In The Garage

Why won’t my tractor start (pt. 3)

What makes more noise than a tractor?
2 tractors!


For those who have not read about my on-going struggles with “Blue”, my 1964 Ford 2000 tractor, you can catch up by reading PART 1 and PART 2 by clicking the links.

Picture this: You have just spent hours on the tractor, brush hogging a field. You are nearly done and you run out of gas. No big deal. You get your spouse to bring a can of gas out to you and you fill up the tractor. You hop back on and hit the starter. Nothing happens. What could be the problem? That’s the scenario I faced yesterday and had to troubleshoot yet another problem with Blue.

Since there was no attempt from the starter to start the engine at all and the tractor was just running, I felt safe to assume that we should begin by looking at the ignition system. Remember that word… assume… it will come back to haunt us later.

I began by taking a look at the starter button on the tractor. Everything looked normal there. There was no corrosion on the connection under the boot.

starter button on a 1964 Ford 2000 tractor

I then moved on to the starter solenoid. I looked at it and didn’t see any corrosion on the connection points.

Starter solenoid on 1964 Ford 2000 tractor

I decided that since the starter was not even attempting to start the tractor, I would check out the solenoid with the multi-meter. I hooked it up and saw that there was no continuity from one side to the other. This is as it should be because the starter button was not being pressed. I tried again with the starter pressed and still saw no continuity. Now this is a problem. A solenoid works by taking a small amount of power (from the starter button) and closing a switch to allow a larger amount of power to flow through it (from the battery to the starter). When I pressed the starter, the small amount of power from the starter button should have closed that switch and allowed power to flow through the solenoid.

testing the starter solenoid on a 1964 Ford 2000 tractor

I had found my problem. The solenoid was bad. I called up the local parts shop and asked if they had any in stock. After a few minutes the clerk who had answered the phone came back and said that they did and that they were only 12 dollars. I thanked him and hung up. Great news for me I thought. I will just bypass the solenoid to start the tractor in order to get it back to the barn where I can work on it more easily. To accomplish this, I took a piece a wire and touched the top pole of the solenoid to the bottom pole, effectively creating a new circuit around the solenoid instead of through it.

bypassing the starter solenoid on a 1964 Ford 2000 tractor

There was only one small problem. Nothing happened when I did this. I was confused at this point, as power should have been flowing from the battery directly to the starter at this point. It should have done something at least. Time to back up and punt. Just on a whim, I decided to test the battery with my multi-meter. It showed less than one volt. Apparently my battery had been completely sapped while I was in the field this afternoon. I removed the battery and took it to the barn to put it on the charger. I had assumed for the whole time I was troubleshooting that the battery had power. You know the old saying about the word assume (it makes an ASS out of U and ME).

The moral of this story is never to assume anything as it can lead you down the wrong path. In this case, it led me down the path of checking the starter button and solenoid. Had I not made this assumption and started checking the electrical system from the battery first, I could have saved myself an hour of sitting out in a field in the hot sun working on Blue, trying to figure out what was wrong.

Be sure to like and share this so I know you guys are out there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s