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Engine/Carburetor Problems with Bolens EK-10

bolens estate keeper ek-10 wisconsin tra-10d zenith carburetor

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#31 MailmAn OFFLINE  

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Posted May 11, 2016 - 11:30 AM

I don't have a source for any more used carbs for these. Used to have a guy who sold rebuild able cores but he stopped doing it as too many complaints from people expecting them to be like new when purchased.

 

Well...  it is REBUILT after all, not brand new.  As long as the carburetor works as it should and looks mostly clean, what more do you want?  It's not going to be a brand new carburetor, but as long as it runs, who cares?  That's all I want is something that works right now...  I don't really care how purdy it looks!



#32 MailmAn OFFLINE  

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Posted May 25, 2016 - 07:49 AM

Well, I think I FINALLY managed to figure out what the problem was with my Estate Keeper...
 

These are classic symptoms of compression issues or ignition failure.
The point adjustment will affect ignition timing, so if the timing is correct, the adjustment is OK.  .....However, a failing condenser, or oil on the points, or burnt points can still cause problems.  .....A failing coil, a bad connection, or a faulty ignition switch can all cause intermittent spark.
If you can put an inline visual spark tester between the plug wire and the plug terminal, you can verify the spark is constant while the engine is running, cranking, or dying out. 


Rule out ignition first then go from there. Once you rule out spark I'd be happy to look at the carb for you if you pay shipping both ways.


:oh_shucks:           :ah_shoot:           :loosing_it:

 
 
Yes, after I was tired of :wallbanging:  with rebuilding and cleaning the carburetor multiple times and getting nowhere, I decided to look into other possible problems with it.  As I kept cranking the engine over and listening to it putter and pop every once and a while but refuse to run for any amount of time, I kept thinking back to what Bruce Dorsi, Bolens 1000, and a few other people on here said about ignition and spark.  I said to myself, "It's GOTTA be not getting consistent spark here.  That just HAS to be the problem.  When it gets good spark, the engine fires a few times and then it dies out.  It HAS to be spark and not a fuel problem."  However, I was being convinced by other mechanics and old timers that it was the carburetor because everyone says that these old Zenith downdraft carburetors were junk and very finicky to get working right.  They used to be on the really old Harley Davidsons and they were notorious for leaking and not running right and getting plugged up.
 

If you have a timing light you can connect it to the plug wire, start the engine and observe the flashing light while it is running - if the light flashes intermittently, irregular or stops flashing when the engine cuts out it usually indicates lack of constant spark - if the light is still flashing consistently when it cuts out it is probably something else.


But anyways, Sunday I decided to check the spark on the engine with the spark checker I bought earlier at Harbor Freight.  At first, I was puzzled as the bulb wasn't lighting up at all.  I thought like most Harbor Freight junk that it was no good.  Even when I could hear the engine pop so I knew the spark plug fired, I couldn't see the bulb light up on the spark checker.  I thought this was very odd, so I removed the inline spark checker and kept cranking it.  Same thing.  So, I pulled the spark plug out of the engine, grounded it to the head, and cranked it over.  I could see it sparking, but it didn't seem like it was sparking on every compression stroke like it should be and the spark did look kind of weak.  It seemed to me like it was sparking every 2nd or 3rd compression stroke instead of every one.  Hmmmmm...
 
So, I decided at that point to take Eric's advice and try to check out the points on the engine finally...
 

Just a note on points and condenser, they are not impossible to get to on an estate keeper. After removing your carb and moving cables accessing the points cover is possible. With some creative tool choices and patience you can be successful without removing your motor. To get my EK back into operation I had to do points condenser timing and carb rebuild (complete rebuild). Now all is good. I have learned not to over analyze and sometimes I may have to do things twice as I am not infalable.

