Tractor Experts - some assistance

Tractor here is a 90s era, Ford 1920. Maintained by the former owner of the barn…poorly.

Yesterday after running just fine for around an hour, it started running really weird and then stalled out. I still had 1/4 tank of diesel according to the gauge (although who knows whether that is accurate). There was a puff of white smoke when it stalled. Then it would restart and run but very sluggishly, and then stall again.

We originally thought perhaps I had run it out of diesel (the gauge being potentially unreliable), but after putting more in, couldn’t open the bleeder at the fuel filter since the bolt appears to be stripped. The bleeder at the injectors did not get any fuel, which made me think maybe there was some sort of blockage at the fuel filter.

I went back 3 hours later and tried it again, it turned over, ran sluggishly for a second, then I jammed it in gear and floored it (trying to get it under cover since it stopped in the middle of my paddock). It did then run, got it under cover and out of the paddock and sounded normal and ran perfectly until I turned it off.

I am no diesel expert…but my current theory is that perhaps there was some sludge in the tank after running it lower than I had before that somehow blocked the filter or the pipe to the injectors that I managed to put enough pressure on while flooring it in gear??

I don’t know, it doesn’t sound super likely, but nothing else I am finding really helps with the diagnosis. Any tractor experts have any?

I 110% had this problem when I ran the fuel too low and got gunk in the fuel pump. Had to drain the tank, dismount the pump, blow it out, and blow out the line to the tank. Royal pita and one hell of a learning experience, but was totally doable for me with zero experience in this stuff.


Ahh thank you! I thought it was something like that!

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