Starter Problem

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2014: Starter Problem
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jared Antonino on Saturday, November 08, 2014 - 06:52 pm:

Why do I keep going through starters ? I make sure my battery is charged, all my connections are tight, ground is solid.??? Also I have never been able to start my TT on the magneto are drive with it, so I am not really sure how that one works, could someone explain it to me?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Peter Claverie on Saturday, November 08, 2014 - 07:14 pm:

Your two problems are not related, except as noted below.

The starter, if properly set up, is usually good for many years, except in two cases: One, you crank for so long that it overheats, and two: lots of oil gets into it and causes connection problems at the commutator. Condition one is related to the engine's ability to start, and two has to do with the seal at the front end of the starter. You don't elaborate on "going through" starters - what happens to them when the fail, and what do you do about it?

The ability of the magneto to run the engine depends on several factors.

The magnets have to be charged (or magnetized). They can be re-magnetized if they are 'dead,' and the usual reason they are de-magnetized is that someone allowed battery current to be connected to the magneto - thereby de-magnetizing the magnets.

The windings need to be intact all the way around. The most usual reason they are not is that someone removed the starter from the engine without first removing the Bendix drive from the starter. This almost always destroys a part of the winding. This requires engine removal and tear-down to repair.

The pickup from the magneto (that post-thing on top of the transmission) isn't making proper contact with the blob of solder below it. It could be lint keeping it from contact, or it could be bent, etc.

The wiring, or most likely the switch, is not properly carrying the voltage from the magneto to the coils.

If all is correct, your engine will actually run better on the magneto than on the battery, as discussed many times. It's because the mag puts out AC current, properly timed to the rotation of the crank, and that gives a better spark.

You can do a search on the Forum for tips on testing the magneto, and for re-magnetizing the magnets in the car.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By HARRY A DAW on Saturday, November 08, 2014 - 07:16 pm:

Could you explain a little more what is happening? Are you having to install rebuilt starters? Will the engine start on battery? Will it start by hand cranking it?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jared Antonino on Saturday, November 08, 2014 - 07:34 pm:

I have a local shop rebuild the starters, when they fail they will not even spin and they will spin but they do not have enough torque. Usually I do not crank it long enough to make the starter overheat . Peter explain oil getting into the starter and causing problems with the commuter


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ron Patterson-Nicholasville, Kentucky on Saturday, November 08, 2014 - 07:36 pm:

Jared
90+ year old used original Model T starters commonly fail. Have you every had your starter properly "rebuilt"?
Your magneto should be properly checked to determine it's health. Have you done this?
Give me a call during the day when I am in the shop and we can discuss. 859-881-1677
Just a word of caution though, I have no silver bullets. Just proper trouble shooting procedures and you spending money to fix what's wrong. Model T's weren't like this when new! If you looking to type into your computer "FIX" and these two problems go away forget it.
Ron the Coilman


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jared Antonino on Saturday, November 08, 2014 - 07:41 pm:

I can only hand crank the engine when the engine is warm, I inherited my model t from my grandpa and I can not remember him hand starting it unless the engine was warm.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jared Antonino on Saturday, November 08, 2014 - 07:47 pm:

Ron I think you rebuilt my coils last year, I am learning as I go, I have not checked the health of the mag. What do you consider properly rebuilt ? I have a electrical shop locally rebuilding them.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John F. Regan on Saturday, November 08, 2014 - 08:22 pm:

The starter may indeed be your problem but if you continue to have problems with them you might want to try someone in the hobby to rebuild your starter. I have many modern shops around me since I live somewhat near Chicago. ALL of those shops will rebuild my starter or generator but NONE of those shops actually have a clue and many local friends have tried a few of them with the same device and gotten a different diagnosis on the same device from different shops. I wonder if you are aware that you cannot use modern 12V battery cables on your 6 Volt starter system. That will produce slow starter speed and low torque as will having one of those troublesome "MASTER DISCONNECT" switches on your battery. Those are trouble too.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jared Antonino on Saturday, November 08, 2014 - 08:42 pm:

John, I have been wondering that myself on the cables, if they are not large enough in size. I got the cables from Mac's a few years ago and i do not have a master disconnect. I can find 2 gauge wire from the starter button to the starter itself, but can only find 4 gauge for the battery to the starter switch.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dennis Plank on Saturday, November 08, 2014 - 09:13 pm:

