The Craftmans Shop > PowerSports


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Working on her after the rain pointed out a few older gonna-get-to-its anydaynow problems. The main one being the starter switch. Which in the '51 John Deere M's case is a real honest to goodness starter switch actually mounted on the starter with a long rod back to the dash that you pull on to start. None of your remote switches and solenoids here!

It had been getting a little iffy recently, I had to pull on it harder and with a snap to make contact. Luckily I had a spare on hand, I'd been meaning to replace with, and now seemed a good time to take that out of the mix of possible problems. Taking the old switch off was a piece of cake, but the new one was not quite as well built or dimensioned. Specifically in the pivot pin. It was too small a punched hole.

So off to the shop, and drill it out. That worked, but of course I'd lost the cotter pins when I closed my tool box. They had been on the lid. Working outside on thick grass has some drawbacks. As does forgetfulness.

Old and new:


I decided to change the oil -- needed to do that for winter anyway, and expected some water got past the rings. It had, and glad I changed it. I got a new oil filter and changed that, and new NGK spark plugs, since the Champion H10Cs were out of stock locally. Gapped the plugs .025".

I also charged the battery. But unfortunately I couldn't get a start out of the motor.

I pulled the plugs to check. They didn't seem wet with water or fouled in any way. Reinstalled. Gave it choke, but not too much....the JD can flood. No go.

Pulled a plug out, reattached the wire to it and laid it against metal. Turned the motor over, and yup there was spark.

Screwed it back in and tried again with full throttle, and no choke to dry out any excess gas. Still no go.


Uh, it couldn't be out of gas. No. I distinctly remember filling it up recently. Or was that the splitter.......? Right next to tractor. Hmmmmm.

So I stuck a 1 foot  long socket wrench extension into the tank. It came up dry. That's a pretty good sign the tank is empty!

Y'see, the John Deere has no gas gauge. But on the other hand, it's really unlikely that when you happen to park, it is the exact perfect moment that it runs out of gas. So I hadn't considered it.

Well, unless, sometimes when you're running low and you're hearing it start to cough a little and you're pretty close to the house, you just let it coast to a stop with the switch off, and tell yourself to remember to fill it when you need it next. Now if a couple weeks intervenes with a big downpour in the middle, and you happen to forget about the coasting to a stop, and then if your cylinders fill up with water because your muffler is loose, and you pull the plugs and turn it over a lot to get the water out, you might completely run out of gas, and in the pressure of the moment to get the thing running again TOTALLY forget it is out of gas, you might spend a lot of time doing helpful maintenance projects, but none that will get that tractor started on pure air alone.

And so it was.

A splash of fuel with the good old gas can in her tank woke the old girl up. Starting instantly, as she always does......
unless filled up with water.

Tractor sounded good, no apparent rod bending. Ready to work another 70+ years for clueless owners.

Well there's a relief  :thumbup:

I'm working on my Ford 4600 tractor charging circuit at the moment. It's not charged for quite a long time, with the ignition light being intermittent. This is the tractor with the hedge flail permanently mounted so it only gets used for a few days twice a year and I use a mains charger to keep it topped up.

Hedging finished for this year so I thought I'd sort it. Originally fitted with an alternator and remote regulator, someone has retro fitted a slightly newer one with an integrated regulator and altered the wiring to suit. This alternator is shot - no continuity to the rotor winding (possibly just brushes) but the bearings are horrid. We have a local(ish) chap who refurbishes alternators but frankly I think I'll try and find a new one from his stock that is physically compatible and more modern as this is the sort with finned diodes looking like the old selenium rectifiers! It's only a 35 amp alternator.

But first the (dead simple *) wiring from ignition switch to ignition light to alternator isn't making contact somewhere so that's my job tomorrow morning while waiting for the latest batch of cottage guests to check out at 10 am.

(* not physically simple - the dash has to come out and it's all a bit tight round the steering wheel being a cabbed version)

Ah tractors, gotta love em, gotta hate'em, Andrew. There are a lot of folks here who convert 6V systems like mine to 12V, and simply make a bracket for a very common multi year Delco all in one inexpensive automotive alternator, not sure, I think it's the Delco S10 maybe? If there's room Andrew, you might consider doing something similar since you are already on 12V. They are dead cheap and common. Actually I believe my Ford 850 has one of those on it as a swap by a prior owner. I think minimum, they are 50 or 60 amp rated, and you can get them higher for slightly more $.

And back to my tractor, we have a NOT SO FAST!, moment here:

When I started her before, I'd bypassed the starter switch -- I hadn't installed the new one yet. But after writing out my success story above, and installing said new starter switch, low and behold, it wouldn't start.  :bang: :bang: :bang:

So removing the switch to see what possibly was wrong, I found that it was a piece of junk. Kinda had a feeling about that before, but had forged ahead anyway. Here's the problem. Well plural.....


The oblong copper contact stud was rotated out of position -- just as a result of tightening the starter cable on the terminal it is attached to. It is not pressed or molded in place. It has something like an overgrown C-clip on the outside holding it, not very tightly, in position. So if you try to tighten the terminal nut, it turns as well, putting it out of position and blocking full throw of the starter button, and the moving contacts.

Second problem, the two case mount screw holes are out of position, moving the whole switch body back from where it should be. This moves it away from the starter's own copper stud contact. There is not enough throw therefore.

Irritating, big time.....!

That switch looks very flimsy. Are those contacts carrying the full starter current (don't look up to it) or just the solenoid?

 - Alternators - the Lucas ACR16/17/18 style are common over here along with many imported clones. I can't read the label on this one but it's the same mounting dimensions as those and it's a 'left hand' version (two variants L &R)

Are better quality switches available or are they all imported flimsies ?


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