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Old Dependable front-mount has lost spark!

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Bill Crowell

11-29-2015 07:46:55




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After running well for several years(!), my '49 front-mount wasn't getting spark when I tried starting it yesterday, after sitting for a couple of months. I removed the distributor and checked the continuity from the primary coil terminal to ground with an ohmmeter. It was about 850 ohms with the points closed. So I cleaned and adjusted the points and checked the continuity again. This time it was 25 ohms, which seemed about right to me for the coil primary(?). After I re-installed the distributor it started right up and ran well, but about halfway through disking my pasture it lost spark again. I've ordered a new set of points and a condenser. It seems like a bad condenser to me, maybe? What do you think, please? Thanks.

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old

11-29-2015 08:37:05




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 Re: Old Dependable front-mount has lost spark! in reply to Bill Crowell, 11-29-2015 07:46:55  
Condensers do not just go bad all at once and the new ones are likely to be bad right out of the box. I have not replaced a condenser in years. That all said more likely the point have slipped and just need to be adjusted and tighten again



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Bruce (VA)

11-29-2015 08:09:19




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 Re: Old Dependable front-mount has lost spark! in reply to Bill Crowell, 11-29-2015 07:46:55  
" It seems like a bad condenser to me, maybe?"

Maybe.

But I'd suspect corroded points: " It was about 850 ohms with the points closed. So I cleaned and adjusted the points and checked the continuity again. This time it was 25 ohms, which seemed about right to me for the coil primary(?)."

If you had check resistance across the points & not through the coil, that would have confirmed my guess.

But, even at 25 ohms, you're still seeing 20+ ohms of resistance in the points.

You didn't tell us if it's a 6v or 12v coil.

Or if the points had metal transfer, a sure sign of condenser failure.

A 6v coil should be 1 ohm or less & a 12v could 2.5 ohms or slightly more. But not 20 ohms.

If you don't have much to do, dress the new points w/ brown paper or card stock & install them w/ the old condenser. My bet is the tractor will run just fine.

Or, put in the new condenser w/ the new points & we'll never know for sure what the problem was.

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Bill Crowell

11-29-2015 14:37:06




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 Re: Old Dependable front-mount has lost spark! in reply to Bruce (VA), 11-29-2015 08:09:19  
Bruce, you have a troubleshooting procedure for a no-start, don't you? Could you please give me the link? I really don't know if it's spark or fuel now. Thanks very much for your help.



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Bruce (VA)

11-29-2015 14:52:33




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 Re: Old Dependable front-mount has lost spark! in reply to Bill Crowell, 11-29-2015 14:37:06  
It is important for you to tell us if your tractor has a 6 volt or 12 volt electrical system. The troubleshooting is different based upon the configuration of your engine.

First, make sure you have a fully charged battery.

Put your battery on a charger. (see tip # 60)

You need a strong battery to:

1. Close the solenoid

2. Spin the starter

3. Engage the bendix

4. Provide voltage to the coil.

As the battery gets weaker, the first thing to fail is your spark. If the battery is almost totally dead, all you will hear is the solenoid clicking.

In addition to charging the battery, you may need new cables as well (tip # 41).

And, don't forget to clean all the grounds, to include the mating area between the starter & the block.

The more current you use to spin the starter, the less you have for the ignition.

It takes three things for an engine to run: spark at the right time, compression, & fuel/air in the right mixture. For the moment, forget about compression & concentrate on narrowing the problem down to spark or fuel.

There are three very important tools you always need to have in your N tool box: a 3 inch piece of wire w/ alligator clips on each end, a spark checker w/ an adjustable gap (* see below) and a 7/16 box end wrench. (see tip # 50 at the link below) And, you really do need a working ammeter on the tractor; it is a very important diagnostic tool. With these tools, you can quickly narrow down most N problems to spark or fuel.

Check for spark then fuel. First, turn the key on, crank the engine & look at the ammeter. What is the needle doing? Does it show a constant discharge, no movement at all, or does it move back & forth slightly? Next, hook up your spark checker, turn the key on & crank the engine. If the spark jumps the 1/4Ē gap, you probably donít have a spark problem. If it wonít jump the ľĒ gap, you have a spark problem. If the ammeter needle shows a constant discharge, or doesnít move at all, that also tells you that you have a spark problem. Jump the ignition switch w/ your jumper wire & see what happens. If it runs, you found the problem. If it doesnít have spark after you jump the ignition switch, post back for more info on further troubleshooting. (and do not forget to turn the ignition switch off; see tip # 38

Next, check for fuel. Get a can & put it under the carb. Remove the bolt in the bottom of the carb; as long as the fuel is turned on, you should see gas flowing out of the carb. Let it run for at least 30 seconds. If itís a dribble, or runs for 5 seconds & stops, or none at all, you have solved half the problem: itís fuel related. If gas flows well out of the carb & only stops when you turn it off at the sediment bowl, chances are very good itís not a fuel problem.If it does not have gas coming out of the carb at a steady stream w/ the bolt out for at least 30 seconds, you have a fuel problem. First, remove the gas cap. Your vent could be clogged & it vacuum locked. If that doesnít work, tap the carb bowl w/ a hammer handle in case the float is sticking closed. (donít whack it w/ the head of the hammer; you can crack the bowl). If you still donít see gas flowing, the N has three fuel screens; one in the brass elbow, one in the top of the sediment bowl & one on the stem of the sediment bowl in the gas tank. Check the screen in the elbow & the screen in the top of the sediment bowl. (donít worry about the one in the tank) Both probably need to be cleaned. If you have the fuel knob turned on all the way, & 1 gallon or less in the tank, it may be trying to feed off of the reserve inlet which is probably clogged. Only open it 2 full turns. Put at least 2 gallons in the tank. (and do not forget to turn the gas off; see tip # 9)

There are ways to check for spark & fuel that work & ways that don't. For example, having gas to the carb is nice, but having it past the float is what counts! Thatís why removing the 7/16Ē bolt in the bottom of the carb is the way to check for fuel. And, same thing w/ spark at the plugs. Some folks think that checking for spark means pulling a plug wire off & looking for one. Well, it's the distance the spark jumps at the plug that gives you the info you want. It takes about 17kv to jump a 3/16" gap & 22kv to jump ľĒ in the open air. Remember, itís 14psi outside of the engine & about 90psi at a 6:1 compression ratio in the cylinders & compressed air creates electrical resistance, so you really need the 17-22kv to fire the plugs when the engine is running. A store bought plug checker (in the picture) will work better than an old plug because it wonít shock the snot out of you like an old plug might!

Post back with results or more questions.

*If you donít own a spark checker w/ an adjustable gap, buy one. In the meantime, an old spark plug w/ the gap opened to at least ľĒ will work. Ground it to a rust & paint free spot on the engine turn the key on & look for a spark.

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Bill Crowell

11-29-2015 15:26:02




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 Re: Old Dependable front-mount has lost spark! in reply to Bruce (VA), 11-29-2015 14:52:33  
Bruce and Old: It will barely start and run at an idle, but if you try to give it any throttle at all it dies immediately. Sometimes it tries to start but won't even run at idle. Fuel starvation?

It's a bit hard to do troubleshooting because it's down in the pasture.



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Bruce (VA)

11-29-2015 16:13:46




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 Re: Old Dependable front-mount has lost spark! in reply to Bill Crowell, 11-29-2015 15:26:02  
You won't know until you troubleshoot it.

Run the tests I suggested until you eliminate spark or fuel. Guessing at this point isn't going to help much



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