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Toro 521 Snowblower with no spark....need help


lthj75's Avatar
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01-10-09, 01:59 PM   #1  
Toro 521 Snowblower with no spark....need help

So my faithful 20 year old Toro 521 Snowblower with Tecumseh engine seems to not want to start this year. Yes, I am *that* guy - the guy who waited to try it when the first snowflake fell. I have a new daughter - what can I say my time (and sleep) are limited!

That said, I tried firing her up today and got nothing. I did normal trouble shooting including initially checking the spark. Which there (initially) was one. I then ripped into the carb and all looked ok. Went back to the spark - and there wasn't one. Seems I only got a spark one out of every 10-15 pulls - now I can't get a spark at all anymore (checked for loose wires). For the record, early on in the trouble shooting, she did fire up for a few seconds twice (assume the spark was there and then not so she quit).

I would hate to put alot of $ into such an old machine, but I'd alos hate to see her put to rest. What can I check with the spark/ignition? Hoping for an easy fix, but then again, is anything easy?

Thanks!

 
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01-10-09, 03:33 PM   #2  
It may or may not be easy, but the ignition system can be pretty simple to isolate problems without a lot of safety switches and you probably don't have a lot of those on that machine.

First replace the spark plug, then check for spark again. If none go to your kill switch and disconnect the wire from it - there should only be one, then check for spark at the good plug end. If nothing and you have no bare wire from the ignition module at the flywheel going to the kill switch, then you probably have either a poorly grounded ignition module or a faulty module. The module is the thing the spark plug wire comes out of going to the plug. Unmount the module/coil clean the grounding surface off and remount it with about .0010 gap from the flywheel. If still no spark, you would have to replace the coil.

Since you have a machine that's about twenty or so years old, if it happens to be prior to '86 you may have a point/condenser setup. That would take a few more thoughts to fix. Try the above first and post back.

P.S Spend your time with your little girl, let the Toro wait.

 
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01-10-09, 03:43 PM   #3  
You can download a manual for you engine at this link.
Steiner Saw Service Is Great

 
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01-10-09, 04:44 PM   #4  
First and foremost - thanks for the detailed reply. To clarify, its literally 20 years old - purchased Oct 1988. I think I can eliminate the spark plug as the issue as I took the boot off the spark plug wire and didn't see the spark jump from the wire to the plug top. Now I just have to figure out how to get the boot back over the coil. haha

You're right - there are not many switches. I have an on/off key, an engine speed adjuster and a choke. That said, I did look at the on/off key and it has 2 wires coming from it....I didn't disconnect and test them but nothing seemed loose.

I'll have to try what you suggested in the order you suggested. One more question, approximately how much does the coil cost? I already found a new replacement engine for $240, which isn't as bad as I thought....thanks again!

 
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01-10-09, 05:35 PM   #5  
Coil should run between $30.00 and $40.00. You will need the engine model and spec. no. to determine the coil it needs. Replacing it is easy.

Enjoy the new daughter and give her all your time you can. She will be grown before you realize it. My baby girl is 37 now.

 
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01-10-09, 06:11 PM   #6  
Frayed wiring

Ok, just did some quick digging (while my daughter was sleeping! ) and I found some frayed wiring! I attempted to take off the rear engine cover. I got all the bolts that hold it on off, but there is a bolt in the back that goes to the drive system that blocks the cover from sliding off (and I can't remove the bolt as there isn't enough clearance for the length of the bolt). Need to work on it more when I have more time.

Anyway - I was able to pull the cover back enough to see the coil. There is a wire coming off of it that runs down and is bolted to the frame down by the carb. It seems to be a ground wire. The wire is exposed for the first 3" and then has a casing. The exposed part looks like frayed spaghetti with only 3 wires still connected.....the rest are all broken. Can a weak ground cause no spark or if those 3 are still connected is that a sufficient ground and not the cause?

Sorry for the dumb questions.

 
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01-10-09, 07:20 PM   #7  
First your ground wire needs to be fully intact to provide a sufficient ground. That would have to be repaired before deciding what is actually at fault.

Concerning your testing for spark. If you have a bad spark plug, you may not get a spark jump to the top of the spark plug. You will either have to test for spark with a known good plug (preferably new) or jump the spark directly to a good ground such as the engine casing.

 
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01-10-09, 07:21 PM   #8  
Posted By: lthj75 Ok, just did some quick digging (while my daughter was sleeping! ) and I found some frayed wiring! I attempted to take off the rear engine cover. I got all the bolts that hold it on off, but there is a bolt in the back that goes to the drive system that blocks the cover from sliding off (and I can't remove the bolt as there isn't enough clearance for the length of the bolt). Need to work on it more when I have more time.

Anyway - I was able to pull the cover back enough to see the coil. There is a wire coming off of it that runs down and is bolted to the frame down by the carb. It seems to be a ground wire. The wire is exposed for the first 3" and then has a casing. The exposed part looks like frayed spaghetti with only 3 wires still connected.....the rest are all broken. Can a weak ground cause no spark or if those 3 are still connected is that a sufficient ground and not the cause?

