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Hard Starting D170

3057 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  TWIN86GNS
Hi All,

At the end of October last year I purchased a used John Deere D170 with ~ 140 hours and it seems to be quite cold blooded in that it is difficult to start. Shortly after purchasing it, I put a new battery in it so I have lots of power to turn the engine over but it just doesn't want to start. I put new plugs in it (gapped as per the owners manual) and that hasn't seemed to help.

This Spring, the machine just didn't want to start and I actually went and bought a small can of ether. I have never had to use ether for any of my small engines before, but with a very small shot of ether the tractor started up and ran fine. The engine runs well at idle, at mid throttle and at wide open throttle but it just doesn't like to start.

This tractor is for use at my cottage at a lake so it might be a touch damp up there and the can of ether said it is for damp situations. The tractor is stored in my garage and I don't think it is damp but this tractor doesn't want to start very easily. Even after running it for 15 minutes then shutting it off last weekend it wouldn't restart without the choke on last weekend.

The fuel is good ethanol free fuel that I run without issues in all of my small engines without any problems and I also put fuel stabilizer in it over the winter but this 26 hp Briggs just doesn't want to start.

Any thoughts???
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Remove the intake manifold from the carb and make sure the choke is closing all the way when the throttle lever is up all the way. I had an old 175 Hydro that acted the same way and I discovered the choke was only closing half-way. Once I adjusted the linkage it fired right up.
I have the L120 which is an earlier version of your D170. It has the B&S twin. It was always a difficult engine to start until about mid-second season when I changed the air filter and used a dental mirror to look down the air horn and inspect the choke. When the lever was in the full choke position there was a significant gap between the choke plate and throttle bore. I adjusted it tobe FULLY closed when lever was in full choke, and it now starts much better.

The trick to starting on mine, when cold, is to have throttle in full slow idle position and choke fully closed. Crank, and within two or three spins it will fire off. Once running, advance throttle to 1/3 and retard choke to ~1/2. After about 30 seconds to a minute, place choke fully off and when the engine is ready, start mowing.

With a hot engine, it will usually fire without the choke, however, if it doesn't, just move the choke lever fully forward and then fully back while cranking and it will start right up. It's now at 587 hours and it keeps on going...

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That's basically how all of my twins started hot or cold.IDK
Hi All,

I will look at this over the upcoming weekend and let you all know what I find.


On my D170 the choke is part of the actual throttle not a seperate lever. I wish that it was seperate, but again, I will check to see that the choke plate is closing all of the way.

Thanks for all of the advice so far.
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I think you may have a fuel problem.
Have you changed the fuel filter?
Can you see gas in the filter before you try to start it?
If not...
The fuel pump may be the culprit.

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A lot of these and Kohlers too have chokes not adjsuted where they will close all the way.
On the briggs it should be the cable.
You loosen the cable clamp and put the speed lever in choke position (assuming this is one that you push all the way up to choke and not a separate choke cable) and move cable at clamp all the way to firmly close choke.
The kohler singles have a screw that you adjust.
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Hi All,

Sorry for the slow response.

I went up to the cottage and then tried to start my D170 and not a sign of life while cranking over. I took the air filter off, and asked my wife to hold her hand across the opening. The machine fired right up and then my wife screemed that the machine was trying to swallow her hand. :) I guess she didn't realize there would be vacuum there. :):)

I have the machine starting much better now, but I think I still need to do as TobyU says and adjust the carb linkage a little more. I think the carb linkage was a little "gummed" up and not moving properly into the choke mode and now it is but I don't think it is 100% adjusted properly. I will get this fixed 100% and then I will be happy.

Also last week I replaced a spindle that was bad. Only one spindle was bad and the other two were nice and tight. On my 26 hp 54" deck Craftsman I had a similar situation that 1 deck spindle needed to be replaced while the other 2 were fine and many years later they are all acting fine.

Thanks for all of your help.

Take care,
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