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Harry Ferguson Tractors Discussion Forum

cold blooded to20

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01-11-2013 20:39:35

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i have a 1950 to20 that runs and works great on my small hobby farm in indiana but in the winter it doesnt want to start and i have to jump start it with my truck to plow snow. its a 6volt and i use 10w40 oil and have good spark with a new rebuild generator good oil pressure and many new parts. this little tractor does everything even bailed 6acre of grass hay last year but wont start in the cold. ????????

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01-13-2013 12:57:25

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 Re: cold blooded to20 in reply to hoosier173, 01-11-2013 20:39:35  
Its warmed up here so it starts great. tonight the temp is supposed to drop again so i will start working on the old girl. i never thought about pushing in the clutch and ive done about everything else. im a rookie i wish i would have found this site last winter. thanks guys i will keep you updated.

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01-12-2013 12:35:54

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 Re: cold blooded to20 in reply to hoosier173, 01-11-2013 20:39:35  
are you pushing the clutch in when you start it if not do so then you are only turning the engine and not the gears in the trans.make a world of difference

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Tim Stoken

01-23-2013 08:43:40

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 Re: cold blooded to20 in reply to marloweg, 01-12-2013 12:35:54  
Yes, good point, i haven't tried pushing the Clutch in because my 1949 to20 starts by the Shifter but I will try pushing the clutch in tonight, thanks alot.

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01-12-2013 08:24:34

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 Re: cold blooded to20 in reply to hoosier173, 01-11-2013 20:39:35  
You didn"t say whether the problem was slow starter speeds or whether you noticed some else when you attempt a cold start. I live in Western Montana and have a 12V TO-30 that starts on the first turn, independent of the temperature. Your 6V system at best is marginal in really cold temps so the ignition, fuel and starter must be in excellent tune to reliably start in coldd weather. Here are some thing for you to look into.

Are you keeping the clutch pedal down when you try a start? Most of us leave our pto/hitch connected so if you are not disconnecting the transmission and pump by stepping on the clutch, your starter is trying to turn a cold engine AND the cold tranny and pump.

Carbs are not temperature biased so they need a choke for mixture enrichment in cold weather and they generally need the main jet opened up a little for cold weather operation.

Your battery needs to in top shape and you need to have big starter cables especially for a 6V system. The chasis grounds must also be good.

Make sure that your ignition system is up to snuff giving your the requisite FAT, BLUISH-WHITE SPARK, the color of lightning. Make sure that you timing is correct and that your advance is not sticking.

Good Luck, from a fellow Hoosier.

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Tony in Mass.

01-12-2013 07:10:28

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 Re: cold blooded to20 in reply to hoosier173, 01-11-2013 20:39:35  
I was told I am rude and insulting on some of these forums... so I will have to word this 'diplomaticly'... and I'm certain John UK will have the specs if there is something wrong with... the choke.
With all my gazzers, Cont and Perkins.. AND a Dodge pick up never designed for a choke cable, I find myself using a choke on some engines even on a summer morning. I do love ether, I should invest in starting fluid companies, but first I try a serious choking.
We got in the habit of this when I was a kid, our first tractor was a 9N, and even though it looked like it was flooded to point of drowning.. being an 'updraft' (draught?) the plugs weren't wet at all.
So, if you aren't choking tightly with the throttle atleast half open, try it, if you are, the length bends and a little sprung relief valve 'might' be off. And, once running, and this will make my freinds here shake their heads once again... I keep a couple sprung-two piece? wooden clothespins handy. If it won't keep going without maintaning a serious choke, 2 clothespins, then one, then after a couple minutes, see how it idles with none. Desparate people do desparate things... Another reason to move closer to miner09 or 2 tractors.... winter....

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Dan S (NY)

01-12-2013 06:41:53

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 Re: cold blooded to20 in reply to hoosier173, 01-11-2013 20:39:35  
Didn't see this mentioned yet, but make sure you are using thick heavy battery cables for your 6v system, not the small automotive 4 gauge cables found at most auto parts stores. I forget what the gauge should be, something like 00 gauge.

When it's really cold, does your TO20 turn over (even slowly) but just not catch, or is it not turning at all. In really cold weather my 20 only likes to start with the throttle only about a quarter open. If I open it to far it won't fire off as quick or at all. The coldest I have started my 6v TO20 was -18 and it fired right up. Took a while for the hydraulics to start moving with any kind of speed though!


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Tony in Mass.

01-12-2013 07:17:37

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 Re: cold blooded to20 in reply to Dan S (NY), 01-12-2013 06:41:53  
OK, I won't agrue with you Dan, you are a conisuer of 40 below nights, and hazy to the point of 'is that the sun or the moon?' 30 below days, so if you say quarter throttle... who am I to disagree??? Just a frostbit city slicker from way downstate.... who gave up on the northcountry with my tail between my legs... and still ain't far enough south!!!!

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Dan S (NY)

01-12-2013 07:33:16

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 Re: cold blooded to20 in reply to Tony in Mass., 01-12-2013 07:17:37  
A quarter open is what works on my TO20 and my snow blowing MF50 likes about 1/3 throttle. Of course, I am also using the choke as would be expected in any cold weather start. All these old tractors have their quirks and you just have to learn what each one likes. I know someone with a 1964 ford 4000 and it doesn't like to start sometimes unless the throttle is almost wide open.


