Riding mower engine – Briggs and Stratton
This post is my opinion and may or may not include facts but here it is.
I have to say, back in the 1950’s Briggs had a very basic gutless flathead but it worked.
Since then I have owned 4 riding tractors. all had Briggs motors.
This is not the fifties though, this is from 1980 until my current model which is about a 2004 and has a Brigs 26 HP carbureted engine.
The oldest tractor went under water in the flood 1982. I drained the oil flushed it out with water, then a little mineral spirits, new oil. Removed the carb disassembled and cleaned, blew out the cyls through the spark plug holes, WD 40 and fired it up. Too bad that one was sold in 1984 because it is still running today and it mows 2 acre each week.
The one that replaced it, absolute piece of Cr@p!
In 2004 I was sick and tired of dealing with the one here at the resort. Always centrifugal governor problems and poor fuel control. The new ones looked much better and had things like overhead valves and that new hydrostatic trans.
So, about $4,500 and a shiny new tractor/mower. Yea right. The problem was noticeable from the get go. The carb just did not control the fuel mixture well. Then there is that damn centrifugal governor. This is the one item that absolutely pisses me off. Why wouldn’t they spend just a little more and use a decent carb with genuine high speed and low speed fuel control + idle air control?
Honestly, using a centrifugal governor instead of a little better equipment?
Yes it’s 2011 now but this mower only has a couple hundred hours and regular service.
Problem is the carb used has a design issue where it always runs rich. Stinks too!
The excess fuel thinned out the oil one day and bam, bam, bam we have rod knock. I shut down immediately, pulled the motor and rebuilt it, new rings, valve job. Bearings were not damaged.
Guess what? An oil change is 1.3 qts but when you disassemble, it is 3 qts to re-fill. Really? So when you change the oil only 1/2 gets changed.
I am now completely disappointed with Briggs engines. This one had great potential. The pistons were solid, the crank was solid. Valve springs suck and valves tend to float. Cam and timing gears were of good quality though.
I mean really? Just a little more quality in this engine and it could support some serious RPM’s + produce a lot more horsepower.
So re-assemble and the carb still runs so rich it burns my eyes. Pull the carb, clean and rebuild. Thanks C.A.R.B! There is no way to adjust the fuel mix. Honestly I understand making it hard to increase the amount of fuel to air but why not be able to lean it up?
So I rebuild the carb (yes it is a defective design) and fight the central governor. Wow, I now have it running a little on the lean side but still there is that centrifugal governor.
I mean how much would it really have cost to put in one little throttle body fuel injector, an O2 sensor, an engine temperature sensor and a very basic fuel injector computer? Add a over rev stop in the ignition and all total maybe an extra $50.
I tell you what, if this was the case, we would have a clean running motor and with a smooth idle. With that kind of fuel control, I would even put a real exhaust system to include a real muffler and a cat.
Then you wouldn’t hear it or smell it. What do you say? Manufacturer cost when built by the thousands maybe $200 more for the manufacturer $300 to $400 retail.
Sure would make my life more pleasant.
One thing is certain, I will never buy another Brigs & Stratton or Basically Sh_ty motor.
At least not until I find one that is clean and quiet and most certainly does not have a centrifugal governor.
That is to bad because I am in the market. I like that old water cooled Honda. Sure wish I could find something like that.
Martin from Lawn Tractor Buyers Guide, adds:
Thanks for your thoughts Dan.
I’m not as hands on with engines as you obviously are, but I’m wondering if the C.A.R.B compliance does make it that much harder for manufacturers to get the carburetors right.
I’ve also got a couple of questions for you:
What about the Briggs Professional Series V-Twin engines?
They have electronic fuel management, which according to Briggs:
- “provides consistent, easy-to-use automotive-style starting;
- System electronically monitors time, engine speed, and temperature
- Simplifies and optimizes engine start-up
- Provides the easiest starting system for ride engines
- Eliminates the requirement for a choke lever.”
Would you consider one of those?
Also, what would be your choice for the best lawn tractor on the market right now?
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