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Kawasaki FC420V engine won't start

RGS1218

LawnSite Member
I recently bought a John Deere 170 lawn tractor with a Kawasaki FC420V engine from the original owner in non-running condition. About three years ago the fellow I bought it from finished using it one day, turned it off, let it cool down, hosed the tractor down and then it would not start. It has not started since. He tried cleaning the carb, and installed a new ignitor. Still, it would not start. He gave up on it at that point and bought a new lawn tractor. When I looked at it, it turned over fine, had a spark (though it doesn't look quite right) and fuel was leaking from the top of the float bowl when I tried to start the engine. I took the carb apart and found that the previous owner had installed a non-oem o-ring on top of the existing one where the float bowl attaches to the carb body. I replaced the o-ring with an oem o-ring. I also tested the coil with a multi meter and it tested faulty. I should mention that this is the first time I have used a multi-tester and I can't honestly say that I used it correctly. I installed a new coil (even though coils rarely fail and I was not entirely convinced this was the problem). Now when I try to start the engine, fuel leaks out of a small hole above a horizontal screw in the float bowl. This screw is not the screw on the bottom of the bowl that attaches the bowl to the carb. The carb bowl has a solenoid fuel switch also. At no time throughout the many times I have tried to start the engine has it even had one "pop" that would indicate it was firing. I have replaced the spark plug with a new one, correctly gapped. I have tried starting it with and without the air filter installed. the choke is working correctly. The plug is getting "wet" with fuel. The fuel pump is pumping fuel. I have not yet checked the compression but will in the next few days. When I said that the spark didn't look right, it seemed weak and sort of constant. On other engines I have worked on, the spark was stronger, and clear. This spark looks weak and it sort of "rolls" around the spark plug tip - as if the flywheel/magnet is being supplemented by some other power source making it spark more frequently than needed. Anyone have any ideas on how best to proceed? Thanks in advance! RGS1218
 

Langford2000

LawnSite Member
Location
North Georgia
Sounds like you've covered the easy stuff but I have 2 questions. Since it's been sitting, did you drain all the old fuel out and use new fuel? Also, have you tried a shot of starting fluid? If it won't "hit" on starting fluid, there's defiantly a spark problem.
 
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RGS1218

LawnSite Member
Sounds like you've covered the easy stuff but I have 2 questions. Since it's been sitting, did you drain all the old fuel out and use new fuel? Also, have you tried a shot of starting fluid? If it won't "hit" on starting fluid, there's defiantly a spark problem.
 
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RGS1218

LawnSite Member
Thanks for your response, Langford2000. No, I haven't yet drained the fuel and replaced with new. It's been on my list of things to try so will do that next. Then try your suggestion with the starting fluid. Any thoughts on why fuel is leking out of the carb? The carb was very clean inside. No sign of any obstruction. Would a bad solenoid fuel shutoff on the carb cause carb to leak? Thanks again.
 

BigFish

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
chesapeake, va
...No, I haven't yet drained the fuel and replaced with new. It's been on my list of things to try so will do that next. Any thoughts on why fuel is leking out of the carb? The carb was very clean inside. No sign of any obstruction. Would a bad solenoid fuel shutoff on the carb cause carb to leak? Thanks again.
Fresh gas should have been the first thing ya do. Do it...now!
Fuel is leaking out the carb, 'cause the inlet needle valve is not sealing, either a bad /worn needle or seat. Could just be dirty/gummy.
Fuel solenoid only controls the fuel, already in the bowl, entering the main jets etc. Has no bearing on the fuel level, that is controlled by the float/inlet needle.

Service manual here: http://www.mymowerparts.com/pdf/Kawasaki-Service-and-Repair-Manuals/
 
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RGS1218

LawnSite Member
Thanks guys. I will try to do some work on it after work this week - next weekend at the latest.
 

Langford2000

LawnSite Member
Location
North Georgia
I agree with Bigfish, fresh gas is a must and the leaking may just be from a buildup of varnish from the old gas. Even with stabilizer, gas won't last that long and the ethanol doesn't help
 
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RGS1218

LawnSite Member
I came home from work today and after doing some more research, first tightened the float bowl drain screw. It took about two turns to tighten it. This explained the fuel coming out of the float bowl when trying to start it. Then I drained the gallon+ of old fuel out of the tank and put in some fresh fuel. I turned it over and - nothing. I took the wire off the spark plug, plugged in a different plug held it against the engine and tuned it over - no spark at all. It immediately occurred to me that when I installed the new coil on Saturday, I may not have connected the small wire to the terminal on the coil. I removed the engine cover and sure enough, I had not (duh!). I then checked for a spark and saw that there was a strong bright spark from the spark plug - very different (better) than what I saw with the old coil. I attached the plug wire to the plug still in the engine and it started right up. I let it warm up and it ran great - even idled smoothly. I think when the engine would not start for the previous owner, the coil had most likely failed. Then he made matters worse with the work he did on the carb. Regardless, it now is running very nicely. Thanks for your suggestions and help! RGS1218
 
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