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Subject: 8N hard to start, dies when warm (LONG)

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Jason (OR Coast)    Posted 07-07-2020 at 14:35:04 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • 8N hard to start, dies when warm (LONG)
  • Hello folks...

    Yet another chapter in the odyssey of my 1950 Ford 8N.

    I wish I could sit in a diner with some of you and just chat about this, then go attack it all together. Instead, I am all by myself here. I had made a friend about 10 years ago and in the last couple of years he got into 8N's, he was really pretty good about them as he was raised with them and then came back to collecting them later in life. Sadly, he passed away in February and now I have no real assistance - in person. You guys have been really helpful in the past and I thank you and apologize for bothering with this. It's pretty vague.

    SO, I purchased my 50 8N from an older gentleman about 7 years ago. It has never liked starting when cold. It is the 6V system. He used to keep a 8 volt battery in it just to give it a perky start and that seemed to work somewhat for a little while. He had upgraded the tractor to an electronic distributor and coil which he said also helped somewhat.

    However, I have never been real pleased with its starting or longevity in running, it seems fragile, it cannot run very long before it just acts odd, such as my need to manipulate the choke, etc. I was thinking maybe it was a carb issue so I rebuilt it, no help, same cold start complaints. So, my wife and I purchased a new carb from Steiner. It seemed to resolve the cold start issue for a week or two but introduced a new issue - it doesn't like to run for very long after it comes up to temperature.

    We use the tractor somewhat infrequently because of its problems and our lack of financial reserves to throw money at it hand over fist. To be honest, we purchased this tractor because we were told they were super simple to repair and inexpensive to own. Thus far, it seems to be a labyrinth of woes.

    I put it away last fall, winterizing the engine (draining fuel, running the carb dry, oiling cylinders) and then tarped it tightly against the incessant Oregon coast rain.

    I untarped it a few weeks ago so I could do some front end loader work with it (moving railroad ties) and discovered that it was hard to start. However, she did start after about 20 cranks and then ran fine until up to temperature. Then, she refused to restart, period.

    I left it sit overnight, came out the next day and it cranked about 10 times, then fired up. Ran at idle for about 10 minutes, died and refused to restart. I left it sit overnight, went out this morning, started after about 15-20 cranks and I drove it around, actuating the front end loader, drove about 3000 feet out and back and it died about 20 feet away from where it usually sits, it is refusing to start, just cranking away.

    In the process of trying to get this all figured out, we have replaced the plug wires, plugs, rebuilt the M-S carb, then replaced it with a Steiner unit, replaced fuel lines twice, and the fuel bowl/shut off valve assembly twice. I have run through at least 10 gallons of gasoline which is always fresh and working fine in our other gasoline equipment.

    Last summer my friend began having health problems and so we didn't want to bother him too much. In discussions last fall, my friend told me we were going to get this all figured out this spring and then he passed. Now, we are a bit adrift.

    Today, I watched a video on Youtube about what seems to exactly describe our problem. You can see the link below. As a result of the video, I removed the key switch and inspected it - it was terribly dirty. HOWEVER, when the key is on, I can get a nice blue/white arc jumping from the coil power wire attached to the battery - I checked it. I cleaned the switch up thoroughly and reinstalled it, when the key is off I get no spark arc and with the key on I get the arc when I hold it loosely in my hand, a millimeter or so from the battery terminal. But, she will crank and crank without success today. Tomorrow, I am pretty certain she will eventually fire and run - but only until the temperature gauge reads green zone + 5 minutes give or take.

    I'm telling you, I am so confused by this and would really love to hear people's thoughts about this. Can anyone give any advice onto how I can get this tractor to at least start and run consistently? It seems like such a simple system and that it cannot be this difficult of a problem to solve.

    Thanks for your time, I have always appreciated it guys and hate to annoy you now.

    Bandon, Oregon

    Jason (OR Coast)    Posted 07-13-2020 at 07:12:48 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • A QUICK THANK YOU Re: 8N hard to start, dies when warm
  • Hi folks... Forgive my delay, I should've made it clear that I would be away from the computer for a couple of weeks. I had a huge project here that I just completed and am now moving onto another one today but am anticipating getting back to the tractor around the 20th.

    I will keep you all up to date. Until then, allow me to say a quick thanks for your time and input. I am looking forward to getting the old tractor moving consistently yet again soon.

    More next week?

    Bandon, Oregon

    K.LaRue-VA    Posted 07-08-2020 at 19:22:43 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: 8N hard to start, dies when warm (LONG)
  • Bruce is 100% right. Troubleshoot. Narrow down what it isn't to find what may be contributing to the problem. Nearly all of my tractor problems come down to maintenance that I've let slide. The great thing about that is it almost never requires parts to fix one of these tractors. Is anyone else thinking an Electronic Distributor on a 6 Volt Tractor could be having problems with less than optimal voltage? The 6 volt system requires battery terminals, connections, and wire terminals to be clean and shiny. That may be even more important for an electronic module to function well. Checking voltages with a meter is one way to locate bad connections, or a bad ignition switch. The low-tech approach is to just take connections loose and make them clean and shiny. Don't forget to do both ends of both battery cables and make sure they are proper tractor cables, not skinny battery cables for a car. In many cases, new parts just create new problems.

