View Full Version : Riding mower issues

09-09-2008, 11:50 PM
I have a Murray riding mower model number: 42910X92A that i bought second hand last year and was working great for several months. It never had given me a problem till recently.

One morning i drove out to my property to mow the grass. The grass was a little dewey but not too bad. It started up fine so i started to mow. After cutting about 2 300ft rows, it started to smoke from under the deck so i thought something got stuck. I killed the power to look and found nothing stuck underneath..no limbs, fencing, rope/string...nothing. I even cleaned off the grass it collected that i had just cut. I waited a while and turned it back on but it kept making a funny noise so i turned it off because it started to smoke and this time when i turned it off fire came out of the exhaust pipe. I didnt know what to expect next so i walked away from it. After about 20min. i cranked it right up like nothing was wrong with it but as soon as i engaged the blade it stopped. I ended up pushing it and parking it away. Did other things around the yard, left after a coupla hours and came back the next day. I cranked it up again and it started except that when i engaged the blade it turned right back off and didnt want to start again. Now when i try to crank it the solenoid makes a continuous clicking/grinding sound. And the noise is ONLY coming from the solenoid. I made sure my connections were secure so i snugged them a little and all it does is grind/click.
I just replaced the battery in about June or July of this year and the solenoid about 2weeks after that. Worked fine till now. My friend and I have checked under the deck for any debris caught up in there and we cant find anything. Belts are in place, has gas and oil etc. Its just that continuous clicking/grinding noise coming from the solenoid.
Any advice would really help. I cant afford a new one or repair bills right now on it. I called the lawn repair guy where i purchased the solenoid and it didnt seem like he wanted to give me too much info. Said he thinks it sounded like it wasnt getting enough voltage. My battery is new and charged.

Thanks in advance.

09-17-2008, 04:37 PM
Sounds like there might be a bad pulley or idler n the mower deck. Best way to check is to disengange the blade and make sure the mower cant start then try turning each pulley by hand to see if any are frozen. Why it wont start could be any number of reasons

09-17-2008, 04:38 PM
You could try to jump the soleniod they burn up pretty easy even if there new

09-18-2008, 12:29 AM
... riding mower ... bought second hand...

Hope you got an owner's manual. If not, try to find one on the web. These are almost worthless, so far as troubleshooting problems, but they do address stuff about the whole machine. Most repair manuals are only concerned with the engine. Usually an owner's manual will include a wiring schematic, a very valuable pece of information to have, and safety features that prevent the mower from operating in an unsafe situation.

...grass was a little dewey but not too bad...
...started to smoke from under the deck...

This is kind of important - are you sure it was smoke, or could it have been steam? This is the only thing I can think of with this symptom.

If it was steam - dewey grass can make mist pretty easily on a sunny morning, making this NOT a symptom.

If it was smoke, that indicates heat, possibly from friction, making pulleys and belts suspect.

...kept making a funny noise...

Too late now, but you want to try to determine where that funny noise was coming from - engine, deck, belts and pulleys between mower and deck...

...when i turned it off fire came out of the exhaust pipe...

That can be surprising and cause some concern, but it may have been a random matter of timing. These are small engines, much simpler, and belching a little fire from the muffler can happen from time to time - I have seen it on a push mower, not a riding mower yet, but I wouldn't take this as a symptom.

...cranked it right up like nothing was wrong...
...engaged the blade it stopped...
...the next day...started except that when i engaged the blade it turned right back off and didnt want to start again...

This is an important symptom. CinOk had some excellent suggestions - check the belts and pulleys between the mower and deck. Do this first because it should be the most easily performed check (unless you have to pull the deck - then you have my sympathies).

I had a very similar problem and it drove me to fits. It turned out to be wet grass that had become lodged in a safety feature, a switch that prevented the mower from starting unless the clutch was depressed all the way.

