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post #1 of 10 Old 08-12-2019, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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1988 JD 180 - electrical

Hi guys, gals, etc.....

I've had an intermittent issue with getting power to the starter. When I shut down in the evening, something happens that when I hop on in the morning to crank up...nothing to the starter.

However...as I lucked up on one day...if I leave the ignition key on and pull in the PTO to engage with a click; I can unengage the PTO and then turn off the ignition. At that point, I can key the ignition to start and have full cranking power.

The only thing I can see on the schematic appears to be the PTO/Safety Switch that is tied to not only the PTO clutch but the Seat Switch. It's a small device that I popped out of it's holder while changing out the drive belt last year as it's sitting on the chunk for the rear axle.

Not a big deal to pull off the body to pop it out and blow the debris off of it and the connectors...but wondered if anyone had run into this problem before.

Thanks!

Dan Turner
Conyers, Georgia
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post #2 of 10 Old 08-13-2019, 04:08 PM
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Re: 1988 JD 180 - electrical

It might not be the PTO cut out switch. Intermittent starting is a very common problem and the fix is to add a starter relay.

Google AM107421

https://www.amazon.com/HD-Switch-AM1...a-761938486072

Last edited by Kurts Roberts Auziņš; 08-13-2019 at 04:17 PM.
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post #3 of 10 Old 08-13-2019, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1988 JD 180 - electrical

Thanks....I've been throwing around how culpable the PTO switch could be if everything is triggered in order to allow the starter to turn or the PTO to engage.

The starter relay may find neutral just by flipping through the PTO that is on the same switch circuit as the PTO switch.

I'm just glad I don't have to hook up a computer diagnosis on my old JD 180.

Again...thanks for the good tip...and link!

Dan Turner
Conyers, Ga
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post #4 of 10 Old 08-14-2019, 02:37 AM
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Re: 1988 JD 180 - electrical

There is an article in the Tech Exchange section on the Starter Assist Relay. Take a look there and see if that would solve the problem. Good luck! These can be frustrating.

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post #5 of 10 Old 08-14-2019, 06:51 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1988 JD 180 - electrical

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad View Post
There is an article in the Tech Exchange section on the Starter Assist Relay. Take a look there and see if that would solve the problem. Good luck! These can be frustrating.
I enjoyed the YouTube demonstration of the "starter click relay" product! It brought about a few questions about the age of the harness and connectors that need to be looked at in the safety circuit. The 180 is built with a seat switch to not engage or disengage the PTO if the switch circuit is not complete. There's a small relay beneath the body that I found was pretty instrumental in the mower's operation for both the PTO as well as the starter circuit...as I had accidentally pulled a colored wire from one of the terminals while fussing with the main drive belt replacement last year. The belt was a grizzly bear service as I think I'd rather wrestle a ticked off Grizzly that replace that belt again. After all the effort to install which included dropping the PTO and then reinstalling and torquing everything back into place...the result was starter not engaging...no clicking or signs of any power to it.

Fortunately....after taking the body off to find where the loose colored wire had gone, the PTO safety relay was buried into the transmission (actually just mounted on top of the transmission...but buried under years of debris); putting it back together yielded completing the circuit that allowed the 12v to the solenoid.

It's pretty much the same symptoms that is happening today....the occasional no signs of life at the starter...no clicking in other words. I think I'm going to uncover that PTO safety relay and clean it up at the wire and connector ends to see if that procedure stops the intermittent starter circuit interruption. I've not looked around for the component to see if they're available. If the clean up works...the hunt will be on.

Again...thanks for the youtube demonstration on the starter relay booster....it had some great ideas and procedures for me to test through on the mower; but also it looks like a good component to add on for those cold starts that could use the boost.
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post #6 of 10 Old 08-14-2019, 12:15 PM
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Re: 1988 JD 180 - electrical

Sounds good, Dan. I'd say check any wiring connections and make sure no broken wires. Also, is the switch in good shape? Maybe a shot of electrical contact spray would help.

The fact that it is intermittent makes it harder to find but sort of rules out a totally broken wire or electrical component.

Keep us all updated. Love these projects (when they belong to someone else!!) when a solution is found.

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Solving the "Starter Click" problem!

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post #7 of 10 Old 08-14-2019, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1988 JD 180 - electrical

Hah!! That's what I used to say when one of my pals would be working on their "advanced years gear."<G

Something isn't tossing that relay...the PTO triggering with the ignition on points in the direction of the pto safety. It's not a huge ordeal to pull off the body in order to inspect it and wiring. I may reach up and trace a few leads for any insulation peeled off as it's in tight quarters to the belt and transmission sheave. In fact it was a drive belt replacement ordeal that alerted me to the location and how easy it was to pull the connector apart while I was trying to get the belt into the transmission pulley.

The starting circuit was dead from that point...and by reaching in, I was able to find the loose wire and ask myself...."self....what the heck is this?" I originally thought it was an "option" that was there for the 185 with the automatic trans. Bolting it all back together just to find that the starter circuit was kaput...I realized the loose wire was no longer optional. With the body on there's not enough clearance to re-install the connector...so, disassemble for the sake of one relatively short wire from the harness and the voltage became present at the solenoid. Having said that....what we should have done was take a paint brush and clear out all the build up of clippings and dust; hose it down with electrical cleaner and make sure it had a full connection again.

Throwing the body back on...without bolting it together this time, depressed the seat and turned the ignition and we were back in business. Or so I thought. Bolted back down and everything secured, climbed on with me and the crew holding a cold beverage and turned the ignition...dead at the starter again.

