Resurrection of a Lawn Chief Riding Mower - Lawn Mower Forums : Lawnmower Reviews, Repair, Pricing and Discussion Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-28-2020, 11:14 PM Thread Starter
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Resurrection of a Lawn Chief Riding Mower

I picked up this Lawn Chief 11 hp, 36" cut riding mower at the local auction house here about 4 or 5 years ago now. I originally posted about the mower in this thread. I had promised to start a build thread when I got around to it, so here I am...a lot of time later than I had originally hoped for!

Here are some more recent photos of the Lawn Chief when I started working on it in March. This thread will be pic-heavy!















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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

Previously Owned:
1974 Wizard (Gilson) tiller
1977 Ariens Rocket V tiller
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P's
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-28-2020, 11:28 PM Thread Starter
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So, the first thing I did was to blow out all the pine needles, peanuts, and other debris from everywhere with the air compressor. I knew there was a nest up under the tins when I started it the last time, but when I pulled the tins off this year, there was little left. Even beneath the flywheel there was little debris. So maybe I was able to blow it all out when it ran that time.

I was able to slowly spin the engine over using an old battery, but it was too weak to do much else. Oddly enough, turning the key switch doesn't seem to turn over the starter, but pushing the add-on start button does. I did find out later that the key switch does still need to be turned on to have spark, even though the engine will still spin over when the key is off and the start button is pushed. I plan on fixing the wiring later, once I confirm the engine is good.

I noticed that the battery cables were in poor condition, so replaced them with new ones. I had to protect the red wire with some of that coiled wire wrap, as it was getting hit by one of the pulleys underneath when the brake/clutch was pressed. I wire wheeled the ground point to clean it off, as it was pretty rusty, and that, along with a new battery, allowed the engine to be spun over much more strongly than before.



I was moving around the mower on the driveway when I ran into a slight issue:





Apparently someone else had issues with the steering drag link, and tried to fix it. The weld broke on the steering wheel end, and the other end was drilled out (and cracked) with a bolt used to connect it to the tie rod. I was able to find an OEM replacement and it came a couple weeks later.





After installing the new drag link, it was nice to be able to steer the mower again!
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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

Previously Owned:
1974 Wizard (Gilson) tiller
1977 Ariens Rocket V tiller
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P's
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-28-2020, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
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I have been working on different parts of the mower as I have the time.

I've cleaned out old grease on the front wheel spindles and regreased them. Replaced all the nails with proper cotter pins.

I did get one of the rear wheels off so I could clean the rust off the axle. I added never-sieze to the axle so it should be easier to get off in the future. The other rear wheel is rusted on solid. I do not have access to heat greater than that of a propane torch, and so that hasn't helped...yet. The trick of using an air hammer bit with a flat end to vibrate the rust loose on the axle hasn't worked yet, either. So, I am soaking that hub with PB Blaster every once in a while, and will see what happens. I'd like to get that wheel off, but am afraid of damaging the transmission.

I've replaced a lot of missing cotter pins...it's almost scary how many were missing.

Found that the brake safety switch works, but the blade safety switch does not. Will order a replacement switch later.

I have been working on the brakes...they are almost non existent. I got the brake pins freed up, but the brake disc was rusted to its shaft.



I was able to get the brake disc off eventually, but I snapped it in two during removal. The flat disc sheared off of the smaller diameter portion. I think I was lucky to get it removed at all! I'll order replacement parts once I figure out what is up with the engine.
Mark / Ohio likes this.

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

Previously Owned:
1974 Wizard (Gilson) tiller
1977 Ariens Rocket V tiller
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P's
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-28-2020, 11:49 PM
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Good luck on it! Looks like it's coming along nicely!
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-28-2020, 11:50 PM Thread Starter
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I then began to see if the engine would run. I used a bit of starting fluid and it would fire off pretty easily. However, I could not get fuel to run from the tank into the carburetor. So, I removed the carb and found out the reason why:





I attempted to clean the carb in my ultrasonic cleaner, but I found there were pinholes forming in the float bowl. The float did free itself up, but the needle is solidly rusted into place. So, I opted for an aftermarket replacement carb.



The carburetor was a perfect fit. The engine starts very easily, but I appear to have an issue with either the carb or the governor.

  • When the throttle control is in the idle position, the engine will idle, but the rpms will slowly increase until the engine is racing (and I have to shut it down).
  • If I move the throttle control to a higher rpm setting, the engine bogs down badly, but wil start to race out of control eventually.
  • I have checked the carb passageways and can find nothing in there (even in the emulsion tube).
  • I have done a static governor adjustment, and while it has helped, the engine still wants to over-rev. The governor does appear to be working inside the engine, as I can see the arm move while the engine is running, and it does respond when I move the throttle control.
  • I can manually move the throttle control at the carb, and the engine will slow down and idle nicely. However, when I let go, the rpms start increasing again.

It appears to me that the linkage is a couple of millimeters to short between the throttle and the governor arm. The linkage seemed to be bent (probably from when I removed the old carb), so I did straighten it. That helped, but only a little.

I see that the governor arm is notched to allow it to rest against the bracket surrounding it. That bracket is what stops the arm from advancing forward far enough to close the throttle butterfly enough to idle. Here's my question: What can I do about that? Make the notch bigger?

