Ignition / distrubutor problems??

General help and support for your Lindeman through 2010 John Deere crawler
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kosoca
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Ignition / distrubutor problems??

Post by kosoca » Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:14 pm

Hi Team!

I fired up my 440 IC this past mid-winter (-20* temps) to plow some snow, and it was way, way low on power. It ran perfect when I last used it a couple months prior, in the fall, and I had done nothing with it since. Now it would hardly even get out of its own way in 3rd gear, blade up on flat ground, and I could only push snow in 1st gear and 2nd gear if pointed downhill. I noticed the odd faint black puff out the exhaust, initially making me think it was running rich. Fuel was fresh with a faint splash of gas line antifreeze in it.

I checked out the carb, seemed fine, fiddled with it a bit and it made zero difference. I checked out the ignition and found some anomalies. When I hooked a timing light to #2 plug wire, it fired in a perfect, stable fashion, but when I hooked the light up to #1 plug wire, it was flashing very erratically, actually not firing more than it was firing. Sometimes a second or two between flashes. I swapped plug wires, but still #2 plug wire fired perfectly and #1 still fired poorly. I replaced the cap and rotor, as they were old, and thought maybe they were cracked or worn, made no change. The points and condenser, coil, wires and plugs were replaced a couple years ago when I restored this thing, but I don't think an issue with that would cause one to fire fine and the other so erratically.

Any ideas where to start?

Do distributors wear out?

Is there a non-JD jobber replacement for the distributor? It honestly just looks like a 4 cyl distributor with a 2 point cap on it.

Thanks guys in advance for your help!!

- Matt

B Town
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Re: Ignition / distrubutor problems??

Post by B Town » Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:25 pm

I would replace or swap the plugs, first. Bruce

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Stan Disbrow
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Re: Ignition / distrubutor problems??

Post by Stan Disbrow » Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:03 am

Hi,

Yes, if the plug doesn't spark, there will be no pick-up by the timing light. Replace them first.

I have trouble with modern pump gas detonating at times and causing insulator cracking of the plugs. Especially with the wide variation of the gas formula between Summer and Winter gas mandated by the gov't for emissions. Winter gas is better than summer gas, so draining of the fuel tank is pretty much mandatory come winter to put the proper gas in.

I solve this by not running pump gas at all in both my M and my 420c and use racing fuel instead: 100 octane unleaded. Just bought another 10 gallons for Spring. Yes, it costs $8.50 a gallon but now both old machines start right up, have full power, and do not eat spark plugs. And, race fuel does not varnish and stores for 4-5 years without problems.

Stan
There's No Such Thing As A Cheap Crawler!

Have: '58 JD 420c 5-roller w/62 inside manual blade
Have: '78 JD350C w/6310 outside manual blade
Useta Have: '68 JD350, '51 Terratrac GT-25
Also Have: 1950 M, 2005 x495, 2008 5103 (now known as 5045D)

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Paul Buhler
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Location: Killington, VT

Re: Ignition / distrubutor problems??

Post by Paul Buhler » Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:39 pm

Stan: I've been running 91octane, non-alcohol gas with good results. It keeps pretty well and doesn't have the corrosive elements like the alcohol blended 87 octane fuels, and it is readily available around here for only a small premium. Any thoughts? thanks. Paul
Paul Buhler
Killington, VT
420c 5 roll with 62 blade, FOPS, and Gearmatic 8a winch

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Stan Disbrow
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Re: Ignition / distrubutor problems??

Post by Stan Disbrow » Mon Apr 02, 2018 5:56 pm

Hi,

That ought to be fine. The 420 and later machines were designed to run 85 octane, as actual octane by chemical makeup.

The issue becomes a bit blurry by the rating method. Both fire a test piston in a test cylinder. One (Research) fires to simulate a low load and the other (Motor) fires to simulate a high load. Both are set to show 100 for actual 100 Octane triple-distilled fuel.

The resulting ratings, back in the day, measured pretty much the amount of Octane in fuel that came out of the first pass at the refinery. There is a list of things in the crude oil which come out with the Octane and lead to dilution, and also to detonation. They used to put Tetraethyl Lead in to alter the detonation point and so were able to boost the Octane rating. Hence Methyl and Ethyl on the old gas pumps.

Of course, there are other things they can add in to get the Octane rating way up there. Like 120 or 130 and even higher. That allows for higher compression and so more power. But, we don't need that.

What we do need is actual gasoline. As in Octane. But now they add Alcohol to the mix. Oddly enough, that boosts the pressure in the test cylinders, leading to a decent R+M/2 rating. But that isn't close to what an old machine with an updraft carb thinks of it. It gets plagued with the fuel needing higher temps to vaporize and that leads to both harder starting (we can't get enough choke) and too lean a mix once we do get it firing.

The fact is it takes twice as much alcohol by volume to give energy as it does gasoline. Now a fuel injection system can compensate for that, but old carbs can't. And, I won't even go into how alcohol corrodes and doesn't store as well. We already know that.

Yes, I see some stations around me now carry non-alky gas. It was a fight to get NC to allow it. We periodically run out of alky gas because NC has different formulation requirements than neighboring states. That is a fun time for me with diesel trucks. A station will have only Diesel and I will pull in and start pumping. Fifty cars will see me in there and think that station got a delivery. Wrong! I even wear T-shirt which reads: Next Time Try a Diesel. Saves a lot of talking. Ha!

