Mower won't start and oil leak after turning over

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by whitenack, Apr 5, 2010.

  1. whitenack

    whitenack LawnSite Member
    Messages: 78

    Had a good day mowing the grass on Saturday. My less than 1yr old Lawnboy walk behind (with Honda engine) was cutting great. The grass was a little damp and thick, so I turned her on her side to spray out the clippings. There was quite a bit to spray out, so she was on her side for 5 minutes or so.

    I turned her back over and started her up to dry off the water, and the motor was sputtering. I tried adjusting the choke in and out to see if it was flooded. I turned it off then started it back up. Nothing I could do would get it to stop sputtering. Finally I gave up and put it away.

    Fast forward to today and I went to do some more mowing. A small puddle of oil was on the ground under the left side close to the front wheel. Uh-oh. I checked the oil level and there was still plenty of oil, so I tried starting it. It wouldn't start. Then I noticed a thick, milky brown oily substance coming out from the bottom of the air filter (corresponding with where the spot on the ground would be). I took the air filter cover off and there was more of this thick oil. I cleaned out the air filter and the rest of the oil and tried starting it again. Still wouldn't start. Checked the gas and put some more in. Pulled and pulled and pulled. Tried with choke, tried without. Walked off and left it and came back and pulled and pulled. Noticed jet black oil spitting out of the exhaust port on the right side. Gave up. Loaded it in the back of the truck and will take it to the shop tomorrow.

    Any thoughts on what it might be?

  2. ksJoe

    ksJoe LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 676

    When you tipped it over, was the spark plug down?
    When it sputtered, did it make a lot of smoke (blue or white)?
    Go smell your oil - does it smell like gas?

    If the plug was down, oil may have run into the cylinder, past the rings, and slimmed the plug. Remove the plug, pull the cord many times. Look for oil (or fuel) to spray out. Pull it over some more. Then put in a new plug and try it.

    Or, depending on how the carb was positioned when it was tipped, the float may have stuck open, poured fuel into cylinder washing the oil off the rings, and mixing with the oil. If this happened, you may have extra oil (or have plenty after losing some). But the oil will smell like gas. More importantly, the thinned oil will not protect the engine. If this happened, you need to change the oil. Dad used to have an equipment rental yard, and rototiller engines would blow occasionally because of this.
  3. whitenack

    whitenack LawnSite Member
    Messages: 78

    Thanks for the response. The spark plug is in the front, in the center.

    When it sputtered, I don't recall it puffing smoke.

    I don't have the best of sniffers, but I do believe the oil had a gas smell.

    There is no question that something is wrong, and probably has something to do with either oil and/or gas getting out and going somewhere it shouldn't. I'll take it to the shop this morning and report back.
  4. ksJoe

    ksJoe LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 676

    Before you take it to the shop -
    Change the oil, remove the plug, pull until your arm is tired. Let it set an hour without the plug in it, then put in a new plug.

    If it won't start after doing this (and if its not flooded) give it just a little starting fluid.

    After changing the oil, you're not going to hurt anything, except possibly the spark plug. But the plug is likely messed up already and only a couple $.
  5. STCL01

    STCL01 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 64

    Let it sit upright for a day or two. Drain the oil and replace with fresh. Get some seafoam or other carbon cleaner. Pull the existing plug and clean it up. Put some carb cleaner in the cylinder, let it sit for a minute, and then pull the starter a couple of times to blow it out of the cylinder. (MAKE SURE THE PLUG WIRE IS GROUNDED SO YOU DON'T GET A SPARK!!!!) Put some Seafoam (my preference) in your gas according to the mfg. instructions. Replace the old plug and run the engine till operating temp. Kill it. Let it cool. Replace the old plug with new. Go forth and mow.....
  6. whitenack

    whitenack LawnSite Member
    Messages: 78

    Ah, sorry guys. I have already taken it to the shop. Besides, not sure I am confident enough in motors to take a chance.
  7. 44DCNF

    44DCNF LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,533

    In the future, anytime you turn it on it's side to remove blade and/or clean under the deck, tip it so the carb remains on top. This keeps the carb/intake/valve above the level of oil in your sump so oil wont enter your cylinder or carb. The oil in the filter and carb indicate you tipped it with the carb on the low side when you washed it off.
  8. drumz2129

    drumz2129 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 55

    I would bet that you tipped it with the carb/air cleaner down. there is a crank case breather tube that goes into the air filter so it does not pull trash/dust into the crank case. Oil most likely ran down the tube onto your air filter. It saturated your filter and would not let air through, keeping it from starting. As it sat, oil drained out of the filter onto the ground. Chances are that all you need is a new air filter and maybe a new plug if it is fouled. Its just a theory though.
  9. whitenack

    whitenack LawnSite Member
    Messages: 78

    You guys are correct, I tipped it over carb/air filter down. I'll know better next time!
  10. eatonpcat

    eatonpcat LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,636

    We all make this mistake once in our lives!! no harm done...You will be back in business soon.:waving:

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