How To Start A Diesel Tractor That Has Been Sitting?

Tractor is a great help for many small farmers and homesteaders. There is a long list of farm jobs where a right tractor can assist you. But if you use it only occasionally, there may be some work to do before the next use. So how to start a diesel tractor that has been sitting?

If an engine is been turned off for quite a while the liquid all flows to the lowest point in the engine. All the suspended particles in the liquid begin settling to the bottom.

With the passage of time, the liquids begin to evaporate, and the particles increase. Fuel gradually begins to turn into shellac. The parts of the engine begin sticking, and the gaskets shrink and begin deteriorating.

The longer an engine sits, the more dust, dirt and insects can get in. Condensation begins to form and the metal begins to rust and flake and add to the particles settled at the bottom of the various liquids.

Below are 10 steps to get a neglected tractor engine started on your farm.

What To Do If Tractor Been Sitting For A Long Time?

tractor that's been sitting for quite a while

If you have a tractor that’s been sitting for quite a while, and you try to start it without preparing it properly, you’ll end up pumping all of the dirt, dust, sludge, rust and dead insects through the system.

This will result in contamination of all the lubricating fuel and cooling systems. The oil passages, the radiator core and the fuel lines will all become clogged with goop. The bearings will get covered with grit. This will naturally cause more problems.

Furthermore, if you have to pull the tractor to try to get it started, you’ll cause even more damage. Note that if a tractor needs to be pulled to get started, it simply isn’t ready to start up. There’s a lot of preparation that goes into getting a sitting tractor in startup condition.

10 Steps To Get A Neglected Tractor Engine Started

steps to get a neglected tractor engine started

1. Drain All Liquids

Before you try to start any engine that has been sitting for a long time, you should drain all of the water, gas and oil this will help get rid of some of the junk that is settled to the bottom of these tanks.

2. Take Care Of Oil Pan

When you drain the oil, be sure to drain the pan completely and then take it off and scrape it. Wash it thoroughly to get all of the sludge out. When you do this, you should also wash the oil pickup screen.

Examine it and the pan carefully for any bits of metal. Pour oil over the bearings in the end. Be sure to install a new oil pan gasket.

3. Change Oil Filter

Change the old oil filter for a new one. Here is a video on how to do it on John Deere tractors.

4. Clean The Fuel Tank

When you drain out the fuel, dispose of it properly. Flush out the fuel tank thoroughly to get it completely clean. You’ll need to take apart the sediment bowl and clean it completely as well.

Put in a new screen and new gaskets. Flush the fuel lines as well, and blow them out.

5. Clean The Carburetor

A diesel engine does not have a carburetor, but in an engine that has a carburetor, remove the carburetor and give it a good soak in carburetor cleaner. Install a carburetor kit. Starting with all new parts will save you a lot of time and trouble in the long run.

6. Clean The Radiator

Drain all the water from the radiator and block. Use clean water to flush the system thoroughly. If you’re where you can use running water from the garden hose, that’s best. When you get the engine running, you can also use a radiator flush to clean the system even more completely.

7. Clean The Cover From The Governor

Remove the cover from the governor and oil it. If it’s full of sludge, clean it out.

8. Clean The Covers

Remove the side covers and the valve cover and check to see that they aren’t full of sludge. Clean them thoroughly.

9. Clean The Rocker Arms

Clean the rocker arms with kerosene, allowing it to pour over and flush through return lines and back to the oil pan. Follow this up by pouring oil over the rocker arms. Allow it to run into the oil pan.

10. Clean The Oil Fill Point

Clean the oil fill point by pouring kerosene through it and drain the oil pan a second time. Only then should you put new oil into the oil receptacle.

If you start off following these steps before you ever try to start up your tractor, you’ll avoid creating a lot of problems. Doing all of this the right way may take two or three hours, but will save you a great deal of time, trouble and expense once you get that tractor running.

Are you looking for more tractor related tips? Check the latest article on choosing the right size tractor for your farm.

1966 Deere Tractor Resurrection

3 thoughts on “How To Start A Diesel Tractor That Has Been Sitting?”

  1. What would you think of my father changing an old Fordson wood-box coil crank engine to a modern 6 cylinder Hercules bus engine (4+inch bores) + clutch, including the bus’s 4-speed Brown-Lype transmission, all fitted to the front of the Fordson’s transmission with a hand-machined 1/2 in. thick steel plate (hand fashioned via hundreds of hand-drilled holes). A large truck radiator was added from the same junk yard where the Hercules came from, 6-inch spade lugs were mounted to the rear wheels by raising the fenders, 600W lube in the worm drive rear end, a Ford car steering box replaced the Fordson’s, along with a 6-volt battery running the bus Delco ignition, plus push-button start, sealed beam lights etc. etc.? As a 7- to 12-year old (85 now), I, that is Hercules, plowed effortlessly all day long , no steam from the radiator, on our 85 acre farm in Solon Ohio with a 3-bottom (yes 3) 18 in. moldboard plow with that conglomeration, enjoying the so-pleasant up-pointing exhaust purr from a big Farmall muffler. The only downsize was having to go to a tractor junkyard once a season to renew the Fordson’s worm-driven brass ring gear from all that power! Don Oberacker; email in Milford (Cincinnati) Ohio. ps: We abandoned the well-used tractor on a Medina, Ohio farm circa 1950 to find a curiosity-seeking new owner when dad died and I, then Case Engineering trained, went to a space-age satellite power plant design job at TRW in Cleveland. Never figured out how many speeds we had – just kept old Fordson in second and chose one of the Brown-Lype’s 4. Quite a stump-puller too, with me driving and trusting dad perched on the radiator if needed.

  2. There was no mention of seeing if the engine would turn over before doing these steps. First I would take a wrench on the front of the crankshaft and see if the engine turns over if this is not possible, I would remove the starter and use a bar on the flywheel teeth to see if the engine will turn over. There is no need to change oils and so on if the engine does not turn over.

  3. Hello Sam
    My name is Fred Ellis and now hobby farm near Bristol/Bath in South West England. My family hale from the Somerset/Dorset region in the 1700s and in the late 1800s joined many other folk emigrating to The States and Canada prospecting and lumbering.
    Until recently we kept in touch with our Ellis relations who farmed in Alberta and Montreal but both brothers are now deceased and the only son Michael worked for the Ag insurance of Canada. He is probably now retired and is the only Ellis relation we know of apart from one here somewhere but I do get to joke that we have an island named after us on the North East of your wonderful country. I believe we have may Ellis relations in the United States though.
    When growing wheat here I used to run a Wisconsin built Case Axial Flow with a purring Navistar motor, my dream machine. Best wishes Fred


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