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Bolens Electrical System Questions

bolens 850 electical system coil generator

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#1 MailmAn OFFLINE  

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Posted July 23, 2012 - 09:21 PM

I finally brought out what I have together of the 850 to take it for a test run (video to soon follow in my other post) on Sunday evening. I also loaded up the old Bolens to take over to mow someone else's lawn today, since they've been asking me to come mow their lawn since Wednesday of last week. So, for sure I have given this tractor quite a run for its money in the last two days after letting it sit idle for a month and a half in the garage!

So, my questions are about the electrical systems on the old tube frame Bolens'. It seems after running the 850 for a little over an hour on Sunday and then another hour and a half today, I am worried about the electrical system. It seems like the coil is hot to the touch as well as the starter/generator. Is this normal for running the engine at high RPMs for several hours? On Sunday for some reason I also left the ignition key turned to run while the engine was off. After about 15-20 minutes, I noticed that the coil was hot to the touch while the engine wasn't running with the ignition on. Is this normal as well or a sign of a bad coil? The engine seems to run fine, but I don't need my Bolens to burst into flames or melt the wiring in the engine compartment like what happened to poor Hatedge, no offense!

I also can't tell if the generator is working properly or not. The ammeter needle seems to just flop around between + and - while the engine is running, but it could just be because it is an old and inaccurate gauge? I have a new battery in the tractor, but after running it a few times already, it seems like the starter is turning over slower, like the battery is draining and not being charged properly? This, coupled with the starter/generator running hot has me concerned that I need it rebuilt or replaced.

(After running it for a couple of hours, I was spraying off the deck with the hose and noticed some steam coming from the engine. I thought it was just because the engine was hot, but I sprayed some water on the starter/generator and found that was the source of the steam. I lighly touched it with my hand and it was indeed quite hot.)

Any ideas, suggestions, tips, comments, etc??? :confuse: Thanks!!

Edited by MailmAn, July 23, 2012 - 09:28 PM.


#2 Bruce Dorsi OFFLINE  

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Posted July 23, 2012 - 10:32 PM

It seems after running the 850 for a little over an hour on Sunday and then another hour and a half today, I am worried about the electrical system. It seems like the coil is hot to the touch as well as the starter/generator. Is this normal for running the engine at high RPMs for several hours? Yes. ....It is common for the starter/generator to get too hot to hold your hand on it. ....If you see signs of the paint burning off the s/g, then there is a problem that needs to be corrected.

On Sunday for some reason I also left the ignition key turned to run while the engine was off. After about 15-20 minutes, I noticed that the coil was hot to the touch while the engine wasn't running with the ignition on. Is this normal as well or a sign of a bad coil? That will happen if the key is left on without the engine running. ....It will drain power from the battery, and possibly harm the coil and points. ....The cure is to try not to do that. :(

I also can't tell if the generator is working properly or not. Do you have a VOM (volt-ohm meter) and know how to use it? .....If not, you can buy one at Walmart, Harbor Freight, many auto parts stores, and possibly Home depot or Lowe's. .....Inexpensive meters can be purchased for $5-$15.

The VOM will be quite handy for any electrical testing on your tractor.

To easily test if the generator is working, set the meter to a scale of approx 20 volts DC (direct current). ...Turn the meter on.

With the key OFF, (engine not running), hold the red lead from the meter to the POSITIVE terminal of the battery. .....Hold the black lead from the meter to the NEGATIVE terminal of the battery. ......Read the voltage on the meter. ....You should have approx 12-13 volts when the engine is not running.

Now, start the engine, and set the throttle at mid-range. .....Take another voltage reading. ....You want to see approx 13.8 volts, if the generator is working. .....The actual numbers are not as important as seeing an increased voltage reading when the engine is running, compared to when the engine is not running.


There are factors that will affect the readings that you get, but first you have to check the voltages.
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#3 Bolens 1000 ONLINE  

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Posted July 24, 2012 - 06:33 AM

:ditto:
Bruce's Post


Another thing to keep in mind is to always use a good battery. If you have an old battery that looses charge quickly it will ruin your Starter/Generator. These units were only designed to maintain the battery's charge and operate the lights and were not meant to try and charge a dead battery all the time.

#4 MailmAn OFFLINE  

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Posted July 24, 2012 - 10:34 AM

So basically, it is not abnormal at all for some of these old electrical components to get hot while running for some time? That's good to know I guess. I wasn't sure if my starter/generator needed to be rebuilt or replaced before I use it more frequently. I figured with it getting hot like that, either the bearings in it were shot creating a lot of friction or there is an electrical problem with the windings that will cause it to malfunction and/or burn up other wiring in the tractor.

