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Discussion Starter #1
I've been having a problem starting my 16 hp onan. Up until today, jigging the Forward/Reverse lever a bit would do the trick.

I know I have a good battery, but the dumb thing won't crank at all. Nothing.

Any tricks or tips on how to get this thing to start?
 

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The fact that jiggling the forward/reverse lever used to allow it to start seems to suggest that you may be dealing with a neutral safety switch that is out of adjustment or worn out.

There is a group of 3 switches located under the dash (just rearward of the battery). One is the neutral start switch (tan & dark blue wires), another is for the neutral light (red and red/white wires), and the last is wired into the ignition / seat safety switch circuit (tan & white wires). When the travel lever is moved to the neutral position, it should activate all 3 of these switches (if not, adjustment may be necessary).

If the adjustment is okay, the next thing to check for would be a defective switch. Since all 3 switches are the same, a quick test is to unplug and swap the connectors between the neutral safety & neutral light switches. Assuming the neutral light switch was okay, this will now put it in the neutral start circuit and allow the engine to crank if there aren't any other issues.

If that doesn't do the trick, you could be dealing with a bad ignition swtich, bad PTO switch, or bad electrical connection. A test light or voltmeter along with the wiring diagram (available in the operator's manual) can be used to check for power at each point along the circuit until you locate the trouble spot.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The fact that jiggling the forward/reverse lever used to allow it to start seems to suggest that you may be dealing with a neutral safety switch that is out of adjustment or worn out.

There is a group of 3 switches located under the dash (just rearward of the battery). One is the neutral start switch (tan & dark blue wires), another is for the neutral light (red and red/white wires), and the last is wired into the ignition / seat safety switch circuit (tan & white wires). When the travel lever is moved to the neutral position, it should activate all 3 of these switches (if not, adjustment may be necessary).

If the adjustment is okay, the next thing to check for would be a defective switch. Since all 3 switches are the same, a quick test is to unplug and swap the connectors between the neutral safety & neutral light switches. Assuming the neutral light switch was okay, this will now put it in the neutral start circuit and allow the engine to crank if there aren't any other issues.

If that doesn't do the trick, you could be dealing with a bad ignition swtich, bad PTO switch, or bad electrical connection. A test light or voltmeter along with the wiring diagram (available in the operator's manual) can be used to check for power at each point along the circuit until you locate the trouble spot.
I noticed my Neutral light was also not lighting up. It was blink every once in a while while jiggling the F/R lever.

Based on this, do you think swapping those wires will still allow me to start the machine?
 

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I noticed my Neutral light was also not lighting up. It was blink every once in a while while jiggling the F/R lever.

Based on this, do you think swapping those wires will still allow me to start the machine?
If the switches are in adjustment, yes.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
OK...how do I know he switches are adjusted correctly and how do I adjust them if they're not?
 

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OK...how do I know he switches are adjusted correctly and how do I adjust them if they're not?
Its probably in the threads Gordy supplied for you but switches will make an audible click sound, when their levers are moved. You'll have to pull the battery and give them some slack. The sound may be strong, or faint. Listen closely as you move the lever with your finger. Then make sure the switch actuator moves through that operable range.

Even if they pass that test, the neutral safety switch may no longer be able to carry the current required for starting. Thats when switching the wires as Ray described, will be the next test. Some have installed relays, as a more permanent fix. See Gordy's link.
 

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OK...how do I know he switches are adjusted correctly and how do I adjust them if they're not?
As Dave said, listen for the audible click of the switches as you move the travel lever into the neutral position. I have seen some instances of only 1 or 2 of the switches being out of adjustment and it can be hard to tell if all 3 are clicking or just 1 or 2. So with the travel lever in neutral (and the battery removed for easier access), try to manipulate the switches by hand (gently try to push the little metal lever on the switch closer to the plastic switch body). If the switches are properly adjusted, they will have already clicked into position with the travel lever in neutral so gently pushing on the levers should not result in any of them clicking. But if you do hear a click, that indicates the switch is out of adjustment and not being activated.

The stack of neutral safety switches is attached to a carrier bracket with 2 small screws. The switch(es) can be adjusted by loosening (but not removing) those 2 screws and moving the switch(es). The amount of adjustment available is limited by the size of the mounting holes in the switch. So if more adjustment is needed, the little metal actuator levers on the switches can be bent a little bit. But be careful with this, it doesn't take much to make a difference.
 

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Kre, I don't know about your 4016, but on my '87 446 I had the same problem - jiggling the travel control lever so that the neutral start switch would allow it to start. On my 446 the travel control lever itself needs a good ground for this to work. I solved my problem by running a separate ground wire from the battery NEG to the lever shaft attached with a ground rod clamp. Problem solved and no jiggling since.
Bob
 

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Kre, I don't know about your 4016, but on my '87 446 I had the same problem - jiggling the travel control lever so that the neutral start switch would allow it to start. On my 446 the travel control lever itself needs a good ground for this to work. I solved my problem by running a separate ground wire from the battery NEG to the lever shaft attached with a ground rod clamp. Problem solved and no jiggling since.
Bob
Hmm. First I've heard of that one.

I did get improvement by tightening the blue wire at the starter and adding a ground wire from the engine to the frame but eventually, that wasn't enough either. I switched the safety switch wires and it worked fine. Meant to switch them back and add the relay but then the 3016 became available and with no room for 3, that one was sold.
 

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Hmm. First I've heard of that one.
Yeah, what Bob described can be an issue on the 200/400 series tractors since they make use of the travel control lever itself to form part of the neutral safety switch circuit to ground. That all changed with the 3000/4000 series since they use micro switches that only need to be mechanically actuated by the travel control lever.
 

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Well, I stand corrected. It worked for me on my 446, but since I have no experience with 4000 tractors, I probably should not have commented.
Bob
 

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Well, I stand corrected. It worked for me on my 446, but since I have no experience with 4000 tractors, I probably should not have commented.
Bob
Thanks for posting about that. As most of my tractors are the older ones, and I had not heard of that fix before. (y)

Gordy
 
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