Small Engines (Lawn Mowers, etc.)/Engine won't turn over



You’ve helped me in the past; really appreciate it. Have new problem.

Father-n-law’s 1984 33” Snapper, model 3311x5s; Ser # 53118081.

Briggs Stratton 11hp model 253707-0159.  Has ignition button, not pull to start.

I used it last summer and twice this year so far, but now the engine won’t turn over.

Spark plug is new, always have to use starter fluid to start, I got new battery because old one was bad, and NAPA checked the new battery before I purchased. I connected positive batt cable to positive batt post, etc. Oil level good. Gasoline is newly purchased. The ignition key is turned to On position. I can feel the start button depress, but when I push it, nothing happens. No noises, nothing. I am pushing the clutch pedal forward when I try to start.

This problem started after I removed the carb to replace the breather tube which was ruptured. And I also replaced fuel filter. Had no problem reassembling. Very strange.

As I was removing the batter cables from the posts, I felt the ends of the positive and negative cables, both were pretty hot after pushing/holding the start button just 2 times.

Any ideas?

Thanks so much,

ANSWER: Remove the spark plug.  With the spark plug removed, can you rotate the engine by hand?  You should be able to put your hand on top of the engine screen and rotate it in both directions several times.

If you can rotate the engine by hand, leave the spark plug out and then try to start the engine.

Does the starter spin the engine?


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

QUESTION: cannot rotate by hand in either direction.

ANSWER: If you can not rotate the engine in either direction with the spark plug REMOVED then something is preventing the engine from rotating.

We always start by remove the top engine shroud and making sure there is nothing causing the flywheel to bind and prevent rotation.  Make sure the ignition module and nothing underneath the flywheel is binding.

If there is nothing on top of the engine preventing rotation then check the bottom, the PTO.  Make sure the pulley or any other parts are not causing the issue.

If you are positive there is no external engine parts preventing rotation then it must be something inside the engine.  At this time you would have to remove and dis-assemble the engine to see what is wrong.

Let me know what you find.

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

QUESTION: yea, I removed the plug first. bummer. shows what I know. I figured something electrical since no juice/spark. I'll pull the shroud, etc. but thinking ahead, as old as this mower is, would it make sense to spend much money on it, assuming it needs parts? Father-n-law only has ~3/4 acre; he's 94, was cutting his own yard til summer of last year(no foolin'). I offered but he said no way. My point is, because of his age, he wasn't good at maintenance last couple-three years; the air filter was terrible. He has a 22" murray walk-behind I can use. I have no way to transport my 42". I understand Snappers have excellent reputation, but a 1984, with poor maintenance record, geez. Thanks, Eric. You're the best.

The older Snappers, like most things, were built much better back then than they are now.  In fact, Snapper has changed so much over the last 5 years I have stopped stocking them.  I rebuild older Snappers, usually just replace the engine as it is quicker and cheaper, rebuild the drive and deck and it's ready to go.

Depending on the shape of the mower frame, deck and drive, it might be a good investment if you planned on keeping and using the mower for the next 10 years.

Engines are relatively cheap these days...cheaper to replace than rebuild due to high labor costs and parts.  Don't get me wrong, rebuilding the mower does cost a decent amount, usually as least half the cost of just buying a new mower but as I stated before the older units are build better than the newer ones so it is worth it for me to rebuild as many serious Snapper customers want the older mowers over the newer models.

You could use the walk-behind but I've gotten so spoiled with Snapper self-propel walk behind mowers that I despise having to push a mower myself.  Same goes with the self-propel mowers, the older ones are better.  I rebuild (with a brand new engine) the older self-propel and almost always have a waiting list.  With a new engine, paint, drive rebuild they usually sell for $500-600 depending on the wheel and bag condition.  With new steel wheels and a new bag they go for $650-700 which is the cost of a brand new Snapper self-propel.  But again, the customer gets a better mower as the older units I rebuild are more durable, have better drive components and will easily last as long as or longer than the newer models.


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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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