HAND CRANK STARTING
Electric starting systems were optional on most tractors until the 1950's. Batteries were not as reliable as now, and electrical systems were more a luxury than a necessity unless you needed to operate at night or were unable to hand crank the tractor (due to injuries, age, etc.). Besides, a well-tuned tractor was easy to start. Farmers who relied on hand cranking probably kept their tractor tuned better than most of us with electric starters.
Hand starting two cylinder John Deere tractors was accomplished by turning or “rolling” the flywheel. If the tractor has electric start, there is a ring gear on the flywheel covered by a shield. In this case, a special crank pin is inserted in the hub of the flywheel to start the tractor. The steering wheel is removed from the steering shaft and placed on the crank pin to turn it.
Tractors with in-line engines have a crank sticking out the front of the tractor beneath the radiator. Pushing the crank back into the front pulley or crankshaft engages the crank pin so you can spin the engine. A spring holds the crank out from the engine during operation on many tractors, and the crank is removed from other tractors during operation.
As tractors got larger engines, and especially when diesel engines were introduced, electric starting became a requirement. Some of these larger engines could be started hand, but a common practice was to use what my cousin calls “downhill batteries” (not a safety specialists preferred starting method).
The purpose of this article is to share
basic safety practices for those of you who must start tractors and engines
by hand (or just like to show off).
You will be very close to exposed rotating parts when hand starting any engine by hand, so safety is of the utmost importance.
Your hand cranked tractor does not have any of the modern safety interlocks that prevent starting in gear. Runovers are the second leading cause of death related to farm machinery (overturns are the leading cause of farm work deaths). Please make sure you don't make the headlines: