Fergie – Starter Motor Troubles

3 min read

In the previous article, we finally got the Fergie running entirely under its own steam. I was so excited to get it working again and went off to buy the little grey Fergie a PTO adapter. Unfortunately, the next ‘tractor session’ wasn’t so productive because of starter motor troubles.

The non starter Fergie

Fully energised from the previous success with the Fergie, I was all set for a day topping out in the field. In preparation, the fuel bowl was emptied of rust and re-primed. Battery negative terminal reconnected, the ignition switch set to on, gear selector pushed against the start solenoid and, well, nothing.

What followed was considerable head-scratching, double-checking, measurement and finally acceptance. On previous days of working on the tractor, every starter engagement came with an obvious puff of smoke from the 6v starter. I’d been informed, from a reliable source, that the 6V starter could happily work in a 12v system for years without issue, just don’t engage it for too long. Maybe that wasn’t the case after all.

Pulling out the old starter

The old starter was quite a fiddle to remove. Beyond the difficulties in digging out the imperial spanners, the rear bolt was tricky to reach. For what is likely to be the original starter, the bolts did come out smoothly in the end.

The old 6v Fergie starter motor
The old 6v Fergie starter motor

Hard-working gearing

Damaged starter motor gear
Damaged starter motor gear

It was pretty clear the starter motor has had a rather hard life. The starter gear has, over the last 68 years, repeatedly hit the flywheel ring gear. This is where modern starter motors with an external solenoid have a benefit.

Damaged teeth on the sly wheel ring gear
Damaged teeth on the flywheel ring gear

The starter motor wasn’t the only part to show some damage. The teeth on the flywheel were also rounded on the leading edge. I guess this makes the starter gear engagement that bit easier. Some wear was bound to occur given the age of the Little Grey Fergie, but I doubt this will slow it down!

Installing a new starter motor

As most things car-related there is often a range of replacement parts listed for any given vehicle. In the case of the Fergie, there is both a short and long ‘nose’ variant. Fortunately, having removed the old starter motor, it was easy enough to take some measurements and order the correct part. And fortune had it that Agriline could supply a replacement 12v starter in 48 hours.

Reliable wiring for a reliable starter motor
Reliable wiring for a reliable starter motor

The new starter motor is a fraction of the size of the old one, so refitting was a little bit easier. Along with the reduced size and weight, the replacement also has an external solenoid which needs a little extra wiring. The starter motor connections were wired to the starter switch using new cables.

Reliable Starting

After the replacement starter motor, the Fergie has been much more reliable. It starts easier every time now, with no puff of smoke. And using only 12v components reduces complexity and hopefully aids maintenance. The downside is that the Fergie is looking just that little bit less original. Striking a balance between originality and reliability is a tricky line to walk. However, the Fergie could be returned to 6v as all the old components have been saved.

For now, I’m enjoying the reliability and peace of mind that it’s starting every time. Perhaps now the Fergie can mow the field?


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