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No spark problem solved.

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Saturday I finally decided to revive my 3410 which I parked about a year ago. I originally parked it due to the fact that it had developed an on-again, off again, rather annoying spark problem. One day the old girl finally quit and absolutely refused to start again no matter how much I fiddled with the points. I pushed my pooped-out 3410 back into the shed and fired up my recently restored 7016 to finish the job. This season, I’m using the 7016 over at my parent’s place, so I really need to get the 3410 up and running once again. I had already installed a new coil (with an internal resistor) before I parked it, so where to start? Okay, I’ve been down this road before, it’s probably the spark plug. Growing up using my Dad’s Allis Chalmers B-10 the first thing to try was to install a new plug. I went to my local hardware store and bought what turned out to be a spark plug made in China. Oops! Back into my pickup, over to Wal-Mart and back home again with a Champion J-8 made in the good ole’ US of A. I checked the gap, installed the plug and ... nothing. Right. Gotta be the points then, probably pitted or burned. I polished them up with some emory cloth and tried again. Nothing. Back into my truck and off to the local hardware store (also a Siimplicity Dealer) for a set of points. Can anybody tell me why a simple set of points costs $25 bucks? I won’t bother telling you where they’re made.

Anyway, 20 minutes later I was back home with the points and began replacing them. Now if you’re an old salt in dealing with these machines, you’re probably saying to yourself, “better replace the condenser too, while you’re at it.” Uh yeah, that was my plan too, but my dealer didn’t have one in stock, it was back-ordered. Sympathizing with my plight, he gave me a similar condenser off a newer Briggs engine. Thankfully, they were only $9.95.

Great, now I’ve got to come up with some way to mount it, because the new condenser is a side-mount while the original was a top-mount. I chisled the bracket off the old condenser, (destroying it in the process, but it’s no good anyway, right?), and used a small stainless steel fuel filter clamp to join the two.

But the points cover wouldn’t clear the clamp with this setup.

I went into my shop, cranked up my big shop fan and had a beer while I pondered my predicament. Finally the light went on! Since I’d switched to a coil ignition, I’d dispensed with the factory ground tab that used to mount to the top screw of the points cover. Hmm, the condenser wire was long enough, how about if I mount the condenser on the outside? Talk about thinking outside the box! As you can see from the photo, it was such a good fit it almost looked factory.

Of course, in order for the condenser to work it must have good solid contact with the block in order to work. How to do this with the cover off so I could set the point gap? That turned out to be duck soup. I rigged up a temporary mount for the condenser while I set the point gap. I grabbed a small aluminum spacer,

mounted the top points-cover screw to the block, (running the factory screw throught the spacer), hooked up the condenser wire and made my adjustments.

I even whipped up a spur-of-the-moment spark plug tester as seen here.

Still no spark, yet I could see the points opening and closing. Since I use a simple toggle switch to power the coil I determined the switch must be bad. I replaced the toggle switch only to discover that “someone” (okay it was me, but that was years ago), had spliced the power lead running to the switch with a solderless connector.

Say, you don’t think... So I ran a new wire from the battery terminal of the solenoid (as it had been before) to the new switch, re-installed the dash panel, steering wheel and battery. I flipped the switch, cranked the engine and saw a nice bright spark at the plug. Success! I re-installed the plug, installed the points cover and filled it with gas. Here’s a close up shot of my finished design. The wire from the points and the wire from the condenser fit perfectly in the factory slot in the points cover.

It fired right up, but something wasn’t quite right, it was rocking and rolling and smoking like a destroyer. I popped it into 1st gear and chugged out of the shed to keep from gassing myself and attempted to adjust the carburetor. Since it was already filling the yard with black smoke, I tried to lean it out by screwing the main jet in. That gave me a few rather loud back-fires, but did nothing to smooth out the engine. I even fiddled with the idle adjustment screw but nothing changed. So, the carb will probably need rebuilding. I tapped the side of the bowl with a screwdriver handle, thinking a piece of crud was stuck in the needle valve, (as evidenced by some gas seeping out of the gasket holding the upper and lower carb body together), so I’ll have to rebuild the carb next week. Storm clouds were rolling in so I used my Ariens self-propelled hand mower to chop down all the weeds. Took me the better part of three hours, but at least it’s orange...and it runs. By the way, the OEM condenser is STILL on back-order, going on week 3 now. So if you run into the old “it’s backordered” routine, try my solution, it worked for me.

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Hey Brian By God you sure have a knack for short story writing if you've got nothing else. Ever try to get published? You had me laughing in a couple spots. As for the prices of tractor parts, they rape us because they can. Let's face it. We stand in line to pay these prices because there is one manufacturer on the planet that makes them. If it's JD, Simp, or Cub, etc., we're goin to the dealer to buy the parts. So all we can do is pay this window and bitch. Whew I feel better now. Hey, good luck with the carb and thanks for the good time. Todd

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You shouldn't be using the original condensor anyway, that is for the magneto coil. You should purchase a condensor for a kohler engine with battery ignition or for any old car with a points ignition which would save some $$. This is one thing that gets overlooked in these conversions alot. The condensor could be mounted at the coil also and no need to go to that extreme.

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Thanks for all the comments. Actually, I'm working towards getting some short stories written. I work on them in, uh, now what's that stuff called...oh yeah, my spare time! :p Rather than just list what I did, I try to make it entertaining and fun, which is why we're all in this club in the first place. ^ If I can save someone some grief who's stuck in the same place, so much the better. FirefoxZ1, great tips! I guess I always thought the condenser had to be next to the points since that's where I've always found them. And this condenser is from a coil-equipped Kohler setup according to the dealer, so I'm okay on that score.

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I had a similar condenser set up, at the coil that is, on a (gasp!)Jacobsen. Never ran right. Backfiring, etc. In desperation one day I unhooked it entirely. Still ran like crap. For some reason I touched the lead to the OTHER side of the coil. Smoothed right out and ran great. I'm not sure if all coils work alike or the polarity can be reversed or anything like that, but it's worth a shot.

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