Monday, October 17, 2016

3020 Conversion

Although not a picture of the 3020 my Dad bought for $1000 sight unseen that had been stored in a barn for a couple dozen years, it looks identical, or at least did until I got my hands on it. During the rainy day we had awhile back and another more recently, I have been working to convert the 3020 from a 24V electrical system to the standard 12V electrical system so that we can use the tractor to run augers on the farm. Unfortunately due to the length of time it has been taking, lack of rainy days and a fast progressing harvest, it might be next year before it actually runs an auger.

The 24V 3020 was known for one thing, dash fires caused by electrical malfunctions. It is rare to find one that hasn't been converted especially since the one my Dad bought is just two years shy of turning 50 years old!

When we started on this project, I thought it would be as simple as swapping out the batteries and changing around a few wires but that turned out not to be the case. The starter had to be replaced to have equivalent starting power on a lower voltage. This was accomplished by making the starter bigger which intruded into the fuel filter area which meant a new fuel filter mount and fuel lines. One odd thing about this tractor is the fuel filter is on the opposite side of the fuel pump which meant some delicate work to get the new lines routed. I ended up doing that twice since the first fuel lines my Dad bought were for the wrong model year and they changed them between years.

On the other side of the tractor, I had to replace the generator with a modern alternator to charge up 12V batteries instead of 24V batteries. The bracket that came with the kit looked like it had been built by a high school kid in his first welding class and was crooked at could be. I ended up torching the welds off of everything and rewelding the bracket from scratch. It now looks sturdy and holds the alternator properly so the belts line up.

This tractor has two 12V batteries hooked in series to run it. My Dad initially bought two 6V batteries to hook in series to convert it to a 12V (total) system. However, when I started hooking up wires, I realized that all the gauges and lights were 12V. They ran from one battery before but if I did that the same this time, they would have half the voltage required. It was looking like I was going to have to completely rewire everything to get it to work. He had bought the 6V batteries thinking that keeping them wired in series would be easier and cheaper since most his other tractors also use 6V batteries. However, using two 12V batteries wired in parallel (meaning the total system is still 12V), would allow all the lights, gauges and such to be wired off one battery as it currently is while still allowing us to convert to 12V system wide and eliminate the fire inducing (and very expensive) components in the dash.

I should mention that all the parts in the conversion cost about $300 or $400, while replacing the components in the dash that cause the fires (and did so in the one we bought sometime in the past) cost several thousand dollars to replace.

So the new batteries should arrive today and I'm hoping with another morning, I can finish wiring up everything and give it a try. We also changed out the fuel and oil filters with their corresponding fluids along with new crankcase fluid and new radiator fluid. Although we have a couple nice days starting tomorrow, there is more rain in the forecast for later in the week. I'm kind of anxious to see if all my tinkering will make this thing work.


Vince said...

What was it that caused the fires. Surely the juice would burn out the wires before it flamed, a bit like a fuse. And why didn't they discover this in the factory long before they shipped them.
(chuckle) Still a different time. Nowadays they'd be a vast recall before a class action could gain momentum a la the VW telling porkies about the diesel emissions.

Kelly said...

A 50 year old tractor? I guess that shows you're not just paying for the name, but for actual quality in a John Deere. Our larger tractor is a JD, but our smaller one is some off brand (a mistake both my husband and his cattle partner made, but I won't get into that tale here) that my husband has never been happy with. In an earlier life he had a Kubota that he loved and he's regretted not going that route with his small tractor.

I still admire your handiness with equipment like this.

Bob said...

Another delightful glimpse into a world I know very little about. I know that's one beauty of a tractor though.