When I purchased Cheney Farms I was fortunate enough to acquire all the necessary farming tools, one of the most critical is a John Deere 420. The John Deere is a early 1980's, 20 HP, 2wd mule. It has a 2 cylinder Onan power plant that produces all the necessary torque to operate the tiller, snowblower, blade, mower, and is an all-round solid tool. That is until recently. She had run like a top and required little to no maintenance over the past two and a half years; a belt, oil change, fuel filter, adjustments, the usual. After the first big dump of snow I was stoked to head out to the shop, pandora blasting, one piece insulated work suit, sorels, goggles, the works and to my chagrin the tractor stalled midway through plowing my drive. Fearing the worst, blow head gasket, thrown rod, complete hydraulic failure, I towed the tractor into the shop to pin point the issue. After speaking with my local dealer at Pape Machinery in Four Lakes and reviewing the poorly written manual, I determined that it might be possible that the starter had given up the ghost. Pape quoted me $280, three times the cost of any normal car or tractor starter, but fortunately I found one on Ebay for $59. I ordered the part and started to tear down the tractor.
Like the Father in A Christmas Story who asks his wife to time him while he changes a flat tire at night, at least until Ralphy drops an 'F' bomb, I too will time myself on occasion while changing common parts. After replacing so many fuel pumps, starters, belts, rotator caps, struts, brakes..... in older American, German, English and Japanese cars I though that this American made John Deere starter would be a simple swap. Armed with the new starter, proper tools, official manual, and the professional advise of the John Deere service department I went to work.
I was told that I needed to remove just one engine mount to free the starter. That is not the case. As the pictures depict this was a complete tear down to the frame, removing the entire motor and drive shaft. Although she is back together and running well, I am amazed at the difficulty in replacing a part that is so crucial to operation and prone to failure.Needless to say I did not set any records but I did learn a great deal and had an opportunity to grease every zerk.
Ah farm life, nothing beats it.