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Discussion Starter #1
I used the search feature to see if someone's already answered my question, and I didn't find anything. My apologies if someone already asked this, so please direct me to that thread if this discussion already exists.

I have a GT245 with FH601V, 20 HP Kawasaki engine. I can leave it at slow or fast idle forever, and it runs like a top. But when I'm mowing, it lasts about 10 minutes before it cuts out. I had a similar problem a couple of years back, and I fixed it by replacing one of the ignition coils that was overheating. I could tell the problem because it wouldn't run when I pulled the spark plug wire on the opposite side. This time, it still ran with either spark plug disconnected, but I went ahead and replaced the second coil figuring that it might do the trick. That didn't help.

I even called the Deere dealer service folks and spent a lot of time on the phone because they're backed up and can't get to my machine for weeks. The tech I talked to was nice enough to give me his time. But he was baffled and didn't have an answer. So what I need is a diagnosis plan. If you've dealt with something similar, can you suggest steps to find the problem? It's clearly a heating problem. Something's getting hot and creating a break in electrical flow. But I'm smart enough to know what I don't know, and when it comes to diagnosing electric problems, that list of what I don't know is long. So I'd appreciate any and all advice on the steps I should take.

Thanks in advance!

Bob
 

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I would replace coil that went bad a couple years back with the one you have on hand before I did anything else. Just my thought.
RagenRat / Mark
 

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Have you checked for spark when it shuts down? Also, what does it take to restart?

A few things to consider
  • Have you checked/cleaned the cooling fins?
  • I would suggest disconnecting the kill wires from the coils and running it. You might need to choke out the engine if the kill wire is the problem and you don't have a fuel solenoid on the carb.
  • When was the last time you set the valve lash?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Have you checked for spark when it shuts down? Also, what does it take to restart?

A few things to consider
  • Have you checked/cleaned the cooling fins?
  • I would suggest disconnecting the kill wires from the coils and running it. You might need to choke out the engine if the kill wire is the problem and you don't have a fuel solenoid on the carb.
  • When was the last time you set the valve lash?
Thanks for the response. I have checked for spark on both cylinders and they're both giving spark. The cooling fins are clean (I blow out the tractor with a blower after use, and I just did a close blowing of the entire engine with an air hose while changing the drive belt). I did check the kill wires and each cylinder operates fine independently. I don't know what a valve lash is, but I can look it up. I appreciate the ideas and will report back after I check the valve lash.
 

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Just to be clear, you've checked for spark when the engine is hot and shut down and you do have spark? If that's the case, we're heading down the wrong path looking at the ignition system.

Also when you say you have checked the kill wires, did you specifically disconnect them and run the engine without? The reason for doing so is there is either a diode in the kill wire or the coils that may fail when hot and cause the shutdown.

Finally, when it starts to bog down, can you keep it running by choking the engine, or is it a clean shutdown like you turned the key off?
 

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You didn't mention if it will restart after if quits. If you have good ignition, it could be fuel starvation.

Is the gas cap vent open? (don't laugh, this has occurred plenty of times).
Replace any in line fuel filters.
Pull the plugs out so the engine spins freely.
Pull the fuel line off the carb and stick the end in a jar.
Crank the engine.....is there good fuel flow or is it barely a dribble.
Let the gas in your test jar settle for a few minutes. Carefully look for any water pooling at the bottom.
You might also pull the carb bowl and see what's in the bottom of it. A little puddle of water on the bottom perhaps?
If you have water, better find and fix the source, usually the gas tank.
If the fuel flow (with a new filter or absent a filter) is only a dribble or drip, consider new fuel hoses and fuel pump.

These are just some general suggestions I've used to find fuel flow problems. Perhaps others can add or modify.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Just to be clear, you've checked for spark when the engine is hot and shut down and you do have spark? If that's the case, we're heading down the wrong path looking at the ignition system.

Also when you say you have checked the kill wires, did you specifically disconnect them and run the engine without? The reason for doing so is there is either a diode in the kill wire or the coils that may fail when hot and cause the shutdown.

Finally, when it starts to bog down, can you keep it running by choking the engine, or is it a clean shutdown like you turned the key off?
Thanks for taking the time to help. To answer your questions:

Yes, I checked for spark when the engine is hot and after it shuts down.

Yes, I ran the engine without each kill wire, and it kept running.

It's a clean shutdown like I turned off the key. I tried choking the engine to restart, but only got a misfire.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You didn't mention if it will restart after if quits. If you have good ignition, it could be fuel starvation.

Is the gas cap vent open? (don't laugh, this has occurred plenty of times).
Replace any in line fuel filters.
Pull the plugs out so the engine spins freely.
Pull the fuel line off the carb and stick the end in a jar.
Crank the engine.....is there good fuel flow or is it barely a dribble.
Let the gas in your test jar settle for a few minutes. Carefully look for any water pooling at the bottom.
You might also pull the carb bowl and see what's in the bottom of it. A little puddle of water on the bottom perhaps?
If you have water, better find and fix the source, usually the gas tank.
If the fuel flow (with a new filter or absent a filter) is only a dribble or drip, consider new fuel hoses and fuel pump.