 
To my surprise, the cover came right off without having to remove the engine from the tractor!  It was a bit tight to maneuver it out of there, but I managed it quite easily actually without even needing to remove the carburetor to get access to it.  My next surprise was after I removed the cover, the points that were in there almost looked brand new!  I spun the engine over and saw the points were opening and closing fine and I couldn't see anything really all that wrong with them.  (Of course, it is hard to get a good look at them in the points box.)  So, I decided while I was at it to just remove the points so I could get a better look at them.  Once I had them out of the engine, I could get a better look at the problem:

 

Bolens_EK-10_Points_01.jpg

 

 

Yes, something doesn't quite look right about that compared to a new set of points.  When I opened the points with my hand, you could really see the problem with these:

 

Bolens_EK-10_Points_02.jpg

 

 

Bolens_EK-10_Points_03.jpg

 

 

It almost looks like the engine either got so hot at one point that the black plastic points arm there melted or else these points were so far out of adjustment that the resulting electrical arc melted the plastic on them and ruined them!  I have never seen a set of points do this before.  Thankfully, I had a spare set of points for this engine brand new in the box that I installed, courtesy of the three boxes of NOS parts that came with this tractor when I bought it!  :thumbs:

 

Bolens_EK-10_Points_04.jpg

 

 

Bolens_EK-10_Points_05.jpg

 

 

Bolens_EK-10_Points_06.jpg

 

 

Bolens_EK-10_Points_07.jpg

 

 

I adjusted the points with a feeler gauge so that when they were opened there was a .018" gap between the points and then tightened them down and replaced the cover.  However, even with a new set of points and condenser, the engine STILL did not want to start.  I'm thinking to myself, "What else could it be then?"  The only thing that is left is the coil itself.  So, I took that off as well and scrounged through my parts boxes looking for a new one.  I did manage to find the box for a brand new coil, but unfortunately, it was empty... :mad2:  :wallbanging:   So, I grabbed an old used coil that actually looked worse than the coil that was in my tractor and swapped it in just for the heck of it.

 

Now, I know that these old coils are oil filled to help cool them and with both coils I could hear liquid sloshing around inside when I shook them.  However, the coil that I removed from my tractor sounded like it was maybe half full of oil at best?  I could hear it slosh around much more inside and it was louder and took longer to slosh from one end of the coil to the other.  The other coil I found in my parts boxes sounded like it was a lot more full of oil than the other one and like it was maybe 80-90% full of oil.

 

Well, it looks like the spare coil did the trick since no sooner than I installed the coil on the engine and went to crank the engine over, it fired right up and came roaring to life!  :D  The carburetor needed some adjustments to get it to idle smooth and to get the right fuel mixture going to the engine, but other than that, it was running great now!

 

I wonder if someone didn't leave the key in the on position when they parked this tractor once and it overheated and burned out the coil?  But if so, then why was it working for me for one summer before it finally died on me?  Could I have just overheated it by running the engine for too long on a hot summer day, especially if it was already low on oil?  Well, whatever the reason, I seem to have found multiple problems with it that was causing the no-start condition that I was experiencing.  I'm just SO HAPPY NOW to have figured it out and to finally have it running again!!

 

:thank_you:   to all who helped with this with your tips, advice, and encouragement!  I couldn't have done it without you!!

 

(Also, more pics and hopefully video of it running soon! - For now, I am working on getting the mower deck ready for summer next, including sharpening the blades, lubricating everything all up, and greasing all the fittings.)


Edited by MailmAn, May 25, 2016 - 07:54 AM.

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#33 Bolens 1000 ONLINE  

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Posted May 25, 2016 - 07:54 AM

Glad to hear you finally solved your issue!!! :dancingbanana:


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#34 Bruce Dorsi OFFLINE  

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Posted May 25, 2016 - 08:35 AM

You must be happy to have it running, Kevin, however, if the wrong coil is used, the points can overheat, melt, and burn-out quicker.

 

Some ignition coils have resistance built into the primary windings to reduce the current flowing across the points.

 

Some ignition coils require the use of an external resistor to accomplish the same thing.

 

I believe the coil used by Wisconsin has the internal resistance, but confirmation or rebuttal is necessary!


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#35 MailmAn OFFLINE  

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Posted May 25, 2016 - 09:58 AM

You must be happy to have it running, Kevin, however, if the wrong coil is used, the points can overheat, melt, and burn-out quicker.

 

Some ignition coils have resistance built into the primary windings to reduce the current flowing across the points.

 

Some ignition coils require the use of an external resistor to accomplish the same thing.

 

I believe the coil used by Wisconsin has the internal resistance, but confirmation or rebuttal is necessary!

 

Yes, I am wondering about this as well.  For instance, on my 1975 Plymouth Fury, there is an external ballast resistor mounted on the firewall that is needed for the ignition to work properly.  One time I was left stranded with it as it wouldn't start even though I just drove it somewhere.  Come to find out the resistor just died on me and less than $10 later, I was running again after replacing the resistor.

