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Discussion Starter #1
I didn't time it but that's about how long I was on it while mowing.

Seems I bought another "project" tractor today. As with my 176, this one dies after a little awhile. Just peters out. Yes, I am a glutton for punishment, but I suppose after I fix one I'll have learned the other, since they have similar-tech Kawasakis.

Seems like the ignition gets weak; it doesn't surge/die like fuel starvation, but then again I've not yet run one of these dry so don't know for sure how that goes.

I was able to immediately restart it without a problem, but engaging the PTO was "too much" for it again, and it began to die once more. I quickly turned off the PTO and it slowly recovered and could be driven, but that's all.

tractor
M00265A479834

engine model
FC540V - BS00

engine serial
094147

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What I would dearly like to know is if the separate coil and ignition module these older tractors have can be updated to the slightly-more-more-modern type that has the ignition module inside the coil. Wiring changes, whatever, I don't mind.
 

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I didn't time it but that's about how long I was on it while mowing.

Seems I bought another "project" tractor today. As with my 176, this one dies after a little awhile. Just peters out. Yes, I am a glutton for punishment, but I suppose after I fix one I'll have learned the other, since they have similar-tech Kawasakis.

Seems like the ignition gets weak; it doesn't surge/die like fuel starvation, but then again I've not yet run one of these dry so don't know for sure how that goes.

I was able to immediately restart it without a problem, but engaging the PTO was "too much" for it again, and it began to die once more. I quickly turned off the PTO and it slowly recovered and could be driven, but that's all.

tractor
M00265A479834

engine model
FC540V - BS00

engine serial
094147

****************

What I would dearly like to know is if the separate coil and ignition module these older tractors have can be updated to the slightly-more-more-modern type that has the ignition module inside the coil. Wiring changes, whatever, I don't mind.
Try cracking the fuel cap loose when it starts to die. That's about the right amount of time to vaper lock the fuel tank if the vent is plugged. Within 30-60 seconds it should go back to full power if this is the problem.
 

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Try cracking the fuel cap loose when it starts to die. That's about the right amount of time to vaper lock the fuel tank if the vent is plugged. Within 30-60 seconds it should go back to full power if this is the problem.
That is my canned answer for this.
 

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I put this on a FC420V. Ignitor is built in. Not sure if it will fit a FC540V. Part number 21121-2086

Is it charging?
 

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Thank you both. I will try that tomorrow. And I'll take a paperclip with me :)
Paper clip (universal tool #2) might be less effective than compressed air. Depends how the cap is constructed (simple hole), some have a passage or chamber to retain splashing. That kind will need some blowing out.

BTW, this is absolutely the FIRST THING TO CHECK when diagnosing no-starts and slowly failing engines! ALWAYS! Simplest place to start and will eliminate that "DAMN, I should have tried that in the beginning!" (and winding up with unused parts put into storage):laugh:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Paper clip (universal tool #2) might be less effective than compressed air. Depends how the cap is constructed (simple hole), some have a passage or chamber to retain splashing. That kind will need some blowing out.

BTW, this is absolutely the FIRST THING TO CHECK when diagnosing no-starts and slowly failing engines! ALWAYS! Simplest place to start and will eliminate that "DAMN, I should have tried that in the beginning!" (and winding up with unused parts put into storage):laugh:
I have compressed air available also. I'll know tomorrow what the cap on this and on my 165 is like.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I put this on a FC420V. Ignitor is built in. Not sure if it will fit a FC540V. Part number 21121-2086

Is it charging?
It charges. The battery light is not on when running, and the battery has full cranking power to restart the engine.

That coil you listed isn't made to work on any of the 540s, I don't think. But are you saying you retrofitted an older tractor designed for the separate igniter module with a coil with the module built in, and "it just works"? Just leave the wire dangling, that used to connect to the module on the side of the engine?

Since my also-new-to-me 176 shared this same symptom, I've read all sorts of things online that could all point to losing power/dying after a while, some spark and some fuel related:

-bad igniter module (there are some measurement figures floating around online that aren't probably entirely relevant; J-D's docs say these are essentially untestable)
-bad coil (might test good but get weak when hot; untestable scenario)
-bad gas cap (vent plugged)
-bad fuel lines (clogged/obstructed)
-transmission pressing against fuel tank (obstructed fuel pickup tube) -- don't see that as applicable to the 265.

