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Lawn tractor locked up
Old 06-10-2016, 05:44 PM   #1
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Lawn tractor locked up

Mr. A. was mowing with our John Deere GT275 lawn tractor (old, but regularly maintained) and stopped to talk to me. He had to turn off the tractor so we could hear each other. We've done this many times, but this time, when he tried to start it, the key would barely turn.

We took the battery to be tested. The mechanic said the battery was OK; he suggested that the tractor had been stopped with the blades lowered, which would lock up the ignition. We never heard of this before, and Mr. A. says he never switches the mowing deck position at all.

However, the manual does say that the long lever in the picture must be in the forward position to start the tractor.

Unfortunately, the long lever is locked and we can't budge it.

Does anyone have suggestions to try? Would hate to have the tractor taken away (probably for a month, since it's June) only to learn there was an easy fix if we'd only known. The manual isn't helpful on this.

Thanks,

Amethyst
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Old 06-10-2016, 05:52 PM   #2
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I didn't have that model JD, but is there a pedal that locks the lever in position?
If so, try pulling the pedal out (instead of stepping down on it)
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Old 06-10-2016, 06:07 PM   #3
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Reading the headline I thought the engine was done. Clearly not so. I don't know the Deere movers, It sounds like an interlock/release problem for thelver.

If as you note the key is hard to turn, likely time for a new ignition switch. The lever does not control the switch, likely the other way around, a solenoid is involved in releasing the lever, which would need to be enrgized by the ignition switch being ON.
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Old 06-10-2016, 06:07 PM   #4
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No; there is a locking button at the top of the lever, which you press down in order to shift it. Neither of us can get the button to go down.
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Old 06-10-2016, 06:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
No; there is a locking button at the top of the lever, which you press down in order to shift it. Neither of us can get the button to go down.
I've always wanted one of these things, but we have a small yard so I'd look silly.

You could try dribbling or squirting some light oil or wd-40 down there, in case it is just accumulated rust underneath causing it to stick.

This fellow had the opposite problem:
112 Manual lift lever help? - MyTractorForum.com - The Friendliest Tractor Forum and Best Place for Tractor Information

but it shows pictures of what is under the button.

You could check, whatever the button is supposed to release when you push down (under the machine) perhaps that is where the issue is at ?
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Old 06-10-2016, 06:28 PM   #6
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Sorry, can't help with fixing the tractor, but this reminds me of that old joke about the Lever A / Lever B principle:

"If you don't know what lever A does, leave 'er be"

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Old 06-10-2016, 06:34 PM   #7
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Can you put blocks under the deck to raise it up about a 1/2 " to take pressure off everything?

That may work. ANd... then REALLY press hard on the brake (or left side pedal) while trying to depress the button.

Something is binding. I had a John Deere with that type of lever, but sold it and now have a Cub Cadet Zero Turn.
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Old 06-10-2016, 06:49 PM   #8
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Here is what I would try, if taking pressure off everything does not work.

From the diagram
OEM Parts

It looks like pushing the button down, moves the long rod #10 which is inside the #8 handle/pipe, and this lets the parts it is hooked onto at the end of the handle.
So a little prying downwards where the #10 rod hooks on should be similar to pushing down on the button (it should be easy as too much force could break something). Then the lever should move.

Or you could try light tapping with a rubber hammer on the button in case it is just rusted in place inside.
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Old 06-10-2016, 07:20 PM   #9
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It will definitely be an easy fix. I just do not know what it will be.

Call the dealer and ask the support line. They should be able to give you enough information to get you on your way.

In order to start many mowers, you must be sitting on the seat, and the blades disengaged. Make sure the blade clutch is the right position.

Make sure the parking brake is on. Often, a mower will not start if it is off.

And try a bunch of 'stuff'. It cannot be that difficult to get going again.

Something else you can try, is remove the ignition switch from the tractor completely. If it is stuck, buy a new switch.
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Old 06-11-2016, 06:15 AM   #10
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One issue is that the lever for disengaging the blades is stuck. This was so sudden that I'm thinking it has to do with terrain. So we will try to put pavers under there to raise the deck. Wish us luck and that we do not damage something.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Senator View Post
It will definitely be an easy fix. I just do not know what it will be.

Call the dealer and ask the support line. They should be able to give you enough information to get you on your way.

In order to start many mowers, you must be sitting on the seat, and the blades disengaged. Make sure the blade clutch is the right position.

Make sure the parking brake is on. Often, a mower will not start if it is off.

And try a bunch of 'stuff'. It cannot be that difficult to get going again.

Something else you can try, is remove the ignition switch from the tractor completely. If it is stuck, buy a new switch.
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Old 06-11-2016, 06:26 AM   #11
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The key is separate from the mower deck issue.

You could get some electrical contact spray and spray it into the key hole. Or, you might need to just get a universal ignition switch and install it. Ignition systems on such lawn tractors are very simple.
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Old 06-11-2016, 06:29 AM   #12
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I agree with ls99, if the ignition key won't turn freely it is probably bad and not making contact to start the engine. If you can easily reach the back of the switch and/or pull it out you can jump the wires and see if it starts. Easy to replace, just unplug the wires (take a picture of them connected first) take it to an auto parts place. You should be able to use a generic switch.
Also try squirting a bit of powdered graphite in the switch.
I always try to rule out the easy stuff.
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Old 06-11-2016, 07:43 AM   #13
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As with cars, start with easy and inexpensive and work your way up the value chain.

Pavers under the wheels are a great first step to get the deck lever moving / inspected. Use a scissors jack to save your back.

