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John Deere 180 charging system question

14781 Views 7 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  austinado16
Greetings JD lovers!

Dragged home a 180 (not an L or LT) yesterday. It's got a myriad of problems due to being flogged around a horse ranch it's entire life.

Anyway, after soaking the ignition switch with PB Blaster, filling the fuel tank with fresh fuel and then sucking the water out of the bottom with a Mityvac, and dumping carb bowl contents, I know have a living breathing Kawasaki engine! No drive yet because the belt was off the trans and engine.....and I've since removed it so that I can install a new one.

My question is: The battery charge warning light stays lit, and I'm only getting 13.3 volts at the battery with the engine running at speed. The finned voltage regulator (or is it a rectifyer) on the back side of the dash, near the battery is getting very hot. The 3 spade connector block where the engine's alternator harness plugs into the main tractor harness (down low on the right, at the bottom of the dash/cowl area) gets so hot that it's melted, and the wire jacket of the 2 red wires on the dash side of the plug, are melted. I cut the melted connector block off and plugged all 3 wires back into their respective engine wires. No change.

So do I have a failed alternator/stator (under the flywheel) or a failed regulator/rectifyer behind the dash? Or is it something else?

What tests can I do with my digital VOM?

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At fast idle you should see between 12.2 and 15v at the battery. The finned piece is indeed a voltage regulator. With the key switch on you should see voltage on the yellow lead of the connector. If you don't the regulator is probably shot.

You need to put a load on the system to test the charging capaicty, but at FT Deere calls for at 12.2v to 13.8v at the battery at 14 amps minimum.

To check the stator there's a 3-pin connector on the right side of the engine. Disconnect that and put an AC voltmeter across the black wires. You should see about 34v minimum. If you've got less the stator is the problem.

It's a pretty simple system and my guess would be the culprit is the regulator.

If you'll be keeping this 180 a while getting the service manual would be a good idea. It's got both wiring diagrams and also troubleshooting sections for electrical. I know there are PDF downloads of the manual available for about $10 out there.

Good luck.
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Thanks for the tips Glen. I do those tests. Forgot about testing for ac voltage straight out of the stator. Been a while since I had a non-charger.

BTW, is it me, or is putting a drive belt on a JD always a complete PIA? Gonna hit NAPA up for the belts today. Even if they don't have 'em in stock, I'll order 'em. They run about $10ea instead of the $20-40 something that JD gets.

Now...if I could only find a used headlight assembly!

That reminds me; are there any online supplier's of JD parts other than what pops up on ebay? Or is it all dealer only? We've got 2 outstanding JD dealers here, but it'd be nice not to pay full pop for everything.
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The drive belt on the 180/160 is some work especially the first time. It helps to have the Technical Manual that shows the routing in detail. You have to block the engine somehow when you're working on the PTO nut and about the only way I found to do that is to remove the flywheel screen so that you can put something in there. The good news is that a decent quality belt should last 10 years or so.

eBay can be OK for used parts - keep looking for the headlight assm there and you'll eventually find them. I just picked up a set or rear axles for less than $50 with shipping. But the new stuff on eBay can often be more than from a regular Deere online source.

Speaking of which, you'll see several mentioned around here but I've used,, and also Milford Power Equipment for generic items.
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Just wanted to follow up, in case it helps future readers.

Did have a/c voltage coming out of the stator, so I replaced the voltage regulator with a used one via ebay. I completely cut out the original 3 wire connector that was melted, and used male and female connectors for each of the 3 stator wires. That fixed it.

Just got the rear fender pan back from the powder coaters last week, and it's back on with new decals. Front wheels are down at the tire store getting the tires replaced. New headlight assembly is in the grill, new mower deck deflector shoot, and she's starting to shape up nicely. All the belts came in too, so other than hanging the mower deck, the only thing left is to purchase a new seat.

BTW, when I remove/install the engine mounted drive pulley or PTO, I just zip the bolt off or on with my 1/2" drive Ingersol-Rand "tire gun."
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Nothing to see here folks, move along, move along.

Didn't think anyone would care about a little basketcase of a 180 getting some freshening. I'll post some glamour shots once I get the wheels, deck, and new seat installed, and polish the plastic hood back to shiny.
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