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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know that some of you will think this is pure Micky Mouse.

Some of you will think it is sacrilegious to even think like this.

I am of the mind that anything that is built by man can be improved upon.

Therefore, when the starter on my 420-garden tractor would only click, well click a few times and then when you least expected it, the starter would kick in and sometimes it would even start, in other words the solenoid was engaging the gear but the starter was not turning the engine over, I said, to myself, “there has to be a better way!”

I had already pulled the engine twice to fix the starter.

The first time, in 2005, I installed a new starter and solenoid because I figured I would kill 2 birds with one stone.

The second time, in 2007, I only installed a new solenoid because the starter was fairly new at the time and working fine.

When the solenoid contacts failed once again, in 2009, I decided I was not going to remove the engine just to change the solenoid and so I came up with this unit. This system has been working, with the new starter that was installed in 2005 and the solenoid that was installed in 2007, ever since it was installed June 5th 2009, 12 years at this time and counting.

The design was complicated by the fact that it is a mechanical gear engagement starter and as such there had to be a delay that was long enough for the gear to be engaged before the starter was energized. I had no idea how long that would be and did not want the starter turning until the gear was fully engaged. I wanted it to be automatic so that the operator needed to do nothing, other than turn the key. I was lucky to find just such a unit. Not only is it a delay, but it is fully adjustable.

It also is a very efficient theft deterrent (or child proofing) in that you can set the delay for as long as you want. It will only click and engage the gear and when you think that is all it is going to do and release the key, the timer starts all over. I usually set mine for a coupe of minutes, no-one is going to wait that long for a starter to start working. The tractor can also be rendered completely useless by just unplugging the timer unit and putting it in your pocket.

The reason that these types of starters, (mechanical engagement starters) fail quite often is very simple.

The sliding of the gear speed is immaterial until the contacts get close enough together to arc.

But then the slower they close contact, the more arcing is generated. In this system, with such a large mass of metal to move, it is a long slow arc.

In my system there is no arcing at all because electricity is not available yet.

Even though the original contacts are a large chunk of copper, the draw of the starter turns the contacts into something similar to the electrodes of a welder. Small particles of copper are transferred from one contact to the other, eventually building up carbon to a point that there is no metal-to-metal contact, and your starter does not work, even though there is nothing wrong with the starter itself.

Arcing of contacts is a problem in every situation where contact is made and or broken. Such as ignition points or a light switch. The arcing is exacerbated by the speed of the contacting material and the voltage being controlled. Sliding that heavy gear and mechanism is akin to molasses in January compared with the speed of electricity. Special switches must be used in any atmosphere that contains pure oxygen, such as a hospital room. In that case the contacts operate in a vacuum. The speed of contact closing does not matter because there is no possibility of arcing.

If you look at the picture you will see 2 relays. One controls the solenoid on the starter and the other controls the solenoid on this unit that rotates the starter. Both relays are there just to lighten the load, first on the key switch and secondly on the delay module itself. The key switch is fairly inexpensive but a pain to replace and the delay module is the most expensive part of this setup. Also, relays are simple to replace in that you just unplug and plug in a new one, since they are used everywhere, they are also inexpensive.

This is a picture of the system that I have on my 420.

793391


The white tall one with the knob on the top, is the delay module

This system will work on any tractor that has a solenoid activated, sliding gear engagement system, which is one where the solenoid sits on the starter and is hooked to a lever.

(It is not needed nor will it work on a spin-up starter.)



I did not remove the engine to install this unit. It is just a matter of rerouting the battery cable and cutting the wire that goes to the solenoid on the starter and attaching it to a point on the delay/mount to activate both the delay and the starter solenoid simultaneously.

