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Brand new Vanguard 23 hp won't start


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I just installed a new Vanguard 23 hp engine kit from Small Engine Warehouse on a gravely 816 riding mower and I can't get it to start. The solenoid clicks when I turn the key, but the engine won't crank. If I bridge the two solenoid terminals with a screwdriver then the engine cranks. The battery is new and fully charged. I'm wondering if anyone knows what the problem might be.


Edited by bjahnes
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If it were my project,..

first thing I would do would be unhook the wire from the keyswitch to the tab on the solenoid that actuates it.

Then I would  hook a temporary jumper wire directly to the battery and touch the other end to that tab on the solenoid to see if it would actuate the solenoid. ( you do this to see if a known supply of good 12v power will operate the solenoid.) I have test wires rigged up with aligator clips for this. Make sure the key is off for this test, because you dont want the tractor starting and running away and possibly over you.

If the solenoid works right then you have a problem with the wiring that goes through all the safeties and the keyswitch to the solenoid. If it doesnt work, then the solenoid is usually whats bad.

So, if the solenoid works right with that test then you need to get your multi meter out and check the voltage at the wire that comes from the keyswitch to the solenoid - when the key is turned on to the START position. Alot of times as the tractor wiring ages and corrodes the voltage will drop enough that it wont operate the solenoid any more. If you dont have 12 volts at the wire when the key is on, you may need to install a relay to bring a good 12v to the solenoid when the key is turned on. A relay will operate on voltage that isnt enough to operate a solenoid.

If the voltage is just under 12v ( 9-11)then you likely need a relay. If the voltage is way under 12v, ( or nothing)you could have a bad safety switch somewhere.

If you do that test and you have good 12v at that  wire with the key on,  and the solenoid operates with a jumper to the battery, ...then I dont know what to tell you.


Anyhow thats what I would do in your situation.

Edited by SmilinSam
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18 minutes ago, Ronald Hribar said:

What was original motor?

Thats a good catch Ron, because those gravelys originally came with Kohlers. 

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19 minutes ago, bjahnes said:

The original was an Onan engine.


The concern would be in the ignition systems between the new Briggs and the old engine., but usually the SEW kits have the necesary wiring changes for the tractor included in their kits.

Didnt know Gravely had Onans in their tractors as all the ones I have seen  myself  around me have had Kohlers in them.

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