So, anyway, I have been into buying race fuel for decades and so never paid much mind to the politics of non-alky gas around here. But, it ought to be just fine.

Stan

Edit: It just occurred to me. What we need are All Fuel tanks and shutters. Run 100 octane to start and warm up, then switch to whatever is cheap and has alky added. Yeah! New fuel in place of Distillate! Not that I am going to go into what Distillate was! ;)
There's No Such Thing As A Cheap Crawler!

Have: '58 JD 420c 5-roller w/62 inside manual blade
Have: '78 JD350C w/6310 outside manual blade
Useta Have: '68 JD350, '51 Terratrac GT-25
Also Have: 1950 M, 2005 x495, 2008 5103 (now known as 5045D)

kosoca
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Re: Ignition / distrubutor problems??

Post by kosoca » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:41 pm

Thanks for the insightful responses!

Yes, as I was typing up my question, I realized I had not changed the plugs as part of my troubleshooting. I will change them out this weekend coming up, no time this past Easter weekend, and post back on good or bad results.

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Paul Buhler
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Re: Ignition / distrubutor problems??

Post by Paul Buhler » Wed Apr 04, 2018 12:50 pm

kosoca: You may find this thread useful. Good luck. Paul

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6366&p=32084&hilit= ... ugs#p32084
Paul Buhler
Killington, VT
420c 5 roll with 62 blade, FOPS, and Gearmatic 8a winch

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Lavoy
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Re: Ignition / distrubutor problems??

Post by Lavoy » Wed Apr 04, 2018 1:39 pm

I find in the cold temps I usually have to run an extra half turn open on the load jet on occasion. Other than that, replace the plugs, and small matter, but did you use carbon core, or metal core wires? Really should not be an issue, but I only use metal core.
Lavoy
Parts and restoration for antique and late model John Deere crawlers.
Owner and moderator www.jdcrawlers.com

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Stan Disbrow
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Re: Ignition / distrubutor problems??

Post by Stan Disbrow » Thu Apr 05, 2018 6:21 am

Hi,

That is also a good point. The 6v system really doesn't produce enough voltage to work well with carbon wires and carbon core plugs. You really need copper in both. This also includes 12v systems prior to the early 1970s which used 6v coils and a ballast resistor. The carbon stuff came later when they upped the spark voltage and then found it made noise in the radios in cars using copper.

Stan
There's No Such Thing As A Cheap Crawler!

Have: '58 JD 420c 5-roller w/62 inside manual blade
Have: '78 JD350C w/6310 outside manual blade
Useta Have: '68 JD350, '51 Terratrac GT-25
Also Have: 1950 M, 2005 x495, 2008 5103 (now known as 5045D)

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Paul Buhler
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Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 6:25 pm
Location: Killington, VT

Re: Ignition / distrubutor problems??

Post by Paul Buhler » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:13 am

Over the years I've read a lot of good thoughts on this site. Taking these ideas into account, and as time and money allowed, I've replaced the wiring harness with a new one - complete with soldered and shrink wrapped connections.Then I either replaced or rebuilt the entire electrical system on my 420. As a result, it starts and runs reliably.

Nothing is more annoying to me than wanting to do "a quick job" only to have to spend time trying to get my machine running.

Good luck finding the gremlins that all old machines come with.
Paul Buhler
Killington, VT
420c 5 roll with 62 blade, FOPS, and Gearmatic 8a winch

kosoca
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Re: Ignition / distrubutor problems??

Post by kosoca » Fri Apr 27, 2018 11:22 am

GO TEAM JDCRAWLER!!!

I didn't really think a bad plug would give such sporadic firing (I would have thought it would either work, not work, or be weak, not intermittent), but lo and behold, the new spark plug on the #1 cylinder fixed it. Thanks for reminding me on checking the simple things first. Fired right up after sitting 4 months through the winter, tons of power again (relatively speaking).

Big thumbs up and kudos!! :)

All tuned up and ready to work!!!!

Image

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Lavoy
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Re: Ignition / distrubutor problems??

Post by Lavoy » Fri Apr 27, 2018 5:09 pm

I have have had a significant amount of trouble with champion plugs over the years, to he point I quit using them many years ago.
Lavoy
Parts and restoration for antique and late model John Deere crawlers.
Owner and moderator www.jdcrawlers.com

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Paul Buhler
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Re: Ignition / distrubutor problems??

Post by Paul Buhler » Tue May 01, 2018 5:00 pm

Nice looking machine. Glad your efforts bore fruit.
Paul Buhler
Killington, VT
420c 5 roll with 62 blade, FOPS, and Gearmatic 8a winch

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RacinJason
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Re: Ignition / distrubutor problems??

Post by RacinJason » Tue Jul 31, 2018 7:58 am

My 420C had similar symptoms, as I noted in other posts. Changed engine (old engine needed rebuilding), Autolite plugs (Always ran them, even in my Corvairs), flipped the distributor bushing and changed cap (still trying to find info on replacing bushing), copper wires, 12 volt internal resistor coil, points and condenser and it still sounded like a hit or miss engine. It ran better on # 2 cylinder, as did kosoca. Installed a Pertronix kit and Flamethower coil. Runs like a top!
JD 112, JD 420 C

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