Tomorrow I'll know if the gas cap on the 265 is the problem, and if it's the igniter module I have a generic one coming soon intended for the 176 I can try on the 265 instead. If that doesn't fix it I'll be looking hard at the tank, fuel lines and filter, and then the coil.
 

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I had a LX172 I had problems with hard to or no start. Shutting down while mowing. Spark when cranking was more of a tickle. I had enough extra parts to try multiple known coils and igniters. Ignitor can be good when cold, but when shut off and restarted no spark.

Finally, figured only thing left was the flywheel. So I pulled one off a 170. Knew I had something when I cranked it and had enough spark to bite you.

This coil is just attached directly to kill wire running to ignition switch. Only change to use is wiring. I am sure there modern coils for the 540.

I would not trust the idiot light and actually test charging voltage.

Test mow running off test gas tank and see what happens.
 

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I had a LX172 I had problems with hard to or no start. Shutting down while mowing. Spark when cranking was more of a tickle. I had enough extra parts to try multiple known coils and igniters. Ignitor can be good when cold, but when shut off and restarted no spark.

Finally, figured only thing left was the flywheel. So I pulled one off a 170. Knew I had something when I cranked it and had enough spark to bite you.

This coil is just attached directly to kill wire running to ignition switch. Only change to use is wiring. I am sure there modern coils for the 540.

I would not trust the idiot light and actually test charging voltage.

Test mow running off test gas tank and see what happens.
Not many peeps think that a flywheel can't go bad but it can. However it usually involves a problem with the magnets. Someone just posted fairly recently about a problem with the magnets falling off.

Another thing that can cause flywheel problems is the key. It's a little piece of metal that holds the flywheel into the proper position on the crankshaft. Both have a groove that the key fits into locking them together. This key can sheer or partially sheer for a number of reasons. Once the flywheel rotates out of position with the crankshaft the ignition will be out of time. You can still have spark at the plug but not at the correct time. Only a few degrees out of position is enough to cause problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
... This coil is just attached directly to kill wire running to ignition switch. Only change to use is wiring. I am sure there modern coils for the 540.
I recognize that aspect from both my older (1992) 176 and this 265 (unknown year, but its entire production run ended before they switched to the integrated coil/ignitor modules. And it's a BS00-series FC540V, so pretty early and likely original.)

My question still is, how is the tractor wiring different with the integrated coil/igniter? What changes? If it's still just that one tap for the kill switch on the coil, what do I do with the wire previously on the igniter module? Just leave it dangle/tape it off?

I agree that later 540's surely used an integrated module, just as the later 420's did.


I would not trust the idiot light and actually test charging voltage.
Yes, I will do that if/when I have a battery problem and the light stays silent (so to speak.)


Test mow running off test gas tank and see what happens.
I have a tank from a dead push mower I can lash together (that has a known-good gas cap LOL). But I'll run the tractor without the cap, or really loose, first.

Raining today, and most of the grass is already cut ...
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
The center gas cap vent hole is clear. It was a little gauzy at first. I let the tractor idle while I cleaned it out. And idle it did, perfectly.

Presumably, the cap originally had a gauze screen to prevent crud from entering the tank?

That said, I've ordered a new gas cap since the underside rubber is drying out. I also noticed that the tank threads have been chisled out; dunno if that's the original way it vented or someone else's earlier "fix."

I let the tractor warm up a few minutes and ran around a little bit, blades engaged and cut a little bit. It soon died. Started back up OK, seemed to be missing a little bit but made it back to the barn.

Tomorrow I'll have a universal ignition module to test with. If that doesn't fix it I'll rule out fuel by bypassing the entire fuel line aft of the pump or filter.

Incidentally, I didn't see a full shut-off valve under the filter near the frame/"firewall" area, like my LX176 has. J-D's online parts page shows some 265's with tank-located shut offs, but that seems odd to me and I didn't see anything obvious back there.

[Edit] I'm now reading through the supplied operator's manual and discovered the tank-mounted fuel shut off. Of course, I'd seen it when lifting the set but didn't know that's what it was.
 

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Well the gas cap test is free and easy - at least you elimanted one simple thing and can move on.

But yeah - that gas cap needed replaced anyway.

Thanks for the update!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The "good news" is that the problem has become rapidly worse. The bad news is that my hope for it being a quick electrical fix has evaporated, if you get my drift.

It's now hard to start (first time, subsequent times OK) and won't run or idle ver much before wanting (or succeeding in) dying. Fuel, right? That's what it now looks like ... it does now act like it surges from fuel starvation.

