Would like to convert JD 318 to electronic ignition
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Thread: Would like to convert JD 318 to electronic ignition

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    Would like to convert JD 318 to electronic ignition

    I have a 1985 JD 318 with the original B43 Onan engine with approximately 2000 hours. In the last year, i have had issues with the points and have replaced the points 3 times. I am not a mechanic and I have had my local John Deere perform all the work. I have noticed after about 2 hours running, the engine will run erratic and start to backfire. Obviously, I know I have a problem. I disengage the PTO and idle the engine. When I speed up the engine, the mower shakes and runs rough. I always run fresh clean gas each time I mow and I blow all the debris from the engine when I finish mowing. Each time I take the mower in, the points seem to be the problem. I have never had issues with the points before. In the last year the coil has been replaced twice and the points and condenser 3 times. I had suggested to my mechanic about replacing the current setup with an electronic ignition system. Has anyone ever changed over to electronic ignition before? Is there a how to video out there? Any suggestions, ideas, hints would be very much appreciated. I love this JD 318 but it is starting to frustrate me when I have 3.5 acres of grass/field to keep up with and my mower is sitting in the shop.

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    bloodrunsgreen's Avatar
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    The man to know is boomer. He is a very knowledgeable about Onans and has the parts.

    His web page: Boomers Used Onan Engine Parts
    jd2854020 and 69project like this.

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    Imagine 59

    Quote Originally Posted by imagine59 View Post
    I have a 1985 JD 318 with the original B43 Onan engine with approximately 2000 hours. In the last year, i have had issues with the points and have replaced the points 3 times. I am not a mechanic and I have had my local John Deere perform all the work. I have noticed after about 2 hours running, the engine will run erratic and start to backfire. Obviously, I know I have a problem. I disengage the PTO and idle the engine. When I speed up the engine, the mower shakes and runs rough. I always run fresh clean gas each time I mow and I blow all the debris from the engine when I finish mowing. Each time I take the mower in, the points seem to be the problem. I have never had issues with the points before. In the last year the coil has been replaced twice and the points and condenser 3 times. I had suggested to my mechanic about replacing the current setup with an electronic ignition system. Has anyone ever changed over to electronic ignition before? Is there a how to video out there? Any suggestions, ideas, hints would be very much appreciated. I love this JD 318 but it is starting to frustrate me when I have 3.5 acres of grass/field to keep up with and my mower is sitting in the shop.

    IMO you don't have an ignition problem.


    Rob

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    bloodrunsgreen's Avatar
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    That's why I suggested he get in contact with boomer. With an Onan with that number of hours, I would start with a cold compression check and a hot compression check. Then a leak down test for possible valve problems. There could be the rod that opens the points could be the issue or the sleeve, or the cam that runs the rod/points. Then there could be intake manifold problems, these are two halves sealed and pop riveted together and age plus heat they begin to leak. That is why some more information needs to be gather about the condition of the engine before just jumping to a conversion on the ignition.
    Last edited by bloodrunsgreen; 10-09-2018 at 09:57 PM.
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    Boomer was very excited to have a dozen conversion kits a couple years ago. I’d almost guarantee those are gone but he might have more, or he’s the best chance to find another.
    BigJim55 likes this.

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    Hey Imagine59, I had a similar problem with the exact same Onan engine in one of my Ingersoll tractors. Sometimes it would work great for hours, other times only minutes, and even worse sometimes it would never fail.

    I did the same thing, replaced the coil, replaced and or cleaned the points, regapped the points...I was getting frustrated enough that I thought about repowering the tractor until I had an epiphany while on vacation... The tractor ALWAYS ran great after new points out freshly cleaned points!

    I started looking at the cover for the points and found two minor issues that turned out to be major issues...

    1. The screw that holds the cover down was cross threaded earlier in life, so the cover was never held down tight.

    2. When I was installing the new coil, I replaced most of the wires, including the wire between the coil and the points. When doing this, I did not get the wire to sit down in a very tiny pass through cut out, which held the side of the cover open...

    After fixing the cross threaded screw and making sure the wire was properly position so the cover would actually seal, I had no issues ever again!

    Low and behold, the actual problem was dirt and dust getting between the contacts of the points.

    You may want to look into this on your tractor.

    Good luck
    EricJ likes this.

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