 

Now, this Wisconsin TRA-10D doesn't appear to have any external resistor that I can see anywhere.  Does this mean that the coil has a built-in resistor or just simply that it does not need a resistor to work?  Do ALL coils require some sort of resistor to work properly - whether internal or external?

 

I did not see any writing on the outside of the spare coil that I'm using now, but then again the case on it is pretty rusty and dirty.  I can't even really see any part numbers on it to tell what coil it is.  But on the old coil I took off of the engine, I believe it said "FOR USE WITH EXTERNAL RESISTOR ONLY" on it.  So, if this engine DOES require a resistor in the ignition circuit somewhere and there is no external resistor on this engine, then someone replaced the coil on this with the wrong one at some point.

 

Does anyone have the part number of the correct coil for this engine?



#36 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted May 25, 2016 - 10:05 AM

Glad you got it running.  If someone left the key on for a long period of time the points probably got hot and melted as they would become a resistor in the circuit if they were not clean or completely closed - plus 12 volts through key to points and then through coil to ground.  Would have the same effect as leaving the lights on - feel how hot a head lamp gets after it has been on for a few minutes.  The coil has oil (or some other medium) to help keep it cool which may have been why it was only partially shorted (probably why you were getting weak / intermittent spark) as it is the resistance unit similar to the head light.  The points however may have been close enough to touch and conduct but not tight enough to have a nice clean connection and as a result they became a resistance in the circuit and got hot - just my guess but have seen it before in automotive engines if the engine happens to have stopped in a "points closed" position.  If the points are open then the condenser charges and maintains the "status quo" which is its job in the circuit and no current flows.  One other thing you may want to check is you could have a bad ignition switch that is conducting in the off position intermittently (damp days for example)  as the same thing could happen again to your new set of points and may have been the cause of the first coil and points failure rather than someone leaving the key on - just a suggestion. 



#37 Bolens 1000 ONLINE  

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Posted May 25, 2016 - 10:11 AM

The wisconsins were sold with coils internally resisted , if a coil says for use with external resistor you will need to see a little resistor box somewhere or you will be burning another set of points again

 

 

here's the correct coils, ours are made in argentina and a step above the mexico/china specials the ebay wholesalers are selling

 

 

http://bolenspartsan...-ignition-coil/

 

I stock the coil clips too if needed :

 

http://bolenspartsan...oil-clip-pg556/


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#38 MailmAn OFFLINE  

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Posted May 25, 2016 - 01:28 PM

The Wisconsins were sold with coils internally resisted.

 

Here's the correct coils, ours are made in Argentina and a step above the Mexico/China specials the eBay wholesalers are selling...

 

http://bolenspartsan...-ignition-coil/

 

 

What, no Made in the U.S.A. coils are available anymore?  :(

 

So, is the original Bolens (or Wisconsin?) part number for this coil YF38A?  Will it also cross to any of those Kohler part numbers listed? - 47-145-01, 231281, 4151921, 237256.  Just wondering if I can look it up at my local parts store under any of these part numbers?  I'd assume the Kohler part numbers may be easier to find than the Bolens or Wisconsin numbers...

 

Is there any way to check if the coil I have on there now has an internal resistor or not?  Can I check the voltage at the (+) and (-) connectors on the coil to see if it has resistance or not?  Also, speaking of, I *THINK* I wired it correctly when putting the coil back on the engine, but in case the PO hooked it up wrong in the first place, does the (+) side of the coil go to the ignition switch and the (-) side goes to the bottom of the breaker box or is it supposed to be the other way around?  I currently have it hooked up this way and it seems to work, but I'm not sure if it will work in both configurations and just one will cause problems in the long run or what.  Thanks!



#39 Bolens 1000 ONLINE  

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Posted May 25, 2016 - 05:03 PM

You do have it wired correct the way you describe

 

I can get USA made coils but do not stock them as the price scared everyone away LOL  $85.00

You can use those numbers to look up alternative coils but the price of what I sell mine for is what the local car parts stores sell the mexico coils for.

 

The coils were sometimes marked if they were internally resisted but the printing often wears away on the coils


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#40 Eric OFFLINE  

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Posted May 25, 2016 - 05:37 PM

there is a guy online selling coils for cub cadets that are made in the states and are internal resistor, same guy that sells points savers.