The aftermarket (Rotary brand) universal ignition module and a Lisle inline spark tester arrived this morning. I first swapped out the OEM module for the Rotary and saw no improvement.

With the new ignition module and inline spark tester attached, I'd say the spark looked great at all RPMs, however, now the engine would only run with the choke engaged. I took the inline spark tester out of the loop and it ran correctly: too rich with choke on, perfect with choke off. (I can understand how the tester could reduce voltage reaching the spark plug, but not give symptoms like that. I'd expect the opposite, in fact, yeah?)

Think I'll transport it to where my tools are, and begin methodically looking at full delivery from tank to carb. I might "cheat" and replace the full filter first, because the filter that's on there is one of those little opaque white disks. I have what seems to be the proper clear-plastic bowl style ready to go.

Or maybe I'll pause and see if I can get my 176 going instead ...
 

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My JD 285 also has the "slot" along the gas tank filler threads. It looks like it was make with a drill or hot poker.
Mine also had fuel starvation issues. It turned out to be some mold flash got into the fuel line and plugged the line to the fuel filter. The mold flash was too big to enter the fuel filter and plugged the fuel line. I replaced the filter several times before I noticed it hanging out of the fuel line during a filter replacement. I pulled it out and problem solved. Next time I had this problem, I back blew the fuel line with compressed air. Finally I took the tank off and cleaned it.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
* Fixed*

I had to turn the truck and trailer around and point it uphill, backwards. I was able to limp the tractor up the drive and aim it at the trailer and give as much throttle as it would take without dying. And so gravity helped get it on the trailer, because it didn't have enough power to do it alone.

[And I couldn't push it. (The lever on the trans that frees it acts like it's not connected to much of anything.)]

So I bought 6ft of fuel line. Pulled the line off the fuel pump and replaced it with a new fuel filter ... the other end of the line was a pushmower's gas tank with maybe 1/2 gallon in it. I set that on the "floor" between my feet, shut off the fuel at the tractor's tank, and drove it alll around and cut heavy grass!

Leaving the new filter in, I reconnected the tractor's line, opened it back up and alll seems well. Mowed the snot out of a lot of heavy, tall grass/weeds without a hiccup. It's a beast.

Gonna reinstall the OEM igniter module and see if that's still good. If so, I'll leave it on and have me an extra to diagnose the 176 with.
 

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Mowed the snot out of a lot of heavy, tall grass/weeds without a hiccup.
You might apply some SCOTTS GRASS SNOT CONTROL to prevent any future hiccups.

:bigthumb:Glad to hear it was fuel delivery and not electrical. I hate "electrical"!:laugh:
 

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* Fixed*

I had to turn the truck and trailer around and point it uphill, backwards. I was able to limp the tractor up the drive and aim it at the trailer and give as much throttle as it would take without dying. And so gravity helped get it on the trailer, because it didn't have enough power to do it alone.

[And I couldn't push it. (The lever on the trans that frees it acts like it's not connected to much of anything.)]

So I bought 6ft of fuel line. Pulled the line off the fuel pump and replaced it with a new fuel filter ... the other end of the line was a pushmower's gas tank with maybe 1/2 gallon in it. I set that on the "floor" between my feet, shut off the fuel at the tractor's tank, and drove it alll around and cut heavy grass!

Leaving the new filter in, I reconnected the tractor's line, opened it back up and alll seems well. Mowed the snot out of a lot of heavy, tall grass/weeds without a hiccup. It's a beast.

Gonna reinstall the OEM igniter module and see if that's still good. If so, I'll leave it on and have me an extra to diagnose the 176 with.

Sounds like your problem was the fuel filter.
Either that or you have a lot of junk floating around inside the fuel tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Sounds like your problem was the fuel filter.
Either that or you have a lot of junk floating around inside the fuel tank.
Yeah the new filter was the biggest difference. I didn't notice tank junk but will continue to run gas through it this coming week to know for sure.

There's a beer store about 200 yards down the street. This thing tops out around 7mph (feels faster). I might be able to do a "George Jones" and run it down there for "supplies."
 

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Yeah the new filter was the biggest difference. I didn't notice tank junk but will continue to run gas through it this coming week to know for sure.

There's a beer store about 200 yards down the street. This thing tops out around 7mph (feels faster). I might be able to do a "George Jones" and run it down there for "supplies."

Whatever you do don't go getting a DWI on a lawn mower. lol
I've heard of it happening. lol
 
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