I own a Case IH 585 tractor manufactured in England around 1988. It is in reasonable condition and, as components failed, such as the starter and ignition switch I replaced them. A number of items don’t work such as the differential lock -to get around this I try not to get bogged down (it weighs > 7,000 lbs and is too heavy for me to tow) but when I am incautious and a rear wheel begins to spin in the mud, I press on the brake pedal related to the spinning rear wheel and this stops the spinning wheel and the differential then begins to turn the other wheel and, with some luck, this gets me out of the mud. Also the temperature gauge never worked but I assumed all was ok, until one hot hay when I was chipping trees, the engine seemed to get hotter and hotter and began to smoke. I quickly stopped chipping operations and made a beeline for the tractor building.
Replacing the tractor’s thermostat
My first thought was that the coolant in the radiator had leaked out, but the radiator was full. My next thought was that the thermostat which regulates the movement of water through the radiator had locked up in the closed position and no water was circulating. So I disassembled the side panels, undid the relevant hose, accessed and removed the thermostat and placed it in boiling water and it appeared to be operating ok. Nonetheless, since this was an old tractor and the stat could fail at a future date and I had gone to all the trouble of removing it and new stats were not too expensive, I bought a new one and inserted and tested it and the engine still overheated. At this point I felt I needed a functioning temperature gauge and since the panels were removed and everything accessible, I bought a generic gauge with sensor for about $15 and replaced the old gauge and sensor. But the problem was not corrected. I thought maybe the water pump was not working but the manual showed the pump was a simple propeller driven by the fan belt turning the pump pulley. I loosed the fan belt and turned the pulley and it turned easily so I assumed the problem was not the pump. Also the radiator fan turned easily and so I concluded the fan was not the problem. So I had adequate coolant, no blockage in the system and a functioning water pump and radiator fan – what was the problem?
Working on the tractor’s radiator
I thought the problem had to be the radiator – maybe the cores had rusted up and the water wasn’t passing through them. Accessing the front of the radiator was a real challenge since it was behind a steel guard which had been fitted to the tractor as an aftermarket option. Eventually after going through contortions to get to the bolts, which held it all in place, I was able to look at the front of the radiator and, immediately, I saw the problem. It was covered in dirt, and feathers (who knows where they came from) and was so clogged that the air from the fan could not get through the radiator fins to cool the water pipes located in the fins. After vigorous brushing (taking care not to damage the fins) and vigorous water hosing, I was able to remove the layers of grime.
I tested the tractor on a hot day and the temp rose to the level at which the thermostat should open and then the temperature stayed at that level – so the overheating problem was resolved and I now had a functioning temp gauge to help monitor against future overheating and potential engine seizure.