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Help John Deere mower will not keep running

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Heather Nelson
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2003-05-15          54949


I know this is not a tractor but I'm not sure where to post this...
I have a 12 year old Johne Deere 260 riding mower. Never had any trouble with it until last year. It was spitting and sputtering,coughing and puking. Cleaned the gas tank( found water and junk) new fuel filter checked all the essentials that the fuel runs thru. It would run for a while then start all over again.. Took it to a repair shop,twice spent a total 0f $300.00. Got it back in time to put it in the shed for the winter. Took it out yesterday to mow the lawn. Damn thing ran great for the first 2 hours now again it's coughing and puking I can't even get it to stay running. (I stored it with a full tank of gas).So I have checked the filter ,blown air thru the fuel line checked all the essentials( bowl, pump) it starts and runs for 5 minutes then starts all over again..
I noticed now the exhaust spit a couple sparks out.

I have a 2 acre lawn that I keep as neat as possible.. I'm about to park it at the top of a hill and you know whats next...

Can someone PLEASE give me some advice.

You guys are the best!!

Heather

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Help John Deere mower will not keep running

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Peters
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 3034 Northern AL
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2003-05-15          54951


There are two thing that will make the tractor sputter like that fuel or spark.
I good friend on mine that build and races MGA's for fun. States that 90% of the time when you have a problem it is electrical. Maybe that is just Lucas electrics, but you need to check that you are getting spark.
If you have checked for water in the gas and fun a little gas dry through the tractor then:
If the engine runs fine cold and then sputter when warn often it is the pick up coil. The pickup coils are small electromagnets that are activated by the hall effect. The wires on the magnet are extremely fine and will develop breaks in them over time. We normally think of them as light bulbs but as the wire is wound fairly tight they often have intermitten contact. My father in-law had one that would simple stop when warm. I had one that ran rough until it warmed up and then purred like a kitten. I worked on everything and by the process of elimination finally found the bad pick up.
In general they are inexpensive but I am not sure where they are located on the kolher engine. Some are under the flywheel and you have to remove the flywheel to replace.
Peters ....

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Help John Deere mower will not keep running

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Chief
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 4284 Southwest MiddleTennessee
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2003-05-15          54952


Heather

Sounds to me like your mower may have ingested or developed some contamination into the carb.

Course of action A: Remove carb disassemble and clean (soak over night in cleaning solution), blow out passages with compressed air & reassemble.

Course of action B: Buy new or rebuilt carb.

Course of action C: Mind you this is kinda half azz. Obtain can of WD-40 & can of Berryman's B-12, pour judicious amount of B-12 into gas already in tank & slosh around to mix, remove air filter, start engine & set rpm at about 50%, spray WD-40 into carb in order to keep engine running at a REASONABLE speed/rpm. Periodically hold back on the WD-40 to see if the engine will run without it. (yes the engine will run just fine off of WD-40 and NOT harm it) If it does, hopefully you have drawn whatever was fouling the carb through the engine. Take her out and run the heck out of her cutting grass full throttle.

Did you treat the gas with "Stabile" and run it through the engine before you stored it for the winter? The gas may have gummed/varnished up in the carb and/or condensation in the tank while sitting for so long. The above task should clean most or all of the gum/varnish/condensation out. No guarantee this will work but is worth a try. I have done this and it has worked more times than not. Good Luck! ....

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Help John Deere mower will not keep running

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Heather
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2003-05-16          54965


Thank both of you gentlemen. Chief, I tried your advise and at the present the damn thing is purring like a kitten. I'll keep my fingers crossed. If it doesn't work I'll give Peter's idea a try.

Thank you very much. You saved me half a day getting it to the shop and who knows how much money.

Best regards,

Heather
....

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Help John Deere mower will not keep running

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 5406 Upper Ottawa Valley
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2003-05-16          54968


Peters and Chief mentioned two, and about the only two, of my small engine tricks.

Gas that sits in an engine over-winter can gum things up especially if the engine isn't run too frequently anyway or old gas is used. I've become a fan of engine cleaner additives and gas stabilizers. If I had been a fan earlier it would have saved me quite a bit of aggravation trying to start my backup generator in about -15F last winter. I run it for a few minutes every month but keep the tank topped up, which means most of the gas in the tank at any time is pretty old. Box store additives that I had thought of as consumer junk cured the problem, and my beater of a walk behind snow-blower started OK too.

The pickup coils Peters mentioned on most of my small engine flock are on flywheels and can be accessed by removing a cover. I have pretty good luck just burnishing the gap and cleaning up the flywheel. When I've used this trick it's because I don't get a spark when I put a loose spark plug on the wire and ground the base against the engine block and pull the start cord. That's not a completely reliable way of testing for spark though.

Many kill switches on these engines short out the coil so it's good to check that the kill contacts aren't making contact.
....

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Heather
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2003-05-16          54970


Thanks Tom,

I just mowed for a 1/2 hour and it ran great until it got warmed up. Now it's back to it spitting and sputtering and won't stay running...

Should I get a new coil?

Heather ....

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 5406 Upper Ottawa Valley
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2003-05-16          54971


Me and my two tricks may be feeling pushed here.

I suppose the oil level is OK and the cylinder cooling fins (if the engine has them) are clean and the grass isn't exceptionally high or wet. An air-cooled engine operating under heavy load can do that. A clogged fuel cap also can do the same thing. If it starts easily then old gas and a gummy carb isn't a likely problem.

It does sound like more like a spark problem. There probably is a testing procedure for the coils but I don't know. It's a little tricky getting a spark as I described. At best you don't get a fat blue spark like on a car. You get a thin dim spark and a little pop when the engine is pulled hard enough. I usually remove the plug so the engine turns over faster. If I get the pop I usually assume the spark is good, but if I don't get it I can't assume the spark is bad. Trouble is that the engine cools down while doing the testing and the spark might just start working again. If the coil is easily accessible and inexpensive, I might replace it on general principal.
....

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Help John Deere mower will not keep running

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DRankin
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 5111 Northern Nevada
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2003-05-16          54978


I vote for the carburetor problem. They don't make gas like they used to, well they can't make it like they used to....

You MUST use something to stabilize the gas if you store it for any length of time.

Best thing for over-winter storage for your mower is to drain the tank and then run the engine until it stops on its own.

For now I would repeat what worked the first time, but I would do it with a fresh tank of gas and a new fuel filter. ....

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Help John Deere mower will not keep running

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Peters
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 3034 Northern AL
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2003-05-16          54997


You many still have some contamination in the carb bowl, and after sloshing it around it gets another gulp of water, but I doubt it. My my friend recently got 1/2 a tank of water in his mower tank. We cleaned it out and it ran fine. It could be a little dirt but?
With it starting after it is fully warmed up I would check the pick up coil. Not the main coil but the pick up. I would hope that on the Kohler that it is less than 20$ but I have been fooled before. ....

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Heather
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2003-05-16          54999


Here's the latest........I'm not a mechanic so excuse my ignorance on some cases..
I got a new coil -didn't make any difference. SO,I figured I better start over. Took out all the gas, cleaned the tank, blew air thru all the lines.. No water, no dirt.Even took apart the fuel shut off and cleaned it. Took out the spark plug and cleaned it sprayed the carb with carb cleaner. Took off the top cap of the engine and found that little mice had a good home for the winter.. One thing I noticed was the wire that goes from the coil to where the spark plug wire connects had been chewed thru a bit. There was about 4-5 wires busted. So it made up a new wire and put it back together.

I put everything back together and mowed for an hour.. So far so good..I want to say it ran great but I don't dare... I have to mow more tomorrow so we'll see what happens. Could it have been the wire?

Thanks for all your help.

Heather ....

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Help John Deere mower will not keep running

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Chief
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 4284 Southwest MiddleTennessee
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2003-05-16          55001


That was some great trouble shooting Heather. Hope you have the problem beat. Mice are a PITA! ....

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Help John Deere mower will not keep running

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Peters
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Posts: 3034 Northern AL
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2003-05-16          55002


Certainly looks like you may have found the problem. You can definately have something grounding out and causing intermitten shorts. I'm sorry I did not make it clearer that you needed to check all the wires before you go further to look at the coils. In reread my "Maybe that is just Lucas electrics, but you need to check that you are getting spark." Did not really cut it.
Peters
....

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Help John Deere mower will not keep running

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Heather
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2003-05-19          55108


Guess what??? Nothing has solved the problem. It still is coughing, spitting, backfiring.Sometimes it will run fine for a half hour sometimes I can't keep it running for 2 minutes.. I'm giving up,I don't know what else to try..
I think I will have to take it to the shop..

I have a brand new Kubota 2910 and I wish my yard was flat enough to put some kind of mower deck on it. But, I'll end up chopping it to hell.

If anyone has an ideas to try I will..

Thanks
Heather

....

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Help John Deere mower will not keep running

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 5406 Upper Ottawa Valley
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2003-05-19          55111


The problem could be that it over-heats after a period of operation. A couple causes are clogged air-filter and lean mixture. I'd check the air cleaner and manifold (mice may have been in there too) and adjust the carb. I'd try backing out the mixture screw till the engine starts bogging and then back in till it runs smoothly. That should give about the richest mixture where it will run decently.

