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  1. #1
    Veteran Member Charlie_Iliff's Avatar
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    Arnold, MD
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    Power Trac PT1845, John Deere 2240, John Deere 950, John Deere 755, Jacobsen Turf Cat II

    Default Cold Weather tricks

    Hans suggested starting a new thread on cold weather tricks and sources. (He says he posted something in the Alberta Clipper thread that evaporated - he'll repost)

    Paul: you asked about super cold weather, and suggested you need more than the magnetic block heater on the hydraulic tank. Hans will no doubt agree, since he had his troubles when it was probably around zero. He had to get his 425 inside for a while to get it to run. He's looking for fixes in case it stays cold, but ran overnight just fine at about 32 degrees.

    There's probably some info posted here and there on TBN, and I'll look, but it won't hurt to do a new thread particular to PTs.
    Possible cold start solutions:

    1. Block heaters on the hydraulic tank. Paul. what are the specs on yours? Mine has 20 gallons instead of 10, so I might need a pretty big heater if I go that way.

    2. Light bulbs. I use those in a couple of plumbing places, but they can fail and I've frozen some stuff. Does anyone know of a 100 or 200 watt heater that is reliable and won't set things on fire? (For pool plumbing, I have a thermostatic controller switching on an ordinary 1200 watt Home Depot heater. So far I haven't burned down the pump shack, but it sure will do it if something gets against the heater.)

    3. Dipstick heaters. Any recommendations of type, size, etc.?
    Any experience pro or con?

    4. Old light aircraft trick: Shop vac hose from exhaust of car or truck to engine compartment. Puts some water in with the heat, and maybe a little grime, but if you cover the PT engine compartment with a tarp and put the hose in the bottom, I'll bet it will get the whole thing to operating temperature.

    5. Paul - when the temperature is below zero, I don't want my Power Trac to run. It might carry me out in the cold where it isn't nearly as nice as inside by the fire. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    Please post to share cold weather problems and solutions - general or specific to PT.




  2. #2
    Epic Contributor MossRoad's Avatar
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    South Bend, Indiana (near)
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    Power Trac PT425 2001 Model Year

    Default Re: Cold Weather tricks

    With small gas engines, I find that in really cold weather, if it doesn't fire after about 5 seconds there's a pretty good chance, it isn't going to start, so I stop cranking. I don't know about anyone else, but I've always used starting fluid on small gas engines if it won't fire up after the first attemp in really cold weather. Just a small shot in the air cleaner and off it goes.

    I had a dipstick heater on a car years ago. It didn't do much good.

    I had an electric blanket type device for the battery. It wrapped around the battery and plugged in.

    A small trickle charger on the battery did a good job of keeping it topped off during the winter, so I got rid of the battery blanket.

    Charlie, I'm pretty familiar with the aircraft engine pre-heaters. We put a mover's quilt over the cowling and plugged the cowling with some type of foam plugs. The pre-heater was nothing more than a burner, a fan and a propane tank and a piece or two of flexible exhaust pipe. Heated the entire engine in about 10 minutes. Could also start a premo fire if not careful!!

    Also had some planes with Tanis Engine Heater Sytems. These are really nice electric heaters and really expensive because they say AIRCRAFT on them. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img]

    This one looks pretty neat. Under $500.00.



  3. #3
    Veteran Member Charlie_Iliff's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cold Weather tricks

    <font color="red"> The pre-heater was nothing more than a burner, a fan and a propane tank and a piece or two of flexible exhaust pipe. Heated the entire engine in about 10 minutes. </font> Our field had a homebuilt one with a little Briggs exhausted into the hose. Worked fine when you got the Briggs started. Car exhaust was almost as quick as the propane types.
    <font color="red"> really expensive because they say AIRCRAFT on them. </font> My 1962 Mooney used a voltage regulator that cost about $60 from Mooney in 1980. From a car parts store, the same part number cost about $12 in the early 80s. That is if you could find a voltage regulator for a 1947 Cadillac. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img]

  4. #4

    Default Re: Cold Weather tricks

    Hey Guys - It is Ed - I re-registered under my orginal user name - before the system problem got things messed up
    Hope everyones Holidays were nice -

    I am amazed at how the 1845 starts - The other day I started it at (-3) degrees - I didn't want to but I had to since I needed
    something in the upper part of the shed and the tractor was in the way - It didn't start on its usual first crank but after cranking it for ten seconds or so it fired off

    Now for the other story - my old 425 (my brother in law has it
    - he isn't mechanically oriented) he has not been able to get it running in a few weeks - his son is climbing the walls as he wants to plow

    I have to get up there and check it out - maybe he fouled the plugs from trying it so many times?? - It would not even start today and it was 35degrees
    I also told him to charge the battery - hopefully he will do that tonight -
    I also told him to add fresh fuel - I think he did that

    He even tried starting fluid yesterday and it still would not start.

