Engine Stalls after 30 Seconds Due to Fuel Blockage

I just purchased a Ferguson TE-20 and it is not working good. I am a fair mechanic, but a complete novice with tractors. The tractor starts and runs for 30 seconds, stalls and then will not start again. Initially, I removed and cleaned the fuel bowl and this seemed to solve the problem for a few subsequent starts. The problem reoccurred the other day and emptying and cleaning the fuel bowl is not working. I see what looks like a metal fuel filter after I remove the glass bowl. Could this metal filter need cleaning? How is it removed, by screwing it out? Or do you have any other suggestions?

There are at least 2 and usually 3 filter screens in your fuel system. Any or all of them could be plugged or need cleaning. I am not sure which sediment bowl assembly you have as there were three different ones used originally. There should be a round brass screen in the top of the sediment bowl valve assembly. Once the sediment bowl is removed, remove the gasket and you should be able to gently pry the screen lose. The later style Ferguson sediment bowl assemblies, which could have been used as a replacement for the original, have a filter that looks like a 1/2″ diameter cylinder approximately 1″ long. This filter hangs down from the valve casting and is removed by gently unscrewing the base. This filter is made up of a stack of metal discs that form the filter.

There should also be a filter inside the tank, attached to the top of the sediment valve casting. This filter is a cylinder of brass screen around the two standpipes that the fuel is drawn threw. You have to drain the fuel tank and unscrew the entire sediment bowl and valve casting from the fuel tank to clean or inspect this filter screen. It is also possible one or both of the standpipes is plugged but I will not go into that right now.

There is a filter or should be a filter inside the carburetor, soldered to the brass fitting that screws into the side of the carburetor, where the fuel line is attached. To remove this filter you have to disconnect the fuel line, screw a compression nut like the one on the fuel line into the brass fitting and unscrew it from the carburetor. Screwing a compression nut into the brass fitting before you attempt to unscrew it will prevent the fitting from being damaged when you unscrew it.

The two standpipes in the top of the valve casting that extends into the fuel tank can become plugged with debris. This often happens when the gas in the fuel tank evaporates leaving a varnish residue in the fuel tank. The pieces of varnish or other residue from inside the tank plugs these inlet pipes. The valve on the sediment bowl casting has two settings, “main” and “reserve.” When the valve is unscrewed 2 turns from closed, the fuel is drawn through the taller of the two standpipes. This leaves about a gallon of fuel in the bottom of the tank as a reserve. When you unscrew the valve all the way, fuel is drawn from the shorter standpipe. You may have to remove the sediment valve assembly from the tank and flush out the tank to remove the debris. In extreme cases you will have to remove the fuel tank and take it to a shop to have it flushed out and possibly sealed and coated to prevent it from rusting. Radiator shops often do these fuel tank repairs. This kind of varnish and debris occurs when fuel is left in the tank and evaporates over time. The fuel turns to varnish as it dries up leaving a dark brown residue in your fuel tank.

Your fuel line may also be plugged. To check it, disconnect the fuel line at the carburetor, then open the fuel valve on the sediment bowl. If the flow is restricted, you will have to remove the fuel line and blow it out. In extreme cases you may have to push a wire through the fuel line to remove the debris. Check the flow at the sediment bowl before reinstalling the fuel line. If fuel flows freely from the connection on the sediment bowl, the problem is likely a plugged fuel line.

Water in the fuel can also cause fuel to be blocked within the carburetor. The passages in the jets and orifices are so small that water can plug them. Adding a “dry gas” (winter fuel line antifreeze) product to the fuel should allow the water to flow through these passages.