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Diesel tractor won't start - possibilities?

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  • Diesel tractor won't start - possibilities?

    Hopefully it's something stupid-simple that we haven't thought of

    '75-ish Ford 4000, diesel. We've learned over the years that you must not let it run out of fuel or it's just hard to get started again. But, it really hasn't taken too many tries to get fuel back where it belongs and it starts up. It does take starter fluid to get that done though.

    So, Monday morning it flat ran out on poor hubby. In the past, I have found that 5 gallons isn't always enough, and it takes a full 10 gallons to get things going. I don't know why but my uneducated thought is the mere weight of the extra fuel somehow gets things "pushed" faster/farther into the right place.

    But nothing has worked this time We've tried everything - it will get started off the starter fluid, but then dies, and seems like it's simply not getting any diesel fed to the engine It doesn't make sense that it suddenly wouldn't get fuel going when it was running just fine until it ran out.

    Is there some trick?
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

  • #2
    This is what we have to do when ours run out.......

    1.Check the fuel filter and make sure it is full of fuel....if not full, there is a cap at the top and you need to fill it.

    2. Loosen injector lines at the head

    3. this takes two people...one turns over the starter as the second person is at the injector lines.

    4. As the injector lines start spraying fuel, tighten up.


    • Original Poster

      Oh, interesting!

      The loosening of the injector lines - does that help release a vacuum that causes problems?

      What would/could cause this situation to occur this time, but not any other time? Just lucky? Or could it be because all the other times the weather has been warm and this time it was not?
      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


      • #4
        I am just the minion around here, but this is what my husband does.

        I am assuming it releases a vacuum. Not sure why it is doing this at this time, as ours does it every time we run out. Have learned to NOT run out of fuel, as it's a pain in the butt..........


        • #5
          When you run a diesel engine out of fuel you need to bleed the engine to get it going again.

          The better answer is never run a diesel out of fuel!


          • #6
            there should be a primer lever on the pump or a bleed valve somewhere. I'm pretty sure all deisels have one.... I've got the gas version of that tractor, though. I may be able to put my hands to the manual later today

            ETA: just popped this out of google...


            Has a link to manuals and a picture of the pump showing the bleed valves :=)
            Nudging "Almost Heaven" a little closer still...


            • Original Poster

              Oh goodie, more toys to play with LOL

              We are really tractor noobs. We know enough to change oil/filters/etc, but are learning other things as crap happens LOL

              yeah, we know not to let it run out but sometimes the mind set of "but I CAN make it closer to the house (and the gas cans) before it actually runs out" takes over
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


              • #8
                Bleed the fuel line. Loosen the fuel line at the injector pump, manually pump the primer on the fuel pump until fuel runs out of the loosened line, retighten the fuel line, have one person keep pumping, while the other person cranks the engine. It should start pretty quickly, but may stumble a time or two. If it doesn't fire pretty quickly, don't keep cranking, but repeat the bleed sequence. There's probably a bleed valve or plug somewhere, but if I'm starting one I'm not familiar with, I just loosen the fuel line, which does the same thing. If you can get fuel to the injector pump, you don't need to loosen a line at an injector. I try to avoid loosening an injector, or using ether.

                If you can't manually pump fuel through the filter, change the filter, and repeat the bleeding procedure. Actually, this is a good time to change the fuel filter anyway if it hasn't been changed in a while, since you will have to bleed the lines again otherwise.



                • #9
                  Do everything everyone else has suggested. If nothing works.......I had this happen once with the JD tractor. Did everything, changed filters, still couldn't get fuel from the tank. Turned out I had a plug in the fuel line. I unscrewed it from the injector thingy and used the air compressor to blow the line back to the fuel tank. Problem solved.
                  Follow us on facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/River...ref=ts&fref=ts


                  • Original Poster

                    Awesome, thank you I will be certain to let you know what ends up working. I might go out in a little bit and just check the fuel filter first off - if it's "dry" and I can get some fuel in there and get it started, that's that. If not, it will have to wait for Mr JB to get home so we have the 2-person deal.

                    The fuel filter was changed 5/11, and truthfully, the tractor doesn't get a huge number of hours a year. But I can certainly get it changed if time is more important here than hours run.
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                    • #11
                      You probably have an air bubble somewhere - Tom King's advice will do the trick.

