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Tractor battery

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Adios Pantalones, Apr 16, 2013.

  1. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    My tractor battery died a year or 2 ago, so I bought a new one. Now that one is dead and I have been jumping it by carrying out a deep cell marine battery.

    I figure the options are that the tractor battery has gone bad, or that the charging system doesn't quite keep up with it. How do I know if the tractor battery has kicked the bucket? If I put it on the charger and it starts the tractor for a while, can I assume it's OK?

    I don't know what the heck I am doing most times.

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  2. Bret Hart

    Bret Hart Burning Hunk

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    Get the battery up to full charge and do a load test yourself or take to an auto parts store so they can test it.

    Use a volt meter to check the charging system on the tractor to make sure it is charging and that voltage increases slightly when the rpm's raise. 12 volt or lower on the meter with the engine off is just battery voltage. With the engine running you should see higher voltage up to around 13.8 volts on a weak battery.
    Adios Pantalones likes this.
  3. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    I think it actually reads the voltage just after startup before switching to hours of operation. Should have thought of that. Thanks
  4. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I switched to AGM "gel" batteries on the tractor awhile ago since the acid gets sloshed all over with the regular lead/acid batteries.

    First thing to do when a battery is not starting the machine is to check voltage at the battery when running. 14 is your target but 13.5 ot 14.5 is fine.

    I had a bulldozer putting out over 18 volts and boiling the huge battery so I swapped that one to a GM one-wire alternator and the battery was much happier at 14 volts.
    Adios Pantalones likes this.
  5. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Same here on the AGM gel battery for my Deere.
    When you're watching voltage at the battery you have to consider the engine speed as Bret mentioned and also the battery state. If the battery is real low like after you just jumped it off then the charging voltage will be low (maybe (12.5 v) until the battery gets charged up by the alternator. In this situation you have high current flow (amps) but lower voltage.
    And, if the battery is already fully charged you should see a much higher voltage at the battery (13.8-14.5). Here you have lower current flowing into the battery but higher voltage.

    It helps a lot to put a battery maintainer/tender on equipment that doesn't get used often. Chemical degradation occurs in batteries that go too low.
  6. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Quick and dirty test for most lawn tractor charging systems: Turn the headlights on with the engine at low idle. Then accellerate the engine to full RPM. Did the lights get brighter?

    Is the PTO clutch electric? If so and the mower isn't shutting off after awhile for no apparent reason then the charging system is probably OK.

    Check for parasitic drains as well. Stick an ammeter that reads milliamps (auto ranging Digital Meter is best) in series between the + battery post and the cable terminal. Should read 0 or real close to it.
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Battery sounds like it might still be ok. The charging system sounds suspect. Could be the voltage regulator or the generator. Check output of both with a meter.
  8. HDRock

    HDRock Minister of Fire

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    Am I right or wrong here, tractor batts are only good for a couple of years now
  9. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Buy good batteries, Interstate, Deka, I'm sure there are a couple others. Stay away from Wally World and the parts store specials.

    Doesn't help that these batteries are routinely exposed to vibration, heat, and long periods sitting idle in the cold. I have a few that are 5+ years old and are still very strong.
  10. HDRock

    HDRock Minister of Fire

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    ;lol Had a parts store batt, one in it now to, old die hard lasted, newer one didn't
  11. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    I'm so sick of friggin' around with batteries and tires on these things I swear it's a racket! In lieu of fitting my lawn tractors with a recoil start I use a socket and a 1/2" drill for a starter. Cut a hole in the shroud to access the top nut. I Use a slightly oversized socket and haven't had a problem pulling out in time (heh heh).
    Joful and Adios Pantalones like this.
  12. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Mine is on year 4 and has never seen the charger yet. I did run it down over the weekend trying to start the mower with no gas in it:rolleyes: , but a jump-start from the truck and an hour of run-time mowing the yard and it is right back where it should be.
  13. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    No kiddin on tires. Seems like every one is a slow leak all the time. A few weeks of non-use means that using it involves a jack. Of course- 8 years would be a decent life for tires on my car, so maybe they've done OK.

    I have a lead on a Kubota with a bucket, 54" mower, snow attachment, and more for $5K. Not sure if I can swing the ching for it right now, but it would be nice.
  14. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I am curious on what you are using the jack for.
  15. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    To get a flat tire off so that I can reseat/fill it.
  16. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    If it has already popped off of the bead, get an inner tube shoved in there and be done with flats. It will fix ya right up.
  17. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Ya, I'm about there
  18. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    The couple of bucks that they cost, and the 5 minutes it takes to stuff one in a tire will make it well worth the effort. (IMHO).
  19. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Cub I just sold had the original tires, 50+ years old, and looked / held air like new. Deere has original 1986 tires, which also hold air like new, but look like hell due to sitting out in the sun. All tubeless.

    My experience is that slow leaks on tractor tires usually have nothing to do with the tire, and everything to do with the wheel. Rubber can't seal against a rusty rim.
  20. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Whoa! Are you guys talking about lawn mowers or tractors? Tractors, see my avatar, use full size car batteries and they absolutely last a long time. As long as a car battery in a car. Big tractors use bigger batteries.

    Now if you're talking about lawn mowers and those goofy little batteries then I have had less service life from them. Funny that some people call their mowers tractors. What do they call tractors?

    Don't get too hung up on battery brand. There are very few manufacturers of batteries. Walmart, costco, sears, parts store, probably all Interstate batteries.
  21. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    I always thought anything you could hang a ground contact rear implement on was a tractor.
    Many "garden tractors" had mowing decks, a cast-iron rear axle, and the ability to plow.
  22. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Tractor can mean many different things anymore. There are lawn tractors (lawn mowers), garden tractors (beefed up lawn mowers, some with ground engaging implements), tractors (semi-truck or farm machine), etc.
  23. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    yep... even a "lawn tractor" is a "tractor," of sorts. It helps when you distinguish:

    lawn tractor
    garden tractor / sub-compact tractor
    compact utility tractor (CUT)
    ag. tractor
  24. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Mine is stuck between lawn and garden tractor. I do more pulling a cart or splitter with it than mowing by a long shot, so I refer to it more as a tractor. (though I don't care if you call it a tricycle)
    MasterMech, HDRock and Joful like this.
  25. HDRock

    HDRock Minister of Fire

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    Putting tubes in the tires, is a given, put slime tubes in the little trailer

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