How do you keep your Cub starting up when its cold?

Farmall Cub Forum -- Questions and answers to all of your Cub related issues.

Moderator: Team Cub

Forum rules
Notice: For sale and wanted posts are not allowed in this forum. Please use our free classifieds or one of our site sponsors for your tractor and parts needs.
5+ Years
5+ Years
Posts: 424
Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2012 7:01 am
Zip Code: 00000
Tractors Owned: 1955 Cub Fast Hitch
sickle bar
land plow
snow plow
manure spreader
hayrake, rope pull
variety of cultivators
Wagner WM-1 bucket loader
rear carrier -- homemade
Location: Berkshire hills

How do you keep your Cub starting up when its cold?

Postby DickB » Sun Nov 25, 2012 7:14 am

Many has been the mornings when, as the snow flies and the fingers freeze, and there's a need to do some snow plowing, that my Cub has tried and tried to start, but the battery wound on down, died. Well, there was the shovel...but I was so looking forward to a great time plowing. Darn.

So I bought a magnetic stick-on heater that I've put on the bottom of the oil pan. That helped getting the engine to turn over with something like being rapid. But even that didn't do the job. Once, listening to Click n' Clack the Tappet Brothers on the radio, I learned that during WW2 in the Himalayas, that Army trucks were kept running by having one engine on all night, and then connecting its exhaust pipe to a cold truck's exhaust pipe with the warm exhaust traveling through the cold engine, warming it up. Woah, that was a real intro into the issues, but not something I could do.

Then I learned (rightly?) that updraft carburetors in really cold weather, did not have a chance to atomize the gas/air mix so nothing that would combust ever reached the spark. So, armed with that possible fact, I spent a few early morning pouring steaming water over the intake manifold. That might or might not have helped. Nothing super conclusive ever known.

Then started some wondering: How about taking a wrap-around heating pad for car batteries and laying that over the intake manifold? Did that, and...ummmm....nothing seemed to work. Next bit of about some sort of a plug insert in the radiator bottom plug that would warm the cooling fluid which would flow up with the heat of the plug, circulate throughout the engine? Haven't done this.

What kind of temperatures do I have to contend with ? Maybe lower teens is when I have "issues."

What do you do? What works? I'm pretty well all tuned up, new points, condenser, have a battery charger that I usually hook to the battery before going to bed.


10+ Years
10+ Years
Posts: 1224
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2008 6:11 am
Location: MN, Mankato

Re: How do you keep your Cub starting up when its cold?

Postby TJG » Sun Nov 25, 2012 8:18 am

You mentioned a well tuned tractor and that is important. Also make sure that the starter is in good condition. I've simply plugged in a light bulb under the oil pan for a while to heat up the oil. I suppose you could have a light bulb on a timer to come on before you need the tractor.


Cub Pro
Cub Pro
Posts: 6733
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 7:00 pm
Zip Code: 02769
Tractors Owned: 6"F" cubs
5 lo-boys
1 154
1 184
1 IH444
1 Oliver OC3 crawler
1 AC D10
1 IH 100 manure spreader
1 IH model B corn grinder
3 power units
cub demonstrator
Circle of Safety: Y
Location: Ma. Rehoboth

Re: How do you keep your Cub starting up when its cold?

Postby ScottyD'sdad » Sun Nov 25, 2012 8:27 am

Fresh, winter grade gasoline! Left over summer fuel, doesn't vaporize well in the cold. Ed
Member of Chapter 18, and National
Circle of Safety

5+ Years
5+ Years
Posts: 1213
Joined: Thu Dec 24, 2009 9:19 am
Zip Code: 70785
Tractors Owned: '48 trimmed dash high crop cub , '78 3/4 cub , lo-boy/59 mower , '64 "galvanized" cub , cub-6 toolbar , sicklebar mowers , 54 blade , plow , mott mower , early belly mower . '57 higgins v-drive wooden boat/original graymarine 4 banger . international 1010 pickup with 345ci v-8 .
Circle of Safety: Y
Location: louisiana

Re: How do you keep your Cub starting up when its cold?

Postby coppersmythe » Sun Nov 25, 2012 8:47 am

would low compression make starting worse in low temps? ( the few days we get below 32 degrees, we just hide indoors till it passes :lol: )coppersmythe....................

v w
5+ Years
5+ Years
Posts: 1024
Joined: Thu Jun 10, 2010 6:56 am
Zip Code: 49053
Circle of Safety: Y
Location: Galesburg, MI

Re: How do you keep your Cub starting up when its cold?

