Author Topic: Uh-Oh!  (Read 766 times)

Offline vtsteam

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Uh-Oh!
« on: October 05, 2022, 05:46:34 PM »
I went out to start the old reliable '51 John Deere Model M tractor sitting in the back yard and the battery wouldn't quite turn it over once. The old 6V positive ground generator (dynamo) is iffy at best, so not a total surprise or big problem. I was too far from an outlet for an extension cord and battery charger so I disconnected the battery and carried it down to the shop, where I hooked it up to quick charge and set the timer for 15 minutes. Just a partial charge, but it should start. It always does first try...

Bringing it back to the tractor was uphill instead of downhill as it had been earlier, and I was for once feeling my age. Got it situated in properly, remembered to put the ground strap on the positive terminal, jumped back into the tractor seat and gave her a spin. This time I heard more of a clunk when the starter motor stopped -- more than just the compression calling a halt against a weak battery. Tried it a second time same result. That wasn't a normal sound.

Then I started thinking.......It's been a drought summer, but a little over a week ago we got a torrential downpour for a couple days. Very welcome relief.........BUT........could the cylinders have water in them? Please.NO.....It couldn't be, how would.......well nothing for it to do, but get a plug wrench up here and pull the two plugs. Then turn it over.......Please let it not be.............

Yeah right. Of course it was. As soon as I got the first plug off, water squirted out -- I didn't even have to turn it over. Same thing for the second cylinder (the John Deere has only two). Then when I did turn the engine over massive gouts of water spurted out of the plug holes. Damn.....

I checked the dipstick. Oil level was normal. Didn't look like water had got down there. How the heck did it get into the cylinders???? The carb filter is an oil bath type and is capped. Cap is intact. The muffler (vertical type) has a hinged cap -- could that be bad? Nope, it's practically new. Muffler is intact, also relatively new. Checking it, I pushed on it sideways, and it was loose.........nooooooooo! Manifold to muffler flange! So I'm thinking vibration loosened the muffler bolts, and water must have run down into the exhaust manifold, and then into the cylinders. I don't know for sure yet, but yeah, probably....how else would it have got there?

Now the big, I mean BIG worry is, did I bend a con rod when I tried to start it earlier against hydraulic lock...... The JD has a massive flywheel....

Please no.........

I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sDubB0-REg

Offline awemawson

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Re: Uh-Oh!
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2022, 06:10:32 PM »
Let's hope not Steve - with any luck the battery was sufficiently discharged to not have enough umph.

No doubt a bit of investigation is forthcoming over the next few days - keep us informed please.

Andrew Mawson
East Sussex

Offline vtsteam

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Re: Uh-Oh!
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2022, 07:03:12 PM »
Thanks Andrew, After typing the above, even though dusk was coming, I just couldn't wait to at least try to start it. I just couldn't leave the question burning -- and if I could just get one cylinder going, the heat would help dry the engine out. But I needed to somehow dry the cylinders and plugs to see if I could get one going.

I didn't have a portable air tank, but I did have a portable compressor with a 5 gallon tank so I filled that up and hauled it up the hill to the tractor. I didn't have an extension cord to reach, but the tank was full at 200 psi so I had a fair reserve of air to blow down the plug holes..

Unfortunately, of course it was now drizzling rain so along with the water squirted out earlier from the plug holes, the coil distributor and plug wires were all thoroughly wet. I did have some spray silicone penetrant, and that does a good job of displacing moisture, so I doused the wires, plugs and distributor. But the outlook was well, unlikely for success.

I did blow out the cylinders with air, and also the plugs, but by the time it was dark and the air ran out, I hadn't got the engine to fire. On the positive side, it did now turn over freely, and I didn't hear any untoward noises, and compressions seemed normal, so fingers crossed, tomorrow with some light, and a bunch of extension cords, and maybe some new plugs, maybe I can get a pop out of it.......
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sDubB0-REg

Offline awemawson

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Re: Uh-Oh!
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2022, 02:56:04 AM »
Thatís why I like Diesel engines in farm machinery, they do have at least the ability to start when wet.

Do you have anything that could tow it nearer your workshop?

Good luck with the ongoing investigation.
Andrew Mawson
East Sussex

Offline vtsteam

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Re: Uh-Oh!
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2022, 09:27:40 AM »
No tow vehicle, and there's a ten foot drop in 80 feet down that part of the hill. The tractor is on a flat sideways to the hill. I'd have to get it turned, and headed down also moved over to the easiest part of the slope (not where it is now), and be in both vehicles at the same time downhill for braking...... as well as actually depending on the '51 JD's ancient brakes, without the usual engine slowdown assist in first gear.

Well, I could have shortened all that down with a simple no. But like to give a full picture! As you can imagine, I like the multiple extension cords, work in situ, approach better!  :bang:
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sDubB0-REg

Offline vtsteam

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Re: Uh-Oh!
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2022, 02:26:33 PM »
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 love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sDubB0-REg

Offline vtsteam

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Re: Uh-Oh!
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2022, 02:49:36 PM »
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.

Hmmmmm.

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.
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sDubB0-REg

Offline awemawson

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Re: Uh-Oh!
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2022, 03:53:29 PM »
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)
Andrew Mawson
East Sussex

Offline vtsteam

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Re: Uh-Oh!
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2022, 04:42:33 PM »
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.....!
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sDubB0-REg

Offline awemawson

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Re: Uh-Oh!
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2022, 04:55:03 PM »
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 ?
Andrew Mawson
East Sussex

Offline vtsteam

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Re: Uh-Oh!
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2022, 05:03:47 PM »
Yup, junk. Sold as replacement parts by antique tractor suppliers here. This is a 71 year old tractor. Not a lot of demand for specialized old fashioned parts, like non-solenoid starter switches specific to a '51 Deere.

Yup, full starter current.

The original part doesn't look much better.

I'm going to mod the new one: superglue to trap the stud, tighten gently, and slot the mounting holes. I need to move that tractor, now, get the mower off of it, and move the splitter down into position. Days are getting shorter. and colder here and this is Vermont.

(Edit for earlier post: it was Delco 10si alternators, not "S10" which confuses it with a Chevy truck type.)
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sDubB0-REg

Offline vtsteam

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Re: Uh-Oh!
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2022, 06:16:03 PM »
Tractor started and running, and moved. Done.
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sDubB0-REg

Offline vtsteam

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Re: Uh-Oh!
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2022, 03:11:25 PM »
The tractor has been starting and running great since the water incident. The starter switch works fine, I'm not sure how long it will last since it seemed to have smaller contacts, but for now it starts. And it also has a lighter return spring so I don't have to yank on it as hard as I used to.

I've cut and split about 6 face cords of firewood since. I need a couple more and probably will get them just in time, since the ground is getting softer with the recent rains. It will be too soft to drag through the woods on the hills soon before frost hardens the ground up again.
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sDubB0-REg