I guess it makes sense that the coil would get hot when it has power going to it (the ignition is on) as there is nowhere for that energy to go since the engine is not running and it is not discharging the coil's power to the spark plug. Of course, on a regular car engine or something, the coil doesn't get power unless the engine is running. I don't THINK anyways that the coil is "on" when your car's ignition is on but the engine is off...?

Also, is there anything "special" about this coil on the Bolens or can you replace it with just about any automotive coil that will fit? It looks a lot like the coil on my 1975 Plymouth, with the two (+) and (-) terminals on the top on either side of the coil wire. :huh:

#5 MailmAn OFFLINE  

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Posted July 24, 2012 - 10:42 AM

Another thing to keep in mind is to always use a good battery. If you have an old battery that looses charge quickly it will ruin your Starter/Generator. These units were only designed to maintain the battery's charge and operate the lights and were not meant to try and charge a dead battery all the time.


Yes, the battery that came with the tractor was shot and you couldn't start it without a jump-box. The FIRST thing I did was to buy a brand-new battery for it. I have a National battery in it now, which is basically a lower-end Interstate battery. They are manufactured by Interstate, but cost less than an Interstate branded battery. I believe the one I have is about 550CCA, maybe 600CCA tops. It was fully charged when I put it in.

It could just be slow to turn over as well due to the starter having to turn not only the engine but the drive pulleys as well, even when the clutch is in. I know it's not a TON of extra strain to spin a set of pulleys not connected to the driveshaft, but it is also just a small, old electric motor... I also noticed that the belt seems tight around the starter pulley and the engine flywheel, but it does slip a bit before the starter turns the engine over. Is this due to "glazing" on the inside of the belt from wear and age, which causes it to slip instead of grip?

Edited by MailmAn, July 24, 2012 - 10:45 AM.


#6 Bolens 1000 ONLINE  

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Posted July 24, 2012 - 11:31 AM

So basically, it is not abnormal at all for some of these old electrical components to get hot while running for some time? That's good to know I guess. I wasn't sure if my starter/generator needed to be rebuilt or replaced before I use it more frequently. I figured with it getting hot like that, either the bearings in it were shot creating a lot of friction or there is an electrical problem with the windings that will cause it to malfunction and/or burn up other wiring in the tractor.

I guess it makes sense that the coil would get hot when it has power going to it (the ignition is on) as there is nowhere for that energy to go since the engine is not running and it is not discharging the coil's power to the spark plug. Of course, on a regular car engine or something, the coil doesn't get power unless the engine is running. I don't THINK anyways that the coil is "on" when your car's ignition is on but the engine is off...?

Also, is there anything "special" about this coil on the Bolens or can you replace it with just about any automotive coil that will fit? It looks a lot like the coil on my 1975 Plymouth, with the two (+) and (-) terminals on the top on either side of the coil wire. :huh:


Since the Starters are an inclosed unit they tend to get alot hotter than your normal air cooled starter. The manual says that these usually run around 250* Degrees. You really need to test what kind of voltage it is putting out to make sure the starter is working properly.

These are the same automotive coils that were used in the older cars. Just make sure if you get one it has an
Internal Resistor. I wouldnt change it if there is nothing wrong with it though......
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#7 Bolens 1000 ONLINE  

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Posted July 24, 2012 - 11:35 AM

Yes, the battery that came with the tractor was shot and you couldn't start it without a jump-box. The FIRST thing I did was to buy a brand-new battery for it. I have a National battery in it now, which is basically a lower-end Interstate battery. They are manufactured by Interstate, but cost less than an Interstate branded battery. I believe the one I have is about 550CCA, maybe 600CCA tops. It was fully charged when I put it in.

It could just be slow to turn over as well due to the starter having to turn not only the engine but the drive pulleys as well, even when the clutch is in. I know it's not a TON of extra strain to spin a set of pulleys not connected to the driveshaft, but it is also just a small, old electric motor... I also noticed that the belt seems tight around the starter pulley and the engine flywheel, but it does slip a bit before the starter turns the engine over. Is this due to "glazing" on the inside of the belt from wear and age, which causes it to slip instead of grip?


If working properly, the starter should have no trouble cranking over the engine even if the transmission is in gear.
The starter Belts that were used on these were cogged Belts which are designed for tight pulleys. You just have a regular v-belt on there which is why you are having slipping problems.
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#8 MailmAn OFFLINE  

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Posted July 25, 2012 - 01:54 PM

The starter Belts that were used on these were cogged Belts which are designed for tight pulleys. You just have a regular v-belt on there which is why you are having slipping problems.


Where do I get a cogged belt then?

#9 Bolens 1000 ONLINE  

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Posted July 25, 2012 - 02:11 PM

Where do I get a cogged belt then?

Sent you a Pm...
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