Ol’ Red hasn’t been out of the barn for at least 1 year, probably 2 and maybe even three. Ol’ Red is a mid 1960′s IH Farmall 706 tractor with a gas engine. The sellers said the tractor was “for sale” when I looked at the place. As we haggled, I offered to include the tractor in the sale and they agreed as long as it was sold “as is”. Translation, something isn’t working.
First things, first, it had a flat right front tire and it had broken the bead. But life is good and sometimes, things have a way of working out. I went down on a Sunday with a floor jack and a air compressor. By coincidence, one of the neighbors had called me asking permission to fish the property. He caught up with me about the time I was getting ready to fix the tire. Turns out he used to be in the tire business. Between two of us, we re-seated the bead — thanks to some oil in his truck and pumped it full of air.
Sometimes you meet nice people, and as we talked about the tractor, he offered to drain the old gas during the week if he came down to fish.
Last Friday, he, and I and my realtor stood around the tractor taking turns scratching our heads as we cleaned the sediment bowl, the fuel line, and the carb. After 3 hours, we still couldn’t get it to run without pouring gas in the air intake ourselves.
So the carburetor came off and I took it to the Case/IH dealer down the road for them to rebuild and clean. Wednesday, I picked it up and My son and I put it back on and tried again to start Ol’ Red. Again, it wouldn’t. Gas engines and carburetors are really simple things. Fuel mixes with air and a spark sets it off. There’s no fuel pump, no fuel filter, no computer injection. It’s really a beautiful thing. Except this beautiful thing wasn’t doing what it was supposed to.
All the way home, I wondered what next. I logged onto Yesterday’s Tractor and read up on the 706 Carburetor and learned that the solenoid attached to it was used to shut off the gas when the key switch was off to prevent engine run-on or dieseling. So I asked in their forum if anyone thought this could be my problem and in minutes, 3 answers assured me I was headed the right way.
Today, armed with my voltmeter, and a copy of the owner’s manual I ordered online, I turned the key and listened for the “click” from the solenoid. Silence.
So I checked the voltage to the wire to the solenoid. 0….dead.
So I traced the wire back to some very old electrical tape. It was good there. Across the engine block to the other side and more tape. At this juncture (sorry to borrow from the original Bush) the wire was broken.
Now I was optimistic. The volt meter sprang to life as I measured the voltage at the hot end of the wire.
But, of course, I didn’t bring any new wire, or wire connectors in the tool box. They are on my boat.
So I loaded up and headed to the nearest NAPA Auto store and $15.00 later we had wire, connectors and a stripper.
I ran new wire, taped the connectors and had 12 volts running to the solenoid.
I turned the key: “click”.
I hopped in the cab, turned the key to on, dropped the clutch pedal to the floor and pushed the start button.
Oh-h-h-h-h- Yeah-h-h-h-h-h-h-h. Listen to the roar.
Post Script: If you’ve ever seen a sci-fi movie, the hero from one culture galaxy usually finds himself making an escape from another culture galaxy and jumps into one of the spacecraft for the getaway. He fires it up and he flies away.
Yeah, well, okay. I’m not that good. Plop behind the wheel of a tractor and there are a few extra levers and controls. Note I’ve put the owners manual on top — for reference.