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 7 (permalink) Old 08-22-2019, 05:23 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 Push Mower (917.388630)

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 Machines:
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac mowers
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-22-2019, 10:08 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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Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 02:54 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 Push Mower (917.388630)

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 Machines:
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac mowers
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 06:17 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 7 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 07:03 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 Push Mower (917.388630)

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 Machines:
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac mowers
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 04:24 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 Push Mower (917.388630)

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 Machines:
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac mowers
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
The_Geologist is offline  
post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-04-2019, 10:25 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 Push Mower (917.388630)

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 Machines:
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac mowers
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
The_Geologist is offline  
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