Rat nest on my engine... literally
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    Rat nest on my engine... literally

    Hi forum, newbie here with an interesting problem.

    D140, 2015 model with a Briggs & Stratton. Tractor was last run in October--most of the fuel was used up at the time, and it was stored in a shed until March.

    Before starting it in the spring, I typically clean it up and change the oil. Boy am I glad I did--RATS got into the engine bay and built a nest in there. Not mice, but rats. Once I had the black shroud off, you couldn't even see any cooling fins, it was that bad.

    On top of the filth they filled up the insides with, they chewed up the right-hand coil/armature and spark plug wire. I used three cans of brake cleaner and an air compressor to clean the filth out. I then replaced the coil/armature with one from the dealer,following the instructions about spacing it from the flywheel. And I did my usual oil change.

    The engine cranks and cranks and cranks, but it doesn't fire.

    Some notes:

    - It's a relatively new mower with only light use
    - Battery and starter appear to be in good shape.
    - Tank has fresh gas.
    - Plug from new coil has spark (though it looked red/orange).
    - Fuel flow to carb is good--if I disconnect the fuel line exiting the fuel pump, it squirts as the engine cranks.
    - I haven't messed with the carb--it and the air intake appeared to be the one place the rats didn't mess with.
    - In addition to the fuel line, there's a vapor line connecting the gas tank with the left side of the engine. The tube is clear, but it seems blocked at the gas tank if I try to blow from the engine side.

    Questions:

    1. Should the vapor line be clear into the gas tank? I want to make sure there's not some valve I might damage if I hit it with compressed air. I don't even know what it does.

    2. Though I tried to match the orientation of the chewed-up coil/armature, it's possible I could have installed the new coil upside-down (see picture below). I don't know what this would do in terms of spark.

    3. Any other guesses before I give up and take it in to the dealer?

    Click image for larger version.

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    Note the rust on the old coil... entirely due to rat excrement.

    Thanks, folks
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 20180325_120047.jpg
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    coaltrain's Avatar
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    It could very well be the fact that it was stored for a length of time with a partial tank of gas. Ethanol (regular) gas degrades very quickly.

    You might want to try draining the tank and fuel lines along with the carburetor bowl and put fresh gas in.

    I know you said you put fresh gas in but I am assuming that was on top of the old gas. The old gas is likely still in the carb and lines.

    When storing equipment for a month or more, drain the tank, then run the engine until it stalls thus getting all the gas out of the system.
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    I used to have a half dozen cats,, the coyotes depleted my supply of cats,,

    Last fall,, I spent over $100 on mouse traps, ALL types,, I catch close to one per day on average,,,

    Does anyone think I overspent on mouse traps??

    When I see damage like that, I think I underspent,,,

    Yesterday, I dumped two out of one repeating trap,,
    my wife noted that since I caught two,,, think how many fewer there will be in the future!!
    Some of the tractors include JD 4105, JD 855, JD 650,,,, and,,, the IH 584 4WD
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcclellc View Post
    Hi forum, newbie here with an interesting problem.

    D140, 2015 model with a Briggs & Stratton. Tractor was last run in October--most of the fuel was used up at the time, and it was stored in a shed until March.

    Before starting it in the spring, I typically clean it up and change the oil. Boy am I glad I did--RATS got into the engine bay and built a nest in there. Not mice, but rats. Once I had the black shroud off, you couldn't even see any cooling fins, it was that bad.

    On top of the filth they filled up the insides with, they chewed up the right-hand coil/armature and spark plug wire. I used three cans of brake cleaner and an air compressor to clean the filth out. I then replaced the coil/armature with one from the dealer,following the instructions about spacing it from the flywheel. And I did my usual oil change.

    The engine cranks and cranks and cranks, but it doesn't fire.

    Some notes:

    - It's a relatively new mower with only light use
    - Battery and starter appear to be in good shape.
    - Tank has fresh gas.
    - Plug from new coil has spark (though it looked red/orange).
    - Fuel flow to carb is good--if I disconnect the fuel line exiting the fuel pump, it squirts as the engine cranks.
    - I haven't messed with the carb--it and the air intake appeared to be the one place the rats didn't mess with.
    - In addition to the fuel line, there's a vapor line connecting the gas tank with the left side of the engine. The tube is clear, but it seems blocked at the gas tank if I try to blow from the engine side.

    Questions:

    1. Should the vapor line be clear into the gas tank? I want to make sure there's not some valve I might damage if I hit it with compressed air. I don't even know what it does.

    2. Though I tried to match the orientation of the chewed-up coil/armature, it's possible I could have installed the new coil upside-down (see picture below). I don't know what this would do in terms of spark.

    3. Any other guesses before I give up and take it in to the dealer?

    Click image for larger version.

Name:	tvj4ppx.jpg
Views:	29
Size:	95.4 KB
ID:	577465
    Note the rust on the old coil... entirely due to rat excrement.

    Thanks, folks
    If its getting spark, I would check the fuel. Drain and refill the tank and lines, and maybe clean the carb. Next, make sure that the fuel shutoff is operational, and that the wires haven't been chewed. It is located under the carb, directly under the bowl.



    Go ahead and check the air gap again, just to make sure. Does the engine have a low-oil shutdown? make sure there is plenty of oil in the pan.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CADplans View Post
    I used to have a half dozen cats,, the coyotes depleted my supply of cats,,

    Last fall,, I spent over $100 on mouse traps, ALL types,, I catch close to one per day on average,,,

    Does anyone think I overspent on mouse traps??

    When I see damage like that, I think I underspent,,,

    Yesterday, I dumped two out of one repeating trap,,
    my wife noted that since I caught two,,, think how many fewer there will be in the future!!
    I have a southern black racer that hangs out in my shop. I really hate snakes but he doesn't show himself much and he does keep all of the other critters out so I leave him alone.
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    I can't add anything more to the troubleshooting advice that's already been given but I had the exact same problem with mice the last 3 years with my D160. They LOVE to crawl up in those coils to build their nests and chew on the wires.

    This year I soaked a rag in peppermint oil and laid it over the top of the engine. Not a single rodent anywhere in the shed so far this winter. As an added bonus, every time I open the shed door it smells like Christmas!

    Hope you get it sorted out soon!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robnik View Post
    I have a southern black racer that hangs out in my shop. I really hate snakes but he doesn't show himself much and he does keep all of the other critters out so I leave him alone.
    It would keep me out.

    I would also have to jack up my car another 2 feet and put a lift kit on my creeper.
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    I think you need to disassemble and clean your carburetor if it was sitting with ethanol gas. I bet the pilot jet and possibly main jet or other passages are plugged with crud.
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    In the early '80's, I bought a log splitter to use during the summer. I'd shut it down about Sept/Oct, tarp it and start it the following April/May...but only after pulling the carb apart, give it a good cleaning, and replace a few gaskets. 2 or 3 pulls later it would run fine. After 3 or 4 years of "spring cleaning" the carb, my cousin suggested/recommended using Sta-Bil in my gas. I tried it and that was the last time I had to clean the carb!
    I also put it in 2-cycle fuel. I don't use my chain saw or trimmer as much as I used to, and a 5 gal can of fuel can last me 3 or 4 years. 3 or 4 pulls and my 2-cycles fire right up!
    As far as running the fuel system dry, I do the opposite: I top my tanks off if something is going to sit for a season...that helps prevent condensation.
    Topping off or running dry is your call, but I STRONGLY recommend using Sta-Bil in your fuel(s). Bob

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