I'm not saying this is your problem, but it may be similar. Typically, there are at least two safety features on modern lawnmowers. One is operator presence - it checks to see if the operator's butt is firmly planted in the seat. This is often tied in with one that prevents the PTO (blades, etc.) from being engaged. Ours will keep running and allow you to get out of the operator's seat, so long as the blades are not engaged. The engine will not start unless you are sitting in the seat. I found out it was a safety feature by jumpering the starter solenoid - that cranked the starter. One of the safety features was preventing the voltage from reaching the solenoid.

This is where a manual comes in handy. Find each of the safety features and defeat them one by one to see if that will allow the mower to start and operate. Usually these switches are attached to cables with a plastic clip/connector. Pull the clip and use a scrap of wire to loop back the cables coming from the engine. If it is a bad safety feature, you will eventually get the engine running. Just because it's running, doesn't mean it will operate. You arent done until it moves and engages the blades.

Once you have it running and operating, leave the last one defeated and start removing the other defeats, one-by one, in reverse order. This will allow you to determine if there is a dependancy between the safety features - like both must be on for starting or blade engagement. It sounds complicated, but it is just a process of elimination. That's how I found my problem.

When you have got the problem nailed down, decide if the safety feature is necessary. Operator presence and PTO are important and there to prevent mishaps. The one for the clutch was not important to me because I do that out of habit anyway. Since I am lazy, I just left that one defeated.

I didn't start looking until I had exhausted other possibilities - I removed the starter (two screws) and cranked the engine to be sure it turned. I put a fresh charge on the battery and tracked the voltage to be sure my testing and starting were not running it down. I also jumpered the solenoid, as cinok suggested. Everything was ok, but it would not start. That left the safety features.

If the safety features are ok, that makes your problem sound like pulleys and belts, but you should have eliminated those in a previous check. A problem of this sort should cause the mower to shudder, because you are basically stopping the engine with an unmoveable binding.

... Now when i try to crank it the solenoid makes a continuous clicking/grinding sound...
...replaced the battery in about June or July...
...and the solenoid about 2weeks after that...

This is another important symptom, but may be another problem. From the frequent startings, you may have run the battery down. I fiound out I had run mine down with trouble shooting by jumpering the starter solenoid - not enough juice to crank the starter. Starters are hungry, and most mowers do not have a generator - they use magnetic induction to recharge the battery. This is economical, but not as fast as a generator. You may need to recharge the battery.

I have one brush mower that needs to operate 45 minutes to ensure a reliable start. I can get away with less, from time to time, because the battery makes up for the difference. Usually when I break out that bull, I'm going to be using it for more than 45 minutes. The mfg suggests 45 minutes to replace current drawn from the battery for starting.

I'm no expert on mowers, just a feller that's too cheap to pay somebody to do something I can do myself. It's good to have repair shops as a safety net, but outside of catastrophic damage, most maintenance can be performed by you.

Two excellent books I've found on the subject are "Small Engine Repair" by Briggs & Stratton (ISBN 1-58923-121-X) and "The Small Engine Handbook" by Peter Hunn (ISBN 0-7603-2049-7). Chilton's also has a book or two on small engines. They aren't my favorite publishers, but sometimes they are the only source. There again, these books deal almost exclusively with engines, and not the equipment they are mounted on. A riding mower has a lot of other pieces added to it that complicate them beyond the engine.

Hope this helps. If you are getting frustrated, just walk away and let your mind noodle it over while you do something else. Sometimes inspiration will step in and give you ideas.

Best of luck to you.


09-23-2008, 10:41 PM
You guys have given me some excellent suggestions.

Bee pipes, I appreciate the time you took to be as descriptive as possible.

I am going to save these suggestions in my favorites to try and get this mower running on my own but that will have to wait until these mosquitos thin out and when the weather is not so hot! Skeeters are really bad over here. I know someone that contracted the west nile virus.

Anyhow, this mower will be my project mower for the cooler days and in the meantime, i have acquired another riding mower at a great price.

Again I cant thank you guys enough for your help and suggestions. Another reason why I love coming to this forum.