The clearance is so tight that when I cranked up, the belt found the wire close enough to snag it and drag it back off the relay. I reached underneath and found the same colored wire and broke the news to the guys and pretty much the entire side of the county. Babies started crying and women started to faint from the "words of disappointment."

Once more...off with the body and down on the transmission....got the compressor to blow the stuff off...completely which was the key. Shoving the connector back on while seated in the debris that I actually swept back under neath the male end of the relay caused the wire to be just in the wrong spot and a pretty sorry connection to boot. Lesson learned. Do it right the first time....which we did. I'll let you know the findings after I pull things apart and check the pto safety relay to see what may have happened in the interim.

I don't know if the pdf loaded for the JD180 elect.schematic...but this one will show you just how simple things were just 30 years ago.


It's not that I have an urge to tear things apart...but when they can use a little attention, I get as much ammo as I can before hand. My best example of this is my Hewlett Packard Design Jet 500...a large format printer for architectural drawings. I purchased it new in 2001 and every so often have to work with it to keep it going....my hands are a lot bigger than the little guys in Japan for servicing this critter. I learned to improvise and just like the John Deere service manual...when it says "remove bolt from spindle mandrel" it actually means....get your right angle grinder and cut off the bolt and nut. Ditto on the HP DJ 500....what they say to do wasn't meant for hands that go along with 280 lbs and 6'5" of me.

The challenges continue.<G

Thanks Brad! I'll be back in touch as soon as I can settle in to step the 180 through it's fix.

Dan Turner
Conyers, Ga
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post #8 of 10 Old 08-24-2019, 11:33 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1988 JD 180 - electrical

Just to wrap up the inquiry that got all the great responses and suggestions.

After the original post, I sat on the 180 and tried the starter...cranked right up. So all was well until mid week this past week when I hopped in to level the lawns again and I had no response from the starter. Cycling through with the ignition on and bumping the PTO didn't cure it this time either.

Up this morning to pull the body off while it was still a bit cool. Disconnected the electrical connectors, yanked the knobs on the parking brake, deck gauge and shifter; and wiggled the body off. As the fuel tank was full and easy to set aside on the deck...that was accomplished.

What I decided to "ring out" via the diagnostic tests in the 180 manual was that the neutral safety switch may be defective or had loosened up the connection in it's location on the housing of the transaxle.

It's not a terrible location to get to...just as described above, but it's location just a fraction outside of the transmission sheave tends to bring a lot of dirt and debris up the belt that dumps off once it enters the transmission pulley/sheave. Although cleaned out completely last year...it was covered up again so that if you didn't know what was beneath the debris...you'd never know there was an electrical connection there.

As well....there is very little clearance between the top of the connector that slides over the top of the switch buttons and the shifter linkage. The debris that gets pack into this little indentation on the housing is packed tight with the debris moving when the linkage moves.

I brushed off all the build up and cleaned the indent in housing. I gave a very small tug on the connector and it slid right off.

Brought out the ohm-meter to check continuity....with the shifter in Reverse...nothing; ditto on 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Putting the shifter into neutral does one thing for this switch...the shifter fan inside the housing has either a dimple or a hole to allow the ball button to open the switch in any gear...but go into the dimple or hole to close the circuit to the solenoid. In neutral...the I got my continuity across the switch.

Which was a good thing....I had asked the local JD to pull that switch and set aside for me with the idea that if I didn't get the reading I needed, I'd install another switch...for $23. Fortunately with the closed switch reading...I didn't have to attempt that as it was also very close tolerance beneath the sheave which would be a major pain in the *** to remove and still work around the frame cross members.

Cleaned everything up with contact cleaner and slid the top connector onto the two poles and pushed back until I felt a small click. So it's making good contact at that point in the harness. Put the body back on and sat down in the seat to depress the seat switch and turned the switch to start....just as before. Nothing to the solenoid.

The body came off once again to make sure that nothing was broken on the harness and decided that the switch was good...time to ring out something else. After bolting everything back down and lubing all of the seat, fuel tank connectors...I was ready to call it a day. However....since everything was snugged down tight to the original position and all of the linkage and shifter guides were back in place....parking brake on, shifter in neutral...I bumped the key and sure enough, cranked right up.

It pays to clear out that area if you have the body off of the 1980s model lawn tractors and check the connection with the neutral safety switch for either the gear or hydrostatic transmissions. I lucked into the little switch last year for a completely different purpose...however it gave me a few minutes of cussing and searching until I ran across the loose connector buried beneath years of debris. Dried and packed in and sharing that same cluttered space with a shifter linkage moving through packed clippings, dirt and dust surrounding a slide off connector. The neutral safety switch photo will give you an idea of what the 180 dealt with. There's not enough room for another type of connector on top without interfering with the shifter linkage as well as the transaxle pulley.

Waiting for the sun to dry off the dew and I'll test it to make sure it's 100% again this afternoon to cut the yards since they're ready again.
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post #9 of 10 Old 08-25-2019, 06:33 AM
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Re: 1988 JD 180 - electrical

Sounds like a project well done! Congrats and thanks for the update.

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post #10 of 10 Old 08-25-2019, 08:31 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1988 JD 180 - electrical

Thanks Brad!

There's still the issue...but I'm not so inclined to tear down the belt drive and pulley just to replace that neutral start switch. I'll try making sure the starter isn't the culprit now. The struggle continues.<G

Dan Turner
Conyers, Ga
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