Old 04-11-2019, 03:48 AM
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Re: LA115 Weird Starter Issue

The LA115 has a single cylinder B&S 31-series engine. I have a mower with a 17HP version of that same engine. What you are describing sounds like a compression release issue. I had the exact same problem with my engine. It is possible that the valves could be slightly out of adjustment. But more often than not the little compression release weight on the cam shaft breaks and you end up with the problem you are experiencing. In my case, the compression release was broken. This is a wide-spread issue on the B&S 31-series engines. There are countless reports all over the Internet.

Like you, I was able to start mine by turning the engine over by hand until it was past the compression point. When you know what to listen for, you can actually hear if the compression release is working when you shut off the engine. When you shut the engine off, as it comes to a stop, during those last 2-3 revolutions you will hear a very distinctive PFFT-PFFT-PFFT sound. This is because the cam-based compression release has a spring loaded weight that only engages it below around 300RPM. So has the engine slows down and stops, the compression release will re-engage and you will hear it venting.

It's best to start with the simple things like adjusting the valves. The compression release works off the intake valve so its adjustment will be the most critical.

If the valves are adjusted properly and it still wont turn over then you will need to replace the cam. When the mechanism breaks the parts usually fall down into the crankcase. In my case they got into the governor gear on the way down and I had to replace it as well. It cost me around $100 to repair using OEM parts that I found via on-line sources.

Below are what the parts look like for the compression release on the cam. As you can see, these pot metal, tiny spring and plastic parts would be better suited for a grandfather clock rather than an engine. B&S should be ashamed as the problem has existed for a long time and they have made no changes.

Good luck and I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that your problem is a valve adjustment. :-)
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post #7 of 11 Old 04-12-2019, 08:44 AM Thread Starter
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Re: LA115 Weird Starter Issue

Thanks everyone for the heads up about adjusting the valves. Appreciate it very much. I'll see if I can find instructions on how to adjust them and get a new valve cover gasket.

-jj

1995 Kubota L2350 with loader.
1973 Ford LGT 145, 36" PTO tiller and 50" deck.
2010 John Deere LA115 (Wife's ride)
Plus a few other doo dads to go along with this stuff
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post #8 of 11 Old Today, 08:52 AM Thread Starter
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Re: LA115 Weird Starter Issue

Bad news. I adjusted the valves, but still have the problem. The exhaust valve was out a bit at .008" but the intake was in spec at .003". As soon as I saw that the intake was adjusted OK, I had a sinking feeling the problem was going to be a broken compression release (CR).

Can the CR be replaced or do I need a whole new camshaft assembly? Governor still works, so didn't get damaged. I saw a reference to just adding an extra head gasket to reduce compression so not to need the CR. Of course there will be some drop in HP. If this works and I could do it without removing the engine from the tractor, it would be a fairly quick fix. I really don't have the time to remove it and tear it apart completely as I have more pressing issues to address in the next few weeks.

Right now, I just have to raise the hood and spin the engine backwards a couple of revolutions and that gives the starter enough of a running start to get over the compression hump. Also, revving the engine and shutting it off at high speed seems to stop the engine well off the compression stroke frequently. Wifey will just have to learn to run it backward before starting or get used to driving the LGT 145 for a while.

Could there be any other cause? Like high carbon buildup? I noticed the plug was pretty carboned up when I removed it to adjust the valves.

Thanks in advance for any input. I'm all ears, or rather all eyes to be exact.

1995 Kubota L2350 with loader.
1973 Ford LGT 145, 36" PTO tiller and 50" deck.
2010 John Deere LA115 (Wife's ride)
Plus a few other doo dads to go along with this stuff
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post #9 of 11 Old Today, 12:17 PM
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Re: LA115 Weird Starter Issue

nope. whole cam needs to be replaced...what a scam..eh?
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post #10 of 11 Old Today, 02:03 PM
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Re: LA115 Weird Starter Issue

As the previous poster mentioned, the cam needs to be replaced as the CR mechanism is pressed into it (and B&S doesn't sell the CR parts separately). As for the governor, my governor still worked too but when I took it apart I saw the teeth on the governor gear were damaged due to the broken CR parts going through it. Who wants to go to all the trouble to tear apart and fix and then reinstall a damaged governor gear.

The other thing to keep in mind IF the CR is broken. Those parts are rattling around loose inside the engine. They "probably" dropped down into the crankcase but if you continue to run the engine there is a slight risk those parts could get loose and get into the crank or piston. Then the engine is junk.

There is a way to verify if the CR is intact. When you were adjusting the valves, as you rotate the engine by hand you will see the intake valve give a little "bump" along the way. It is very slight and a bit difficult to see if you don't know what you are looking for. But if you rotate the engine over by hand and you do not see the intake valve give a little "hiccup" throughout it's travel, then the CR is broken.
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post #11 of 11 Old Today, 03:19 PM Thread Starter
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Re: LA115 Weird Starter Issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by jgayman View Post
As the previous poster mentioned, the cam needs to be replaced as the CR mechanism is pressed into it (and B&S doesn't sell the CR parts separately).

The other thing to keep in mind IF the CR is broken. Those parts are rattling around loose inside the engine. They "probably" dropped down into the crankcase but if you continue to run the engine there is a slight risk those parts could get loose and get into the crank or piston. Then the engine is junk.

There is a way to verify if the CR is intact. When you were adjusting the valves, as you rotate the engine by hand you will see the intake valve give a little "bump" along the way. It is very slight and a bit difficult to see if you don't know what you are looking for. But if you rotate the engine over by hand and you do not see the intake valve give a little "hiccup" throughout it's travel, then the CR is broken.
Yup I thought about it sloshing around in the oil pan and may take the chance for a few weeks before I can get to it. Just reduce the amount of time we use it.

Just went out and checked (about the 5th time I've had the valve cover off) and there is no perceptible bump anywhere after the intake valve closes and through the compression stroke.

I found this kit on Amazon. Looks like it has the camshaft with CR, gasket, seals, etc for $40 and change
and free shipping. Yeah it's probably Chinese, but would it be any worse than B&S original?

I'll keep looking to see if I find something with a little less unknown quality.

Do the newer Inteks have a better quality CR mechanism. Surely (hopefully) B&S should have fixed this. I might consider repowering with a new B&S engine. The rest of the tractor is in great shape. It doesn't do a lot of mowing, just pulls a trailer around the property hauling brush, wood, rocks, dirt, etc. I do worry some times about the hydro robustness. Would hate to spend $$$$$ on a new engine and have the hydro go out next month.

1995 Kubota L2350 with loader.
1973 Ford LGT 145, 36" PTO tiller and 50" deck.
2010 John Deere LA115 (Wife's ride)
Plus a few other doo dads to go along with this stuff
jjinatx is online now  
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