Craftsman 4.5 HP Mower Loses Power Under Load - Lawn Mower Forums : Lawnmower Reviews, Repair, Pricing and Discussion Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2019, 06:23 PM Thread Starter
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Craftsman 4.5 HP Mower Loses Power Under Load

Hi All,

I have been having trouble with my 2004 Craftsman 4.5 hp push mower (model number 917.388630), with a Tecumseh engine. This summer, it has started well, but when I get into any amount of grass, it loses power and stalls. This is a new issue...hasn't happened before.

I went ahead and removed the carb and cleaned it out in the ultrasonic cleaner. The original carb looked quite clean inside even prior to cleaning, I noted. I also noted that the needle seat was not in great shape, so I replaced it. Upon reassembling the mower, the carb proceeded to overflow without mercy...and I did place the seat in the correct orientation. Even after pulling the carb apart again and rechecking the float, needle, and seat, it still flooded itself out.

So...I went and found a replacement carb on Amazon. I just installed it this afternoon, and while the carb no longer floods itself out, the lack of power still exists. It will idle fine, but proceeds to bog down under the load of cutting even the smallest amount of grass.

I am using fresh fuel, 93 octane, without ethanol in it. The air filter is new, the spark plug is new, and the carb is new.

I did notice it ran better without the old air filter installed, so that is what led me to replace it.

The mower in question is the green one on the left in the pic below.



Part of me is wondering if it is just getting worn out...it is 15 years old, after all! Though I realize folks on here are using much older mowers without issue. At this point, I just needed to step away and seek help, as it was getting too frustrating.

Thoughts, comments, and suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Adam
Flathead Valley, MT


1982 Lawn Chief 11/36 rider
1993 Coast to Coast (MTD) 14/38 rider
2003 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P (216517B) w/Thatcherizer
2004 Craftsman pusher (917.388630) w/ 5.5 hp Predator

Other Machines in My Yard:
1974 Wizard (Gilson) tiller (project)
1977 Ariens Rocket V tiller (project)
1980 Ariens ST824 snowblower
1990s Toro CCR1000 snowblower

Previously Owned:
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P's
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2019, 11:08 PM
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My first thought is the governor isn't working correctly. Second would be the valve clearance is to tight and your loosing compression and power after the engine warms up. Third would be a plugged gas cap vent.


Look under the trouble shooting manual ( 7th down from top) for governor help.


https://www.mymowerparts.com/pdf/Tec...epair-Manuals/
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 03:54 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips! I will look into them when I get the chance.

As a side note, is it possible that the return spring on the governor could be the issue? Mine seems to have lost tension, and looks a bit stretched out.

Adam
Flathead Valley, MT


1982 Lawn Chief 11/36 rider
1993 Coast to Coast (MTD) 14/38 rider
2003 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P (216517B) w/Thatcherizer
2004 Craftsman pusher (917.388630) w/ 5.5 hp Predator

Other Machines in My Yard:
1974 Wizard (Gilson) tiller (project)
1977 Ariens Rocket V tiller (project)
1980 Ariens ST824 snowblower
1990s Toro CCR1000 snowblower

Previously Owned:
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P's
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 07:17 PM
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The spring could be the MAIN problem.

Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
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I'll take a look through the assortment of springs I have, and see if one will work there. Failing that, I will see about ordering a replacement online.

Thanks for all the help!

Adam
Flathead Valley, MT


1982 Lawn Chief 11/36 rider
1993 Coast to Coast (MTD) 14/38 rider
2003 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P (216517B) w/Thatcherizer
2004 Craftsman pusher (917.388630) w/ 5.5 hp Predator

Other Machines in My Yard:
1974 Wizard (Gilson) tiller (project)
1977 Ariens Rocket V tiller (project)
1980 Ariens ST824 snowblower
1990s Toro CCR1000 snowblower

Previously Owned:
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P's
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 05:24 PM Thread Starter
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A small update...I did find a spring that had a similar length and, hopefully, a similar original tension. After installing it, the mower started up much easier than it had before, and blew out a huge cloud of white smoke before settling down into the normal RPM that I have heard its entire life (I've had this mower since it was new in 2004).

I did not have any tall grass to test the mower with (I had just finished mowing with the Snapper before tackling this task), so further testing will be when I mow the lawn again next time. I'll follow up further after that time.
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Adam
Flathead Valley, MT


1982 Lawn Chief 11/36 rider
1993 Coast to Coast (MTD) 14/38 rider
2003 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P (216517B) w/Thatcherizer
2004 Craftsman pusher (917.388630) w/ 5.5 hp Predator

Other Machines in My Yard:
1974 Wizard (Gilson) tiller (project)
1977 Ariens Rocket V tiller (project)
1980 Ariens ST824 snowblower
1990s Toro CCR1000 snowblower

Previously Owned:
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P's
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
The_Geologist is online now  
post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-04-2019, 11:25 PM Thread Starter
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More Updates After Mowing the Lawn Today...

