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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 318 will not start. No prior problems. Tractor was new to me 5 years ago. Supposedly engine rebuilt at 1k. Has 1300 total.
Had kind of an initial clunk turning key then nothing when it failed. Can hear a single quiet click turning key each time now.
Battery is good. Has starter improvement kit. Was sitting motionless in shed between mowings for a week or so.
Not sure of starter age but guessing original.

Questions
1. Rapped on starter with a hammer. Nothing. Should I rap the solenoid from below?
2. Should I try changing out the starter switch? Have a new spare.
3. Does this sound like a solenoid or starter failure? Due to horror stories about new starter replacements, I'd like to have it rebuilt, if bad. Easy to find places that do this?
4.. Read I can undo bolts and pull engine up 6" without unhooking everything to remove starter. Does this work ok?
5. Worst case, I have a not-working 87 316 with same Onan and guessing same starter I can pull. They are the same, right?
6. Any chance of a fuse failure with the clicks? Have not checked them yet.
7. What leads to test with meter for 12v, given my symptoms? Have a starting components electrical schematic.
8. Any good starter electrical troubleshooting guides out there? Don't want to pull the starter if it is OK and the problem is something like a bad connection or wire short.

All advice is appreciated.
 

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Ok well it sounds like you are getting power to the solenoid due to the clicking. BUT is power getting to the starter. That's the first place to start . If the starter is getting power then I would say brushes in the starter BUT I have seen broken magnets in them too. Yes you can buy a rebuild kit off fleabay for like $20. I don't know about the lifting the engine part as I have not worked on my 318 yet. But you will still need to pull the starter if the test from the solenoid proves you are getting power to the starter. From what I have seen it's 4 bolts and lift. As long as there is enough wire to allow you to lift the engine high enough to get the starter out you're good.
Good luck let us know.
 

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First off, I hope you really did not hit the starter with a hammer. Light taps with something soft like a block of wood might dislodge a stuck starter pinion gear but hitting any electric motor with a hammer will not get it to rotate. On a DC motor, you can break the magnets inside and for sure you will need a new starter.

Are you getting dash lights when you turn the ignition switch to run? How about bright headlights? If headlights are dim, start thinking weak battery or dirty cables.

Is the the faint click you mention happening at the starter improvement relay, the solenoid, the starter, the PTO clutch or is it the hourmeter you hear clicking? Before you jump right in to pulling the starter, I suggest you use a voltmeter and check voltage at the battery with the key off. A good charged battery will read about 12.6 volts.
Next check battery voltage with the key turned to the Start position. If it’s significantly less than 12.6V, your battery probably needs to be charged, load tested or replaced.

Even if the battery measures OK, the cables could be corroded and not passing current to the starter. Have you you taken the cables off the battery and cleaned them and reinstalled?
Have you tried to jump start the tractor? With dirty battery cables, oftentimes jump starting will start the tractor because the jumper cables make a better connection to the dead tractor's battery cables than the battery.

If your battery tests good, check for battery voltage at the solenoid and at the starter when you turn the key to start.

If you have voltage:
Your solenoid or starter could be bad OR check your starter and see if it is getting hot. If so, check to see if the starter pinion gear is engaged and stuck in the flywheel. If you want to make sure the engine will turn free, with all circuits not energized and even better yet, both battery cables disconnected, try to turn the flywheel or driveshaft one way or the other. If it turns this will eliminate a stuck starter pinion gear or locked up PTO clutch.

If no voltage:
The relay in the starter improvement kit does not last forever and could have failed. Does the relay click when you turn the key to start? If it clicks, it's probably OK. If it does not click, check to make sure the relay pull in contacts are getting battery voltage. If not, check your safety switch circuit. A bad safety switch is probably the culprit.

Safety switches:
Check to make sure pto switch is off and has not failed. Also check neutral safety switch on the hydro lever. If your tractor has a brake switch you need to depress before you can crank the engine, make sure that switch is good too. On the schematic you have, you will see that current passes through these switches in order to power the starter improvement kit and allow it to send current to the starter solenoid.
 

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Could the first clunk be the starter drive going into the flywheel where it now might be stuck? Quick check would be remove the air cleaner and look into the large hole at the rear of the flywheel cover. If it is stuck out, slightly rotate the flywheel to see if it retracts, then lube the shaft.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the replies. Finally found the time a couple weeks later. Turned out to be a big voltage drop in battery to starter cable. Cleaned connection and worked. Easiest of all fixes.
 

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Good fix!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Follow up. After the cleaning and easy starting it did it again. Now thinking maybe I have a bad wire, I pulled the middle of the starter cable back and forth a few times and she started right up. Might have to replace it for internal corrosion. Anyone ever have to do this?
 

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If you're talking about the cable from the starter to the battery, "YES"!
My 322 was cranking a little slower this year, but always started. I fired it up, started mowing and after about 1/2 hour it just shut down! I figured electrical... it shut down like I turned the key off. no sputter like running out of fuel, it just stopped! I got my meter and as I went to check battery voltage, the pos. cable fell off of the terminal on the battery! Looking at the cable, it was "genuine John Deere" wire cuz it was green! I stripped it back, cleaned with vinegar, tinned, crimped and then soldered a new terminal on. Back mowing!

The positive battery cable is known to corrode on the inside underneath the insulation and completely invisible by visual inspection. Bob
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
If you're talking about the cable from the starter to the battery, "YES"!
My 322 was cranking a little slower this year, but always started. I fired it up, started mowing and after about 1/2 hour it just shut down! I figured electrical... it shut down like I turned the key off. no sputter like running out of fuel, it just stopped! I got my meter and as I went to check battery voltage, the pos. cable fell off of the terminal on the battery! Looking at the cable, it was "genuine John Deere" wire cuz it was green! I stripped it back, cleaned with vinegar, tinned, crimped and then soldered a new terminal on. Back mowing!

The positive battery cable is known to corrode on the inside underneath the insulation and completely invisible by visual inspection. Bob
Thanks Bob. My cable is red. Does not look original. Have to look at closer.
 

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rudy, Corrosion may be under insulation and you'll never see it! Set meter to DC volts and place leads on NEG battery terminal and starter stud that has battery cable attached, and wiggle wire. if 12v, then 0, then 12v, bad cable, replace. Bob
 
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