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01-12-2013 02:38:18

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 Re: cold blooded to20 in reply to hoosier173, 01-11-2013 20:39:35  
The tractor should be wired Positive to ground unless you have an Alternator fitted.
Fit a longer Ground Lead, instead of attaching it to the back of the Dash Panel, attach it to one of the bolts close to the Starter. Make sure that the points and plugs are gapped correctly. Be sure that the feed wire to the Coil from the ignition switch is attached to the negative terminal of the coil. When you operate the starter it may be that the spark you are getting is not as good as it should be. If it is the Starter that is sluggish when it is cold, check the starter switch on top of the Clutch housing as the contacts burn and no longer make a good contact but it takes all the power from the battery. You can check if it is the switch by jumping the Starter direct from the battery cutting out the starter switch..John(UK)..fergusontractors@hotmail.co.uk

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01-13-2013 04:33:50

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 Re: cold blooded to20 in reply to John(UK), 01-12-2013 02:38:18  
This is a comment about the "should be wired with a positive ground" statement; I don"t think it is good to get that embedded in the thread without contesting it. John, I know you have a world of experience and knowledge about these Fergies, but most autos for decades ran with negative ground. I run my TO-20 quite happily with a negative ground. There are things that must be done to switch to a negative ground system but they are very simple and it works perfectly well. Note that DIS (waste spark) automotive systems run with one plug getting positive spark polarity and one plug getting negative. The difference is where the most erosion of the plug electrodes will occur, and on a +ve HV plug the center electrode will tend to have more erosion because the +ve ions have more mass than the -ve electrons; but the center electrodes are typically made with more durable materials than the grounded protruding electrode. And I don"t really think most of our tractor plugs die from electrode erosion anyway. But this could be a discussion for another thread!

My advice for poor starts:
Good heavy battery cables with very clean connections at all points (terminals, frame ground and at all points to starter. Plus clean starter to frame mating surfaces.
And check your starter - check the brushes and commutator surface; shouldn't be too much scoring and the brushes should float freely and be long enough and show evidence of mating all across the commutator and not just in a small strip (can judge but color and wear. Make sure the commutator segments are not shorted.

And make sure you have changed gas with the season - the winter blends are more volatile and if you have old gas it is likely going stale anyway.

Storing in a shed is the best most of us can do but tractors are massive and condensation and moisture will work to corrode and oxidize things like electrical connections. Store inside if possible; regular use is the best medicine.

And don't mess with too many things all at once! If it was running in summer, it is probably pretty close to being right! These tractors with their 6V systems worked reliably for decades and there is no good reason that can't still be true; but time allows all the degradations of electrical contacts and connections and that is the most likely issue.

Best of luck with it.


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01-13-2013 05:00:51

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 Re: cold blooded to20 in reply to grits, 01-13-2013 04:33:50  
I Did't read anything in John's commentary that said positive ground was BETTER but merely that it came that way originally and a good way to tell if that had been changed then the alternator is a sign of change.

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01-13-2013 06:50:32

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 Re: cold blooded to20 in reply to 2tractors, 01-13-2013 05:00:51  
They don't always read what is written and put their own interpretation on it. Thank you for your observations as always....John(UK)

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01-13-2013 06:44:29

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 Re: cold blooded to20 in reply to 2tractors, 01-13-2013 05:00:51  
Well, first I've got to say that I should have proof read better; with a +ve HV the center is +ve and the positive ions are attracted to the grounded outer terminal where most of the erosion will occur.

However, I think my reading comprehension is OK, and "should be wired Positive to ground unless you have an Alternator fitted." (noting the parts following "should" and "unless") is what lead me to believe John was conveying the way it "should" be. And since the poster said it was a 6V system "with a new rebuild generator", John's statement then reduces to the meaning that it "should be wired Positive to ground" and all I am saying is that polarity isn't a significant issue in the least - especially if it was previously running.

And the original post didn't distinguish between slow cranking and failure or weakness to "hit" so we have all made a large heap without getting clarification of the actual issue at hand. His statement that it can be jump started from 12V truck (assumption on the 12V thing) suggests contact resistance for something electrical which is overcome by the assisting higher voltage of the truck jump; with 6V systems contact resistance is just a much bigger issue and yet, properly maintained, a 6V system works just fine.

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bobs old iron

01-11-2013 23:36:53

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 Re: cold blooded to20 in reply to hoosier173, 01-11-2013 20:39:35  
i took my to-20 to parade thursday morning, a little cool, 36 degrees, usually my TO starts up with no problems also, but that early and cold, i cheated,opened hood, cranking a little, while shoting it with starting fluid, to save on cranking batt till dead...

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Charles in Aus.

01-11-2013 22:03:18

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 Re: cold blooded to20 in reply to hoosier173, 01-11-2013 20:39:35  
You could also try cleaning the air filter if you haven't already.Cold starts need a fuel rich mixture but still require lots of air.

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Dick New York

01-11-2013 21:20:47

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 Re: cold blooded to20 in reply to hoosier173, 01-11-2013 20:39:35  
Check the points gap , and the timing . I have a 1952 TO30 that starts on about one revolution , very hot , or very cold . I set the points , and Static timed it 4 years ago . I wish everything I own started like that .

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01-11-2013 21:04:37

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 Re: cold blooded to20 in reply to hoosier173, 01-11-2013 20:39:35  
Okay, hopefully you have a warmer shed to work on it in. I would pull off the inlet air tube and have a look at the choke plate. First off, does it even move? Is the bypass plate still in place behind the spring? As far as cranking, you might desire to clean the barttery cables, yeah, they look clean, but are they really clean? While your playing, how about that ground strap? I had a TE-20 that the ground strap ran from the battery up to the dash and down to the starter bolt. The dash connection had the insulation removed and the connector was crimped around the cable. Beyond that, your voltage output should be around 7.3 volts. Now I have to look...
7.4 volts to charge the batt.

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