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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Worked this 2120 hard for two straight weekends. Parked it in the woods, got rained on and now won’t start.

The instrument cluster is acting weird; turns on for the first ignition turn, but no crank just a thud sound (fuel filter?) and then the instrument cluster turns off... after a minute or so the cluster comes back on. If I try another ignition turn, it is a smaller click sound at solenoid only. The more I turn ignition the longer the cluster stays off. I cannot even jump the starter with a screw driver.

Bought a new battery and starter.

Clean ground and test light illuminates at starter.

Tested voltage drops in cables and they read zero, so all good there.

PTO is in the neutral position.

I cleaned all the ignition pins.

I read bad voltage regulators can cause these symptoms, but would that make it not be screw driver jumpable too? Where is the voltage regulator?

I jumped this thing for a year when the neutral safety switch (NSS) was seized up. I repaired the NSS last winter and she started up and ran like a champ until two week ago.

Thank you for the guidance. Young homesteader trying to learn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The battery reads 12V+

Do I test stater to ground voltage with multimeter in auto DC voltage, positive lead on starter bolt and negative lead on starter body or engine body? Does the ignition need to be turned on?
 

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The battery reads 12V+

Do I test stater to ground voltage with multimeter in auto DC voltage, positive lead on starter bolt and negative lead on starter body or engine body? Does the ignition need to be turned on?
12 V is a bit low, but if the battery is healthy, it should screwdríver-jump crank the engine. It does not hurt to put a charger on it. The cluster falling out after the starter has been connected, could mean that the battery voltage took a serious dive and the system goes down. After a while the battery has recovered and the system is up again.

This can be of different causes, but first check the voltages at the starter.

Ignition off.
Do as you suggested and measure with the negative lead on the starter body first, then with the negative lead on the engine body.

Are you able to turn the engine by hand two revolutions?
Gas or diesel?
 

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Have you cleaned both battery cable connectors internally, if these have a blackish coating on the inside, this will eventually isolate the power from travelling through the cables, and that the instrument lights fade when you twist the ignition key to start also points to this problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
It is a diesel 4x4 with a bucket loader and PTO log wench. I do not know how to tell if it is compact? I also do not know how to turn the engine by hand?

I bought the Interstate battery 5 days ago. It was trickled charged at .75 amp for 24 hours before installing onto tractor. The battery reads 12.78 volts when on tractor.

The terminal posts and cable connectors have been cleaned with a terminal cleaner brush and a very thin amount of dielectric grease. I tested voltage loss between posts and connectors and both read zero. I tested ground voltage loss from post to ground on frame and it read zero. I tested OHM on both battery cables and both make the chime noise. I tested ground voltage loss at starter body and engine frame and both read zero.

Voltage readings at starter positive post and battery positive post during start up procedure:
  • First ignition click: 1.1 Volts
  • Starter solenoid draw: 3.1 Volts
  • Fuel solenoid draw: 14V dropping to 4.2V quickly
  • Starter motor would not fire.

Alternator readings at positive post and positive battery post during start up procedure:
  • 11.4V dropping to 10.2V
I was able to get a slight spark up on starter motor with a screw driver jump, but then the cluster went out again.

The problem really does seem in the electrical harnesses. The instrument cluster goes in and out at random intervals. I bought an aftermarket ignition, but the PIN numbers don’t match the OEM ignition and I don’t want to guess where the five wires go. Maybe it is a bad alternator or voltage regulator. Where is the voltage regulator? I’m wondering what is making it not screw driver jumpable?

I REALLY appreciate your help!
 

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Ford (New Holland) 2120 is one of these:
2120 - 3 CYL HIGHWAY TRACTOR(01/65 - 12/74)
2120 - 4 CYL AG TRACTOR ALL PURPOSE(01/63 - 12/64)
2120 - 4 CYL COMPACT TRACTOR 20 SERIES(01/87 - 12/02)

4x4 would mean that you have the last one in the list, 4-cyl compact, 20-series (01/87 - 12/02).

You turn the belt pullley on the crankshaft in front of the engine, perhaps there is room for a spanner or a socket/wrench on the nut for the pulley. You can help by turning the fan with the other hand. If water got in through the exhaust during the rain, you may have water in the cylinders that are locking the engine. That could cause the problems you described.

You never measured the voltage at the starter as we decided, right?

