1905 Ridgeway Lane Hattiesburg, Mississippi 39401
For several years the hobby of restoring gas engines and
tractors has directed my attention to how to get them restored and
running. Little attention is given to stopping them.
Last week I cranked a restored 1936 F-12 Farmall and a neighbor
was almost as excited as I was! We let it run a few minutes and
retarded the magneto to stop the engine.
The next morning, the neighbor and a few others drifted by to
see the completed tractor and hear it run. The spark was advanced
halfway, gas turned on, governor lever pulled back, choke applied,
can removed from the exhaust, and I started pulling up on the
crank. What happened next? You guessed it. It did not crank! I
monkeyed with everything on it and cranked some more. All new guts
in the engine, new Champion spark plugs, reworked magneto, it was
running 12 hours ago, don’t leave me now neighbors; it’ll
crank soon! After a few more blisters on my hand, the neighbors
drifted away, leaving me almost dead from exhaustion and
embarrassment, and all alone with a pretty, red, dead tractor.
It must be the magneto is not hot enough. I removed the magneto
that was running the 10-20 McCormick Deering and installed it on
the F-12. Still no crank. The carburetor was re-moved and gone
through again. This did not work.
After the evening meal, a brief stir was made in the day’s
mail delivery and there was the Gas Engine Magazine dated October.
Before bedtime, I got to page 14 and read ‘Some
‘Tricks’ of the Hobby’ by Ed G. Page. I reread what he
said about spark plugs. (Thanks Ed, you solved my problem).
The next morning I installed some old, clean plugs, and the
tractor cranked on the second pull of the crank. I dried the new
plugs with a propane torch, and they worked.
My next restoration will be a wartime flywheel crank John Deere
B, built in 1942. To change color for a while, I started reading
the operators manual for John Deere B tractor, serial No. 60,000 to
201,000. This covers about the years 1939-1946. Page 20 gives us
what we have been looking for on stopping an engine. Page 20
concludes, and I quote:
‘Caution: Do not stop the engine by pulling back on the hand
throttle or by shorting the magneto. This leaves several charges of
unburnt fuel in the cylinder, which will reliquify as the engine
cools and permit the liquid fuel to lay on the electrode and
porcelain of the spark plugs to provide a path for the spark to
escape and result in hard starting. Liquid fuel left in the
combustion chamber will also wash the lubricating oil off the
pistons, rings, and cylinders, thus breaking the oil seal and
causing poor compress on also a factor in hard starting.’
There you have it. It’s in the book.
It stands to reason that when the ignition is stopped on a
running engine, the flywheel keeps the engine in motion for a few
strokes, pulling in fuel that does not burn, and saturating the
The lesson learned: Shut off the fuel and let the engine die
naturally. It will crank tomorrow!