29HP Vanguard weak starter.

Discussion in 'Mechanic and Repair' started by ARN Greencare, Dec 29, 2018.

  1. ARN Greencare

    ARN Greencare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 194

    OK , so here goes my dilemma; I have a 329/61 Grasshopper bought new in August 2018 that refuses to start when cold. It is not a choke/carb issue, the starter will not turn the engine over. I load tested the battery, (I have kept it charged also,) checked charging voltage etc, and the numbers are as follows;

    Cranking voltage when cold 9.8v lowest, with starter stalled. fluctuates between 10.6 and 11.5 when turning.

    Amperage when cranking; 409 highest reading when starter stalls, or initial engagement. 180 amps lowest when starter turning engine over.

    Battery load test results with SPX tester, 583cca.

    Now what happens here is when cold outside, usually mid 30's or colder, the starter will slowly, and I mean slowly turn the engine over, once the engine tries to fire after turning the engine over what sound like four or five audible compression strokes, the starter stalls. I release the key at that point, try to start, and soon as it makes one revolution, stalls again and repeat, and repeat, and repeat, again and again. The starter does not have enough torque to start this engine when cold.

    I tried using the battery out of my 2003 Silverado, which boasts 690cca vs the 540cca Grasshopper/Deka battery, and the same results. And to further check, the battery from my mower starts my cold truck just fine, but neither will start my mower. I changed from SAE30 oil to 10W30, with a slight improvement, but still not enough.

    So I reached out to B&S, which I found at that point that they must contract the same people that do telemarketing for their tech department, cause all they could do was recite the owners manual to me and nothing else. Then I got a hold of Grasshopper's tech department. They said that engine won't start in temps that cold without using some supplemental heat source. I told him that stinks, cause my Dad's little 126v61 starts up just fine, (which I have had to borrow it on several occasions cause mine would not start,) the Kawasaki FX801V sitting next to it starts fine, my old Turf Tiger with the Kawasaki FD series starts fine, and so-on.

    Is there anything such as a better starter available for this thing? Or any other trick? The supplemental heat idea to me is useless, you plug in a block heater at home, only to cool the thing right back off hauling it on an open trailer.
  2. Walker56

    Walker56 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,988

    Does the engine ever start under these conditions or do you have to wait until the ambient temp gets warmer? At what temps will the engine start with no issues? What oil are you using, dino or synthetic ? If dino, I would switch to synthetic 5W-30. I do not know of any high torque starters for those engines.
    If you feel that you ate not getting enough help from B&S customer service, call B&S Corporate at (414) 259-5333. Tell them of your issue. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2018
    hort101 and sjessen like this.
  3. OP
    ARN Greencare

    ARN Greencare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 194

    I switched to 10w30 dino, and while I understand you recommending 5w30, the viscosity between 5w30 synthetic and 10w30 at the temps I am having issues is marginal at best. The difference between SAE30 and 10W30 at 32 deg F is pretty broad and there still wasn't enough difference for the engine to start.

    The temps BTW have to get close to freezing, right about 35 def F for it not to start, and anything below 45 deg is very difficult. And if it warms up outside, it will start every time. I can get it to start at freezing temps by jumping it off with my truck running, but my truck has to be running, and I don't like abusing my alternator that way. I guess the increase in voltage makes the starter produce enough torque to overcome those cold compression/power strokes?

    Thanks for the phone number and response BTW, I will call them Monday morning, and get the "squeaky wheel" turning early...
  4. prezek

    prezek LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 496

    Valve adjustment? I had a 23 briggs that I had to use a strong jump box to start in cold weather. Wouldn’t jump off a truck. Ended up being valves.
    hort101 and Walker56 like this.
  5. BigFish

    BigFish LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,992

    Look, the ambient temp is irrelevant, as is a switch to synthetic oil. 10w30 dino is fine. Yer other units turn over/start OK , right?
    It may have an issue with the ACR. Check the valve clearance. Did the dealer check fer proper ACR operation? Valve clearance?
    Does the mower use copper clad aluminum battery cables.? Lug crimps tight? Grounded to block ? Solenoid good?
    That part about supplemental heating is pure B.S, but you knew that, right? I would write a nastygram to grasshopper and B&S about the moron who told that b.s. to ya.
    Ya might could try google fer a higher torque starter, but, as was mentioned, i don't think so.
    I use these guys fer most all my starters : https://www.dbelectrical.com/?adpos...MInKjA_Y3F3wIVbCCtBh1kbgPjEAAYASAAEgI3fPD_BwE
    hort101 likes this.
  6. OP
    ARN Greencare

    ARN Greencare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 194

    I am going to check valves today actually, notice alot of "ticking" yesterday.

    Going to check valves and ACR today, and found DBelectrical in a Google search with my starter part number just moments ago. Cables seem to be pure copper, I usually can spot these cheaper aluminum cables dressed in copper by how stiff the cables are. And no heat building around any connections or in the cables, I pulled on them pretty hard and none of the connections slipped/moved/etc. I am getting less than a volt of drop between the battery and starter during cranking at full load. So all seems good there but am still considering sweating a little solder into the connections to help solidify them.
    hort101 likes this.
  7. HenryB

    HenryB LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,892

    I had a couple of Vanguard's that were a real beyotch to start once we adjusted the valves it started immediately like a Toyota Camry lol
    hort101, Walker56 and BigFish like this.
  8. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,690

  9. OP
    ARN Greencare

    ARN Greencare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 194

    Valves were very lose on left side. Right was dead on, we will see next cold morning...

    Been looking at hose little lithium ones...
  10. OP
    ARN Greencare

    ARN Greencare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 194

    Just want to extend some gratitude for the quick replies guys, been some informative thoughts...

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