I found a wiring diagram for 2120, but I am not sure if it is the right one. There are some parts that can be a culprit, but first make sure that the starter motor and solenoid is OK. Best way to do this is by eliminating everything else:
Disconnect the battery negative lead(s).
The negative post on the battery should be naked, and the disconnected connectors not touching anything.
Use another known good battery and a pair of jump start cables.
Connect the battery positive post to the battery (+) on the starter.
Connect the battery negative post to the starter motor body.
Now you can do the screwdriver test again.

Parts diagrams shows that there are different starter motors for 2120, could you post a picture of the starter motor connectors?

If the screwdriver test results in a normal cranking, you need to examine a proper wiring diagram and the harness/components involved. Even a new battery can be bad, so to be sure, replace it with the known good battery, connect everything as it should be and try to crank with the key switch.

If the test results in the slight spark and nothing more, the solenoid is a culprit.

If the solenoid clicks loudly and nothing else happens, the solenoid or/and the starter motor is the culprit.
If the solenoid is of the type in the attached picture, you can jump the two big posts to test the motor.


The voltage regulator sits inside the alternator. It has nothing to do with the starter circuit.


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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Apologies for forgetting to include the voltage reading for starter post to starter body and engine body: 12.78V

Thank you for confirming the style of my model tractor being 20 series compact.

I bought the starter around the same time as this new battery. The starter and solenoid crank just fine off the tractor.

The battery is brand new and fully charged.... load tester reads good. That being said, if you insist, I can put another battery I keep trickled charged for emergency on it too.

The slight spark/crank at starter I was able to achieve last night was during a millisecond moment the cluster stayed on, but it went in and out again. I’m going to bring the OEM ignition and after market ignition to a local tractor shop and see if they can test the old one and/or install the wires onto the new one... like I said the new ignition does not have the same PIN numbers as OEM, so I do not know how to transfer wires correctly.

Should I follow this websites advice and remove the exhaust and change the oil before hand cranking? Water Down Exhaust Pipe | Vintage Tractor Engineer

I found two wires that are broken near a 9-pin cluster connector. I don’t know if those would effect a no screwdriver jump? Regardless I just ordered a new connector set and crimper tool to repair it; should arrive next week... Also attached are pictures of the starter and wire diagram from a shop manual I have.
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You do not need to change the oil now. If there is water in the cylinders/manifold, you will feel a firm stop when you turn by hand. Any major damage will happen if the engine is running when the water comes in. If you manage to crank the engine with the starter per the suggestions below, the engine will not start during the first test. If there is water in the cylinders/manifold, I doubt that there will be any damages just by cranking. The engine will lock and the starter has to be disengaged immediately. By turning the engine by hand first, you will have the condition confirmed, though.

(6) is a neutral safety relay, not a switch as the legend says. The short at the cluster is probably putting +12 V on the ground side of the relay coil. That results in no power to the starter solenoid. But for now, you need to find out if the starter works as it should. That is why I suggested you to isolate the starter from anything else that could be a problem.

Important! During all tests: Make sure the gears and PTO are in neutral.

Go with the battery that is installed. Make sure that only the two fat cables for positive and negative are connected to the battery posts.
Change the connections at the starter, according to the attached picture.
Make a connection between the upper post nut to the small lug with the screwdriver.
The starter should crank the engine, it will not start since the fuel solenoid is not energized.

If the starter cranks the engine:
As far as I understand, the engine should start with the cluster disconnected.
Disconnect the cluster and make sure there is no other damage to the wiring that is left.
If you have removed any wires from the battery posts, put them back.
Put the white connector halfes at the starter back together.
Turn the key switch to "ignition" position.
Redo the screwdriver test.
If the engine starts, take the white connector apart to stop the engine.
Turn the key to "off" position.

If the engine started in the test above, you can try to start with the key switch:
Put the white connector halfes at the starter back together.
Put the connector back on the small lug on the solenoid.
If you have removed any wires from the battery posts, put them back.
Try to start with the key switch.

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I’d like to write the recommended procedure in my own words to make sure I got it correctly.
  • Key ignition off

  • Disconnect the “black with white line” connector off the solenoid slip on terminal.

  • Disconnect white connector with double red wires at starter positive lug.

  • With a screwdriver, jump the slip on solenoid terminal to large lug energized by positive battery cable.

  • If the starter motor cranks I can then proceed to an actual start up with the instrument cluster disconnected.

