Another 420 Starting Problem-Oil Breather?
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Thread: Another 420 Starting Problem-Oil Breather?

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    Another 420 Starting Problem-Oil Breather?

    I'm sure somebody here can point me in the right direction. Here's my scenario:

    Mary went up to VT early last week to get some stuff done. I followed up on Saturday morning intending to put the plow on the old tractor and plow the 5” of wet snow.

    First step was to put on the tire chains that I was given with the purchase of the tractor. After a hour of struggling to put on just the first one I concluded that they were just too small and I was just wasting time. I’ll have to order some new ones.

    Second step was to see if the tractor would be able to get around the yard without the tire chains to see if I could plow anyway. The tractor started fine and I warmed it up. Then headed out into the yard, turned the steering wheel and kept going straight. The fat front tires just skidded along sideways. And the rear tires would spin if I gave them any gas at all. I was able to baby the tractor back around by just stomping on the brake for the right/rear wheel only and slowly crawling back into the barn. Yup, chains are certainly necessary in snow. And more weight on the front tires as well. Hopefully the weight of the plow and mount will be enough for that.

    Third step was to put on the plow, connect the four hydraulic lines and make sure all of that stuff works. I got the plow on with only minimal struggling. I connected the hydraulic lines, using my best guess on which tractor ports that they plugged into. I started the tractor and pulled back the lift lever. The plow went down instead of up, lifting the whole front of the tractor off the ground, indicating that I got that circuit backwards. So I turned off the tractor and reversed those lines. Went back to start the tractor again, turned the key and got “click, click, click….”. Nothing more. What the heck?

    I know that the battery is fully charged. I checked all the wiring connections and interconnects. I pulled off both engine side covers and looked to see if anything looked out of the ordinary. Found 2 acorns placed around the motor, but not in any critical spots, and nothing else. I pulled the oil dipstick and immediately saw that the oil level was all the way up to the top of the stick! That’s not normal! And I know that the level was correct because I check it every time before starting to use the tractor.

    I seem to recall reading some internet post about an issue with these old tractors when the crankshaft breather port gets clogged, or hangs up, the motor internal pressure builds up and forces engine oil into places it shouldn’t be. So I took off the air inlet housing and air filter to get a look to see if anything was coming out of there, or if anything looked unusual. Another acorn, but nothing unusual. Humph.

    At this point I was frustrated so I decided to just walk away before I did something that would make the situation worse. I did some reading of the repair manual, which didn’t provide much advice on this issue. It just says to check the ignition switch and solenoid if the tractor doesn’t start. No help there.

    The next morning I went back out and tried to start it again with the same result. I checked everything over again, found the solenoid for future reference, and decided that this was going to take some more research and time. So I closed up the barn and told Mary we were free to head back to CT at any time. We were on the road back to CT by 10:00 am and home by 1:00 to watch the Giants game. They actually won!

    So, what do you think? Where do I start with this one? I was thinking of draining all the oil and putting in something thinner for winter. I'm not sure what's in it now. I haven't changed it since I bought it since the motor was to have been just freshened up before I bought it. The next step was to change the ignition switch, and test the battery just to be sure.

    Thanks, Steve.
    1983 John Deere 420 w/50" Deck and Plow
    2017 John Deere X394
    2017 44" Snow Blade
    2017 48" High Lift Deck
    2018 Innovative Grapple
    JD 10P Poly Cart
    Pull Behind Broadcast Spreader
    DR Power Grader
    MCS 7 Dump Hopper
    Power Flow Chute
    Rear Tire Chains
    (4) Suite Case Weights

    "I work to live. Not live to work." "Born to fish. Forced to work." 14 months to retirement!

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  3. Top | #2
    IndianaJim's Avatar
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    I think Id have gone through a new to me garden tractor before using it much, especially with the acorns.
    They didnt get there by accident. Its VERY likely youve either got or had rodents in the engine.
    If you run it and get it hot with the cooling fins plugged up, youll cook the engine in short order.
    To remedy this, you will need to remove the engine cooling tins and blow it all out with an air compressor.

    As to the starting issues, what does the battery show for voltage with the key off?
    Can you tell if the solenoid is kicking out on the starter when you hit the key?
    Do you know if it has had the starter improvement kit installed?
    -this was a kit that Deere put together for older tractors that didnt have enough voltage to the starter to spin it. Its basically a relay thats triggered from the old wires and boosts voltage through the use of newer, heavier gauge wiring to the starter solenoid.

    Do you happen to have the service manual for the tractor and for the engine?
    If not, PM me, I may be able to help.
    Jim B.

    318, 49 Thrower, 2 80 Carts, 17AT cart, 54 Blade, 12" Brinly Plow, 30 Hydraulic Tiller w/extension & Briney 3-Pt hitch, 50 deck w/JRCO Cart Bagger.
    2025R, 120R loader w/Kens Bolt On Hooks, 260B backhoe w/8" & 16" buckets, Titan 36" forks, Imatch hitch, Weight Bracket/Hitch.

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  4. Top | #3

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    The oil level is normal. You have to pull, wipe then check or else you see oil 1/2 way up the dipstick.

    As for front weight, nothing works like v61 tires.

    As for hydraulic lines, when sitting on the seat, lift lines go to the right ports, angle to the left.

    As for starting. Check your grounds. Then clean battery terminals even if they look clean, then have it load tested. If that checks out you probably want to add a starter improvement kit and replace the ignition switch for good measure. The start signal passes through it twice so high resistance adds up fast.

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  6. Top | #4

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    OK

    Thanks for the input guys. I do have the operators and repair manuals. I haven't started in the electrical trouble shooting yet, I was looking for your input to get me started in the right direction to save me time/money.

    I did go through the tractor right after I bought it, removing covers and visually inspecting everything. I took note of the cooling fins and how they were clear/clean. Checked fluid levels and condition. I didn't change fluids because it supposedly had been done a few weeks before I bought it and the conditions looked good. I will be doing all that next spring.

    The battery is under a year old and I had it on a trickle charger, and it had started 4-5 times just before not starting. The engine was warmed up, so it should have started easily. So I'm thinking it's not the battery, but I will for sure check it.

    What oil viscosity should I put in for winter use?

    And where's the best place to get the starter improvement kit?

    Thanks.
    1983 John Deere 420 w/50" Deck and Plow
    2017 John Deere X394
    2017 44" Snow Blade
    2017 48" High Lift Deck
    2018 Innovative Grapple
    JD 10P Poly Cart
    Pull Behind Broadcast Spreader
    DR Power Grader
    MCS 7 Dump Hopper
    Power Flow Chute
    Rear Tire Chains
    (4) Suite Case Weights

    "I work to live. Not live to work." "Born to fish. Forced to work." 14 months to retirement!

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