I put new double 0 cables on my TT recently. It cost me $9.00 per foot plus ends at my local parts store but it does turn over much faster now.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim Thode Chehalis Washington on Saturday, November 08, 2014 - 11:28 pm:

The standard gauge for the 6V system is 1/0 gauge. Any smaller will cause problems. 4 gauge is way too small.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Peter Claverie on Sunday, November 09, 2014 - 04:27 pm:

Here's the rule of thumb: A given electric motor (starter) turning a given load, will draw amperage pretty much inversely proportional to the voltage. As the voltage goes down, the amperage goes up. That's why when they doubled the voltage in a car to 12 volts, they could get away with smaller (read cheaper) cables.

A cable supplying electricity to the motor (starter) that is not heavy enough to carry the current without loss, will do two things: At initial in-rush, it will supply less than the required voltage. Second, as it heats up, which it will do rapidly, its resistance increases. That means even less voltage to the starter.

If you have any part of the cabling to the starter that is less than 2/0 in size, that may explain why you're burning up starters. The starters will overheat because they are drawing waaaaay too much amperage, and it's just a matter of time....

My suggestion, after you get past the decision to replace your too-small cables, is to install a "starter solenoid," which is a relay designed for the enormous in-rush current of a starter. You then let the floor button activate the solenoid. The floor switches get pitted and rough, and they impede the flow of that much current. The solenoids are available at tractor supply dealers, Model T parts dealers, and some auto parts houses. You want one for 6 volts. It will cost you in the neighborhood of ten bucks, plus some labor to make a bracket and install it.

That will probably solve your starter problem. You'll get more raw power from the starter, which will spin the engine faster, and as a bonus the starter will not heat up and destroy itself like it has been doing.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jared Antonino on Sunday, November 09, 2014 - 04:36 pm:

I would put the solenoid in-line with the starter and the switch correct?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Gregush Portland Oregon on Sunday, November 09, 2014 - 04:40 pm:

I think he was talking about what he could find off the shelf replacement local. "I got the cables from Mac's a few years ago and i do not have a master disconnect." I would think even Mac's would sell the correct gauge cables.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Peter Claverie on Sunday, November 09, 2014 - 04:42 pm:

I've just gone back over this thread, to make sure I was giving you advice that may be helpful.

You say that you can only hand crank the engine when it's warm, and your grandpa had the same problem.

That indicates to me that there is too much friction somewhere in the drive train when it's cold. That could ruin starters as well - especially if their voltage is low.

I can think of two most-likely reasons the engine is hard to turn when cold.

One, the bearings are set too tight. This would indicate that someone who did some serious work on the engine (re-babbiting, etc.) didn't properly shim the bearing caps. This is not too hard to fix, lying on the ground under the car. Easier if you take the engine out.

The other reason is that the high-speed clutch pack is dragging, especially when cold.

This could be caused by improper adjustment, or by too-thick oil for the temperature. Or both.

The easy way to check this off the list is to carefully feel out the crank resistance (key off) on a cold day, then jack up a rear wheel and try it again. If the clutch is dragging, there will be a huge difference in the effort to crank the engine. That's a relatively easy fix. Change to a lighter oil and adjust the 'fingers.' If there's no discernible difference, it's probably internal in the engine itself.

Hope all this helps!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Peter Claverie on Sunday, November 09, 2014 - 04:48 pm:

I mount the solenoid as close as practical to the old starter switch. Usually bolted to a cross-member. Then the cables attach to the posts of the solenoid rather than the old switch. You have to make sure the cable from the battery is connected to the proper terminal, usually marked +.

Then, you activate the solenoid by grounding the small terminal on top of it. It gets hot juice from the big cable, which is why it is necessary to connect the big cables correctly.

