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Starting problem. Help

Posted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 6:50 pm
by mlong5967
Hey guys, me again. I need some thoughts before I start buying parts.
I have a '76 990 diesel selectamatic. I am in Michigan, USA. If you are unaware it is winter here and there have been a few weeks of low temps (0 to 10 degrees f.) I have been using the tractor every few days to move snow or haul hay and so I keep a charger on the battery at night when I know I will have to start it up the next day. I keep it in a non heated pole barn when not using it. It is equipped with a block heater and thermostart.
What I have been doing is keeping the battery on charger, running the block heater for an hour or more and running a salamander long enough to get the air temp in the building up into the high 20's I have had a lot of luck like this so far... But the other day when I was trying to get it started I let it turn (crank) a little longer than usual and I got a bit of smoke from the area of the starter when I stopped. I tried again but could tell the battery was going dead so I stopped so the charger could charge the battery back up. After about 2 hours I returned and tried to start it again but I am now getting a clicking noise from the solenoid. I have checked cables, connections, and voltages. When I jump the solenoid I get nothing.
Ideas, questions, help?

RE: Starting problem. Help

Posted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 9:43 pm
by odin
Is the battery big enough or is it getting old? There is a good video on utube on battery testing. Checking each individual cell with a volt meter. If the battery is dying after a few cranks, sounds tired.

RE: Starting problem. Help

Posted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 10:58 pm
by richbug
Probably dirty connections on the cables at the starter. disconnect battery, unbolt wires at starter clean all connection surfaces with emory cloth or a file and reassemble. Clean battery terminals too.

Other option is you let the magic smoke out of the starter.

You can buy replacement Lucas smoke, try at the link below, but it doesn't come cheap. :) :) :) For reference, best not to crank more than 20-30 seconds, or you have a chance of damaging the starter.

RE: Starting problem. Help

Posted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:55 am
by jules
The smoke is a bit of a worry if it's electrical.

First though, because it's the cheapest possibility, it would be wise to check the condition of the battery before replacing other v expensive parts.

It's sometimes useful to leave batteries on a charger but NOT one that has a high capacity. Small, cheap chargers are great and it works well to combine them with a timer so you only charge say an hour a day. A medium capacity charger can overcharge, cause gassing, plate damage and battery death but again, you could use one safely with a timer.

RE: Starting problem. Help

Posted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:13 pm
by wheelbarrow
I had a similar problem on an MF digger, which I thought was starter solenoid, took that off and cleaned it all up, still the same, took the starter apart and gave it a good clean right through, now like new. :D

RE: Starting problem. Help

Posted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 6:36 pm
by bedwards1966
I would start by having another go at cleaning the connections at the solenoid and motor.

If it still isn't cranking put a voltmeter on the input cable to the motor, if it reads 12v you have a motor problem, if it shows less then either a wiring, solenoid or battery issue.

RE: Starting problem. Help

Posted: Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:01 am
by jules
12V is a fair way below what a fully charged battery should deliver, even if it's been off a charger for an hour or so. 12.6V is good and there's a quite a steep gradient of the amount a battery is holding between 12.6 and high elevens. Anything below 12V is going to be less than 50% charged. Older batteries can give a reasonable reading but fall off rapidly when they're asked to do something.

As the above posts suggest, there's quite a few possibilities so it's a question of being methodical in figuring it out.