In The Garage

Why won’t my tractor start? (pt. 2)

What sort of robot turns into a tractor?
A trans-farmer


So for those who haven’t been reading along about my struggles with “Blue”, my 1964 Ford 2000 tractor, you can read part one of this series here.

A few days after working out the issue with the points inside the distributor, I went back out to work on my tractor. I remembered that it started right up, ran for a few seconds, then died. I went back to the barn to see what the issue was. I turned the key and hit the starter button. To my surprise, it fired right up. I cautiously stood there and listened to it for about 5 seconds before I began to cheer internally. “It must just have been one of those things”, I thought to myself. Right about the time I got lulled into a false sense of security that Blue was indeed fixed, it unexpectedly and suddenly died.

Now after 2 easy start ups, followed by 2 sudden deaths, I began to formulate a theory of what was going on with the tractor. I suspected that what was happening was that initially, the tractor started and ran fine as it was using the gas inside of the carburetor. When that gas was used up, it died as the engine was getting no more gas. It seemed to me like this was going to be a fuel flow problem.

As I am not a mechanic, I began searching the internet for ideas on what could be causing the problem. I began listing the potential problems in my head as I tried various things to get Blue to start.

  • vapor lock in the fuel tank causing the fuel not to flow? – Just open the gas cap
  • is there fuel in it? – double check the fuel level before I look REALLY dumb
  • it the fuel turned on? – double check to ensure that I had not turned the fuel off to the carb and didn’t remember doing it
  • is the gas old? – no, just picked up fresh gas at the beginning of summer

After checking the easy stuff, I began to read a bit more on the internet about what could be the problem. This is where the limits of my mechanical aptitude would be pushed to the max and I was heading deeper and deeper into unknown territory.

  • Could there be varnish in the jets inside the carb causing them not to spray fuel out? – not likely, but possible. This would require a breakdown of the carb and good cleaning and replacement of the jets.
  • Are the needle floats in the carb stuck? Once again, this requires tearing into the carb and giving it a good cleaning, something I have never done. One old time farmer suggested that a quick couple of raps on the side of the carb with a hammer would fix the issue… HA HA HA, that’s right! I’ll just give old Blue a whoopin’ until it starts!
  • Blocked fuel line? – once again, this problem seemed like a bigger job than I wanted to tackle right away.

Running out of options, I was left with only one easy thing to try. I was going to have to beat Blue until it started.

tapping on the carburetor of a 1964 Ford 2000 tractor

I grabbed my hammer out of my toolbox located on the wheel well and walked up to the carb. Giving it a couple of good taps from multiple directions, I thought there is no way this can work. I walked back up to the starter and while rolling my eyes at the “dumb” thing I had just done and pressed the starter. Blue started right up. Blue kept running. I was humbled and have decided not to discount those “old timer” tricks so quickly next time.

driving a 1964 Ford 2000 tractor

We live in a digital world, where things are either 1s or 0s. On or Off, they either work or they are broken. There are still things around from a time before all of that, such as this tractor, where we have to remember that sometimes you CAN fix things with a hammer. Sometimes, it pays to listen to your elders (even if you are more grey than not like me) when it comes to getting these things to work. They had experience and knowledge dealing with these mechanical wonders full of moving parts and not a computer chip to be found in them.

So, I decided to take Blue out to do some brush-hogging. Below are the before and after pictures of a “field” that had almost gone back to oak trees.

brush hogging – before
brush hogging – after

I was out working on the tractor for a few hours when Blue died suddenly. “Are you kidding me?” I thought. I climbed down and began to to diagnose the problem again. Let’s start with the simple stuff. Is there gas in it? I open the gas tank and sure enough, I have run Blue bone dry. Simple fix! I call my wife and ask her to drive me a gas can out to the back 30 where I am at. After fashioning a makeshift funnel (because she forgot one) out of an old water bottle, I was able to get most of the gas in the tractor and only a little bit on myself. I hopped up on Blue and hit the starter. Nothing. No solenoid click, no engine turn over, nothing.

It appears that now there is an issue with either the starter or the solenoid getting too hot and refusing to work until it cools down. I *almost* had you working just right, Blue! It is getting late and I am tired. I will work on it tomorrow.

Give me a like and a share so I know you guys are out there!

One thought on “Why won’t my tractor start? (pt. 2)

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