  • Re-connect solenoid slip on terminal connector and double red wire connector

  • Turn the key switch to "ignition/on” position.

  • Redo the screwdriver test.

  • If the engine starts, take the white connector with double red wires apart to stop the engine.

  • Turn the ignition key to "off" position.

  • If the engine started in the test above, you can try to start engine with the key switch. (Instrument cluster still disconnected).

  • Put the white connector with double red wires at the starter back together (solenoid slip connector should still be connected from last test)
  • Try to start with the key switch.
Do I try to hand turn before any of the above tests? Does some of my cluster connectors need to me installed? Most specifically the RPM gauge thick black screw on cable?
 

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That looks correct (if I am correct), leave the cluster disconnected from the beginning.

I coloured some of the wiring diagram in order to make tracing the wires easier, in a PDF. If you look near the starter (4), you see the connectors you open before the first test. That disconnects the entire system from the starter, only the battery and the starter are connected. It does not matter what you do with the key switch (8) (or anything else, for that matter).

During the next test the connector on the red wire is closed. You have power to the system, but the starting circuit is disconnected from the starter. You need to have the key in "ON" position because of the fuel solenoid (18). Perhaps there are other positions, I mean the position the key is when you normally drive the tractor.

Last test means everything connected as usual, apart from the cluster.

I can not see that any of the cluster functions is needed to start the engine, same goes for the tachometer cable. However, examine the harness wiring at the cluster connectors so there is not more disasters like the ones on the cluster.


I mentioned the water intrusion just to make you aware of the possibility that it could happen during a heavy rain. If the exhaust pipe/muffler is OK and you are certain that water can not get in, you are fine. You never know who you speak to on the Interwebs, I could not know if you were to tow start the tractor. Full speed and releasing the clutch can do a lot of harm if there is water trapped. I do not think there will be a problem when cranking with the starter, other than a sudden stop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Thank you for the clarification and awesome diagram!!! I understand the 3 tests and will try them tomorrow with a full day of sun.

I am a female new homesteader. I moved from the city to live in the woods. I will always research my brain out to hopefully ensure I don't make irreversible mistakes, like tow start with water in cylinders... I don't even know how to tow start and I don't think it is even possible with the bucket on the ground ;)

On another topic, do you know how to test the "neutral safety relay"? I have the OEM relay and bought an after market replacement. I thought I'm supposed to use the multimeter OHM setting, but both relays don't make a chime noise regardless of the terminal configuration I touch.
 

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I suppose the relay is one like this:

I do not think that I have ever measured the resistance on a relay. I just test a relay by connecting leads to the pins and see if it works as it should.

The relay in question has four pins: two "COIL", one "COM" (power in) and one "NO" (power out, Normally Open).

Between the two "COIL" there should be a resistance. I looked at some random car relays, and they differ from 80 to 300 Ω.

Between a "COIL" tab and any of the other two tabs, there should be no continuity (open circuit).

Between "NO" and any of the other tabs, there should be no continuity (open circuit). At least between "NO" and "COM".

If you energize the coil (ground to one tab and +12 V to the other), there should be continuity between "COM" and "NO".

There are some soldered gadgets at the "COIL" tabs. I do not know what they are, but there may be some resistor/diode configuration that will disturb the meter readings. I would hook up the relay and see what it does, instead of measuring.


You are absolutely right, easy does it. Think twice and do it once.
Seems like you have plan, and that will reduce the amount of work considerably.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Here are my test results:

Test #1 (cluster disconnected, solenoid disconnected and red cables disconnected; screwdriver jumped): Only got a single click on solenoid.

Test # 2 (cluster disconnected, solenoid disconnected, red cables connected and ignition on; screw driver jumped): Nothing happened, no spark no sounds.

Test # 3 (cluster disconnected, solenoid connected, red cables connected and ignition on; turn key to start): Nothing happened, no spark, no sound

I chose to disconnect the battery cables, hook up another spare (fully charge) battery using jumper cables (shown in photo below). These are the results:

Test #1: activated starter motor

Test # 2: tractor engine belt moved some turns, but was super sluggish.

Test #3: rapid sound click at start solenoid no belt rotation

I tried both batteries with the jumper cables and both produced the same results. Perhaps the cables are bad and the engine is slightly locked? I do not know how much the belt/fan would move if locked; It did move a couple turns with jumper cables performing test #2.

