Anyone know anything about mowers?

(Paul Flinders) #1

Anyone know anything about ride-on mower maintenance?

I have a Castelgarden XF 130 HD, 2007 model, inherited from the previous owner and, I confess, not that well maintained by yours truly (not really maintained much at all if truth be told).

The grass could do with a cut so I hopped onto the mower on Saturday with the intent to do a quick whip round only to be rewarded with a loud, unpleasant bang and a snapped deck drive belt - ironically I was going to check whether it needed replacement at Easter but it beat me to it.

A replacement was duly ordered and turned up this morning. Checked that it was the right length and profile against the remains of the old one and fitted it this afternoon/evening - bugger of a job I have to say.

Despite not having the old one in situ to check I’m pretty certain that it is routed correctly around all the pulleys and belt guides (there is a diagram showing the overall path in the owners manual). It is the sort of arrangement where, with the blade disengaged there is insufficient tension to allow drive from the engine to the blade, the lever which engages the blade actually moves an idler pulley so that the belt tightens enough to allow drive to the blade.

As soon as I try to do that, however, the engine stalls.

There doesn’t seem undue resistance to the blades turning, the belt is not jammed anywhere and, with the ignition off and the belt engaged I can turn the blade by hand and see it drive the pulley at the bottom of the engine.

At the same time as the belt change I cleaned the air filter - I didn’t have a replacement (another item on the job list for next time) so removing the accumulated cruft was the next best option. I’m pretty certain I didn’t wind up choking the engine though - plenty of power for traction.

If I engage the idler pulley slowly the engine cuts out as soon as there is enough tension to drive the blade, if I engage it sharply there is enough inertia in the flywheel to drive the blade for a couple of seconds but the engine still cuts out (both those observations are a bit odd).

I’m slightly stumped. There’s no service manual online (that I have yet found) for this model and the owner’s manual is a bit “contact a Licensed Service Centre for the replacement” when it comes to drive belts - unfortunately I have no way of getting it to a service centre and, given the expense of getting someone to come out and fix it on site or transport it for me I’d like to explore all other avenues before that one.

Anyone got any ideas. @Mark_Rimmer any good with mowers?

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(Mark Rimmer) #2

Sounds like one of the safety cutouts is stopping the engine, Check that the seat switch is working correctly - it needs someone sitting on it!

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(Mark Robbins) #3

The other thing it could be is the key position. When you start it, and don’t move the key back one “click”, if you put it in reverse it will cut the engine. Just click the key back, and it will cut in reverse as well as forward.

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(Martin Gray) #4

There are many safety features now, one of which is the seat cut-out switch as suggested by Mark, that usually cuts the engine as soon as there is no-one seated. From what you desvribe it does not sound like that…
IIRC, the deck must be in one of the lowered positions, else there is a brake that stops the blades turning. Is there a lot of dried grass stuck inside the deck, slowing the blades? I had something similar, I could get the blades to turn by hand, with a bit of effort so discounted anything obsteucting them. I finally cleaned out the deck
, the blades moved freely and the motor stopped stalling…

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(Paul Flinders) #5

Thanks for the replies everyone.

I cleared the deck of old and built up grass. There’s no restriction on deck position for starting or engaging the blade.

Definitely not the seat cut out, but @Mark_Rimmer you might be on the right track and have given me an idea :bulb:. There is a cut out switch which prevents the engine from being started with the blade engaged - given how little movement of the lever is required before it cuts out I wonder if the problem is related to that. It’s not supposed to have an effect once the engine is running of course but it might be that I’ve inadvertently converted an old intermittent problem into a permanent fault - thinking about it this has happened once or twice previously but it always sorted itself spontaneously after a few tries.

Other than that the plan is:

  1. check the belt tension (forgot to do that, the old one is bound to have stretched a bit)
  2. lubricate everything in sight

Oh, I found a workshop manual for a model which seems to be the same as mine just under a different guise (I know it is also marketed as the Honda 1211 and the GGP F72 Hydro so maybe the Zephyr F72 is also the same mower underneath some slightly different bodywork panels) http://www.paul-forrer.ch/items/7286/617/g1dv_t7f4qb7a55e9is0/Manuel_datelier_Zephyr_Fr.pdf

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(John Withall) #6

When you engage the drive it puts load on the engine, the engine should sense this and automatically increase the engine revs to counter it (listen). if the revs do not seem to increase at all then the speed governor is probably sticking (usually a couple of bob weights near the flywheel assembly) worth stripping and cleaning from time to time. You may find a lever from that area of the flywheel to the carburetor, moving this manually should increase the rpm.
I have also known a bad spark plug to do similar.
Good luck.

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(Paul Flinders) #7

It might be a problem with the engine responding to load but I had discounted that as there is plenty of power for traction, even starting to move forward quite suddenly.

I hadn’t initially thought about the blade engagement cut out but a problem there would fit the way it behaves - if I move the lever to engage the blade slowly it cuts out before appreciable tension is put on the belt (or load on the engine), if I move the lever quickly the blade spins (presumably because of inertia in the flywheel) but the engine still cuts out.

In terms of “quite possible, quick to check” it shouldn’t take much to defeat the switch and see what happens.

We have rain forecast tomorrow, as this is an “outside job” it might be Thursday before I get to look at it.

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(Mat Davies) #8

Is it possible that the route of the belt is not quite right and it is not therefore sending the engine the command (by way of a lever?l to increase revs when blades are engaged.

Ours cuts out when blades are engaged if the key position is not correct in the ignition.

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(Paul Flinders) #9

I’m fairly certain that the belt is installed correctly but I’m not discounting anything.

The ignition key positions aren’t complicated - off, on, start.

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(John Withall) #10

Does it have a magnetic clutch on the blade?

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(Paul Flinders) #11

Pretty certain that it doesn’t.

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(John Withall) #12

From the link you posted, Picture 4 and text 7.1 suggests it has. I would check that it disengages when powered on/off. Could be why the original belt snapped.

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(Paul Flinders) #13

D’oh.

All this could be operator error, sorry guys - one of the safety features is that you can’t engage the blade without the grass cutter attached - of course I’d left that in the shed as I didn’t need it & it didn’t enter my head that I would need it just to test that I had the belt installed correctly.

It’s raining anyway and I can’t start the mower at the moment - too many restarts without a decent run yesterday has flattened the battery (which isn’t in the best of shape).

Once the battery is charged I’ll report back whether attaching the grass catcher solves the issue.

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(Paul Flinders) #14

This is one area where the Zephyr is definitely different - just a simple dual pulley on the crankshaft here, top drives the transmission, bottom drives the blade (confirmed as I found the parts list for the XF 130 HD online which has some useful exploded views of all the bits).

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(Guy Marshall) #15

Hi Paul,

Assuming its not a safety, it sounds like the engine is dying cleanly (no coughing) so its an electrical fault. That suggest coil or condenser - coils can magically stop when they get to a certain temp and no-one knows what a condenser does but it can make the thing stop too.

Quick (and reasonably cheap) step is to replace both - nb the web is the best place to buy mower parts. Local shops (whilst I love queueing) can be pricey.

PS Clean the sparkplug (incl the end that goes into the cap making sure the ferrule is screwed on tight) and check the high tension plug lead for cracks etc too)

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(Paul Flinders) #16

I do. :slight_smile:

On a traditional ignition system when you break the current in the primary of the ignition coil you get a large back EMF - this causes an even larger EMF in the secondary coil which is what makes the spark.

Back in the primary you now have a large voltage across the contact points so you will get an arc formed. Without the condenser this will burn the points out pretty quickly, the condenser provides an alternative path for this short spike of current and stops the points arcing.

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(Paul Flinders) #17

Well - it was, indeed, operator error. :frowning:

Top marks to all those who thought “safety cut out”, no marks to me but at least I’d fitted the belt correctly.

All I need now is a dry day.

PS

Presumably the clutch performs the same function on the Zephyr - preventing engagement of the blade when conditions are “not right” - but in a somewhat more elegant manner.

It is slightly frustrating that the Castelgarden just cuts out without any indication - not even its usual beep - that it had done so “for a reason” rather than because here was a fault.

Oh well, live & learn as they say :slight_smile:

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(Paul Flinders) #18

Well, back to this thread. On the off chance anyone with the same model needs a workshop manual it is also the same as a Viking MR340 (this mower gets around a bit!).

http://www.cedimsa.com/membre/cedim_global_new/stihl/eclates_stihl/MR%20autoportees%20rider/MR_3_rep.pdf

The above is in French but I’m assuming that won’t be too much of a challenge for forum regulars :slight_smile:

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(norman clark) #19

I was about to say the same thing - the bang is surely a clue? That sounds like ignition and/or carburation problems to me. One other pretty obvious thing which I am sure you must have thought of, is that the blades must be lifted as even a tuft of grass can retard the blades when starting.

Plugs are one thing, but carburettors are something else, and I would get a professional to look at it if I were you.

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(John Withall) #20

Most do, they are often manufactured in a huge factory in Italy, they have many different tins of paint and decals but are the same machine.

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