John Deere Model E Engine Restoration
Jonh Deere Model E: From removing the magneto and igniter to timing the magneto and painting it John Deere green
Crank side of engine. Flywheel removed for clarity.
The restoration of a John Deere Model E is not much different from most makes of gas engines, however, there are some differences. For the benefit of those who have not had much experience in restoring a John Deere I will explain how I go about it. For this article I will assume that the engine we have aquired has been sitting out in the weather for a long time and that every part on it is stuck. This is the way I have found most of mine.
It is not advisable to turn the flywheels on these engines even if the engine is not stuck. The reason for this is that the magneto or igniter may be stuck even though the rest of the engine is free.
The first step I take in restoration of my John Deere Model E is to remove the magneto from the engine. This is done by first removing the 3 machine screws that hold the magneto cover plate to the crankcase cover. Next, remove the 3 bolts that hold the crankcase cover to the block and remove the cover. Remove the six machine screws from the governor cover (the plate with name and serial number) and remove the cover. If working on a 3 HP engine use care not to lose the spring on the cam follower. It will jump out when the cover is taken off. The 1 and 6 HP engines do not have this spring. The magneto is attached to the engine block with two bolts from inside the governor case up into the base of the magneto. Remove these bolts and set the magneto with gear attached off. If the magneto is not stuck, you can test it with a 6 volt flashlight bulb. I use a 6 volt hunter's head lamp. Attach 1 wire to the terminal of the magneto and the other wire to the body of the magneto. Hold the magneto upright on a flat surface and spin the gear with your hand. If the magneto is strong enough to run the engine, the bulb will burn fairly brightly in flashes. If the magneto is stuck, remove the four screws from the end plate and carefully slide the end plate off the shaft. Remove the nut from the other end of the shaft and using a small gear puller remove the magneto gear from the shaft. Do not use a great deal of pressure with the gear puller. If gear will not come off, spray with penetrating oil and try again in a day or two. When the gear is removed clean the armature and the inside of the magneto body with WD-40 and a cloth, but do not soak the armature of body. Check the collector brush (on top) and the ground brush (in end plate). If these are worn out, replace with new ones. Re-assemble the magneto and if it still does not light up the bulb, take it to a dependable magneto repairman. Caution: The bushings in a John Deere magneto are not pressed in. They are cast into the white metal. Any attempt to press worn bushings out and replace with new one will result in a cracked magneto body and end plate. The only way the bushings can be replaced in a John Deere magneto is for a person with a good turning lathe and a good knowledge of how to use it to turn out the old bushings very thin and make new bushings to fit inside the old ones. Do not attempt to drill out the old bushings with a drill press. The tolerances required for the armature are much too critical for this. If your magneto needs any major repairs, let an experienced repairman do it. You will be dollars ahead.
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