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  1. #1
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    1959 Massey Ferguson TO-35

    Default TO-35 Refuses to start

    Hi, folks, I'm the latest owner of my 1959 Massey Ferguson TO-35 Deluxe. I've never owned a real tractor before, and I'm not the most mechanically inclined when it comes to multi-cylinder engines - small engines are easy-peasy, do 'em in my sleep, but I've had a bad history when trying to repair larger engines.

    The tractor ran fine when I bought her, and I spent a few days (spread over several weeks) tooling around the lot familiarizing myself with how everything worked. About two weeks ago after I'd finished playing, I parked her and throttled down to let her idle before turning her off. I don't know why, but when I throttled down, the engine died. I tried to start her back up and she backfired. Like a bomb going off. Every dog in at least a quarter mile started barking. And we have narrow lots here.

    My first thought was, "Bugger, what just happened?" I'd never experienced a large engine backfire up close. (I don't consider the VW Van that drives past my house and sounds like it's testing an engine design for Project Orion to be "up close". Besides, the dogs provide incontrovertible proof that mine is louder... ) Second thought was that when I throttled down, the engine must have flooded and that was the cause of the backfire. So I turned off the fuel line, drained the carb, pulled the plugs and cycled the engine to clear the cylinders. No luck. But I did get the chorus of whatever it was the neighborhood dogs were singing.

    Since that day I've changed the spark plugs, replaced the gas, charged the battery (twice!), changed the battery, tested the compression, changed the oil in the air filter, confirmed that I've got a good spark and rebuilt the carb.

    I'm at a loss. The tractor has started and run a couple of times during this process, first after I charged the battery the first time, and then after I changed the gas. But when I try it again it refuses to start. And I'm getting jumpy about starting it, because it has backfired a number of times now, sometimes through the exhaust, sometimes through the air filter. Talk about a huge difference in sound volume - although the trade-off is a serious mess.

    Anyone have any suggestions, or am I at the point of needing a real mechanic?

    Doug

  2. #2
    Veteran Member irvingj's Avatar
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    Etna, NH
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    2005 MF GC2310 TLB

    Default Re: TO-35 Refuses to start

    Don't know specifically about the TO-35, but if it were a car I'd say it sounds like the timing chain has skipped a tooth. Symptoms of this are backfiring through carb/air filter, general failure to start & run, and -you might want to check for this- when cranking, crank speed will speed up, then slow down, backfire, then speed up again.

    GM cars used to have nylon-capped teeth on the cam chain sprocket, and after 70K miles or so they'd start to chip off. If the chain skips a tooth, valves & pistons are no longer synchronized.

    Just a wild shot.

    When you did the compression test, did everything check out OK?
    '07 GC2310 TLB, 2360 snowblower, 2325 MMM, Bro-Tek thumb, Woods GTC40-2 tiller, Woods RB-60 back blade, KK TYR-60 landscape rake, DR 60" Power Grader
    '05 VW Jetta Wgn TDI
    Numerous antique Japanese motorcycles

  3. #3
    New Member
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    1959 Massey Ferguson TO-35

    Default Re: TO-35 Refuses to start

    Well, I couldn't find the scrap of paper where I'd written the numbers I'd gotten when I did the compression test a couple of weeks ago. I remember that I dismissed them as possessing any great diagnostic significance, so everything must have been ok.

    Since I figured I needed some numbers to actually post, I went out this morning to retest. Talk about a big eyebrow raise. The dry compression in cylinder 3 is 25% off from average of the other cylinders, and the wet compression is 30% off.

    Actual numbers:
    3 July 2011
    Cyl Dry Wet (5cc oil)
    1 135 146
    2 132 142
    3 98 100
    4 128 138

    I was DEFINITELY not this low in cylinder 3 last time. Looks like my next step is a valve repair. Crumbs.

    Anyone have any hints on removing the hood while the FEL is attached?

    Doug

  4. #4
    Veteran Member irvingj's Avatar
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    Etna, NH
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    2005 MF GC2310 TLB

    Default Re: TO-35 Refuses to start

    Glad you decided to re-test. Yep, sounds like it may be limited to a single cylinder. This is a gas engine, yes? Oh- and thanks for keeping us up to date on the progress!
    '07 GC2310 TLB, 2360 snowblower, 2325 MMM, Bro-Tek thumb, Woods GTC40-2 tiller, Woods RB-60 back blade, KK TYR-60 landscape rake, DR 60" Power Grader
    '05 VW Jetta Wgn TDI
    Numerous antique Japanese motorcycles

  5. #5
    New Member Pain Cow's Avatar
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    Location
    Red lion, PA
    Tractor
    ms390

    Default Re: TO-35 Refuses to start

    I had something similar happen in a 50, turned out to be a bunch of rush in the bottom of the gas tank that caused the problem. Might be something to check out.
    ms390

    ms390 propaganda czar.

  6. #6
    New Member
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    1959 Massey Ferguson TO-35

    Default Re: TO-35 Refuses to start

    Okay, so it's been a while since my last post. I got the hood off without removing the FEL - irritating, but not overly difficult. I then proceeded to remove the cylinder head and discovered that the #3 cylinder was very pitted. It looked like the gasket between the #3 cylinder and the cooling channel had failed, letting coolant seep into the chamber.

    I took it down to a local machine shop and just heard back from them today. I need to replace the guides, exhaust valves and the #3 valve seat insert. Now I need to track down the parts - pretty straightforward, except for the seat insert.

    Hopefully I'll be up and running soon!

  7. #7
    Veteran Member banjodunn's Avatar
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    Oz

    Default Re: TO-35 Refuses to start

    G'day check with some of the aftermarket suppliers for what you have to do then they may be able to supply a complete new head for around the same money as getting yours repaired



    Jon

  8. #8
    New Member
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    1959 Massey Ferguson TO-35

    Default Re: TO-35 Refuses to start

    Okay, folks, just thought I'd post an update. After (literally) months of the head sitting in the shop, I got it back and put everything together. And lo and behold, the TO-35 is up and running, happily pushing dirt around the lot. For a couple of days, at least. Unfortunately, the nice dry summer weather is gone, and winter on the volcano means rain. So very much rain...

    Still, at least it's not snow, and I don't have to deal with winterizing anything over here, which I gather is a right pain in the rear, so I'm not complaining about the rain, even though it turns my yard into a slough until about May/June.

    Jon, I checked into the aftermarket heads, and cost-wise it would have been roughly a wash as far as price + shipping went. Now time... Yeah, it would have been faster. In retrospect, that would've been the way to go. Hooray for 20/10 hindsight. Oh well, at least this way I supported one of the local businesses.
    Last edited by dashinhi; 10-26-2011 at 11:47 PM. Reason: Name correction

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