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8N starting issues

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PhilWV

11-20-2020 06:45:13




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Hi everyone, I've been lurking on this forum for a few months but haven't had a reason to post until now. I'm new to tractors. Picked up a '48 8N (6V, front dist) back in the spring. I don't run it super often, average once a week. Over the summer it seemed to be getting reluctant to start, but seemed to run fine once it was going. I'm still not sure how much the slow starting was user error on my part (I'm new to antique engines too). Often it would fire up instantaneously. Then a few weeks ago it just quit and wouldn't even start. Usually it will sputter for a second or two and then die. It sounds like one or more of the cylinders might not be firing, but I'm not sure.

I've tried to troubleshoot it using the advice folks have given elsewhere on this forum, but can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong.
Checked for spark using an in-line tester and all four plugs were firing.

Fuel is getting to the carb. I made the mistake a while back of opening up the fuel reserve all the way so I cleaned the gunk out of the filters, took apart the carb, cleaned it and put in new gaskets (referencing Stewart's very helpful carb rebuild tutorial), it had some scale in the bowl but after cleaning it still won't start.
The fuel was about 2 months old by this point, so I drained it and put in new, just in case it had taken on moisture.
Did a dry compression test and got 90-80-75-85, it seemed low so I started using my car's 12V battery to try to jump it, bypassing the solenoid like folks recommend. Same story, just sputters and dies. (FWIW I did the compression test again while cranking from the 12V battery and got 110-100-90-105).

Not sure where to go next to find out what might be wrong. Would appreciate any ideas anyone might have.

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HFJ

11-24-2020 17:15:17




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to PhilWV, 11-20-2020 06:45:13  
Quoting Removed, click Modern View to see

try less choke. the flooding is <almost> certainly the result of too much choke.



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PhilWV

11-24-2020 14:54:55




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to PhilWV, 11-20-2020 06:45:13  
Don't laugh... I was rushing a bit yesterday and didn't connect the top terminal of the coil when I tested for spark. Spotted it first thing today and hooked it up, sparking great now. :roll: (OK, you can laugh.)

Problem is I still can't get it to run, even after swapping out the old plugs for new AL 437s. I crank it a few times with the ignition off, then turn the ignition on and pull out the choke for a split second -- it starts -- sputters for 3 or 4 seconds at most, and then gives out. After about 3 tries, the engine's flooded. Then if I pull the spark plugs and wipe them dry, it'll fire again.

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PhilWV

11-23-2020 14:57:53




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to PhilWV, 11-20-2020 06:45:13  
Thanks everyone for the advice. For the update, I'm still not getting a spark. I got the adjustable spark tester, same result as the opened-up plug: nothing. A couple of times I got a very weak and inconsistent spark with the tester opened <1/16", but that's it.

I went back out with the multimeter and I'm getting the right voltage at the coil: same as battery when the points are open, half that when closed.

Bruce, I went through your 10 most common distributor-related reasons for a weak spark and your continuity tests for inside the distributor - again - in case I missed something the first time. This time around I dressed the points with cardstock like you suggested, even though the points look pristine and I'm not getting any resistance reading between them. There was a little carbon streaking on the bronze contact points inside the cap but not much, it came off with steel wool. Did a continuity test before I put the distributor back on, and it was fine: no continuity between the top of the coil and the distributor body when points are open, slight resistance from the coil when they're closed.

I don't get it. Brand new battery, continuity in all the right places, but no spark. Could the coil be bad?

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Den N Ms

11-21-2020 14:04:42




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to PhilWV, 11-20-2020 06:45:13  
PhilWV, If you have good spark now,with a spark tester or a 1/4" gapped old plug.Try this to get your engine running.Get a new set of plugs as yours could be fouled/flooded from fuel deposits from trying to start iy manny times.I recommend (NGK 3112 (B-4l) plugs.Squirt 2-3 pumps of engine oil in a oil can. or 1 teaspoon of oil down each plug hole before installing new plugs.This will increase compression and help it start.A squirt of starting fluid into carb intake when cranking over with ignition on and throttle 1/4 to 1/2 way open.No choke needed with starter fluid.Try this!

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Bruce(VA)

11-21-2020 13:53:20




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to PhilWV, 11-20-2020 06:45:13  
The first thing you need to check is for battery voltage at the coil. Yes, you need a meter for that, not a light. With the key on, you should see battery voltage battery with the points open and about half that with the points closed. If you do not see either, the problem is between the battery and the coil, e.g., the resistor, ignition switch or a bad connection.