    Don B.    Posted 07-08-2020 at 07:25:06 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: 8N hard to start, dies when warm (LONG)
  • I am presently changing out my fuel tank since I was getting a bunch of rust in my sediment bowl and it would run for a while and then die. I would leave it set for at least a couple of hours, then it would start again. Was going to try to clean and seal old tank, but thinking I might just order a new one.

    Tim Daley(MI)    Posted 07-08-2020 at 05:24:13 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: 8N hard to start, dies when warm (LONG)
  • Jason-
    If you are mechanically inclined, and by your text it sounds like you are, you don't need a special shop -you can do these projects yourself and don't believe in jinxes, voodoo, superstitions, or hexes. Many of us have and work on tractors and engines all the time all alone. It's nice to have local friends with similar hobbies, interests,and advice givers, but gain knowledge from manuals, sites like this, and hands-on experience so you don't fall under myths such as the 8-Volt Battery theory. The FORD 4-cylinder flat-head engine is about the simplest machine to work on even for a novice. One of the old wives tales/myths is that you need an 8-V battery. No, you don't. Did you tweak the VR with it? Do you have a front mount distributor with the VR? Mucked up wiring is 90% of all non-starting issues regardless if 6V or 12V. Storing a tractor for any length of time should include a Battery Tenderô float charger to maintain a full charger under load so it ready to go when you are. A plain trickle-type battery charger will not suffice. As Bruce said, don't guess/assume, don't go replacing parts until old are tested, and get the Essential Manuals. Download a copy of '75 Tips for N-Owners' by Bruce(VA) and a copy of 'WIRING PICTOGRAMS by JMOR' from our HOW-TO's forum (click on LINK) . You can find everything you need right here on this site -no need to go searching for YouToob stuff where many are simply somebody's guesswork/opinions an often incorrect. ALL new aftermarket carbs are made in Cheena anyway, some are OK, most are cloned rip-offs that may or may not work, so doesn't matter if it's STEINER, those places are just suppliers, not the manufacturers. I'd buy your OEM Marvel-Schebler carb if you still have.


    Tim Daley(MI)

    Bruce (VA)    Posted 07-07-2020 at 14:49:19 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: 8N hard to start, dies when warm (LONG)
  • These tractors are pretty simple machines; itís usually pretty easy to get them running with some basic troubleshooting steps. You can:

    1. Replace every part you can until it starts or you run out of money.

    2. List every possible cause of the problem and then randomly pick your favorite to check. It could be your coil. Or your ignition switch. Or about 10 other things.

    3. Like diagnosing any other equipment failure, take a step-by-step approach, working from the most likely to the least likely, one system at a time.

    Iíve tried all three approaches. The third one always worked for me.

    I might not be able to tell you why your tractor isnít running, but I can tell you how to figure it out for yourself.

    You could have a spark issue.

    You could have a fuel issue.

    Donít guess. Troubleshoot. See tip # 13 at the link below.

    As soon as it stops running, not 5 minutes later, you need to answer 2 questions before you do anything else:

    With the bolt in the carb bowl removed and the gas on, will the fuel flow fill a pint jar in less than 2 minutes?

    Next, get out your adjustable gap spark checker * , open the gap to 1/4", hook it up, turn the key on and crank the engine. Does the spark jump 1/4"? Post back with the answers.

    And do not buy a new part for the tractor until you can answer this question: how do I know the part on the tractor is defective?

    Once you narrow the problem to spark or fuel, post back and tell us what you found (and how you found it) and you will get plenty of help to get your tractor running.

    * Don't own an adjustable gap spark checker? Buy one! Not a test light! Until then, take an old plug, open the gap 1/4" ground it to the head & look for spark. Itís not the color of the spark that counts; itís the distance it jumps.


    Buddy    Posted 07-08-2020 at 06:32:25 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: 8N hard to start, dies when warm (LONG)
  • LMAO at # 1 . Gooden Bruce !

    Jason (OR Coast)    Posted 07-07-2020 at 17:43:54 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: 8N hard to start, dies when warm (LONG)
  • Thanks Bruce, you are right on with this information. I have to be honest friend, I am almost superstitious about this machine. I have repaired many engines, rebuilt transmissions, and worked on other components on vehicles, riding mowers, two cycle, you name it. But this is almost like a mystery to me. I think a big problem for me has been this disconnected feeling I have about the tractor. I know nobody around here using these tractors (we bought ours after taking a road trip to check it out) and can't buy a part in our area. As a result, I end up just trying to throw things at it from other experiences, and hope it'll work.

    One thing I had not mentioned before is that I had a 50's automobile repair gentleman come by once and he just seemed totally confused and overwhelmed by it all. I guess some of it rubbed off on me and added to my despair.

    Regardless, you are right on and I'll give it a whirl in the next couple of days. I don't have one of these spark gap tools, though I am familiar with them, have seen them before. I do have a plug tester (and the plugs are showing color) but not a gap tester, so I will get one. My wife runs up to the area where Autozone is located and she does so almost every day - our closest Autozone is 45 minutes away. I just called the local parts place only 20 minutes away and they don't have any in stock. "COVID inventory problems". Okay.

    Anyhow, I'll get back to you, and thanks...

    Bandon, Oregon

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