Sorry for the dumb questions.
I know what you are talking about, bracket under the carb has a silver device with a connector that goes into it, right? Can you post your toro model number please?

 
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01-10-09, 07:25 PM   #9  
Posted By: marbobj First your ground wire needs to be fully intact to provide a sufficient ground. That would have to be repaired before deciding what is actually at fault.
Does that infer that the frayed coil ground wire would not be the cause of no spark? Damn....I was hoping that was the issue.

I did test the spark jumping to the engine case but I didn't include that in my post - no luck.

 
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01-10-09, 07:31 PM   #10  
If you can give us model numbers it would help. We have to decide whether that frayed wire is actually a ground or possibly going to something else.

The other thing is how close the year of it is to the point/condenser years = other considerations. It's better to be sure before replacing parts with the cost of running after them in addition to the cost of buying them.

I suspect you have a bad coil, but we need to eliminate some other things first.

Also, for now, remove both wires from the ignition switch and check for spark again. With two wires running to it that switch provides continuity to a ground to kill the engine. The engine will run without a grounded circuit running through that switch. Sometimes when a switch is bad it grounds to the frame it's mounted in or there is unswitched continuity through the switch.

 
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01-10-09, 07:48 PM   #11  
Posted By: lthj75 Does that infer that the frayed coil ground wire would not be the cause of no spark? Damn....I was hoping that was the issue.

I did test the spark jumping to the engine case but I didn't include that in my post - no luck.
A frayed ground wire unless touching ground would cause no spark. I need the model of the machine, 6 digits. I had a 90 toro 8hp and had this same issue, it had to do with the wiring and grounding and ungrounding of certain components.


Thanks

 
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01-11-09, 06:14 AM   #12  
Once again - thanks for helping me out!!!! Ok - here are my updates:

Model Number: 38052 Purchased new in Oct 1988

Kill Switch: Disconnected the wires to it - still no spark

Here are some pics of the frayed wire from the coil - there are 3 strands fully connected....the rest are broken:







And here is the bolt that is blocking the engine cover from coming off - yet I don't have the clearance to remove it due to the engine cover! Which came first, the chicken or the egg? haha


 
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01-11-09, 07:07 AM   #13  
Loosen the 4 engine mounting bolts, this will allow you to tip engine forward and giving you the clearance needed to remove cover

 
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01-11-09, 07:30 AM   #14  
The frayed wire shown connecting to the coil could be grounding causing the coil to not work, as pointed out by cpgixxer in an earlier post. This wire should connect to the ignition switch so that when the switch is moved to off it grounds the coil stopping production of spark.

Disconnect or cut severe the wire so that it is not connected to the coil and attempt to start the engine and check for spark. If no spark, the coil is bad or air gap between coil and flywheel is not correct causing coil not to operate. Air gap should be 0.0125 inch. You have to access the coil to replace it so use a feller gage or business card (about 0.010 inch) to check air gap.

The Toro Master Parts Viewer shows your blower to have a Tecumseh HS50-67259G engine which has solid-state ignition.

Toro Master Parts Viewer:
https://lookup3.toro.com/partdex/index.cfm?xCaller=Toro

Manual for you engine:
http://www.cpdonline.com/692509.pdf

 
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01-11-09, 10:53 AM   #15  
Thanks - I cut the wire from the coil and I have a spark!

I tried firing her up (wasn't fully back together so I didn't do more than 3 pulls) but she didn't start. But the good news is I have a spark. I'll try getting her back together with a new ground wire for the coil and fired up soon. Thanks all.....if she doesn't run I'll be back asking carb questions.....

 
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01-11-09, 05:11 PM   #16  
Posted By: lthj75 Thanks - I cut the wire from the coil and I have a spark!

I tried firing her up (wasn't fully back together so I didn't do more than 3 pulls) but she didn't start. But the good news is I have a spark. I'll try getting her back together with a new ground wire for the coil and fired up soon. Thanks all.....if she doesn't run I'll be back asking carb questions.....
That'll do it, grounding the coil will cause no spark , isn't working on this stuff fun? I love it! And you'll want to reconnect that ground wire or you won't be able to shut it off with the key.

 
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01-11-09, 06:18 PM   #17  
Posted By: cpgixxer That'll do it, grounding the coil will cause no spark , isn't working on this stuff fun? I love it! And you'll want to reconnect that ground wire or you won't be able to shut it off with the key.
Thanks for your help and to all others who posted! I'm just curious now as to why it didn't start....or even sound like it wanted to. But that's an issue for another day now that I have a spark!

 
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01-12-09, 07:00 AM   #18  
Posted By: lthj75 Thanks for your help and to all others who posted! I'm just curious now as to why it didn't start....or even sound like it wanted to. But that's an issue for another day now that I have a spark!
A motor needs fuel, air, spark and compression to start. If I were to guess it isn't getting gas, are you in Ottawa?

 
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01-12-09, 07:20 PM   #19  
Posted By: cpgixxer A motor needs fuel, air, spark and compression to start. If I were to guess it isn't getting gas, are you in Ottawa?
Nope....New Jersey.....good thing the storm was a false alarm.

 
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