Other problems might be the magneto equivalent of an ignition coil. Some condenser/breaker-point type ignitions are renown for doing the same thing when the ignition coil starts going bad--runs for awhile then quits unit it cools down and then runs for awhile again. Some times you hear of an engine that's missing a heat-shield do that. You might check on the muffler's condition and also look to see if anything looks missing or broken between the muffler or exhaust manifold and the fuel line.

You might also check to see if there's spark when the engine isn't working. I'd probably run a compression test on it when after the engine had stopped working. I'd also try to see if the choke is open when the engine quits, but several of these things are distant reaches.
....

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Billy
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 975 Southeast Oklahoma
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2003-05-19          55118


Heather, get yourself a rear mount finish mower. I know you said your yard isn't flat but the RFM may surprise you.

On your problem with the 260, you might try cleaning the carburetor. If you have a good blue spark after the engine is warmed up, that only leaves gas. There could be a piece of trash partially blocking a fuel passage (or air passage). It doesn't take much to screw things up.

Billy ....

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Help John Deere mower will not keep running

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DRankin
Join Date: Jan 2000
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2003-05-19          55120


I still think it is a carb problem too. ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
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2003-05-20          55204


Hey hie, do you use that WD-40 trick on those pesky GE T700's as well?

Personally I like Mouse Milk for cleaning carb's but it's tough for the average person to get their hands on.

As for Heather's problem, I'm with the crowd on this one, it's either a mystery hunk lurking around the fuel system somewhere, or the ignition system has a thermal degradation or grounding problem. You can go around & around chasing those problems for hours and they still re-appear.

Best of luck. ....

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Chief
Join Date: Jul 2003
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2003-05-20          55207


Murf,

Have to load the WD-40 into a clean fire extinguisher to get enough of a spray pattern to keep a T-700 going, but you have to be REALLY careful of compressor stalls and manage the WD-40 CAREFULLY.

Looks like Heather is gonna have to go with Course of Action A or B. Seriously, I had a brand new Generac generator that would not start. Had spark, gas in tank but no gas to carb. I took it to the authorized Briggs and Statton repair shop and this guy sprays WD-40 in the carb and she fires right up but fizzled right out. Tried it again but kept spraying WD-40 and kept running fine until you stopped spraying. Come to find out that the knuckle heads at the rebuild factory put the OFF-RUN-CHOKE sticker on backwards. Flipped the lever the other way and she ran like a scalded chicken. The Berryman's B-12 IS in fact a VERY good carb/fuel system cleaner. I use it in my Sea Ray and my 40 Johnson, as well as my cars.

If she let the engine set for a long time with no Stabil gas treatment in the fuel, the carb probably has gas varnish or gum in it. ....

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qqqqq
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2003-05-21          55245


If the engine dies only after it gets warmed up maybe it is vapor lock. If you have a clear plastic fuel filter you can see there is gas flowing through the filter when the motor quits. If the filter is empty the fuel is getting hot and vaporizing. Try draining the gas and running 93 octane. Good luck ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
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2003-05-21          55253


hie, you're probably right about the fire extinguisher, but then the rotor wash would probably mess up the pattern anyway. But hey, speaking of rotors, think of the grass you could cut with 1800+ hp...The "Tim The Toolman Taylor Grass Special"....

Of course that still wouldn't be quite as much fun as air hours....

Best of luck. ....

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Chief
Join Date: Jul 2003
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2003-06-04          56660


Heather, what is the latest update with your mower? Have you resorted to the "Percussion Adjustment" works on kids, dogs, TV sets, radios, but rarely mowers. <;o) ....

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Art White
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2003-06-05          56669


Heather, Kawasaki engines had some problems with there electricals. You should check the coils as well as I believe there was a regulator or small plug in device that gave them some troubles that sounds simuliar to your problem. ....

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Misenplace
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2003-06-05          56686


It sure seems to me the next step would be to rebuild that carb or at that age just replace it. I know a new one can cost a few bucks but if you have to pay the labor for a shop to rebuild it that can end up costing just as much. I would always use premium gas and treat it with stabil when done for the season. You should be able to pull the wires/coil etc as necessary and have them tested at the parts counter. That might save a few steps but it usually trial and error. ....

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Lianne99
Join Date: Jun 2018
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2018-06-01          197786


Heather,
What did you do to clean the tank out? I need to back flush my gas intake and I am afraid that this is going to lead to debrie in my tank.
I have a riding mower JD 160, not sure what you have..

I also have the old style air inlet for the gas tank, this is going to need to be back flushed and possibly replaced :-(

Any thoughts. ....

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