#41 MailmAn OFFLINE  

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Posted May 25, 2016 - 09:20 PM

there is a guy online selling coils for cub cadets that are made in the states and are internal resistor, same guy that sells points savers.

 

Any more info on it than that?  If not, I may just end up buying one from Bolens 1000.  I would go with the U.S made one if it wasn't twice the price, sadly...  :(   (Lousy Obama...)  I'd be willing to pay like $50-$60 maybe for a good coil, but not $85...  $40 for the foreign made coil is bad enough!  You can't buy anything these days for a reasonable price anymore...

 

Like I said, at least I got it running for now...  A  new coil would be nice, but I'm not sure how necessary it is right now...



#42 Eric OFFLINE  

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Posted May 25, 2016 - 10:36 PM

hello this is the website that has great info on you problems including all th info on internal resistor coils and how to test coils. it also has the bosch blue coils that I use for 55 dollars give it a good read I think you will learn as much as I did. http://gardentractor...om/ignition.htm
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#43 MailmAn OFFLINE  

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Posted June 01, 2016 - 02:31 PM

Okay then...  So, evidently the problems with this tractor never end!!  :wallbanging:  :wallbanging:  :wallbanging:

 

Alright, so, now that I have this tractor running again, I cleaned up a mower deck for it so I could finally mow my hay field...  er, I mean lawn with it.  I had the blades all sharpened on the deck, fixed a caster wheel that didn't want to spin, and greased and lubed up everything.  Now, I'm ready to mount it to the tractor and I can't figure out why it won't #@^%&*$ go on my Estate Keeper!?!?  I spent 2-3 hours messing around with it trying to force it onto the tractor and try as I might, it just WILL NOT FIT... :mad2:  Grrrrr...

 

Is there a shorter driveshaft or possibly a longer set of deck mounting brackets that I need to attach this to my tractor?  It is soooo close to fitting, but it seems to me that the driveshaft is bottoming out and it has no room left to float between the intermediate PTO mount/bearing and the gearbox on the mower deck.  I can get the attachment mounting bracket to go on the front wheel hub on one side, but I can't get the other side to go on.  It is about an inch maybe at most away from reaching so I can put the pin in the mounting bracket.

 

If it makes a difference (which I'm suspecting now that it does...), this tractor did at one point have a 38" deck on it and the deck I am trying to mount on it now is a 42" deck.  I'm sure the driveshaft and mounting arms I am using are from the 38" deck, but I THOUGHT that these were universal fit for all of the Estate Keeper attachments so you could "easily" swap out attachments on it without having to figure out which mounting arms and driveshaft goes with which attachment?  That would seem to make sense to me at least...



#44 Bolens 1000 ONLINE  

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Posted June 01, 2016 - 03:07 PM

Driveshafts are the same , the deck mount arms are longer than the Reel ,Snow Caster , and plow arms



#45 MailmAn OFFLINE  

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Posted June 01, 2016 - 03:43 PM

Driveshafts are the same.

 

Well...  Now I am not so sure...  After posting this, I went searching through the manuals on this site and I found the Estate Keeper 42" Mower Deck manual:  http://gardentractor...2-rotary-mower/

 

In the manual for this attachment, it says:

"This unit is shipped complete with all parts required
to mount it to your Estate Keeper, with the exception
of the drive shaft (B - Fig. 1). This item was supplied
with the Model 930 Estate Keeper only.
                      NOTE:
  The Model 931 Estate Keeper requires drive shaft
  Model 19313, which must be purchased separately."

So, I'm thinking maybe I need a shorter driveshaft for this then?  Where can I get one though?  I don't think I have any driveshafts that are any shorter.  I found two other driveshafts - one dirty, used one that came off one of my other EK's and another I found in one of my parts boxes that looks almost new and both of these are the exact same length as the driveshaft that in on this tractor right now.  I also have another set of attachment mounting arms brand new in one of my parts boxes with the Bolens part number sticker still attached (they aren't even painted yet and are bare metal!), but they are the same length as the mounting arms that I am using to try to mount this mower deck with.  I can't seem to find any parts that are different that are for this model of tractor.  Very odd...







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: bolens, estate keeper, ek-10, wisconsin, tra-10d, zenith, carburetor

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