Assuming that the bushings & advance weights are ok (*see below), & that you have correct voltage to the coil , the most common reasons for no spark or a weak spark on the front distributor are below. Check each one carefully. Even if you find a problem, check all 10:

1. The insulator under the brass concave head screw & where the copper strip attaches. (it's fiber & will wear out; poke & prod w/ your meter leads to make sure it still works) If you need to replace the insulator, use a .250 x 3/8 nylon square nylon anchor nut available at most big box home stores.

2. The pigtail at the bottom of the coil not making contact w/ the concave head brass screw inside the distributor. (With the coil on, the pigtail must firmly contact the brass screw. No contact = no spark) Check for continuity between the top of the coil and the pig tail; a 6 volt coil will be around 1 ohm & a 12 volt coil should be 2 to 3 ohms.

3. The copper strip is broken or grounded to the plate. (look very carefully for cracks & breaks) .

4. The distributor is not grounded to the block because of paint or grease acting as an insulator. Or the points plate is covered in oil.

5. The tab on the bottom of the coil not making contact w/ the brass button on the cap. (With the cap on, the tab must firmly contact the brass button. No contact = no spark.) Check for continuity between the top of the coil and the tab; you should see about 6k ohms.

6. A grounding issue inside the distributor: Incorrect positioning of the spring clip on the plate causing the pigtail to ground. (the open part of the clip goes between 7 & 9 o'clock on the plate. That puts the straight part of the clip opposite of the timing screw at 3 o'clock) or the condenser wire is grounding to the plate or side of the distributor.

7. Incorrect seating of the coil on the distributor due to a loose bail or no gasket.(the coil must not move at all; if it does, replace the gasket or bail. Or stick some cardboard under the bail).

8. Water/moisture inside the cap due to gasket failure or the absence of a gasket. (the cap AND coil have gaskets)

9. Dirty/corroded/burned/incorrectly gapped or misaligned points. I use only Wells, Blue Streak or Echlin brand points (* *see below). If you are using quality points and cannot get the gap to open to .015, chances are you need to replace the bushings. If the shaft has any sideways movement AT ALL, the bushings must be replaced. (*** see below) If the tractor has been sitting unused for a few months, itís highly likely that the points are glazed. Dress them with brown paper or card stock. Do NOT use a file or sandpaper. That removes the thin metallic coating on the surface and reduces point life considerably. With the points closed, you should have continuity between them; high resistance means they are glazed.

10. Burned rotor, cracked/carbon tracked cap. Brass ďdustĒ in the cap is a sure sign of bushing wear.

After find the problem & re-check the point gap, do a continuity check before you put the distributor back on the tractor. Before you start, make sure your meter/light works.

With the distributor still off the tractor, follow these steps:

1. Coil off, cap off, points open. One probe on the brass screw & the other on both sides of the open points. On the side closest to the cam, you should have continuity. Not on the other side! If you do, you will also have continuity everywhere because the points are grounded.

2. Coil off, cap off, points open. One probe on the brass screw & the other anywhere on the body of the distributor. You should have no continuity! Now, rotate the tang on the distributor....as the points open & close, you have continuity (closed) and lose it when they open.

3. Put the coil on the distributor, cap off, points open. One probe on the lead on the top of the coil, the other on the cam side of the open points. You should have continuity!

4. Coil on, cap off, points open. One probe on the lead on the top of the coil, the other anywhere on the body of the distributor. You should have no continuity!

At this point, I just put the distributor, coil & cap all back on the tractor as a unit. The reason I do this is because it is real easy to get the cap or coil misaligned trying to put it back together, one piece at a time. The result is something gets broken or you get a 'no spark' problem.

It's possible to put it back on wrong & break it. Look at the slot on the end of the cam shaft. Whatever angle it happens to be, turn the distributor tang to match it. Make sure you can tell the wide side from the narrow side on both the cam & distributor! (close counts). Place the distributor on the front of the engine, gently push it in place & slowly turn the distributor body until you feel the tang slip into the slot. Rotate the distributor body until the bolt holes line up. Hand tighten the two bolts until the distributor body is flush with the timing gear cover.

* Unscrew the plate hold down screw & remove the C clip to get the plate out. Remove the shaft & weights. The weights should freely move. The tracks should not be wallowed out.

