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Discussion Starter #1
First time poster here. I've been googling for quite some time and think I've looked about every where for some help. I recently became the owner of 1980 Deere 317. It has what I believe to be a Onan p218 replacement engine. When I first went to look at it, it turned over. I picked it up a few days ago and brought it home. Now when I try to start it, I just get a click when I turn the key.
Here's what I've tried -

I tried jumping the battery with a car and got the same click. I removed the battery and accessed the solenoid. I tried jumping the solenoid using a screw driver to connect the two points and only got a spark. I then took jumper cables and hooked the power straight to the starter post and, again, only got spark. From the research I've done, this leads me to believe a bad starter. I then took a voltmeter and checked the ohms between the posts on the solenoid. It looks like there is about 1.4 ohms between the post. I measured power going into the solenoid and got 12 volts. Power coming out of the solenoid with the key in the start position is about 4.5 volts. I then checked the power at the starter and again got about 4.5 volts. From what I've found, this looks too low to engage the starter?

Do I have a bad Solenoid? or a bad starter? or both? Any other trouble shooting idea's I've missed? Thanks for the help and sorry if this is a repost that I couldn't find! It's been a while since I've worked on an engine but can still turn a wrench.
 

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Take the solenoid out, put into bench vise, hook a DVM or VOM on ohms scale, the lowest range to the switch side, hook a car battery to the coil momentarily, does the meter go to zero on ohms scale? If it does, it is probably good, although the contacts on the switch internals could be burned or pitted to the point current won't flow enough. You can test that by hooking a load onto the switch side ( a true 100 watt light bulb)


If that works then it's to get the starter out, put into bench and run the test on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Just pulled the Solenoid and it tested zero on the ohms scale. I pulled the switch side off of the Solenoid and found the wire to be cracked. I thought I struck gold and found my issue. I fixed the wire and confirmed I was getting 12 volts at the solenoid from the switch wire. I'm still registering only 4.4 volts when I try to turn the engine over on the hot side of the solenoid. I can't find any where on the google machine what the voltage requirement is to get the starter going. Looks like it's time to get the starter off and test it.
 

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12 Volts DC and plenty of current to turn the starter, Have you put a load on the solenoid switch side (starter side) to see if that part is working or broke?
 

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If you went right to the starter with jumper cable and got a spark ond no rotation. I'd say starter. You can try jumping it again and tap starter with a hammer. Most time it will turn over. Thus bad starter.

Tim
 

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I pulled the wire going to the starter and tested that while the key was in the start position and got 12+ volts. I'm an idiot and never thought about the fact a blown starter would draw more amps/volts and give me the voltage loss I was seeing. I tried tapping on the side with no luck. The teeth side of the starter seems to be free and spins freely when I push on the teeth with a screw driver. Not sure if this means anything or not, but while I was tapping on the side of it with a larger screw driver, I got some spark. I checked the ohm reading from the starter post to the starter housing and got 0. Is my starter grounding out somehow?
Looks like it's time for a new starter. I'll hopefully be able to get to it this weekend. Thanks for everyone's input and if you have any further idea's or suggestions, keep them coming!!
 

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Does it have black wires for both positive and negative? Did someone hook them up backwards?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I pulled the starter and it was seized up. I pulled it apart and was able to break it loose. I put it back together and was able to bench test it. It worked but seemed to be slow. I put it back into the tractor and when I tried it, I got a new click out of my solenoid. Instead of the single click, I got a continuous clicking from the solenoid. I thought the battery might be dead, so I hooked it up to the truck and got the same click. After a couple of tries, I heard a pop from starter. I pulled the starter again and it no longer worked on the bench test. I'm pretty confident I fried my starter. I've got a starter on the way but am afraid that there might be an underlying issue. Any thoughts? Anybody have a good suggestion on how to rebuild the starter as a back up? Thanks for all the input!
 

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The common Onan P218 repower for a JD 317 had a block-mounted Bendix-type starter. This is a United Technologies or equivalent starter that has the same internal design as the original Kohler KT17 starter. The free Kohler KT17 manual has a description of the starter. Take it apart and see what you find. If brushes are the only issue, cheap aftermarket versions are available from suppliers like Pats Small Engines or Tulsa Engine Warehouse. However, there is a good chance the armature was shorted out (loose winding or wear from a sloppy front bearing) and the starter is only good for parts or scrap. If this is the case, offer to sell the Onan aluminum mounting frame, as these are rare and often are broken.
Harold
 

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I have the same 1980 317 (that I bought new) with the P218 Onan repowered by John Deere. When my starter went out I took it in to shop that rebuilds starters and for less then $100.00 I had it repaired. When I put it back in I noticed that one of the ears that holds the starter was broken off. I can't weld alum. so I made a strap that went from the starter to the other side of the engine block to hold the starter in place. It has been like that for about 20 years with no problem.
 
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