Small Engines (Lawn Mowers, etc.)/Poulan Lawn Tractor


QUESTION: I am having a problem with my personal Poulan Lawn Tractor.  I bought it new a few years ago.  During the winter season, it is stored in an enclosed heated garage.  I change the oil, drain the gas, and run it until it quits at the end of the season.  I have used it once this year with no problem.  Then all of a sudden, I was mowing and it wanted to die with the blades engaged.  When I disengaged the blades, it would pick up again.  However, when I was driving it back to the garage, it died on me.  The next time, I jacked it up with a Mojack, cleaned out underneath the deck, changed the spark plug, put in a new air filter, and tried again.  I got the same performance after a little bit of mowing.  This time, I have  drained the  gas tank in case there was some condensation in the tank.  I have yet to try it again.  I know the grass was high and it has been very wet.  However, I have an ancient Snapper rear engine rider with half the horsepower as my Poulan, and it did the job just fine.  The Snapper is a single blade.  

   I guess my next step is to remove the deck, check all the pulleys for seizing, and then maybe the muffler.  What other course of action would you suggest?  These are the identification numbers.

Poulan Lawn Tractor

Briggs & Stratton Engine

Model Number 287707

Type 1259-E1

Code 0205032D

14.5 hp I/C

Lawn Tractor Numbers

Model number 27149

MFG ID number 271491

Product Number P014538

Serial Number 051502B005911

ANSWER: Does the engine sound like it is running fast enough?  Will the mower run fine for the same period of time if you are not mowing?

Have you used an ohm or multimeter to check the safety switches?

Have you dis-connected and cleaned the battery terminal posts and cable ends with a wirebrush?  I have seen poor grounds cause the fuel shut-off solenoid not to function properly.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: In answer to your questions.  The mower starts fine and runs like it always did for a short time.  I mow my yard in the same manner each time.  It seems as though I mow for about 20 minutes are so and then my symptoms start happening. And yes, it has been about the same amount of time both times when I was taking the tractor back to my garage. It died in about the same place both times.  I don't know how to check the safety switches with an multimeter.  And I didn't even know it had a fuel shut off solenoid.  Where is that located?  I will clean the terminal posts and connections before I use it next. Could my battery be going bad?

Here is a video URL for testing safety switches:

Anti-afterfire (fuel solenoid) test video URL:

I doubt cleaning the terminals will fix the problem but it is always good practice to clean the terminals and cable ends to be sure.

On problems like yours, it is best to determine if the problem is fuel, ignition, or other system causing the problem.  Spark is the easiest to verify.  An inline spark tester would be the best and quickest tool to use to verify spark.  When the mower stops, quickly get off and install the inline spark tester to verify you have spark.  If you have spark then look else where.

To rule out a fuel issue, you can use a small squirt bottle, I use an old dinner style ketchup bottle with the tapered time, and have a small amount of fuel in the bottle.  When the mower stops, quickly get off, remove the air filter and use the small bottle to squirt a little fuel directly into the carburetor via the air filter housing.  If it starts right up then you know spark is good and you have a fuel issue.

Does this make sense?

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Eric A. Jones


Lawnmower Repair . Certified Master Service Technician from B&S. Have 23 years experience on B&S, Lawn Chief, Weed Eater, Echo, Peerless, Wheel Horse, Snapper, Atlas, MTD, McCulloch, Homelite and many other numerous brands. Specialize in electrical repair.


Born and raised in the midwest. Started tinkering with engines when I was about 14 on my Suzuki RM-80. I began lawn mower repair at a small hardware store. I knew absolutely nothing. I read lots of repair manuals and met an older fellow who taught me many lessons. I continued working on small engines through high school and paid my way through college working on mowers at the same hardware store. Decided to get away from the midwest and mower repair so I joined the Air Force. I repaired air traffic control electronic equipment and ended up in Hawaii where I got a part time job at Small Engine Clinic. I gained a lot of experience from the Small Engine Clinic and had a blast repairing small engines. I then took the Briggs and Stratton Master Service Technician test and earned my MST. I then traveled to Wisconsin where I attended the factory update training seminar and received formal training. Continued working on mowers part time as I completed 20 years of military. Retired from the military on a Friday and continued in the lawn and garden industry the next Monday.

MAS Aerospace Operations BA Mathematics AAS Electronic Communications AAS Electronic Technology

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