** NAPA part numbers:

. Points: FD-6769X or ECH CS35

. Condenser: FD-71 or ECH FA200

. Rotor: FD-104 or ECH FA 300

. Cap: FD-126 or ECH FA 350

** Yesterday's Tractor kit:

Premium Blue Streak points (A0NN12107ABS), rotor, condenser, and gauge Part
No: APN12000ABSR

** Just8N's kit:

Heavy-Duty Point Set, Condenser, Heavy-Duty Rotor, Heat Range Matched Spark Plugs. Packed 6 to Master Carton. Contains: 1-9N12107 Point Set, 1-AONN12300A Condenser, 1-9N12200 Rotor,1-9N12104 Gasket Kit,4-AL437 Spark
Plug,1-015 Gauge, 1-025 Gauge.


** Distributor cam lube NAPA:

https://www.napaonline.com/en/p/ECHML1

*** There are three ways to replace the bushings in a front distributor:

1. Buy new bushings (part numbers 9N12120 front & 18-12132 rear). Press out the old ones, press in the new ones and ream to fit. CAUTION: do not try this unless you have a press & know how to use it. If you break the base, a new one costs $130. If you bend the tower which holds the front bushing, a new plate will cost you $30. Resist the temptation to buy a new plate; most are pot metal and the threads will wallow out about the third time you change the points.

2. Take the new bushings and distributor to your local machine shop.

3. Send the distributor out for bushing replacement if you do not have a local machine shop

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PhilWV

11-21-2020 12:44:40




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to PhilWV, 11-20-2020 06:45:13  
[quote:ca472a236c="Jim WI"]

Is the battery full charged? Should be nearly 6.4 volts.

What voltage at the coil with the points open? Should be same as the battery.

What voltage at the coil with the points closed? If you measure this when you turn the switch on, it should be around 3.5 volts.

If the voltage at the coil with the points closed is low, it's likely a problem with the wiring or the ballast resistor.[/quote:ca472a236c]

Yes, the battery is charged and reads 6.4 volts. Also reads 6.4 at the coil so I guess the points are open. How do I get them to close so I can take the other measurement? Do I just crank the engine until I can get a different reading?

[quote = Frontline1]

Basically what's happening is your starter is drawing down the voltage enough the coil isn't able to make spark. [/quote]

I would think this has been ruled out since it still won't start when I jump the starter from my 12V car battery.

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Bruce(VA)

11-21-2020 13:51:45




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to PhilWV, 11-21-2020 12:44:40  
" How do I get them to close so I can take the other measurement? "

Pull up or push down on the fan belt and turn the fan by hand.



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Jim WI

11-21-2020 12:29:03




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to PhilWV, 11-20-2020 06:45:13  
What voltage at the coil with the points open? Should be same as the battery.

What voltage at the coil with the points closed? If you measure this when you turn the switch on, it should be around 3.5 volts.



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JerryCPP(WA)

11-21-2020 11:22:50




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to PhilWV, 11-20-2020 06:45:13  
As others have written, you must have good spark and fuel flow. My '50 8N is still 6 volt, and starts first time, every time, as it has since we bought it in 1955. I use only non-ethanol fuel; that is important to keep water out of the gas, and to keep the carburetor from gumming up. In cold weather, turn on the fuel, pull the choke, and turn the engine over 4 times. Only then turn on the ignition. Be ready with the choke, and it will fire up on the first or second turn.

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Jim WI

11-21-2020 08:57:38




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to PhilWV, 11-20-2020 06:45:13  
Quoting Removed, click Modern View to see

Is the battery full charged? Should be nearly 6.4 volts.

What voltage at the coil with the points open? Should be same as the battery.

What voltage at the coil with the points closed? If you measure this when you turn the switch on, it should be around 3.5 volts.

If the voltage at the coil with the points closed is low, it's likely a problem with the wiring or the ballast resistor.

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Mad Farmer

11-21-2020 07:55:27




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to PhilWV, 11-20-2020 06:45:13  
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Mine is OEM 6 volts, starts like a champ, in the winter.



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Frontline1

11-20-2020 21:03:45




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to PhilWV, 11-20-2020 06:45:13  
Ah, the classic 6-volt draw-down :lol: Id guess it's a weak starter, failing solenoid, or a bad cable. Basically what's happening is your starter is drawing down the voltage enough the coil isn't able to make spark. That probably explains the splutter, it tries to fire right as you let off the starter, while it's still rolling itll make a spark. Don't know if this is a user tractor or a period correct resto, but I fixed mine by making it 12 volt - starts like a champ.....

