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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,

After buying my first tractor ('87 Ingersoll 448 w/B48M), I started going through Castoff's start up list from a previous post.

So far, I rebuilt the carb and fuel pump, replaced the fuel filter and lines, emptied and cleaned the gas tank, decarbonized the heads, pistons and valves, cleaned the cooling fins and got everything back together.

I fired it up to see if the surging issue was fixed and success! It runs very well through the entire throttle range.

I have not messed with the points, admittedly because I'm not very confident in the procedure. It seems that I have a new issue on my hands now. The engine will run normally for a few minutes, and then stall out as if someone turned off the switch. When you try to restart the engine, sometimes it will refire normally, and other times it is completely dead. (Will not turn over.)

I checked and then recharged the battery. (It was around 78%) Then, I traced each wire to see if something was broken, corroded, chafed or chewed and found nothing obvious. This is about the extent of my knowledge and understanding of the electrical system. Where should I look next? It really acted like the switch was simply turned off, do those go bad? Any advice you guys have is welcome and appreciated.
 

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My first instinct would be to blame the ignition switch but prior to that, you need to carefully check all the wiring between the battery and the ignition switch.

Your best friend in this caper is a simple test light. These look like a screwdriver that has an awl point instead of a screwdriver tip and the handle is clear to allow the light bulb inside to shine through. There is a wire extending from the top of the handle with an alligator clip on the end. These are an essential tool and can be bought at any automotive store worth going to. They are usually less than ten bucks to buy and will last a lifetime if you look at it.

With the alligator clip clasped to the negative post of the battery, put the probe end to the positive of the battery to make sure the test light works. Now, shift the alligator clip to a clean spot on the engine somewhere such as the fins or the tin shrouds or a shiny bolt head. Put the probe to the positive terminal of the battery again to see if the light still works. If it does, then you now know that you do not have a grounding problem

Leave the alligator clip alone and put the probe to the post on the solenoid that receives the positive cable from the battery. GOT LIGHT? Good. Now you know that the battery cable is likely OK. You should see a small wire leaving that same solenoid terminal. Follow it. If it goes into the fuse holder, then open the fuse holder. Use the probe to test for power at the line coming INTO the fuse holder. GOT LIGHT?

Good. Put the fuse in that side of the fuse holder and test the free side of the fuse. GOT LIGHT? Good. Now you know that the fuse is OK. Put the fuse holder back together and to to the ammeter and put the probe to both terminals on the ammeter. GOT LIGHT? Good.. now you know that the ammeter is likely OK. From there, follow the wire to the ignition switch and put your probe on that terminal only. GOT LIGHT?

Good. Now you know that power is reaching the switch. Turn the key to ON. Put the probe to the + terminal on the coil. GOT LIGHT? NO? That's not good. Trace that wire back to the ignition switch and probe that terminal. GOT LIGHT? NO? Ok.. You've just isolated the problem to the ignition switch. Order a new one from Brian and don't screw around trying to find some cheap-*** replacement switch at the local hardware store either.

That's how you find electrical problems and if you buy the correct Operator's Manual for the serial number of your tractor then you will have a proper wiring diagram that tells you the colors of the wires. Having that diagram simplifies tracing the wiring and it also shows up stupid wiring mistakes made by past owners.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Castoff,
I have a test light and put it to work.

Everything, step by step, tested good.

Then, I ran the tractor and let it do its automatic shutdown procedure. After the engine crapped out, I tested the switch and coil again and NO light. A new switch will be ordered.

The PO gave me the electrical system manual with the tractor and the wires look to be original/factory colors. Pretty simple to follow once you commit to it. I will update the status when I get the new switch installed.

By the way, when I checked out the battery, I noticed the cranking amps were 190/165 cold. (Napa brand battery) My neighbor has a 1979 Case 220 and his tractor has a Walmart brand with 350 ca and 275 cca. I couldn't find anything specific about the battery requirements in the manuals. Should I upgrade or am I OK with what I've got?

Thanks again for the help.
 

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I'm glad to read that you seem to have isolated your true problem. All too often these days, so-called mechanics just keep changing parts until the vehicle works once again. Diagnostic procedures are beyond their capabilities but getting paid flat-rate fees for replacing parts is something they do quite well.

All batteries start their lives in excellent condition. As time passes, that condition deteriorates until a certain point is reached where the owner realizes something is wrong. A well-tuned engine will start quickly in cold weather. Therefore, have a battery with a big reserve isn't necessary. From an environmental as well as a financial perspective, you are better off to stick to the battery you have and let nature run its course. When that battery won't do its job anymore, then it will tell you. Having a charger around to defibrillate a balky battery on a cold day will buy you some time to find a replacement.
 

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The ignition switches on these tractors are unfortunately a common issue. Simply put, they were not of the same lifelong quality as the tractors, but rather common power equipment industry bits good for 10-15 years and 500 hours or so.

I have come to recommending new owners to just swap it out to baseline the machines, just like the oil. They never seem to fail at a good time ... so not a bad thing to update, regardless. Generally only about $20-25, which is the good side of being built on high volume parts.

Glad to hear you are on a successful diagnosis track ...

Brian
 

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a low performing battery puts extra stress on the charging and starting system. a starter actually draws more amps from a weaker battery, loading the starter harder, and hotter, and the charging system is obviously working harder as well.

if it were mine, and the tractor was starting fine now I'd leave it, but most likely change it out next year. I had a battery of the same cranking capacity as yours in a little old murray, it sounded like it would crank fine, but had trouble starting. When I put a 250 cca or so battery in it, it fired up like a new tractor. This 175cca or so battery was only one year old, and an interstate, which are great batteries, and it didn't last in a murray.

I'd rather spend the 45 bux on a decent interstate battery with some cranking capacity for the longevity of the components involved, jmho.
 

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I'm not in disagreement but at the moment, we are not talking about a week battery, just one with a lower CCA rating. Not every homeowner is going to go out and buy a Load Tester but a $5.00 hydrometer can provide a certain amount of valuable information about a batteries condition.

Checking the specific gravity of each battery cell and recording that information is the first step. If the hydrometer indicates less than a full charge, then putting the battery onto a charger that is preferably "regulated" should solve that problem. A second test with the hydrometer will tell the story when you compare the new readings with the previous ones. If the readings remained the same, then the battery is on the way out. You can buy a new battery late in the fall and then run with the old one until it fails or you can make the switch immediately.

If one cell reads lower than the rest and refuses to catch up after the charge cycle has been completed, then that cell is about to die and the battery should be replaced right away. A battery with a weak cell is a battery that will constantly draw current from the start/gen or alternator, thus placing unnecessary stress on the charging circuit.

A "LOAD TESTER" is a device that simulates a high current draw on the battery to see how much reserve cranking power that batteries cells still have. This reserve power is what you count on having when the temps are low and the engine does not want to fire immediately. Both testers go hand-in-hand when it comes to maintaining batteries. However, keeping your tractor in proper tune and making sure your electrical system is in top condition often means that you won't have to ask your battery to dig down deep.
 

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I would not run out and buy a new battery but the one you have is not rated high enough for your tractor/engine. 300 + cranking amps is what you need when the time arrives ....

:trink40:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Problem Solved!!

A small engine shop near where I live purchased the remaining parts stock from a former Case/Ingersoll dealer. He had the switch that I needed for $10. I just had to find the part number that fit my tractor, and then rummage through the boxes of stuff to find the right switch.

Installed it last night and everything is running smoothly. Thanks for all of the help. There is no doubt, I will be back for more.
 
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