The diagram posted by Sunset is a great aid for diagnosing the deck lever lock. Possibilities include: Broken spring, loose or slipped set screw, broken rod or button. Use a mirror to check to see if the bottom latch moves when the button is depressed. If not - the problem is in that mechanical chain. If the rod moves slightly, but won't reposition the latch lever - look for mechanical binding in the deck downstream of the latch lever.

A little WD 40 in the ignition switch is a good approach.

It is possible to have a good battery, and a bad electrical ground. More difficult to diagnose.
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Old 06-11-2016, 08:03 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post

the key would barely turn.

We took the battery to be tested. The mechanic said the battery was OK; he suggested that the tractor had been stopped with the blades lowered, which would lock up the ignition. We never heard of this before, and Mr. A. says he never switches the mowing deck position at all.

However, the manual does say that the long lever in the picture must be in the forward position to start the tractor.



Amethyst
I'm "keying" on your comment that the key would barely turn. Sounds like a worn, bad or dirty ignition switch. "Sometimes" applying "powdered graphite" can solve the problem with mechanical/locks switches. (you can buy a small tube for ~$2 at any auto parts store) It "sounds like" a solenoid may need to be energized to move the lever on that model (maybe). Of course, to energize the solenoid, the ignition switch would need to be turn to the correct position. BTW, I much prefer using powdered graphite on key locks and mechanical ignition switches rather than WD40.
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Old 06-11-2016, 08:18 AM   #15
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Agree with others that the release button is too pre-loaded.

I used to have a car that would jam the ignition lock when the wheels were pushed against a curb too hard. One had to manhandle the steering wheel to unload the ignition switch enough to turn the key. I suspect the deck is somehow jamming the release button in a similar manner. Don't get the "key won't turn" part, unless JD has them somehow linked.
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Old 06-11-2016, 10:43 AM   #16
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We rather easily got pavers under the wheels of the mower deck and presto, the deck-height lever moved again and we raised the mower deck.

Unfortunately, the tractor still won't start, won't even grind. I think the ignition key only turns half-way but Mr. A. says it's always been like that. I guess the powdered graphite is next and then, it's probably time to call for help.

I want a new tractor.

Amethyst
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Old 06-11-2016, 10:46 AM   #17
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Quote:
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No; there is a locking button at the top of the lever, which you press down in order to shift it. Neither of us can get the button to go down.
If there is pressure on the mower deck, it can be very hard to depress that button. Try jiggling the lever back-forth while depressing the button. Try getting the weight off the deck as others suggested.

Also, precise language helps. When you said " when he tried to start it, the key would barely turn. " , is that really what you meant? And if so, by 'barely turn', does that mean it did turn, and the engine was cranked by the starting motor, or the key never turned enough to engage the starter mower?

In cars, there is an ignition-steering-wheel lock, and pressure on the steering wheel can keep the ignition key from turning, but I've never heard of this sort of mechanical interlock on a garden tractor. Usually the interlocks just switch things off, like if the mower is engaged, a switch opens the connection between the key and the starter motor, so it is electrically (but not physically) disabled. IOW, the key turns, but has no effect.

Or, did you meant that when turning the key, the starter motor barely turned over the engine? Big difference in the troubleshooting procedure, and likely fixes.

edit/update: OK, I cross posted, and that answered most of the questions. "Won't even 'grind" sounds like the key is not engaging enough to activate the starter motor. You could try 'jumping' the key, that's pretty easy on any garden tractor I've seen.

-ERD50
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Old 06-11-2016, 11:01 AM   #18
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There is interlock to keep the engine from starting if the mower is engaged. I suspect that switch had knocked out of adjustment or a wire pulled off.
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Old 06-11-2016, 12:04 PM   #19
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My JD's are a bit older than yours (an LX172 & LX176) but the deck position has nothing to do with starting mine. What does matter is: 1) the blade engagement (on/off) switch needs to be off; 2) the brake pedal needs to be applied and locked; and 3) there needs to be weight on the seat (like a person). You should then be able to turn the key to crank the engine. If you are getting zero cranking I would first check the seat interlock switch, sometimes the wires can disconnect themselves. The second thing I would check is there is a wire going to a solenoid on the carburetor, that too can sometimes vibrate off. All of the preceding assumes you also have a good battery and battery cable connections.

Now as to your deck position lever, that too should work and I regularly use mine. To move the deck/lever up you must press the button down and pull towards you to raise it. If it isn't moving I'd try shaking the lever in both directions to unjam whatever. I'd also check the cutting height adjustment knob to see that it's not in between positions. If you haven't been greasing your spindles you should - taking the whole deck off of my unit is a 1 minute exercise. With it off I scrape the underside clean, sharpen blades and grease the spindles (w/grease gun and grease fittings). The original JD's are great tractors and I continue to be happy with my 26 year old unit (only complaint is over the weak Peerless transaxles they used on the LX172).
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Old 06-11-2016, 12:24 PM   #20
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Additional thoughts - while you state that the "the key would barely turn" are you really saying that when you turn the key that the engine is barely turning over (i.e. the physical key itself turns no problem)? These older Deere's are well known for developing starting problems, and there's a "Fix" available to improve the current flow to the starter solenoid (what will engage the starter and turn the engine over). Refer to this link - http://www.greenpartstore.com/assets...structions.pdf

I installed this kit on my tractor years ago when it started having difficulties starting, often just clicking and not engaging the starter. Fixed the problem and haven't has a problem with it since.
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