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Here is a picture of the style relays I have. There are no numbers on the inside only difference is the terminal colors. I’d love to learn how to test them? View attachment 75281 View attachment 75282
Sorry, I see now that there are three different relays depending on date of assembly. It is good to have the tractor's model code, serial number and date of assembly, and present them when you ask something.

Your Omron G8MS-1A45T corresponds to the Panasonic CA1a-12V-N-5 that New Holland shows for Part Number SBA385230300:

Datasheet for the Omron relay:

Datasheet for the Panasonic relay:

The relay has no diode or resistor, so if you measure the coil resistance, you should read 90-110 Ω for the Omron. The Panasonic should be 72-88 Ω.

I have attached a picture with pin designations like on the relay in my former post. You can test your relay as described in that post.

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Here are my test results:

Test #1 (cluster disconnected, solenoid disconnected and red cables disconnected; screwdriver jumped): Only got a single click on solenoid.

Test # 2 (cluster disconnected, solenoid disconnected, red cables connected and ignition on; screw driver jumped): Nothing happened, no spark no sounds.

Test # 3 (cluster disconnected, solenoid connected, red cables connected and ignition on; turn key to start): Nothing happened, no spark, no sound

I chose to disconnect the battery cables, hook up another spare (fully charge) battery using jumper cables (shown in photo below). These are the results:

Test #1: activated starter motor

Test # 2: tractor engine belt moved some turns, but was super sluggish.

Test #3: rapid sound click at start solenoid no belt rotation

I tried both batteries with the jumper cables and both produced the same results. Perhaps the cables are bad and the engine is slightly locked? I do not know how much the belt/fan would move if locked; It did move a couple turns with jumper cables performing test #2.

View attachment 75283
I have to think about this, hope someone else can chime in with some ideas.

The starter solenoid/contacts can have issues. Did you test the starter motor directly? If not, use the jumper cables.
Connect both leads to the battery.
Connect the positive lead first, to the nut on the lower stud on the starter.
Quick and firmly, press the negative lead to the starter body (bare metal) and see if it cranks better.
Sparks will occur.

The engine can have issues, you could remove the glow plugs, redo the cranking and see if it turns better. The starter will not have the compression to struggle with. If there is water inside it will come out of the plug holes (some of it at least). But I doubt that water is the problem after your test results.

There may be a problem with the clutch/flywheel. I am not familiar with this tractor model, if there is a possibility for water to get in, you may have rusted or swollen parts in the clutch. On the other hand, if all gears and PTO and what not is in neutral, that would probably not give an excessive load.

On older Fords there was a weep hole at the bottom of the bell housing. The idea was that liquids that got in to the bell housing could be evacuated through that hole and not causing damage to the clutch. See if you can find a hole, if you find one, make sure it is open (poke around in there with a piece of wire).

Is the air filter/inlets/manifold OK?

Take off the fan belt and see if the alternator and water pump (maybe there are more things driven by the belt?) turns freely.

If so equipped, power steering pump and other hydraulic pumps that are directly driven by the engine, could be a problem. I think it is far fetched but possible.
 

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I have been following this post for its entirety, I would suggest you pull the glow plugs and check for water, the electrical's are incidental to the starting of the engine, the fact you have connected directly to a donor battery with jumper leads and the engine turn sluggishly suggests water in the cylinders, when you have commented that the tractor ran great before the rain.

You have also replaced the starter and battery, so that should tell you something, try this, pull the glow plugs, hook up the donor battery with the jumper leads as Hacke instructed and you have done previously, crank engine and see if it will spin with the glow plugs out, should there be water in the cylinders, this will come out in a blast from each glow plug hole, so beware, if this does happen, crank the engine for short bursts while watching for moisture being ejected from the holes, if and when this clears up, replace the glow plugs and connect the bus connections or the wiring to the glow plugs, and with the donor battery still connected, get yourself a length of insulated wire and strip each end enough to push into the stop solenoid connector and the other end to the positive on the solenoid, this will arm the fuel circuit for starting, bridge across the solenoid spade and positive pole as before and see what happens, you may need to have another length of wire to heat the glow plugs just prior for the engine to start, wrap one end around a glow plug and with the other end touch the positive on the solenoid for a matter of seconds and remove, then try and crank engine.

To stop the engine should this start, disconnect the hot wire to the stop solenoid.

Once the engine is running, you can follow through with the circuits.

$$$$$$ Make sure the tractor is in neutral and brake on. $$$$$
 
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