These are just some general suggestions I've used to find fuel flow problems. Perhaps others can add or modify.
Thanks for the ideas. It starts again only after things cool for a while. I've been chasing the electrical system, but will go after the fuel system if I end up with no answer. Your strategies for checking it make sense. I have a few more ideas that others have offered on the electrical side to try from other posts first.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I would replace coil that went bad a couple years back with the one you have on hand before I did anything else. Just my thought.
RagenRat / Mark
Sorry for the very delayed reply, but things have been busy and I haven't been able to focus on the tractor. I tried your idea and it didn't work. But I have other ideas in this thread that I'm going to try next. Thanks for taking the time to respond.
 

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Yes, I ran the engine without each kill wire, and it kept running.
Sorry, I missed your reply.

The above answer/behavior tells me that you either have an issue with the kill wire, ignition module (key switch and safety interlock board), or a safety switch. Switches don't usually fail because of heat. Briggs & Stratton twins have diodes in the kill wires that go bad and fail with heat - I don't know for sure that Kawasaki's have kill wires.

I don't have the manual for your tractor so I can't do much more that help generically. If it were me, I would take a hard look at the ignition module. Not sure if you have a compressor but you could blow air on the board to cool it and see if it restarts quicker than just letting it sit.

Perhaps someone else can confirm/deny the presence of diodes in the Kawasaki kill wire harnesses.

Note that your tractor uses the same ignition module as the GX345 - you might be dealing with the same issue as this guy here GX345 Starting issues
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Sorry, I missed your reply.

The above answer/behavior tells me that you either have an issue with the kill wire, ignition module (key switch and safety interlock board), or a safety switch. Switches don't usually fail because of heat. Briggs & Stratton twins have diodes in the kill wires that go bad and fail with heat - I don't know for sure that Kawasaki's have kill wires.

I don't have the manual for your tractor so I can't do much more that help generically. If it were me, I would take a hard look at the ignition module. Not sure if you have a compressor but you could blow air on the board to cool it and see if it restarts quicker than just letting it sit.

Perhaps someone else can confirm/deny the presence of diodes in the Kawasaki kill wire harnesses.

Note that your tractor uses the same ignition module as the GX345 - you might be dealing with the same issue as this guy here GX345 Starting issues
Thanks. I decided that I'm at the edge of my knowledge and since a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, I took it to the local repair shop. They got it yesterday, and I'll post here if they diagnose and fix the problem. I appreciate folks who've offered advice!
 

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Thanks. I decided that I'm at the edge of my knowledge and since a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, I took it to the local repair shop. They got it yesterday, and I'll post here if they diagnose and fix the problem. I appreciate folks who've offered advice!
Thanks again to all who replied. Just got my garden tractor back from the shop and ran it for an hour with no problems. For those of you who suggested a fuel problem, you were right. I was getting moisture in the system and that created a water problem in the fuel system. Water in the fuel is a problem in the NW where I live. It's a pretty wet climate overall.

They drained the gas tank, rebuilt the carburetor, and now it runs fine. I was surprised that this was a fuel problem. But as the mechanic explained to me, having water means that the carburetor can't create the right aerosol air/fuel mixture at higher temperatures especially. I didn't know that and would've kept chasing an electrical solution. Like I said above, this is proof that I really was at the edge of my knowledge.

So thanks again to all who offered advice.

Bob
 

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"It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important." Sherlock Holmes, A Case of Identity

Thanks for posting your result. 🍻
 

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I live in the PNW too. I used to have some weird issues too. Then I started using Stabil 360 in my gas (I don't bother with ethanol free, since it is not available anywhere near me). I use it at the suggested ratio (1/2 oz per 5 gallons). I also use the No-Spill brand gas cans. They don't let moisture in or out. I also keep the can under cover (shed). I haven't had a fuel related issue in the over 10 years I have been doing this. Stabil 360 is about $8 for enough to treat 80 gallons. So, really cheap to avoid the hassle, let alone the expense of a repair.
 

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I live in the PNW too. I used to have some weird issues too. Then I started using Stabil 360 in my gas (I don't bother with ethanol free, since it is not available anywhere near me). I use it at the suggested ratio (1/2 oz per 5 gallons). I also use the No-Spill brand gas cans. They don't let moisture in or out. I also keep the can under cover (shed). I haven't had a fuel related issue in the over 10 years I have been doing this. Stabil 360 is about $8 for enough to treat 80 gallons. So, really cheap to avoid the hassle, let alone the expense of a repair.
Thanks. I live in the country where I like to have extra gas around year around and use Stabil to make certain it doesn't go bad. I treat gas the same way, but use old-style jerry cans. I just found the No-Spill cans online and will check them out.
 

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The old Jerry Cans are also sealed well. I found the fill spouts on them leaked and hard to control, but they are good for long term storage.

Stabil makes a few different versions of the product. I found the 360 to be cheaper and since it is for marine use, very good for the PNW. The basic red stuff also worked well.
 
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