Atco De Luxe Fourteen

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Cunners
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Atco De Luxe Fourteen

Hi all,

New member here from Melbourne Australia. I've been reading lots from the forum but have now signed up.

I have picked up an Atco De Luxe 14 which I'm trying to get running as my very first restoration. It's been fun so far.

The clutch to release the rear roller was stuck which I have now fixed after reading the forums - thank you!

I'm now trying to get it to run and have cleaned everything out and it won't turn over. I've searched high and low across the internet for a manual but can't find one - does anybody have one? 

I'd really love some instructions on how to troubleshoot it not starting. I really have no idea if it's the sparkplug, the engine or something else. 

Sorry for the beginner questions!

Luke

wristpin
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Welcome.

Welcome.

A lot of questions!

”Won’t turn over” Do you mean that the recoil starter rope will not pull out?  It could be that the engine is just stuck from standing , or at the worst it could be seized.  However it could also be that the main clutch (under the cover to the left of the engine) is stuck in the engaged position and pulling the rope is attempting to turn the cutting cylinder (blades) that may also be stuck.

I would perhaps work backwards from there, slacken the cylinder adjusting screws a turn and see if the cylinder can be turned - may be with the gentle assistance of a lever between the blades. It should be free to move without force. Possibly it’s own bearings are seized, but if it moves observe what the clutch is doing while you attempt to turn it. If the clutch is trying to turn the engine, it’s plates are possibly seized together.

Have a poke around and report back!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/mdy191an7wx5m2o/Atco%20De%20Luxe%20Owners%20Ma...

 

hortimech
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Whilst I don't know of a

Whilst I don't know of a manual for your exact machine, you can get pretty close with these two:

https://www.oldlawnmowerclub.co.uk/sites/default/files/opmanual/Atco%20C...

https://www.oldlawnmowerclub.co.uk/sites/default/files/opmanual/Suffolk%...

The first is for the later Commodore but apart from the engine is very similar, the second is for a Suffolk machine and this has the same engine as your Atco.

 

Cunners
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Thank you both! That's

Thank you both! That's fantastic.

Sorry, I could have been more specific. The starter cord pulls, the engine spins and when clutch isn't in, blades spin. It just won't start.

I found on the forum last night (it's the morning here now) about how to check if there is a spark or not. If it's not the spark lead or plug I'll keep focusing on fuel supply I guess!

The manuals will help greatly, thank you. I'm pretty excited to have this running, we're in spring moving into summer so it's peak lawn care time here.

Well done on such a great Forum. You all inspired me to take the leap and try this out.

Cunners
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I just read the starting

I just read the starting procedure in the Suffolk manual... Maybe trying to start it properly is the first thing I'll try when the sun comes up!! Again, sorry for the beginner questions!

Cunners
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I just read the starting

I just read the starting procedure in the Suffolk manual... Maybe trying to start it properly is the first thing I'll try when the sun comes up!! (Particularly pursuing tickler until fuel just starte to appear - I hadn't been trying the tickler much) Again, sorry for the beginner questions!

gtc
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Welcome to the OLMC Forum.

Welcome to the OLMC Forum.

Hopefully you'll get that Atco running, but in the meantime a couple of questions: What type of grass do you have, and how flat/even is the ground?

Reason for asking is that cylinder mowers work best on very flat lawns that are free of stones, twigs, etc, and are mowed regularly and thus kept short.

 

Cunners
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Hi GTC,

Hi GTC,

I have a large kikaiyu lawn which I look after well but don't necessarily think the Atco will be great for. I'm more interested in the restoration side of things and getting it up and going. I'll definitely give it a go on the lawn but it's no bowling green and under no illusions there!

I replaced the spark plug today and adjusted the points. It won't turn over still. I don't think it's sparking well. I just went out in the dark and had the plug out sitting on the body of the mower attached to the cable and I couldn't see a spark. I could manage to give myself a bit of a jolt when just holding the cable without spark plug though but nothing too major. 

Any ideas on how to troubleshoot sparking? The connection to the spark plug is clean, and I adjusted the points today, is there anything else I can look into?

Thanks all!

 

gtc
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Any ideas on how to

Any ideas on how to troubleshoot sparking? The connection to the spark plug is clean, and I adjusted the points today, is there anything else I can look into?

If you've replaced the plug with a brand new one, and there's still no spark, then assuming the high tension lead (i.e. the spark plug cable) is not broken internally, then either the magneto coil is faulty or the condenser is faulty, or possibly both. Given that you have felt an electrical jolt, I'd try replacing the condenser first.

To test the ignition without a plug, I use a screwdriver thus. Put the driver tip into the HT lead connector (which is usually pushed onto the plug) and hold the driver a few mm away from the engine while cranking the engine. You may need two people for this, one to crank. Make sure you hold the driver by the insulated handle! If the coil and condenser combo is OK, then you should definitely see a spark.

In my experience, it's very common for Atcos to be abandoned when the ignition system fails.

 

 

Chris G
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Good advice by GTC on

Good advice by GTC on condenser & coil.

Also, you will probably not see a big spark so it maybe worth getting help when pulling it over to look closer if there is one - unless you have a tester.

Are you getting fuel through at this point? can you smell or see fuel on the plug electrode after you have been pulling it over?

 

wristpin
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Before you tear the engine

Before you tear the engine apart, just check that the lack of spark is not caused by a faulty plug connector/cap, particularly if it is one of these

Unscrew it from the end of the plug lead and hold the end of the lead 5mm from bare metal and pull the rope. If you get a spark , you will know where the problem lies.

if you do have to venture into the magneto there is a fair chance that you won’t find a condenser; at a certain point in production they switched to a coil incorporating the condenser within its casing.

