Re: Stump the Experts, 184 style

Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:15 pm

Eugene wrote: Take a timing light and check for spark during cranking on each cylinder. Check against the pointer and timing marks.

Vacuum guage check if it still doesn't start.

Take a break for a day or two. Then double check everything. Then double check again. You are over looking something simple.

The gasoline engine is one big air compressor. The vacuum guage check will tell you a lot about the engine.

Yup. Getting interesting.


Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:17 pm

In the 4+ hours I worked on this thing, I think I have "Been there and done that" about 3 to 4 times. I went in the house tonight scratching my almost bald head.


Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:37 pm

Pull a wire off a spark plug and see if the spark will jump a big gap, like a half inch. It is one thing to have a good enough spark to fire a plug that is out, its another to fire under compression.

Check the manifold for a leak between the intake side and exhaust side. A rust hole inside the manifold can give you quite a vacuum leak that a propane torch will never find.

Thu Sep 13, 2007 10:13 pm

I would go with Coil - or did you already replace it ?

A failing coil would jive with the fact that the mower would quit after mowing for a while where as it heats up it would start shorting out.

And yes - it is harder to throw a spark under compression.

other Rick

Thu Sep 13, 2007 10:23 pm

Is your fuel tank clean? Tractors that will run for a period of time, have good spark etc, but then quit, often have something that blocks the fuel flow. A clunk of crud in the tank will roll around the bottom of the tank and once the tractor is running will find its way to the outlet in the tank, cutting off the fuel. The suction compresses the crud thus sealing the hole. After its sat in the tank for a while not running, the compressed crud begins to loosen up again and may float around so the tractor can start again, but the problem begins again. The chunk is too big to get into the fuel cleaner bowl so you don't see it. When the tractor stops, thats the time to disconnect the fuel line at the carburater and see how the fuel flow is. I had a redbelly that nearly drove me nuts over this problem.

Fri Sep 14, 2007 6:22 am

I'll get the new gaskets, then check the manifold real close for any internal problems like nests or holes. Once it's on, if it doesn't run, I'll get my vacuum gauge out and check it, like Eugene suggests. Wish I would have done that while it was together, didn't even cross my mind :shock:

Rudi, I need to dig into the manuals and find how to make sure the exact setting for the dist. I just went out and brought the other dist in the house to examine it. The slide in gear in the back of the housing has 16 teeth that go into the base and meshes with the dist gear. The opposite end has two ears that meshes with the governor slots. If you remove just the dist itself and leave the housing attached to the engine, that bigger gear on the end of the dist has 32 teeth. When installing just the distributor, there seems to be alot of error and still get the rotor to look like it's pointing at number one on the cap.

What's the proper way to make sure it's "right on the money"? Maybe this has been the problem all along, One tooth off. Who know's how many times the guy had it apart, plus I may be off too.

Loosening the dist and rotating it will change the rotor/cap contact, but that also changes where the points open and close, too

Maybe that's the answer Rudi. Let's see, 360 divided by 32= 11.25 degrees it could be off either way and still be pointing at number one, especially when the dist is loose and moving, it's even less.

Anyone know the procedure?

Thanks. I'm heading to Redman's(less hair Ricardo) for the day, so I'll check back later tonight.

Rick(more hair Ricardo)

Fri Sep 14, 2007 7:01 am

Now I'm starting to second thought myself. If the rotor is off one tooth either way, wouldn't you just rotate the dist to compensate for that, and it shouldn't matter?

You're right Eugene, I need a break :shock:


Fri Sep 14, 2007 7:33 am

Yes, that is correct - making the rotor point to #1 in the distributor cap can be rigged.

But if it's out-of-sync by too many teeth, you'll run out of room to rotate the distributor unless you switch the plug wires around the distributor cap. That will make #1 terminal on the cap actually #3 or #2, depending on which way the gear is out of time. Egads, it's easy enough to mess up the firing order when everything is perfect!

It's best to do it right, make life easier for the next guy.

Fri Sep 14, 2007 7:39 am

Rick(billyandmillie) wrote:Now I'm starting to second thought myself. If the rotor is off one tooth either way, wouldn't you just rotate the dist to compensate for that, and it shouldn't matter?

You're right Eugene, I need a break :shock:

that will also change the timing. don't forget, you can pull the distributor shaft out and move it a tooth or two as needed, but that will also change the timing.

Fri Sep 14, 2007 8:09 am

Rick, have you checked the advance springs on the distributor?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 8:28 am

Sounds like the coil to me too. I had a good running tractor one minute and the next ,nothing after warmed up it would quit ,and not start. Not sure where my post is with all the issues I dealt with but I put a good hot mag on and WOW!
That may have been the start to the fellows problem , but left sitting a year ,may be a whole other issue as well. Bugs ,and rodents getting to things chewing things up.

Fri Sep 14, 2007 9:25 am

I need to dig into the manuals and find how to make sure the exact setting for the dist.

What's the proper way to make sure it's "right on the money"? Anyone know the procedure?

Actually pretty simple. Mark the distributor case at the center of the #1 plug tower, using the cap as a guide. Put the mark just below the distributor cap.

Rotate the engine to TDC. Check the location of the center of the rotor tip. The center of rotor must be pointing directly at your mark on the distributor housing.

If the distributor is off a gear tooth or two the rotor will not be pointing exactly at the mark on the base. To correct. Reinstall the distributor base so that it's centered in the adjustment range (or slot if your tractor has one) and the rotor is pointing directly at your mark on the base.

Static time the engine (distributor). Check the location of the rotor to your mark on the case.

The rotor is keyed to the distributor shaft and is supposed to be insync with the cam lobes.

While you are looking at the distributor. Check the condition of the rotor. Look at the bottom where it fits over the shaft. Sometimes the hole gets wobbled out or the spring (if it has one) gets lost.

Also check the condition of the distributor cap. Check to see if the retaining lug (the one on the lip that aligns the cap) is still present and in good condition.


Fri Sep 14, 2007 9:39 am

After you have it set up exactly as Eugene has suggested you can fine tune the timing using the procedure for a mag. With #1 at TDC on compression, instead of turning the distrubutor away from the engine until the (non-existing) impulse clicks, use an ohmeter across the points and turn until the needle returns to zero. Then it will fire at TDC (as it should) until the centrifugal advance brings the timing to the first mark.

Fri Sep 14, 2007 11:02 am

I weigh in with those who are suspecious of the coil; running for an hour or so and then the troubles start is a classic symptom of a coil failing with heat buildup. Another thing to try (and this is not without precedent) it to start it at night and (in darkness) see if you see any tramp shorts or flashes; around the dist cap and coil cover; and coon the wires (visually) to see if there is any intermittent shorting to the engine, frame, etc. Plug wires CAN put the shuck on you. Post back the final results; this one is interesting. JH

Mon Sep 17, 2007 6:40 pm

I just came in from mowing the yard with the 184. I located some manifold gaskets today. Took the warpage out of the manifold, cleaned up the head, and torqued the manifold down. It fired right up :shock: I sure wish I would have thought about either the vacuum gauge or some spray/propane around the manifold, might have saved me a few hours, but anyways, it runs like new. Boy does the 184 float nice over the lawn. This thing has a 6' deck to, so I finished in no time. Maybe I'll tell the guy I want to keep it for the rest of the mowing season, just to make sure it's fixed :D :D

Thanks a bunch for all the tips,