You run a small wire from the small terminal on the solenoid to one side of the floor switch, and another from the other side of the floor switch to a convenient ground (usually one of the solenoid mounting bolts). Done.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Peter Claverie on Sunday, November 09, 2014 - 04:55 pm:

Okay, so I was off by 100% on the cost.

http://www.tractorsupply.com/en/store/switch-dr1465


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jared Antonino on Sunday, November 09, 2014 - 06:48 pm:

What is the proper adjustment for the bands ? I am guessing that is what you are referring to as the fingers ? Pete I appreciate all the help you are giving me. I live in Utah and most of the old timers have passed away, I am younger than most model t owners. I try to research problems and read manuals, sometimes the school of hard knocks is the best.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jared Antonino on Sunday, November 09, 2014 - 06:50 pm:

Sorry Peter not Pete


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chester Leighton on Sunday, November 09, 2014 - 07:14 pm:

You can use welding cable which is sold in many different sizes at Tractor Supply and is reasonably priced. They also have the terminal lugs as well. You can crimp or solder them on. I [refer crimping for battery cables.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ron Patterson-Nicholasville, Kentucky on Sunday, November 09, 2014 - 07:55 pm:

Chester
1/0 welding cable is fine. Silver (for strength) soldered terminal lugs.
Crimped connections can corrode causing high resistance and not be visible.
The 6 volt system needs all the help it can get.
Ron the Coilman


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Peter Claverie on Monday, November 10, 2014 - 11:18 am:

There are three "bands" in the transmission - Low Speed; Reverse; Brake. Their adjustment is a routine thing that has to be attended to regularly. In fact the one that wears most, which is the low speed, is adjustable from outside the transmission. All should be loose enough when not engaged that they don't produce a lot of drag, but then tighten completely tight before the pedal hits the floorboard.

The "fingers" I referred to are what pushes the high-speed-clutch plates together to give you, in essence, direct drive between the engine and the transmission when in high gear. They are relatively free from the need for regular adjustment, IF they are properly adjusted the first time.

Here's where we get into a difficult area. It's really hard to describe the operation of a three dimensional setup on the keyboard. My suggestion is that you do two things.

First, get the Ford shop manual on the car. It is readily available from the parts dealers, and it will help you understand the proper operation and adjustment of the transmission.

Second, on a day when you have some time and good sunlight, take the key out of the ignition and put it in your pocket or on your bench. Then remove the front floorboards, and then remove the 6 screws that hold the transmission inspection cover, and remove the cover.

Then take some time to closely observe what happens inside the transmission when each pedal is pressed. Also note what happens when the parking brake handle is let forward -both inside and outside the transmission. This will get you a lot more informed about how the high and low speeds of the transmission operate, as well as the brake.

The "fingers" I referred to are not as easy to see as some of the other parts. They are at the extreme rear of the transmission, and you'll need to do some contortions to see them, and have a good light.

Inside the brake drum, there is a series of metal discs. Every other one is keyed to the shaft, and the others are keyed to the inside of the brake drum. When they are NOT pressed together (neutral), they slip against one another with little friction, because they are bathed in oil. When the "fingers" press them together, they lock to one another and that is what gives you 'high gear.'

The 'fingers' have adjustment screws on them. The screws have lock nuts on them. Adjusting them is something that should be done by someone who has done it before, because it's very easy to mess up. For instance, all fingers have to be adjusted the exact same amount, and firmly locked in position.

If, as I said earlier, the engine turns much easier with a rear wheel jacked up, it is likely that a 'finger' adjustment is in order. The other thing that can cause that is one or more bands too tight. While you have the inspection plate off, if you can have someone crank the engine, it might help you see what's going on. Maybe. But, don't start the engine! You'll get an oil bath.

By the way, I said to take the key out of the ignition, but it's not so you won't start the engine. It's because when the keys look down and see an open transmission, they will arrange for you to knock them with your head, so they can take the opportunity to jump out of the ignition switch and fall into the transmission, where they will play catch-me-if-you-can with you until you finally have to take the engine out of the truck and turn it upside-down. They love the game, and will play it whenever they get the opportunity!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jared Antonino on Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 12:10 pm:

Verdict is in, both starters had failed mechanically. On the one, the lead bushing in the back was completely wore out and needed to be punched out and replaced. The other one, a wire connection had comes off. Have not had a chance to install one yet. Good news I replaced my battery cable to 2/0 and I am courteous on how it will start. What size ground wire does everyone suggest?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Georgetown TX on Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 12:55 pm:

Ground needs to be the same size as the positive lead.


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