New Part for Old Your Gas Tank

Recently I was introduced to a new part for the purpose of straining gas from any dirty tractor fuel tank before it reaches the sediment bowl (see Picture 1). It immediately caught my eye as a much needed part for many old tractors with fuel system problems. Ironically, it closely resembles one of my “will fit” parts used to solve in-tank contamination that was discussed in the July 2009 issue of Green Magazine article entitled “Fish in your gas tank.” In it (on page 62, at the bottom of the page), you will see the new paper sediment bowl filter that I recommended, but also I talked of rolling up a brass sediment bowl screen and then sticking in into the inlet of the sediment bowl assembly and crimping the end over. The purpose of this crude filter was to keep dirt and bits and pieces of debris in the gas tank from entering the inlet of the sediment bowl. Sediment bowl assemblies all have inlet passages that make a sharp 90 degree bend before the fuel enters the bowl assembly and is then filtered by its screen or filter. When debris is present in the tank, it tends to lodge in the sediment bowl’s passageway before it gets into the bowl. This is the purpose for and/or the reason why I used the rolled up brass screen in the inlet of the sediment bowl.

Now it seems Steiner Tractor has a manufactured and more refined version of this crude filter that I had used available for sale. Meet the new in-tank fuel filter for the inlet of your sediment bowl assembly. Picture 2 shows a John Deere sediment bowl and shut off assembly with my homemade filter in the inlet of the assembly and the new filter alongside of it. You can see what this new part is for and where it goes. It is labeled as a “fuel valve tank strainer” and it is meant to fit into the inlet of your tank valve and keep the tank debris from clogging up your fuel system. As you can see, it is very nicely built with a brass tube that fits into your fuel valve and a very nicely constructed and soldered round strainer that measures 1-1/2 by one-quarter inches that sticks vertically into the tank. This new part (I feel) is a good one and the price is less than $10.

However, there are some refinements or let’s call them additions that I feel are necessary to have made it more adaptable. The brass tube that is meant to press fit into the fuel valve inlet is approximately 7/32nd inches in diameter. This will fit properly in the inlet of SOME fuel valves, but not all of them. I found that most inlets are larger in diameter than the 7/32nd inch and therefore the strainer assembly is loose in it. For this, the instructions that were included with the part say to wrap the brass inlet with tin foil until it fits tightly into the inlet of the sediment assembly. I tried this method but was not happy with the results. When the brass end of the strainer is wrapped with tin foil to enlarge its diameter and then it is assembled into the inlet, it can easily be forced back and forth, crushing the tin foil, and the strainer is once again loose. I feel that splashing gas back and forth inside a half full tank would have the same effect on the strainer. Good things could turn to bad in minutes if you now had a fuel strainer, some tin foil and debris in your gas tank.

It would have been a good idea here if the manufacturer had gone one step farther and included with the strainer a few items to adapt the strainer to any sized inlet. Here is what ol’ Doc recommends. In the case of this standard size sediment bowl, the strainer end is smaller than the inlet. I found that by installing a small o-ring over the strainer’s inlet tube, it tightened up and was held in place very well (see Picture 3). One can put more than one o-ring on the inlet if desired, but you get the idea here.

As for the John Deere fuel valve, I found that the strainer was too loose also, but the small o-ring trick would NOT work because the opening was too small to install the strainer with the o-ring added. For this, I used a piece of electrical tape cut in half lengthwise, wrapped tightly around the strainer inlet and then installed into the John Deere fuel assembly (see Picture 4). This procedure made for a very snug fit for the strainer in the inlet and I feel it would be a better method to use than would the tin foil idea. The strainer and its intended use are a good thing in my book; it just needs some “refinements” and it would be a good idea if the strainer came with a few extra items to adapt it to any inlet opening size. Maybe the manufacturer was in a bit of a hurry to get this piece on the market. I wonder where the idea came from for the design of this part?

Now onto the second topic regarding old John Deeres—jumpy clutches. Many of you have one, but you’re just not going to admit it. Perhaps if we looked inside the shed where your John Deere 720 is parked, we would see nothing else parked around it or maybe if we looked at the shed wall in back of the rear wheels, we would see some dents in the wall and some vertical tire tracks there as well in that same area—all signs of a jumpy clutch. My purpose in writing on this topic is not to go into what would be the complete clutch overhaul to stop the clutch “jumpies,” but rather to inform you of a small, inexpensive, easy to install and sometimes overlooked part that can help you smooth out the clutch engagement of your JD hand clutch.

Picture 5 shows the hardened Belleville washers meant to be used under the three adjusting nuts on the clutches on the two cylinder 20 and 30 series tractors. Its original John Deere part number is listed as AR21803R, but has been revised to R21647 (Picture 6); look closely and you’ll see that the package even indicates they are made in the UNITED STATES! The ironic thing about this part is that it is not listed as an item number, nor is it pictured in the parts breakdown. It IS listed under the three clutch operating bolts as a separate part, but again has no item number and is not shown in the picture breakdown. The washers can be purchased in a set of five at the cost of about $1.50 each washer.

Now let’s review what a Belleville washer is and what it does. A hardened Belleville washer is NOT a flat washer; it is slightly cupped. The hardness of the washer and the cupped shape of it gives it a spring like effect when the washer is made to press flat. If these washers are placed under the three clutch adjusting nuts and the clutch is adjusted properly, they will have a cushioning effect on the engagement of the clutch members. They will slow down the jerky effect of the clutch engagement; that was the original purpose of these washers. The PROBLEM with these little guys is that they don’t last 60 years like the rest of the tractor has. Because of their hardness and because they are very thin, they tend to break and fall apart. When one does break, the rest are sure to follow. Now you have a situation where the adjusting nut is being pulled directly into the clutch adjusting disk. The cushioning effect is gone and the engagement of the clutch becomes very jumpy.

Take a look under the clutch cover of almost any well used John Deere two cylinder at the three adjusting nuts and what do you see—usually an assortment of nails and baling wire holding the adjusting nuts in place instead of cotter keys. Frequently, you will not even see the correct slotted nuts on the end of the three bolts. Most of the time, under the nuts you will find either no washers or an assortment of thick or thin soft metal flat washers or even an occasional lock washer in place of the intended Belleville washer. Many times, simply by taking the adjusting nuts off and replacing them with new slotted ones and then installing (Picture 7) a Belleville washer, one each under the nut, and then properly and very evenly readjusting the clutch, you will greatly improve the clutch feathering action and get rid of those “jumpies.”

The washers should be installed with the dished side toward the clutch adjusting disk to be effective. And since these helpful little washers are almost free, why don’t you get rid of those half worn out clutch disks that are all glazed over (yes, that means all three of them) and really make that clutch slide in nicely. Of course, this does not fix those clutches that are badly worn out internally and need new clutch dogs and the pivot holes rebuilt. In these cases, further “surgery” will be needed. Ol’ Doc always tries to take you down the path of least resistance FIRST in an effort to keep those old Deeres “deering.”

These clutch washers that I have spoken of are mainly listed under the 20 and 30 series and are not listed for the 820-830 and some others. I wonder, though, if they would help ANY old hand clutch Deere in an effort to smooth out that engagement. I will be doing some at home experimenting to find that answer.

I have much more to write about, including the use of that mystery pull meter gauge (we spoke of it in last month’s issue) when my plowing gets underway. For right now, our demonstration of it must be delayed for lack of any DRY GROUND in the area to use a plow in. In fact; after the most recent downpour of three-plus inches of rain, I feel it most important to get these words off to press before my mailbox floats away!

Until we meet again, happy trails