                      I always check the fuel level before I start a project- a piece of grass or a stick works just fine. I was so excited when I got a new tractor that I wasn't going to have to rely on that method anymore. And the %#&$# fuel gauge worked for all of 6 months. It's been replaced 2x and just doesn't work. So back to the old fashioned method.

                      And it helps to know whether the intake is at the front or the back - then you will know whether you're better off going uphill or downhill when it's low.


                      • #12
                        We feel your pain! I know it isn't an easy fix. My son ran ours out this summer and when my husband got home ( he is a diesel mechanic) he was livid. It took them 45 minutes ( i herd much , much yelling) to finally get it going again. I wish he was home and I could ask him what all they did.


                        • #13
                          All the diesel tractors we have had, when we change the filters, there is somewhere a little manual priming pump you have to use to refill the lines and filters.

                          That should not be a problem, unless something else is clogging the lines.


                          • #14
                            Here's a link to the manual for your tractor.

                            Look at page 36 of 59 of the file. This will be section G of the manual. Follow the directions. You will have to loosen the connections at the injectors.

                            Equus makus brokus but happy


                            • #15
                              Addendum... Loosening the connections releases the air. Any air trapped in the system prevents the fuel system from developing the required pressure to inject the fuel into the engine. The air acts like a spring when the fuel stream needs a solid column. It is not releasing a vacuum.
                              Equus makus brokus but happy


                              • #16
                                The starter itself gets tired and slows down with age on old tractors. I never knew how fast my old John Deere could turn over until I had the starter completely rebuilt just recently. Everything in the Bendix fell off except for the gear itself. That caused it to continue cranking until I could get the battery cables off since the gear could not disengage. It kept the circuit closed regardless of whether the switch was turned off or not. In the process, it completely melted down everything in it to the point that it was smoking so badly, I thought the tractor was going to catch on fire.

                                I took the starter off and took it to Duke's Starter and Alternator Clinic in Oxford, NC. The only original parts left when he got finished with it were the outside case and front casting. He made a work of art out of it, and it spins over probably 3 times faster than it ever has. It still starts so fast that it amazes me. I never knew it could spin and start like that, and I've probably had it for close to 20 years.

                                If your motor doesn't spin over something like 4 turns per second, take the starter to Duke's. It's a Mom and Pop operation that's a trip in itself. The only people who work there are the Husband and Wife.

                                Go straight through downtown Oxford, pass the Walgreens, and it's in an old service station down the hill on the left. Tell them I sent you.


                                • Original Poster

                                  I didn't get a chance to get out there before dark and just wasn't going to fiddle in the dark. Oh well - it can sit there another day LOL

                                  This is actually a new starter (can't even remember now if it's new or rebuilt, but "new" for the tractor) - less than a year old. Like you, we never realized how bad the old one was getting until we replaced it
                                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                                  • #18
                                    As the other poster have stated the tractor isn't getting fuel. If bleeding the lines several times doesn't get fuel flowing you may want to check fuel line seals or you may have a faulty fuel pump.


                                    • #19
                                      Ditto to everything else others have suggested JB, with emphasis on the fuel filter. Now, I know you know this, and I've been scolded for the very same thing, do not let your diesel tractor run out of fuel!! Bad girl lol! It is especially hard on the diesel run engines.

                                      Good luck! I feel your pain, the starter just went on our quad and now I have to wheelbarrow poop in two and a half feet of snow!

                                      And this is just after I had to replace the winch switch because my naughty mare thought it would be fun to bite it off when i ran inside to scarf a sandwhich. That and she somehow managed to turn the key all the way to full power and killed the battery!! At least she didnt eat the key! I think she's trying to tell me something lol.... *sigh mares*


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by JB View Post
                                        yeah, we know not to let it run out but sometimes the mind set of "but I CAN make it closer to the house (and the gas cans) before it actually runs out" takes over
                                        You'll develop a sixth sense for it eventually.... I've got one on my mower. It'll run out without much warning at 3 hours, 20 minutes.... if you fill the gas 1" up the filler neck...and don't have any low-throttle operation...

                                        Back when I had to use the big skidder to clear snow, I asked our cousin about what to do if it ran out of deisel (there's no working gauge) and the answer was "Well, you loosen the injectors up, and work the primer a bunch of times, and then you have... well... don't run out... it's not pretty" That answer sorta stuck with me :=) Which reminds me, I need to through 5-10g in there before I use it again.
                                        Nudging "Almost Heaven" a little closer still...