    I did find a magnetic heater on the Internet - I think it was 200 watts - I was going to order that - where do you guys think is the best place to put it on a 425? - to get the hydraulic oil tank -

    should i put two on - one for the hydraulic fluid , one for the engine pan??

    Do you think the heater will work??

    I know that it was difficult last year at times but I always got it started - once i had to jump it to get it to turn over faster

    Too bad they don't put bigger batteries in the small unit - it really makes a difference




  5. #5
    Epic Contributor MossRoad's Avatar
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    South Bend, Indiana (near)
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    Power Trac PT425 2001 Model Year

    Default Re: Cold Weather tricks

    I hadn't started mine since November, I believe. So I charged the battery yesterday. I started it twice today. About 20 degrees in the morning. Just full choked it, set the throttle about half, turned the key and it fired in about 2 second. Went ice fishing for about 5 hours. Came home, started right up again... of course, 20 is a long was from minus 35!

    Back to the airplane subject... the pilots would always mention something about frosting the plugs when trying to start in cold weather without pre-heating the engine. What does that mean? Fouling the plugs? They said if you frosted the plugs, you could pre-heat that engine all day and it would never start. You had to put the plane in a heated hangar overnight. Don't kow if it's true or not or it was a ruse to sell heated hangar space [img]/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif[/img] [img]/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif[/img]

  6. #6
    Gold Member
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    Mar 2002
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    Toro 266H and PT422

    Default Re: Cold Weather tricks

    Hi Guys,

    35,000 btu kerosene torpedo type heater pointed at the Power Trac for about 15 - 20 minutes. Fires up pretty well after that.

    Duane

  7. #7
    Gold Member
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    Apr 2002
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    Location
    Dexter, MI
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    BX-2200

    Default Re: Cold Weather tricks

    If any are looking for heaters for the hydraulic oil tank check out McMaster Carr. My favorite hardware company, they have just about everything.

    McMaster Carr
    Search for immersion heaters or go to pages 424-427. One on the end of pg 427 looked pretty neat. Its SS and keeps things to 60, but wouldn't work as a drop in, it would require permanent mount.

    Some of the others look like they could be dropped into the tank by removing the filler cap. Maybe a little messy when removed for use, but it would work. They also have heater blankets and heat cable, even self-regulating heat cable on pages 428 - 432


    The self-regulating heat cable on page 429 might be what you want for your pump house Charlie.

    Tim

  8. #8
    Veteran Member Charlie_Iliff's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cold Weather tricks

    <font color="red"> the pilots would always mention something about frosting the plugs when trying to start in cold weather without pre-heating the engine. What does that mean? Fouling the plugs? </font>
    MR, I haven't a clue about "frosting" the plugs. In Maryland, we really didn't get a lot of heavy-duty cold weather experience. Although quite a number had to be heated, we never had to take one inside. The Mooney tended to foul plugs if I didn't lean it properly, which made cold starts harder, but it always lit. Jumper cables helped as much as heating, since the aircraft batteries were puny.

    I've used ether on a lot of balky engines. It cost us an in-boat piston replacement on a 4-71 GMC diesel once, so we cut back on ether and increased diagnosis as the first step.



  9. #9
    Veteran Member Charlie_Iliff's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cold Weather tricks

    Great McMaster Carr catalog link. The stuff looks pricey but obviously would really do the job. There are other things in the catalog which look interesting, as well.
    I've used heat cable in the past, but will have to research before applying it to the pool pump house. I don't know at what temperature PVC starts to distort. One winter we burned a pipe completely in half with a heat lamp, so I backed off to the heater under a tarp, positioned a couple of feet from the pipe(s).

  10. #10
    Veteran Member Charlie_Iliff's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cold Weather tricks

    Ed:

    My 1845 is the same. It starts down to 10 degrees. I doubt I'll try it below that even if the temperature gets there.

    I don't know the Kohler systems. I assume they are a magneto with solid state spark control module. Those systems have to be spun above a certain RPM to get spark. With the combination of low battery efficiency and thick hydraulic oil, it may be that they aren't spinning up enough to get a good spark.

    I'll never vote against fouled plugs as a contributing factor. On any of the machines that have been hard to start, I'd recommend replacing the plugs before further frustration. That's cured more motorcycle/lawnmower/go-Kart/string trimmer/outboard motor problems for me than any other single step.

    Hans - did PT or Kohler have any useful recommendations?


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