Any assistance you can provide will be greatly appreciated!

I haven't been able to adjust the new carburetor because I can't get the engine to run long enough before I have to shut it down.

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

Previously Owned:
1974 Wizard (Gilson) tiller
1977 Ariens Rocket V tiller
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P's
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-01-2020, 10:18 PM Thread Starter
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Does anyone have any ideas regarding my governor/carb question in the post above?

I'd like to get this out of the garage sooner rather than later.

Thanks!

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

Previously Owned:
1974 Wizard (Gilson) tiller
1977 Ariens Rocket V tiller
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P's
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-02-2020, 01:11 AM
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When the engine starts speeding up can you see the throttle gradually opening on the carb or does it stay in the same basic position?


On the carb adjustments I know you mentioned it not running stable enough to adjust but do you have the mixture screws adjusted approximately 1 1/2 turns backed out from lightly seated? (Think that was the old rule of thumb default settings to get you in the area you needed to be with them for the engine to start and run but roughly. We should have a manual for that in the reference library here.)


Also wondering if you could have an air leak past the carb in the intake manifold someplace between the carb and engine?



Its odd the rpm goes up slowly. I don't recall ever having that problem with a Briggs or any engine. One would think a governor issue would either be no speed control at all or the rpm would shoot up quickly. That's what makes me wonder if the problem could somehow be in the carb or an air leak in the intake manifold around a gasket.

Mark - 2002 John Deere LT150H

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-04-2020, 12:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply!

I did start out with both the idle and the bowl screws at 1 1/8 turns, and did try adjusting from there. I'll start over with both at 1 1/2 turns the next time and see if that helps.

I hadn't considered the air leak idea...and I now think that the gasket between the intake and the rest of the engine might need some investigating. It is more than just a gasket - it also has some material that sticks out to deflect hot air from hitting the carb directly. I do have some gasket material, so could make a new one if needed.

The slow rpm increase is one I haven't seen before, either. I will see if I can take a video of what the engine does while running, in order to better describe what I am seeing. That might be more helpful.

Would having the idle jet partially clogged cause this kind of issue? I've read so many things on this over the past few weeks that I can't remember what is right and what is wrong anymore...

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

Previously Owned:
1974 Wizard (Gilson) tiller
1977 Ariens Rocket V tiller
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P's
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-24-2020, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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Well, I finally have an update on this mower.

I went in and pulled off the new carburetor to see if any of the passages had become clogged, as I failed to clean the fuel tank or replace the fuel line prior to running it before. No issues were found inside the carb, though I think the float level might be a bit high...will have to figure out how to adjust a plastic float (or see if the old metal one would work). The intake gasket is worn, but I saw no evidence that it was allowing air past it. I didn't have thick enough material to make a new one anyway.

I happened to look at the attachment point for the throttle linkage and made a discovery: there are two possible attachment points!



I had attached the throttle linkage to the hole marked with the blue arrow and had failed to notice the hole marked with the red arrow. I then pulled the original carburetor out for comparison.



The original had only the one attachment point! So this might explain why I thought the linkage had been too short. Moving the linkage to the other hole would allow for the extra bit of movement I needed.

So I reinstalled the carburetor with the linkage in that hole closer to the pivot point. With a bit of adjustment to the throttle cable, now the governor arm doesn't run into the bracket at any point.

Before testing this out, I thought it would be prudent to replace the fuel line, filter, and clean out the fuel tank. I am glad I did! The gasket from the fuel cap had rotted out and was in pieces in the tank. There was an inch-long chunk sticking out of the old fuel filter when I pulled it. That might cause an issue! The previous owner had put the fuel filter in line upstream of the fuel shutoff...which I didn't think was quite right. So I reversed the order, making it easier to replace the filter in the future.

I put the battery back in and added new fuel to the tank. The mower fired right up and didn't have the weird revving issue it had before!

I was able to do some adjusting to the carb and was drive it around the yard with no issue.

A while back, I had done some work on the hood, as parts were bent, and it was missing a linkage to make it flip open properly. I reinstalled the hood and it fit better than before.

I also installed a new brake disc (since stopping is important too!). I need to get new brake pads plus a brake plate, as I still don't have great braking ability.

The transmission whines a bit, and barely crawls along in first gear. Not sure why, but at least it is moving around now! I entertained the neighbors buzzing around the yard on the mower. I also tested out the hitch for towing my DR lawn vac trailer...it should work well, but I have to wait till fall to test it out.

I need to order some parts for the mower now that I know the engine is fine: brake pads, brake plate, deck safety switch, air filter, and a few more that I have on a list somewhere.

Now I need to figure out the transmission...being a Peerless, I assume that it used the bentonite grease that was so popular. I wonder if there is a fill plug on it somewhere?
Mark / Ohio likes this.

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

Previously Owned:
1974 Wizard (Gilson) tiller
1977 Ariens Rocket V tiller
1990 & 1992 Snapper Hi-Vac S-P's
1996 Ranch King (MTD) 12/38 rider
2006 White Outdoor (MTD) 18/42 rider
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