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truckfarmer49

11-20-2020 18:49:43




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to PhilWV, 11-20-2020 06:45:13  
Sounds similar to the problem I had recently. It's colder now. Starter fluid seems to have solved my problem and I hope it solves yours too!



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Mad Farmer

11-20-2020 07:33:17




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to PhilWV, 11-20-2020 06:45:13  
Is fuel getting too the carb , or INTO the carb? That is from drain in carb. Stuck float? Give carb a few taps with a wrench.

Are plugs wet or dry? Wet you might have flooded condition (needle valve open). Dry see above.
Might try a new/cleaned set of plugs, after you teat spark as suggested above



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Bruce(VA)

11-20-2020 07:30:41




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to PhilWV, 11-20-2020 06:45:13  
" an in-line tester "

A light?

If so, that was your first mistake.

Throw that piece of junk in the trash and get an adjustable gap plug checker.

You could have a spark issue.


You could have a fuel issue.


Donít guess. Troubleshoot. See tip # 13 at the link below.


You need to answer 2 questions before you do anything else:


With the bolt in the carb bowl removed and the gas on, will the fuel flow fill a pint jar in less than 2 minutes?


Next, get out your adjustable gap spark checker * , open the gap to 1/4", hook it up, turn the key on and crank the engine. Does the spark jump 1/4"? Post back with the answers.


And do not buy a new part for the tractor until you can answer this question: how do I know the part on the tractor is defective? Once you narrow the problem to spark or fuel, post back and tell us what you found (and how you found it) and you will get plenty of help to get your tractor running.

* Don't own an adjustable gap spark checker? Buy one! Not a test light! Until then, take an old plug, open the gap 1/4" ground it to the head & look for spark. Itís not the color of the spark that counts; itís the distance it jumps.

https://www.autozone.com/test-scan-and-specialty-tools/ignition-tester/oemtools-adjustable-ignition-spark-tester/10257_0_0?
cmpid=PLA:US:EN:AD:NL:1000000:TLS:71700000043798748&gclid=Cj0KCQiAovfvBRCRARIsADEmbRKBdAvAmtFfOvYiYXR7T6NYiW57uyv5-
dEKjVT_h2KogQNUUMsRixYaAlU3EALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

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PhilWV

11-20-2020 13:45:50




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to Bruce(VA), 11-20-2020 07:30:41  
Bingo! No spark when cranked with ignition on, a plug opened to 1/4" and grounded to a paint-free spot on the head. The previous owner said he replaced the whole ignition system - points, coil, distributor, ignition - so I'm surprised. (Fuel flow from the carb drain plug is fine.)

The battery is new and the ammeter is pulsing when I crank the engine. I got out the multimeter, checked ignition and got continuity + full voltage through the switch when it's turned on. There was full voltage to the coil too. I pulled the distributor and checked the points, they were only 0.010" apart when open so I regapped them to 0.015". Checked for any shorts inside the distributor or misaligned contacts between the distributor & coil. Everything seems ok, but no spark yet.

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Bruce(VA)

11-20-2020 14:34:27




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to PhilWV, 11-20-2020 13:45:50  
What is " full voltage"?



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PhilWV

11-21-2020 12:17:54




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to Bruce(VA), 11-20-2020 14:34:27  
Sorry, I wasn't clear. I meant battery voltage, which is about 7V (my multimeter is analog, so it's not that precise). Here's what I've found so far:

- Continuity from battery to coil (with ignition on)
- 0.5 ohms resistance through the coil
- I followed your directions in this thread on how to check for electrical problems in the distributor and everything tested OK: https://www.yesterdaystractors.com/cgi-bin/viewit.cgi?bd=nboard&th=880652 - The firing order is correct, 1-2-4-3 counterclockwise when standing in front of the tractor looking at the distributor. There seems to be a continuity problem with one of the plug wires, but that doesn't account for why none of the plugs are firing.

I'm starting to think maybe there was something wrong with the test spark plug I used and that I should go out and get that adjustable gap spark tester...

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Bruce(VA)

11-21-2020 13:07:19




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 Re: 8N starting issues in reply to PhilWV, 11-21-2020 12:17:54  
An adjustable gap plug checker would be a great idea.



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