So, I accidentally let the lawn get a bit long over the past week, which I then realized would be a perfect test for my mower repair.

The mower performed well, considering the higher-than-average grass height it was cutting. I didn't do the entire lawn with it...just the edges. The rider took care of the rest.

It does seem to run at a slightly higher RPM than it used to (without a load on the motor), based upon the sound of the motor. However, I am not sure if I should do any adjustment(s), because it did respond well to load when it was being run through the high grass.

I do realize that too high an RPM is not good, so any further suggestions would be welcomed.

Adam
Flathead Valley, MT


1982 Lawn Chief 11/36 rider
1993 Coast to Coast (MTD) 14/38 rider
2003 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P (216517B) w/Thatcherizer
2004 Craftsman pusher (917.388630) w/ 5.5 hp Predator

Other Machines in My Yard:
1974 Wizard (Gilson) tiller (project)
1977 Ariens Rocket V tiller (project)
1980 Ariens ST824 snowblower
1990s Toro CCR1000 snowblower

Previously Owned:
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P's
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
The_Geologist is online now  
post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-22-2019, 10:45 PM Thread Starter
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The End of an Era...and the Beginning of Another

Well, to follow up on this mower, I have discovered that the engine is officially on its way out. I may have killed it with running it at too high an RPM this last time...or it may have just been it's time.

It seems to have very low compression, followed by little power, and when I do finally get it started, there is a significant clattering noise from the head that has now become very evident. I have even had the engine seize on me while pulling on the pull start, though I was able to get it to release by moving the blade (with the plug wire taken off, of course...) The engine will not start with the air filter attached. So...I have decided not to screw around with it any longer...I need a reliable push mower! I am sure I could have done some more work to it, but I am over it now.

This Tecumseh engine has served me well since I bought it brand new in 2005, so I think it had a good life.

Now for the next chapter: I was checking out some things at Harbor Freight over the weekend, and they were having a manager's special: 50% off open box items. In the stack was a 5.5 hp Predator vertical shaft motor that someone had returned, so I snagged that for $49.99. I got it home and found it had never had fuel or oil put in it...so whomever bought it first found it didn't fit whatever they were trying to accomplish.

I have the new motor mounted on the old frame, and just have to finish attaching a throttle cable. I also need to get a new blade adapter as the old one is too large (apparently fairly common, from what I read online). I did confirm that the Predator starts and runs just fine while I controlled the throttle linkage by hand. I let it idle for about 15 minutes just to burn the coating off the muffler.

If there is any interest, I can take some pictures of the final result of this transformation and post them.
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Adam
Flathead Valley, MT


1982 Lawn Chief 11/36 rider
1993 Coast to Coast (MTD) 14/38 rider
2003 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P (216517B) w/Thatcherizer
2004 Craftsman pusher (917.388630) w/ 5.5 hp Predator

Other Machines in My Yard:
1974 Wizard (Gilson) tiller (project)
1977 Ariens Rocket V tiller (project)
1980 Ariens ST824 snowblower
1990s Toro CCR1000 snowblower

Previously Owned:
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P's
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-29-2019, 02:20 AM
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 12:15 AM Thread Starter
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An Update!

I received the correct blade adapter in the mail last weekend, and was able to install it last night. It fit the Predator crankshaft perfectly, and the blade fit the adapter perfectly as well.

As a point of reference for anyone who might read this thread in the future, I purchased the following blade adapter:





I also installed the throttle control on the handlebar. Had to place the control on the outside of the handlebar so it wouldn't interfere with the engine brake lever. As the control is entirely made of plastic, I have concerns as to how long it will last.

The Predator starts easily and runs just fine. I have been running it at 3/4 throttle for 10 - 15 minutes at a time for now. Haven't mowed with it yet.

The only issues I see are as follows:
  1. Where the old motor was essentially sealed to the deck, the Predator has a decent-sized gap between it and the deck. Not sure how much debris will find its way through.
  2. The Predator crankshaft is a good 1/2 inch longer than the old one. I need to see what setting I can put the mower wheels at in order to avoid cutting to short. Or I have to figure out a non-redneck way of raising the engine off the deck.

Questions and comments are welcomed. Thanks for all the help!
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Adam
Flathead Valley, MT


1982 Lawn Chief 11/36 rider
1993 Coast to Coast (MTD) 14/38 rider
2003 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P (216517B) w/Thatcherizer
2004 Craftsman pusher (917.388630) w/ 5.5 hp Predator

Other Machines in My Yard:
1974 Wizard (Gilson) tiller (project)
1977 Ariens Rocket V tiller (project)
1980 Ariens ST824 snowblower
1990s Toro CCR1000 snowblower

Previously Owned:
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P's
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
The_Geologist is online now  
The Following User Says Thank You to The_Geologist For This Useful Post:
Grunt (10-04-2019)
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