1020 won't start


New User
My 1020 won't start. It used to start right up but now it only cranks but won't even hit. I tried some ether, but it wouldn't respond to that either. I replaced the switch and the little solenoid because the wire had rusted off it. Anybody got any ideas ? I'd really like to get it going without having to call a mechanic

Gas or diesel?

Did you replace the starter solenoid, solenoid on carburetor, or diesel pump solenoid?
Looking at you other post it looks like you have a gas.
Need to check for spark. Pull the coil wire out of the
center terminal of the distributor cap. Hold it about an
1/8 inch or so away from a metal part. Have someone
crank the engine, it should fire a spark across the gap
a blue fine line spark is best. If no spark you will have
to check into the ignition points under the distributor
Yes, it's gas. It used to start in about 15 seconds after turning it over. Why would it suddenly take a notion to not start ? Will points or condenser go bad that quickly ?
Yes it can quit working overnight. Maybe the points are
right on the verge of no longer contacting properly. A
little extra dampness gets in the distributor and the
extra corrosion disables their ability to contact. Or
maybe the gap gets to close form the rub block
wearing down and they are to becoming to close to
break the contact. Then all of a sudden the
cntact reach the point where they will no longer open the circuit and it will not start.
Check for spark as suggested. If there is no spark start tracing the ignition system down to see where the problem is. Visually check point operation, make sure you have voltage at the coil, ohm the coil to distributor wire, etc.

First off you need to do some checking before replacing more parts.

We don't know your skill set or available tooling. I am not doubting you can find and fix the problem if given the proper guidance from members here. However your mention (in your first post of this thread) of calling a mechanic this quickly, raises some questions as to the level of guidance needed.

The answer is needed to what solenoid you replaced, as wore out asked.

Do you have a test light or voltmeter?

Are you familiar with testing for power with those tools, if you have them?

Are you familiar with doing a tune-up on an engine with points? This is guessing you have points since you haven't said it was converted to electronic ignition.

Do you have the John Deere (or any) manuals for it, so you have the specs and info to test, replace, and adjust parts when needed?

Direct answers to questions asked and the results of checks and testing recommended will help you get the desired results quicker. You are the eyes, ears, and hands for this, no one here, but you, has hands on it.
Check for voltage to the coil with the switch on, if you have it there check for it to the dist. Take the cap off the dist. and check to see if the points are firing across when they open. It may be as simple
as folding a piece of fine sandpaper in half and dragging it through the points. 1020 and 1520 both had some corrosion in the last 20+ years and that was all it took to get fire to the cylinders. You said
ether didn't affect it so it's probably a electrical problem. My E-mail is open if I can help.
I had that happen on my 1020 and on my Gleaner combine. I discovered, quite by chance, that there was
no power to the coil when the key was in the start position. The way that I discovered it both times
was that they fired and started the instant that I let off the key from ''Start''. Both needed a new
key switch.

Hook a jumper wire from the battery directly to the coil and see if it'll start.
Thanks for replying. The solenoid I replaced is what the parts guy called the ignition solenoid. It connects to the circuit breaker bottom post at the ignition switch. It's been years since I messed with points, but I have changed sets in cars. I have a shop manual for the tractor. I will go to JD Tomorow and get a set of points and condenser, and rotor cap but FIRST I'm going to check the coil for fire. I probably ought to change the points anyway, but if the coil is faulty, I might as well get everything in one trip. I very much appreciate you guys trying to help me out.

Could you post a picture of this ignition solenoid that connects to the circuit breaker post of the ignition switch? I can't find such an item in the parts catalog and haven't heard of such a solenoid. No such thing I can find on a gas 2020 or in the manuals. I would be interested in seeing it for future reference as I will say it is new to me.

Test for power to the coil before buying anything. If power is not getting to the coil from the switch, it might be just a broken or loose wire. It is also pretty easy to pop the distributor cap, check for moisture and look at the points. Put a piece of card stock between the contacts and rub them some to clean them. If you put a test light probe on the coil terminal the primary wire going to the distributor is connected to, your light should flash when you crank the engine over, if the points are working.

Which 1020 do you have, the Dubuque built 1020 or one of the Mannheim built ones?
You said you replaced a switch. On my 1020 gas I have had a wire come out of the main wiring harness connector behind the dash panel from vibration. This caused a no start situation on my tractor as
there was no power going to the coil. You may want to make sure you hooked everything back up correctly and that it has stayed hooked up from replacing the switch.

I would also look at the coil and condenser as stated. Are those wires connected and not rusted off or corroded? Also make sure where the wire enters into the distributor body it is not grounding out
on the case itself if the insulation is cracked or missing. I would bet you do not have power at the coil or getting from the coil to the distributor from the sounds of the situation.

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