Tony/Sarge Motor vehicle Automotive exterior Electrical wiring Gas Auto part
 

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Deere does have a relay kit to boost the start signal. It usually solves this issue, but it sounds like you had more then the common click
 

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I had a 92 420 from 92-2016 and changed the starter one time. it needed repowered so rather than spend the 2055. i got a 1025 and gave it to my son. he used it another year before it finally crapped out. They are a great tractor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes, I think they are a great tractor also.
Mine had a rough life before I got it. It was owned by Wells Fargo in Minneapolis and they only used it to sweep the snow off the sidewalk surrounding the building.
When they traded it in it was not green, it was white (salt residue). The fender deck was rotted out and had big holes under the seat and on the foot rests.
The main problem was that they stored it in a heated shop and it got a salt bath every night. I have had the same problem with my vehicles, because I have a heated garage. My wife didn't much like getting into a cold car in the mornings. I wasn't gung ho about it myself.
I thought it was a shame to junk such a fine machine so I bought it.
I was working part time (three days a week) (never had so damn much fun in my life, I should have paid them, but don't tell them that) at a Lawn and Garden dealership and so I got the new parts that I needed for cost and I bought a fender deck and mower online.
I was only working there because my wife said that I had to get out of my shop once in a while or I would become a hermit, and I was winding down my business anyway. I'll tell that story some other time.
The only attachment I got with it was a 246 broom that was also a basket case.
It also had and still does have other problems such as the differential lock is rusted solid, just haven't needed it, so I haven't dropped the tranny, maybe this year. Salt gets in everywhere.
I also haven't completely redone the wire harness, which I think is the problem I'm having at this time. (see my other posts, if you're interested)
Tony/Sarge
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I don't know if I had a John Deere Starting Improvement Relay Kit - AM107421 in my stock of parts at the time.
I just checked and I do now, but I don't think I would have tried it anyway.
I had a fairly good idea of what the problem was, because the first time that I changed everything in 2005, I took the solenoid apart and the contacts were toast.

I don't think that a surge of voltage would have burnt through them and I don't understand JD thinking it was a permanent fix either.

I can see it if you have a weak starter or a partially discharged battery. I mean that is why a pick-up mounted car starting unit works so well to get your car started at 20 below. They aren't kicking 12 volts through those 30 ft. cables. Hell on the starter, but heaven for you when you are stranded.

When I first got my 3010, first off it had a Marvel Schebler carb, which I was never a fan of, and someone had manufactured a solenoid shut off for the main hydraulic pump. When the key switch was turned to the start position, it would energize the solenoid to de-stroke the pump.
I'm thinking, golly gee, we are having a hard time getting enough power to turn the engine over, I know what I should do! I will throw another electrical load onto the battery.

Needless to say, I unhooked it, bought a right side battery box with brackets and installed another battery in parallel mode to maintain the 12 volt system. It helped but with the carb problem and the fact that it was a 40 year old tractor that had never been touched, at least the head had never been off, it was just a matter of time before I bought a new high-torque starter.
That and the new carb, made it into the tractor that I still love today.
It was also a narrow front and that was not what my ideal tractor walked on, so I changed that also.
It had an aftermarket 3pt, HAD is the operative word there.

I still need to overhaul the steering, but I have done many of them and just haven't taken the time. I just don't dare open it up on the road, unless I would want to check out the neighboring crops, up front and personal, if you know what I mean.

Tony/Sarge
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I don't mean to down-grade the JD solution, it just didn't seem to apply to the problem I was having when I designed the "starter delay."
The physical characteristics of a solenoid are such that it is impossible for the contacts to close with a rapid snapping action. Given the weight of the mechanism that has to move to engage the gear, it's almost like slow motion and consequently burns the contacts.

I know that my solution appears to be a Mickey Mouse contraption, but it has worked for over 15 years and surprisingly I haven't even had to change the cheap solenoid that I installed.

I also run everything through relays in order to lighten the load on the ignition switch, which is also a slow motion connection, so the lower current flow is an advantage there.

I just replaced the ignition switch, which it turns out was not necessary, because I still have the same problem which will be fixed this coming winter.

As of now I have hot wired everything associated with the TDM through the light switch so that I can use it to mow the lawn until I have the time to find the problem in the wiring harness.

I do not advocate leaving it in this configuration because the engine and the mower won't shut off unless either the ignition switch or the light switch is physically turned off.

John Deere does not install any redundant parts on their equipment, at least none that I have found!

BTW, I feel that I am somewhat of an anomaly on GTT, because all of my equipment is like me, OLD, and probably not of interest to very many members. I'm looking at the dates on most of the posts on Vintage Lawn & Garden Tractors and it seems that even if I had an answer for a members question, I certainly can't go back in time and submit it.


Does anyone know of a group that would be a better fit for me?


Tony/Sarge
 

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Weekend freedom machines is probably the most active vintage site.

My tractor form is more active for all GTs
 
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