Folks, it’s New Year’s day. I’ve got shit to do. I don’t have time to write the next part of the tractor saga. So I’ve decided to shorten the next part to just a paragraph. Ahem:
“If something isn’t working. And you’re pissed off. And you’re the kind of fellow that has a big chain and a truck… You might be thinking that the chain and truck will solve your problems. This is an excellent time to sip a nice cup of tea and then go to bed. You might even want to pour a fifth of whiskey in the tea. By all means it’s a wise idea to: Put. The. Chain. Down.”
Now I know what you’re thinking. No I didn’t flay myself to death. Nor did I leave truck or tractor in a smoking ruin. But I did look like an ignorant asshole trying to get that damned tractor running. Enough that my neighbors probably sat in lawn chairs with binoculars taking notes and gossiping. Fuck em! I am surprised that my wife, who drove the truck a few miles going back and forth for hours, is still speaking to me. In fact, she even had kind words and a pat on the back – I looked just that desperately pathetic.
The tractor did not run. It turned but didn’t fire or even hint that it ever had, would, or in any conceivable future universe might, run.
I parked it for another month. My lawn hadn’t been mowed in so long that it began to evolve opposable thumbs and the EPA started declaring it an official wilderness area.
I decided I’d rather be stacking firewood. I did well on the firewood front. (Today, in January, that seems like a good trade off.)
I know this is probably a stupid question-
If it’s a diesel tractor, did you bleed the injector lines?
It’s not a diesel. Too old and primitive for that.
Do you have fire? No one with a full set of teeth knows what that means. (Spark)
Just in case you haven’t checked these; Timing, Float bowl, the resistor being disconnected would be indicated by running until you let off the starter. But you know that by now? Ether used to help start many a truck and tractor on my Granddaddy’s farm. The float bowl would get clogged or the float would stick as I recall. The resistor was another common failure mode.
Yeah… my Ferguson (it’s younger than your Ford — 1951) has been known to do that. Sit for weeks, refusing to start… then one bleeping day, I’ll turn the key and hit the starter and off it goes, just like new.
Floats stick, or rather float needle valves stick (use 89 or 91 octane, that will help). Timing and dwell are really important. Ditto good clean properly gapped spark plugs.
Good luck, and thank you — I don’t know when I’ve laughed as hard as I have following your adventures with the beast!
Timing is simple — pull the plugs, put #1 at TDC, use a ohm-meter across the points and rotate the distributor about a hair past where the points open and resistance goes to infinite. Dwell is for motors that rev, pay no attention to it for now. Points gap is specified in the manual and your distributor cam is so worn you’ve no hope of ever meeting factory spec anyway. If it runs, that’s close enough.
Once you’ve established spark and the timing is correct, now you’re on to that blasted Marvell updraft carb. 99% of the time the correct thing to do is pull it apart, place it in a pot of boiling, soapy water, and go have a drink. Reassemble it with new gaskets, put every screw full in and then back out three turns, and it’ll run another three or four years. Note that determining the problem is not a part of the solution. Neither is actually tuning the thing. Once it starts, let it warm a bit and adjust the air screw for fastest idle and leave it alone. If you go more than one turn, you’re screwing something up and you won’t know about it until tomorrow. Or later.
The secret to keeping an old tractor running is to forget precision and pretend you bought it to replace a tired horse. Approaching repairs with an apple, a hammer, some pliers and a hoof-pick as your only tools will set you in the proper frame of mind. If you bring out an oscilloscope and a micrometer you are destined for doom.
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