Postby v w » Sun Nov 25, 2012 8:55 am

I used to keep a heat light on the carb and a blanket over the tractor when the temp was below 15 degrees, ie: lower teens or colder. Last winter I went back to plowing snow for the first time in years without any problem but the weather was mild. The snowplow guy was getting too much of my money and since we don't have to get out to work anymore there was no hurry. Oil weight may make a difference. If the tractor has had a recent tune up and the carb is correct try a different brand of fuel, years ago I had an Olds that was very hard starting if burnning Marathon but started easily on Shell. You need a fuel with a high vapor pressure but this info is almost impossible to find. I can also remember trying to start an old Duplex truck where we used two batteries. One to turn the motor and one for the ignition. If your cub has battery ignition it may be using most of the amps to turn the engine and not producing a hot enough spark. Try hand cranking. It's the old question. Fuel? Spark? I have a wagner heat gun ready just in case. Vern

5+ Years
5+ Years
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2012 5:59 pm
Zip Code: 17040
Tractors Owned: 1947 farmall H
1951 farmall CUB
Location: Landisburg, Pa

Re: How do you keep your Cub starting up when its cold?

Postby gpcub » Sun Nov 25, 2012 8:58 am

With the fuel and ethanol we have today fuel does not last long. Ethanol attracts water which is at the bottom of the tank which could form ice. Try using a heat gun to warm up lines and carb not hot water. Maybe try draining some of you fuel into a glass jar and see if you have a water problem. I've worked on small engines for 20yrs and every year gets worse for fuel. It's sad that we have to pay extra of additives to save our fuel and it's only a bandage nothing helps but to keep your fuel fresh.

User avatar
Denny Clayton
10+ Years
10+ Years
Posts: 4372
Joined: Wed Feb 05, 2003 1:18 pm
Zip Code: 45365
Tractors Owned: Home to "Rusty", the 2007 and 2009 Cub Tug Champion.
Circle of Safety: Y
Location: OH, Sidney

Re: How do you keep your Cub starting up when its cold?

Postby Denny Clayton » Sun Nov 25, 2012 10:16 am

How fast does it turn over in warmer weather? You need large enough battery cables to carry the power along with good, clean shiny connections.

What weight oil do you use? When its really cold, 10W30 oil will be thinner than SAE 30.

The faster it can turn over the better chance you have at the fuel getting up to the cylinders.
'61 Lo-Boy
'60 FH Lo-Boy
'60 Lo-Boy
'57 FH Cub "Rusty"
FH Woods 42F, 54A blade, 194 plow, FH L-38 disk, FH Lo-Boy disk, FH platform carrier
Circle of Safety

5+ Years
5+ Years
Posts: 438
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:37 am
Zip Code: 44134
Tractors Owned: 1949 & 1951 Farmall Cubs

Several Snapper Garden Tractors
Circle of Safety: Y
Location: Southern Suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio

Re: How do you keep your Cub starting up when its cold?

Postby lazyuniondriver » Sun Nov 25, 2012 10:37 am

DickB wrote: about some sort of a plug insert in the radiator bottom plug that would warm the cooling fluid which would flow up with the heat of the plug, circulate throughout the engine? Haven't done this.

What do you do? What works?

You are on the right track with the engine coolant heater.

Having spent many years cranking up Diesel equipment in the Great Lakes region, I can assure you nothing works better as a cold starting aid than a block heater in the water jacket.

I've never had problems getting my plow tractor fired up but if I did, I would adapt the water inlet on the right side to accommodate an electric heating element.

I have seen some automotive applications which are installed inline in the bottom radiator hose. If the water inlet was shortened or the bolster pipe shortened, perhaps one of these would fit in that location if they are still available.

Heating coolant in the bottom of the radiator would probably be better than nothing, but would waste a lot of energy. The block is what needs the heat.

With an electric coolant heater activated a few hours in advance, your tractor won't know the difference between summer and winter.

User avatar
Buzzard Wing
Cub Pro
Cub Pro
Posts: 10517
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2004 10:14 pm
Zip Code: 02840
Location: RI, Newport

Re: How do you keep your Cub starting up when its cold?

Postby Buzzard Wing » Sun Nov 25, 2012 12:08 pm

Good tips above. I strongly second ethanol as being a problem in a vented system, also 'winter' grade fuel will make a difference. A fuel stabilizer (tops in my book is Seafoam) can help. May prevent 'icing' too.

Particularly, wiring and grounds are even more important in the winter. A well tuned Cub should fire immediately, remember a starter was an option. Connections will corrode over time, dielectric grease after cleaning will help prevent that to a degree. For charging, I prefer a 'smart charger', it won't overcharge a battery and will serve as a battery maintainer too. If the charging system works right, it should not be necessary unless the Cub sits for a long period.

Some useful tips about batteries and winter operation in the operator's manual too.

A magnet heater on the oil pan is about the easiest option for heating the engine.
1971 Cub (Rufus) 1950 Cub (Cathy) 1965 Lo Boy Fast Hitch (Nameless III) 1970 Cub 1000 Loader & Fast Hitch (Lee)

User avatar
Lurker Carl
Cub Pro
Cub Pro
Posts: 3968
Joined: Mon Feb 03, 2003 9:54 am
Zip Code: 16685
Circle of Safety: Y
Location: PA, Todd

Re: How do you keep your Cub starting up when its cold?

