Lawn Tractor Repair

Well it finally happened:  my trusty old lawn tractor started acting……well, ‘old’.   I knew it was bound to happen any year now:  my ‘White Outdoor Products’ Canadian-made, 15.5 hp lawn tractor was going on 18 years old.  It’s been reliable and almost maintenance free all these years, except for a new battery in 2002.  But I have to admit, I sorely neglected her these past six years, even though I added oil and gas regularly.  When she began to be difficult to start a month ago, I decided that I had to pay attention to what she was trying to tell me.  So maybe my lawn tractor needed a new battery – easy fix, I thought.  I invested in a new battery with the correct amps and my son Darin installed it for me (he took the old battery – which apparently worked just fine – and gave me his dead lawn tractor battery to return for the refundable  ‘recycle fee’).  Great, I thought!  But next time I tried to start it, same thing.  Grrrrrr!!


Everything all ready to start

Okay, now it was time to roll up my sleeves and …………..check on the internet to determine what the possible problem might be.  I already figured that the obvious fixes were 1. oil change  2. fuel filter  3. air filter  4. spark plug  5. and maybe the solenoid.  Ehow and the Briggs & Stratton websites confirmed my ideas.  After purchasing the parts from Canadian Tire, I asked my 17 yr. old son Melvin if he wanted to help and learn.  It was great having someone strong who could remove seized screws and bolts easily without arthritic fingers.

First, we took the ‘bonnet’ off – the protective hood covering the engine front of the tractor.

New red Fuel Filter and Black Air Filter

With the engine manual in hand, we located the oil drain plug, fuel filter, air filter, and spark plug.  We unhooked the spark plug wire, removed it with a long socket, and then screwed in the new one.  Next we unscrewed the air filter cover and simply dropped in the new one.  Easy peezy!  Then we unclamped the fuel lines on the fuel filter and let the gas flow into a jug we had ready.  We finally got the old filter off, then replaced it with a new one, re-attached the fuel line, and re-clamped it together.

Cleaning up with rags and toothbrushes

While we had the hood off, we took old toothbrushes and rags and cleaned up the area abit.  I have to admit rather sheepishly, that I have NEVER changed ANY of these things in the last 6 years since it became my sole responsibility, even though the manual recommends an oil change and new air filter once a year.  Oops….  We left the messy oil change until last but we could NOT remove the oil drain plug.  We used every tool we had and all our (Melvin’s) strength but it wouldn’t budge.  So I had to concede defeat…………for now.  After re-connecting the spark plug, I fired it up and was disappointed that it still did the same thing!  Right then and there, I knew it was the solenoid.  Melvin had to go cut the neighbour’s lawn so I was on my own, after my lunch break.  I had a car once that just stopped working one night at 1 a.m. because of the solenoid quitting.  Back to the parts manual, I found out where the solenoid was located.  After a consult with Darin, I disconnected the battery and unhooked the spark plug again.  I removed the panel below the steering wheel easily.  The solenoid wasn’t so easy to remove – the nuts were on tight and the wires were so close there wasn’t much room in there.   But I persevered and disconnected the two nuts securing the solenoid to the tractor frame and one-by-one, removed the wires, re-attaching them to the new part as I went along.  I have a new-found respect for mechanics now.

Old Solenoid – little square gold part


Shiny new Solenoid installed






I installed the new solenoid, then re-attached the cover panel, hooked up the battery cable, re-attached the spark plug wire, then said a little prayer of hope for it to start.  VROOM!!   It fired up right away with no problems!  YES, I DID IT!   I threw my arms in the air like an athlete running across the finish line for a gold medal at the Olympics!  I have a few cuts and bruises on my arms and a very sore back, but it is a satisfying pain…….

Fixed and Ready to Go

Even though most of my 1/2 acre grass is brown and dormant because of the heat and lack of rain, I cut it for a test run anyway.  I kept apologizing to my faithful lawn tractor, for my neglect.  She had lots of pep like a new puppy – almost had to gear her down!  Thank you dear lawn tractor, for helping me all these years – I promise I’ll take better car of you from now on.

Now if I can only change your oil………….




2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bet
    Jul 14, 2012 @ 01:42:46

    Oh sista… how you inspire me!!… Love the fact that you did not give up on that dear old tractor…. you are one smart cookie!!… Love you….xo


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