 

gtc
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Yes, you may find it's a

That model is too modern for me, but you may find it's a "breakerless" type magneto ignition.

wristpin
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That model is too modern for

That model is too modern for me, but you may find it's a "breakerless" type magneto ignition.

From the OP's original images the machine would appear to have the Suffolk Iron Foundry's cast iron block engine and breakerless electronic ignition was not fitted until the first update of the the later alloy block engine.

 

Cunners
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Thank you all for the very

Thank you all for the very helpful advice. I'm pretty sure there is no spark. I've tried with and without the connector in the dark and can't see any spark at all. Before looking into the coil and condenser, is there a chance the high tension cable is damaged? Is there a way to check this? 

If the points aren't correct, will that cause a failure to spark too? I used a feeler gauge to set then but it wasn't an exact science by any means. 

wristpin
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Checking the HT lead without

Checking the HT lead without dismantling is limited to a visual inspection of the bit that you can see. Points - did you clean them properly before setting the gap and then again afterwards to remove any contamination from the feeler gauge? 

gtc
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Further to wristpin's reply:

Further to wristpin's reply: electrical continuity of a piece of wire is usually checked with an ohmmeter (part of a multimeter). Another way of ding it is with a battery and a light bulb, using the wire in question as part of the test circuit.

Regarding the points, in the points and coil type of ignition system the spark occurs when the points open. If they never open then there will be no spark. If they open at the wrong time, then the spark will occur at the wrong time in relation to the position of the piston in the cylinder. Ideally, the spark should occur just before the piston reaches top dead centre on the compression stroke.

If the condenser is weak, then the spark efficiency will be poor and the points will eventually burn out due to unwanted arcing across them. If the condenser has gone short circuit internally, then there will never be any spark because the points have been completely bypassed by the bad condenser.

If the coil itself has failed internally, then there will be no spark.

Any reputable mower repair shop will be quickly able to test those components for you.

 

hortimech
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The points being dirty was

The points being dirty was the main cause of there being no spark, to clean the points correctly, you will need to remove the flywheel. Do not try pull the flywheel off with a two or three legged puller, you will very probably damaged something. If you examine the flywheel, it is retained with a 9/16 AF left handed nut, either side of this are two 1/4 UNC holes. Undo the crankshaft nut (remember it is left handed), do not remove it, leave it flush with the end of the crankshaft, now find a piece of bar, at least 3/8 inch thick, but the thicker the better. measure the distance between the two 1/4 unc holes in the flywheel and drill two holes in your piece of bar at the measurement you obtained, these holes need to be just slightly larger than 1/4" to allow for clearance. Now find two long 1/4 unc setscrews (a bolt threaded all the way down) and two nuts. thread the nuts onto the bolts and use the bolts to attach the bar to the flywheel, holding the bar parallel with the flywheel, run the nuts down to the bar and then, tighten them one by one gently until the flywheel pops off the taper.

I hope you understand all that, it is easier to do, than write down how to do it ;-) 

Cunners
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Thanks again to all, feel

Thanks again to all, feel like I'm learning at the least!

So - the points. When I adjusted, I missed the step of slowly rotating the flywheel to watch the points move together and apart, so no doubt I messed that up. Will try again. I didn't clean them either, how would I clean them?

I'm guessing that I'm only getting a spark (probably a weak one) very infrequently if the points are all wrong, if at all?

wristpin
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Points cleaning. If the

Points cleaning. If the engine has been standing a while there may well be a thin layer of corrosion on the face of both the fixed and moving points . This and any greasy mess should be removed. The corrosion is best shifted with either a purpose made abrasive strip - Snap-on used to sell them called "breaker pulls" but they are no longer available in the UK but you can make your own with a strip of Wet or Dry paper glued to a bit of old credit card . Note, Wet or Dry - not emery paper or cloth and probably no coarser than 240 grit.

Rub your abrasive strip between the points to remove any corrosion and then finish off with a strip of thin card with a drop of solvent on it to remove any remaining grit and grease. Pull this between the points but dont pull it right out or the points may grab it and end up with fibres between them which will defeat the objective. Open the points to release the card.

Setting the points. The engine in the images is not a Suffolk but illustrates the principle. I have exaggerated the points gap size in the images for clarity. The points have two screws, screw A clamps them in position and screw B turns with an eccentric action to widen or lessen the points gap. Screw B should never be turned with out first slackening A half to one turn. To set the points rotate the crank until the heal of the points is on the highest position on the cam  - that is the position where you set the points gap. 

 Wide points gap

 

 Points closed

Armed with the appropriate feeler gauge - 18thou on most Suffolk engines, wipe it first to remove any grease _ slacken screw A and use screw B to open the points, insert the gauge and reduce the gap until the points just grip the gauge - no more than just. Tighten A and remove the gauge. If the gauge is held there but is free to swing it is probably about right. That's why I always use a blade removed from the pack of gauges - makes the job easier and you don't have the weight of the pack swinging about and distorting the setting.

 Points just gripping the feeler blade

Finally repeat the card cleaning. 

 Greasy mark on card after final clean.

Job done!

 

Cunners
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Thank you, Wristpin!

Thank you, Wristpin!

I'll give it a crack tomorrow.

This is the friendliest and most helpful Forum I've ever come across. You guys rock!

Cunners
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Woohoo!

Woohoo!

Followed your instructions Wristpin and she fired up with barely a pull! Point gap was fine (I lucked out when I adjusted it and set it correctly, just need a clean).

Thank you all so much. I can now get on with the restoration. Big smiles down here :)

Chris G
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Well worth a bookmark this

Well worth a bookmark this points how to post. 

Good write up!