Postby Lurker Carl » Sun Nov 25, 2012 12:47 pm

Keep the engine in good tune and the fuel system clean for a Cub to start quickly regardless of the weather conditions. If a weak battery or marginal electrical system can not supply adequate spark while cranking the engine, a yank or two with a hand crank will get the engine running.
"Chance favors the prepared mind."
- Louis Pasteur

"In character, in manners, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity."
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

10+ Years
10+ Years
Posts: 565
Joined: Sun May 14, 2006 3:59 pm
Zip Code: 00000
Circle of Safety: Y
Location: Plymouth,NH

Re: How do you keep your Cub starting up when its cold?

Postby CubitisNH » Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:25 pm

I have found that keeping the battery in the house where it's nice and warm makes a big difference.A battery carrying strap and one wrench and you should be good to go.
How can you have too many Cubs????

User avatar
10+ Years
10+ Years
Posts: 5713
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 2:37 pm
Zip Code: 44645
eBay ID: kevinb2366
Tractors Owned: 47 Cub 48 Cub 50 H
Location: Marshallville Ohio

Re: How do you keep your Cub starting up when its cold?

Postby KETCHAM » Sun Nov 25, 2012 6:23 pm

I have started my "Krusty" in real cold temps with a hand problem..1/2 choke 6 O'clock on the crank,and pops at 9 O'clock.Starting fluid on my other tractor,,has a Zenith carb,,,,Still kicks off in cold weather..I love a 5 degree morning with 5 inches of snow and starting a tractor that can't wait to go out and plow!!!! :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: Life is good...No snow to speak of last year,,,,hope for better results this year!!!! Kevin
47 CUB[Krusty] 49 CUB[Ollie] 50 H-- PLOWS DISCS MOWERS AND lots more stuff!!Life is to short -Have fun now cause ya ain't gonna be here long!!!!

Matt Kirsch
10+ Years
10+ Years
Posts: 4640
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2004 3:04 pm
Zip Code: 14559
Circle of Safety: Y
Location: Rochester, NY

Re: How do you keep your Cub starting up when its cold?

Postby Matt Kirsch » Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:25 am

While I don't do a lot of cold-weather starting, I've never really done anything special. No heaters, no starting fluid, no sacrifices of farm animals.

Do you use the choke? Learning to listen to the engine and give it what it needs, especially in the first few seconds after it fires, is a key skill to cold starts.

We ran old Farmalls in the winter all the time back on the farm when I was a kid. Updraft carbs and all. Dad preferred them to the diesels because they would ALWAYS start with no assistance. The diesels always need a couple hours on the block heater, and sometimes a whiff of starting fluid. When the electricity is out, you don't have power to run a block heater and you don't normally have two hours to wait. The electricity was out a lot.

The better the tractor starts in warm weather, the better it will start in cold. If yours doesn't fire right off when you hit the button during the summer, it needs more tuning. Float level and timing have a lot to do with how well the engine starts.

10+ Years
10+ Years
Posts: 1421
Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2006 2:54 pm
Zip Code: 60073
Circle of Safety: Y
Location: IL, Round Lake Heights

Re: How do you keep your Cub starting up when its cold?

Postby bythepond88 » Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:21 pm

You mention new points and condensor, but what about plugs? I had a similar problem, and new plugs helped a lot.

I added an oil pan heater last year, and that has also helped a lot.
Michael Cummings
Eddie - a 1959 International Lo-Boy named after my father in law, who who bought her new.

5+ Years
5+ Years
Posts: 629
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:55 pm
Zip Code: 47119
Skype Name: ntrenn
Tractors Owned: 63 Cub 221833 in family since '69
65 Lo-boy 19648 with an un-stuck #4 - it lives!!!
144 Cultivators with disc hillers
193 Plow
42C mower
59L mower mounted on the Fcub
23A Disc - lost possession
Circle of Safety: Y
Location: Indiana

Re: How do you keep your Cub starting up when its cold?

Postby ntrenn » Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:35 pm

The biggest problem we all have is that the compression ratio on these engines is closer to zero than it is to 11. The heating you get when compressing the air in the cylinder is really beneficial in cold weather and keeps the fuel in suspension instead of on the cylinder walls where it does none of us any good.

I used to feed hay in the winter with an old dual fuel H and you could hand crank it down to about zero and it would always start. Any colder and you had to wait for warmer weather. The cub would never start below 20 or so - even with a good battery.

You guys got me to thinking and looking about heating aids. I'm not a fan of the magnetic heaters so I was looking at freeze plug heaters - specifically the screw in type. Kats makes a couple of nice looking screw in ones - specifically a 11453 - 3/8 pipe x 2.5 long or a 11423 1/2 pipe x 1.75 long. Has anybody tried one of those in the bottom boss on the water inlet elbow. It looks like you could drill and tap the boss and just insert the heater. ... heater+npt ... heater+npt

  • Similar Topics
    Last post

Return to “Farmall Cub”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests