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B&S 16HP Vanguard Starter Wont Engage

This is a discussion on B&S 16HP Vanguard Starter Wont Engage within the Small Engines forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. I have a 1997 MTD White riding mower that has never given me any problems now all of a sudden


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Old 10-11-2008, 12:56 PM   #1
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I have a 1997 MTD White riding mower that has never given me any problems now all of a sudden it sounds like the solinoid isn't engaging the starter. I really have no experience with small engine repair but would like to try to repair it myself.
I would like to know your thoughts and any ideas as to what everyone might think the problem is and the course of repair.


Thanks in advance

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Old 10-11-2008, 01:52 PM   #2
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Hi & welcome to TSF.

Whilst I am not completely familiar with your Vanguard engine - many B&S electric starters do not have a "throw in" solenoid - but rely on a "Bendix" to spin the starter gear into the engine ring gear. So for now I am assuming that yours has the Bendix engaging mechanism - as they can "stick" and may be no more than a clean and oil for repair.

1st thing to do is determine if your problem is electrical (dodgy connection) or mechanical -(some part of the starter gear being stuck). When you try to start do you get any noise at all - does the starter motor spin but not engage - or does it do nothing.

If it spins - but fails to engage - it sounds like the Bendix is stuck. If it does nothing - I would be looking for a dodgy electrical connection.

Assuming that it spins but wont engage - then its best to remove the cowl (so you can work a bit easier) then take the starter motor off. At the end of the starter motor - you should see a course threaded spline with a small gear on the end that should slide freely up and down the starter motor shaft (there will likely be a spring in the mechanism to pull the gear back when not in use)

You need to make sure that the shaft, spline mechanism is free to travel and clean and oiled. If that was your problem - this should get you out of trouble. If the spline / Bendix parts are badly worn - you should replace them - but very often - a fix is no more than a good clean and oil.

A word of caution on the electrical connections - make sure you mark where all the wires for the starter motor go - so if there are more than 1 - you put them back exactly where they were.

Let us know how you get on

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Old 10-11-2008, 03:33 PM   #3
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Thank you MrChooks for your immediate reply.

It does spin but does not engage. I will pull the starter and check the Bendix.

Once again, thank you
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Old 10-11-2008, 03:44 PM   #4
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No problems - happy to help.

Given your engine is 11 years old - I would expect to see some "gunk" has built up on the Bendix shaft - so a good clean and a light oil might be all you need.

But as I mentioned - if there is obvious wear / damage to the Bendix gear - then you should replace the worn parts as in bad cases they can jam in the engaged position and with the engine running - that will quickly trash your whole starter motor

Have a look at your engine owners manual (see if it has a parts list / exploded view of your engine) - that will show you how all the parts go together and give you any part numbers you might need. If you haven't got that anymore - you can go the the B&S web site and armed with your engine model number - you can down load a copy of the parts list & diagram for your engine

Good luck & let us all know how you get on
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Old 10-13-2008, 03:39 PM   #5
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Well I have that there are 2 teeth sheared off the flywheel.
I can turn the engine back by hand then it will crank until it gets to the missing teeth then the Bendix gear just spins.

Do you think that changing the flywheel is a job that should be tried by a NOVICE? Or should I bite the bullet and take it to a service center?

Thanks for your help MRChooks
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Old 10-13-2008, 04:30 PM   #6
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If you have a puller it's not too bad of a job. Some B&S engines have a replaceable ring gear.
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Old 10-13-2008, 04:41 PM   #7
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According to information I've been able to find, mine has a replaceable steel ring gear.

B&S replacement part #693556

Thanks:
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Old 10-13-2008, 04:58 PM   #8
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OK - a replaceable ring gear will significantly reduce the parts costs - but ring gears can be a bit of a handful to get off the flywheel as well.

K2skier is right - you MUST have a flywheel puller to get the flywheel off - if you just try to lever it off - you will almost certainly do serious damage

As you say you are a novice (& although I hate to discourage anyone from having a go) and given the cost (even though there is almost nothing in one) of buying a flywheel puller and the pullers needed to remove the ring gear from the flywheel - if I were you I would hunt up some estimates from a repair shop to see what they are going to charge to remove the flywheel, remove and replace the ring gear and replace the fly wheel.

Once you have parts and labour costs - you can decide which way is best for you to go
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Old 10-13-2008, 11:25 PM   #9
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Thank you for your info, I will check out some local shops and let them have a go at it.

Your time and assistance is greatly appreciated.

robin1951
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Old 10-14-2008, 01:47 PM   #10
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No problems & happy to help.

Just a thought - when you take the engine to the shop - let them have a look at the Bendix gear on the starter motor as well. I suggest that as if it is also damaged - left uncorrected - it will simply cause new damage to your new ring gear.

I know this is a pest and adds to costs - but it is better in the end to fix both sides of the problem.
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Old 10-14-2008, 08:54 PM   #11
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Thanks, I'll do that. I think my initial investment is worth protecting by spending a few more dollars.

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