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Engine stalls on PTO engagement

Greg 9 year old tractor, 1st issue, so I can't complain to much -- but, after about 30 minutes cutting grass, the engine intermittently sputters and wants to but doesn't quite die. If I disengage the PTO, the engine is fine. I read old posts which seem to suggest the seat switch, but that doesn't make sense since the engine runs fine with the PTO off.

I check for loose/frayed wiring and didn't find any. Interestingly, I removed the Hella 4RD selonoid which has 4 wires going to it. The tractor seemed to start and run fine without it. What is its purpose in life?

Mark Hi. You didn't mention if your tractor was Gas or Diesel. I had a problem with my diesel lawnmower that only seemed to bother under load and took between 20 minutes and a half hour to surface. It would start to sputter and sometimes would stall. In my case it appeared to be a fuel supply problem. I took the fuel tank apart and discovered sediment floating in the tank would collect around the pick-up tube and block off the fuel supply. When the tractor stalled the sediment would drop off the screen on the pickup and it would be OK for awhile until it collected again around the fuel pickup screen. The tractor wouldn't bother at idle the tractor had to be under load and then it would take 20-30 minutes before the skipping and stalling problem would surface. Not sure if this is your problem in your case but I would share it is as it is something to check. This problem I had was a pesky problem and it defied logic. It took awhile of troubleshooting before I figured out what was actually going on. Hope this information was helpful and Good Luck on your troubleshooting and repair. Regards Mark
Dana What model tractor are we talking about? Could this possibly be a fuel issue? The engine requires more fuel while under load.
Greg The tractor is a scotts gas powered 16 hp/42" deck automatic transmission. I don't think it is the fuel system since it has new gas and the fuel filter is pretty new. The situation ocurrs after about 30 minutes cutting the grass. I don't think it is the seat switch since the engine continues running as soon as the PTO is disengaged. The seat switch should shut the engine off regardless of PTO engagement position. Another intereting thing is that the engine will recover if I go into reverse. As soon as I go back to forward or neutral, it starts to sputter and want to stall, but it usually recovers. Also, anyone know what the relay is for that I mentioned in my original post? The tractor seems to work fine without it!
bontai Joe My theory is that your battery is marginal, and after running for a while, the charging system can't recharge the battery, supply electic for the ignition and current for the electric PTO at the same time, and your ignition is cutting out. But I'd also check your connections on the battery for tightness and that they are corrosion free. Also check the other end of the negative wire for good clean connection to the frame. You saying that the tractor runs better in reverse can also mean that there is crap in the fuel tank and it sloshes out of the way of the fuel pickup as stated above. So check the free stuff first, the fuel tank, wire connections, and get the battery load tested.
Greg Thanks for the thought, but the battery is new last year and always cranks the engine well, and all the connections are tight, no frayed wires, etc. I checked the fuel tank, and it is clean and the filter is not clogged. I am sure it is electrical because the instant I turn the PTO off, the engine runs smoothly.
Greg follow-up: it is not a fuel problem, it is electrical. I removed the electrical relay located behind the engine and under the corner of the gas tank (tank is behind engine, not under seat). I'm not sure all this relay does, but everything works fine now with no stalling. In fact, before all this the engine used to always sputter and stumble when I engaged the PTO, now it doesn't do that at all.

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