Satoh 650G melted ignition wires
Yesterday I came home after a torrential rainfall at my property in Northern VA to find some large ruts in my 1/2 mile long steeply sloping gravel driveway. Knowing I had an hour before I had to take my daughter to an appointment, I thought I had enough time to drag the blade over the large ones at the mouth. All was good until on the way back up the slope, I ran out of gas! Ok, so i was an idiot. No big deal, I was able to push the tractor to one side and walk up the rest of the way and still be on time, and get gas along the way.
Two hours later, I walked down to the tractor, gas can and funnel in hand, and noticed I had left the ignition switch on in my haste to leave earlier. Still no big deal, right? Filled the tank, climbed onto the seat , turned it over...won't start. Opened the hood and...what was left of my low tension wire leading from the coil to the distributor terminal was just sort of dangling like a thread, the insulation melted off it completely. I am an idiot, but no big deal, right?
I assume that what must have happened is the engine stopped with the points closed, and it was trying to spark away for two hours. I walked back up the slope, had to go to the barn for some twisted strand 18 ga wire, crimped on two terminal eyelets, grabbed a couple of ignition wrenches, and headed back down the slope with a lantern, reminding myself that I was an idiot, but NO BiG DEAL.
I replaced the melted wire, climbed on the tractor....still won't start. Popped off the dstributor cap, pulled the rotor and dust cover, turned it over, and saw intermittent sparking, and not where it should be at the points. The insulation on the wire from the points to the distributor terminal appeared to have melted and must have been shorting. I pulled the wire up clear to verify, see sparks EVERYWHERE when I turned the key, and noticed that if I leave the ignition on, the points and wire lead get RED HOT. Must be a fair amount of resistance there but all I want to do for now is get it up the drive; I should be able to tape the wire for now, no big deal, right?
Head back up the slope, find my electrical tape, come back down, have to loosen the wire where it slips under the terminal screw, straighten the wire, tape it, reinstall it under the screw, check it before putting the dust cap, rotor, and distributor cap back, see the spark at the points but not great, tuck the taped wire, which has now become pretty stiff and feels a little flimsy at the ends, back in place, put the covers and rotor back, turn it over......NO START.
No big deal, right?
Open the cap up, no spark, can't see an obvious wire break, re-tape it, STILL NO SPARK. It's been two hours...almost 10:00pm; fingers are cold, know I am going to drop one of those little nuts if am not careful...haven't had dinner and can't remember lunch.... I gave up. I think that was the only intelligent thing I did all night. Apparently my stupidity had become A BIG DEAL!
So this morning as I drove past my lovely tractor I had to laugh at myself. Sometimes "things" happen. My guess is I burned the points up when i left the ignition on, and the resulting resistance caused the melted wires. The points were new this year but oh well, I will have to rplace them since their lead wire is quite literally "toast". Of course no one stocks points for a Satoh 650G, so I will have to order them at a store or on line and wait a couple of days. Maybe that is a good thing.
And as I recall, I had a heck of a time installing them earlier this year, trying to make sure the end of the lead wire from the points didn't short against the case and/or the dust cap of the tiny distributor. On that occasion I managed to overtighten the terminal screw and break it, and then had to find and modify a replacement screw. But that is another story....NO BIG DEAL!
Hope this tale of woe reassures others like myself that sometimes things just don't go the way one expects them to go. The good news: no blood lost, no parts lost, no permanent damage, other than to my pride; and being reminded of my humility is not necessarily a bad thing.
Oh...by the way...does my theory of why the wires melted make sense?
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Bolens HT20 2086 w/FEL, tiller, blade, mower.
Bunton ZTR w/ 64" deck
Last edited by ribertgropius; 03-13-2013 at 10:13 AM.