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Ford 9N, 2N & 8N Discussion Board

8N starter solenoid, again

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Posted by Jeff L. on July 31, 2007 at 19:55:22 from (

Evidently I mis-directed this morning's version of this posting, so here i'll try again:
After nearly a year's absence from this forum and my tractor (1951 8N), I'm back. De-winterized the tractor and she started right up. Last month I mowed the field for an hour or two then back to the garage. Last week with a friend driving we mowed less than an hour. He stopped to let me drive but it would not re-start. It's an uneven, bouncy ground so I thought that--as happened last season--the starter drive was hung up in the flywheel. That time I followed the advice of someone in the forum, simply rocked the back wheels and ka-thunk! it freed up. That was not the problem this time. This time, key on, in neutral, clutch pedal depressed, press the starter button..."click". Just one rather soft click, sounded like it came from the solenoid.
[By the way, my IT manual and Operator's Manual both refer to the "starter relay". Is that in fact the same as the solenoid? I guess so, but why confuse the terminology??]

Ultimately and to my embarassment, my friend towed me home, with his ATV.
Here's what we tried:
+rocked the tractor back and forth, to see if locked up.
+inspected the gas tank & sediment bowl; both had gas and the bowl valve was still open(a half-turn, as I had set it). This was an electrical problem.
+visually and by hand, checked the wire connections, to/from solenoid, ignition button, battery. Looked ok.
+to check the battery, after all that bouncing around, removed the positive ground cable at the batt post & the neg from the starter and touched them together. Spark! (and uncomfortably close to the gas tank--probably not a good procedure). Evidently plenty of juice there.
+Reconnected batt cables, and using 2 screwdrivers, attempted to bridge in turn each large solenoid post to the small one on the far side of the solenoid. Nothing. (I don't recall now if I simultaneously depressed the start button.)
+At the garage, I again removed the hot (neg) batt cable and managed to reach the little post of the solenoid, and at the same time pressed the ignition button. Spark! But nothing more, no crank. I then noticed that the large, right-hand post of the solenoid appears to be made of copper, and in removing/replacing the nut I evidently had stripped the post threads. Agh!
+Thinking it next appropriate to inspect the starter internally, we loosened the long retaining bolts to look for "obvious" problems. None found, except yep, the back end of the starter became too loose and would not re-assemble. So...removed the starter, that bushing plate and Bendix. Actually it came out fairly easily. No teeth missing.

[Side question: some folks on line refer to the "Bendix" which I have divined is the same (yes?) as the "starter drive". Terminology confusion again!]

+Since the starter looked (to us chimps) to be ok, I merely wiped the commutator clean and with our four hands we did manage to reinstall the starter with brushes in place. That in itself was a small victory, but ruined by the fact that in removing the oil filter to re-install the starter, we twisted/crimped the bottom copper tube so I suspect that now needs to be replaced.

That's the situation. Diagnosis? Bad solenoid/relay? (only, or starter, too?)

Other inspection procedures to try?

If the starter needs to be replaced (if I can't find a shop to rebuild it here in rural Maine), looking on line I don't see a complete starter & drive unit, but are sold separately. Any tricks to removing/installing the "Bendix", if necessary? Ok to re-use the old Bendix with a new or rebuilt starter?

Finally, guess I'll be shopping for copper tubing (what diameter?), plus bending and flaring tools...

Thanks, guys. We chimps appreciate your willing expertise.

Jeff L.

P.S. Wishing I had a tractor manual like I had for my old VW Bus, "for the compleat idiot". Anybody out there writing one?


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