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Vanguard Repowered Sunstar Headache

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#1 rlnguy OFFLINE  

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Posted May 01, 2017 - 11:59 AM

Been lurking here, for a while, got a situation that has me stumped.

This seems to be the best forum I've found, so here is my problem.

Sorry for the long post.

I have a 1987 Sunstar. Last fall I decided to repower it.

I bought a new BS Vanguard 18 HP engine, and put it in, with minimal issues.

First time I turned the key, the end of the starter shaft broke off-and the bendix ended up laying in the bottom of the flywheel cover.

The guy I bought it from replaced the starter-we both just assumed it was defective.

Put the new starter in, everything seemed ok, so I put it out in the shed, until spring.

2 weeks ago, I started it and mowed, just fine.

Last week I go to start it, and starter doesn't mesh, on the first try, so I try again, it starts, but has a loud noise-lasted a few seconds, and stopped-engine sounded normal, so I started mowing. I stopped to talk to my neighbor, and when I tried to restart, the started was dead-solenoid clicked, but that was all.

Pushed it back to the garage, and finished mowing with my other (much smaller) mower.

When I took things apart-the shaft of the new starter has failed in the exact same manner, as the first-the difference, is this time the engine started-and tore it all to heck, bent the starter shaft, threw the plastic cap that contains all the bits of the bendix to the other side of the engine-found it lodged under one of the covers on the opposite side. It also tore up the teeth on the ring gear.


The shaft seems to have a groove on the end, that has some kind of ring, or keeper that keeps the bendix together-and pushes the starter gear back.

There is a plastic cover that keep it all covered and contained.

In both cases, it looks like the shaft has broken at the groove. I have pictures of both, and they appear almost identical.

I decided to have a local repair look at it-(I bought the engine from a dealer quite a ways away, long story, not really relevant here, only adds to my frustration)

I'm on the hook for labor so I really don't want keep just putting starters on this thing.

I looked around, on-line, and didn't find anything to suggest this is a common issue on these engines.

Any ideas?


Thanks, in advance.



#2 boyscout862 OFFLINE  

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Posted May 01, 2017 - 02:49 PM

Welcome to GTT. We have a bunch of members in your state. We try to help each other here.

Sounds like the starter is not aligning with the flywheel. I seem to recall a lesson when I was starting out in auto mechanics about shimming the starters in older cars. I think that something is not correctly aligned or the ring gear is not concentric to the crankshaft. You are probably going to need to spend some time with a good dial indicator and check all aspects. Let us know how you make out. Download the shop manual from our Manuals Section for its' guidance. Good Luck, Rick
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#3 EricFromPa ONLINE  



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Posted May 01, 2017 - 05:50 PM

Some of the aftermarket briggs starters have to be shimmed. If they mesh to tight they hang up on the ring gear and blow the plastic bits of the end of the starter and possibly destroy the ring gear.


I had to shim the starter on a 16hp vanguard twin in my Gardenway\Troybilt mower. I was to cheap to pay $168 for an OEM starter so I bought a cheap $40 ebay one. Lasted me 6 years till the engine blew a rod the other day. $100 for the mower and $40 for a starter and got 6 years of mowing out of it is pretty darn good lol. 

#4 secondtry ONLINE  

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Posted May 01, 2017 - 07:01 PM

Welcome aboard. One thing you will find out if you hang out here much is we like pictures. Never admit you have pictures and then fail to post them. Don

#5 rlnguy OFFLINE  

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Posted May 02, 2017 - 07:49 AM

thanks all, I will put up a couple photos, when I get a chance.

The parts involved are all Briggs.

#6 rlnguy OFFLINE  

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Posted May 08, 2017 - 08:52 PM

sorry for the delay. Here are the 2 broken starters.

The first one broke on the first attempted start-since it didn't start, the shaft wasn't damaged-except for the end breaking off.

The 2nd one got chewed and shaft bent, because the engine started, and spun the starter pinion, until it got chewed so bad, it jammed, and the engine running just bent the shaft, pinion fell clear, and engine ran normally-until I tried to restart it.

In both cases, it was just the very end that broke off-right at the groove for the keeper ring.

If it was a fit up with the flywheel, it seems to me, it would have bent, or failed closer to the actual motor.

The guy working on it pretty busy, and hasn't looked at it yet.

I dunno, this is the first B&S engine I've had in 40 years, So far, not impressed.

Warranty only covers parts, so I hope he can get it fixed, on the first try.

any ideas/suggestions would be appreciated.



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#7 A.C.720 OFFLINE  

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Posted May 10, 2017 - 08:49 PM

Hi Sorry to hear this I have  been looking to buy  a vanguard and am just about to put money down if you can tell me who you bought from it can save me some heartache.If you don't want put in forum e mail me at greg.bendz@aol.com (any problems ) 

  Ihave also have been looking for a honda kit but can not find one for my Allis Chalmers 720

#8 rlnguy OFFLINE  

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Posted August 05, 2017 - 01:44 PM

Just a quick update-and sorry again, for the long post,

I took the mower to a local B&S service guy, expecting to have it repaired under warranty.

After 3 months of argueing with B&S, I finally gave up, paid him to replace the starter, and see if he could find any reason, other than 2 bad starters. Curiously, the new starter is bigger and appears beefier than the original.

All he could find was a cracked battery clamp, and (possibly) a sticky ignition key.

(I doubt the key bit, as it never stuck in the 5 years I had the old engine), but, finally, yesterday, 3 months and a week, later I got the mower back.

I've only started it once, so I am hoping this is the end of the issues.

For their part, B&S left me very disappointed, as did the dealer I bought the engine from.

After feeling like the local guy was giving me a line (I found out later, he was giving it to me straight). I called B&S, and was told to find out the warranty case number.

I called local guy, to get the number-he said he had never heard of such a number, with B&S.He's been in business here for over 30 years, so probably is a straight shooter.

I called B&S back, was told they would escalate the claim, and someone would get back to me within 2 days, via phone or email.

Never heard from them.

If they had gotten back to me, I think we could have worked out the root cause and cleared it all up, a lot sooner.

In early July, I got an email asking me to take a survey on my experience with their support.

(That confirms they had my email)

I decided to wait until I got the mower back.

Today, I go to take the survey-and find out, time has expired, and I cannot give them any feedback.

I have the warranty claim number, and I might just call them again, to voice my frustration.

Not that it will change anything, but I will get it out of my system.

I'm really hoping this is the end of problems-I bought this Sunstar 5 years ago. I put new front tires on it, when I got it-the nubs are still on them. That tells you how little it has actually been running and used.

To the local guys credit, he really didn't charge me, what he probably should have, and I will use him, again, if need be.

thank you.



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Posted August 06, 2017 - 01:07 AM

After reading your update (sorry to hear of the service), I was wondering if there could be a slight bend to the crank or out of round of the flywheel. This would change the forces on the starter dramatically.

In a previous post, someone mentioned shimming. That's also a real probability.

Hope the newest starter gives you decades of trouble free operation.

#10 Alc ONLINE  



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Posted August 06, 2017 - 05:05 AM

Hope that your next post will be telling us all how mach work you have been doing with your tractor and never again a starter  issue