Last weekend I was having trouble starting my 1927 Tudor. I occasionally lost all electrical power, too - including horn and lights. Today I changes my spark plus and tried to start the car, but the starter didn't turn over at all. Nothing. Any thoughts on what the issue could be? I'm getting horn and lights again. Battery is 2 weeks old.
Same old same old Eido.......ground ground ground....... ;)
Eldon, battery connections as well as ground strap. Be certain you have proper heavy duty cable and factory type groundstrap. I repeat myself for emphasis.
Pardon me. Eido. Eyes, well, you know.
1 Check cable connections, including ground.
2 Can you turn the engine by hand? If not, the Bendix may be jammed. In that case, put the car in gear and rock it back and forth.
3 Could be a bad starter. If it is, the good news is that you shouldn't need it. If everything else is up to snuff, a Model T starts easily by hand. After all, the first 2,831,426 had no starter.
Good news is that this weekend's planned project was to rewire the entire car, including battery mounts. Lots of wrenches, screwdrivers, and sockets standing by.
You should start by removing the cables from the battery. Clean those connections with a sharp knife so that the lead terminals and connection areas are shiny. That's your problem. You might have bad wiring too, but the connections still need to be clean.
After you assemble the shiny cables to the shiny battery posts, coat the battery connections with axle grease. They will not give you another problem.
Starter switch. If your using an original or repo, look no further.
THOURGHLY clean the frame to ground strap surfaces. Especially the FRAME surface. If this one isn't clean and fairly bright it will never be as good as it could be. It ALL starts at that point.
"Battery is 2 weeks old."
But is it fully charged?
Update: I checked the battery and its full. I replaced the battery wires while I was at it, so they're new. Battery is properly grounded to the frame. So I'm pretty confident my issue is not the battery. But when I press down on my starter switch, nothing happens. I can hand crank it, but that's a pain as my 27 Tudor is very tight.
So is it more likely to be a bad switch? Bad starter? Something else?
Check the switch and what size battery cable. Tractor supply cable is not big enough. I use #2 copper welding cable and good heavy solder on ends.
What do I check the switch for? It plunges, but nothing happens when it goes down. So what should I be looking for?
Check with amp gauge, amps going in = amps going out.
Think of electricity as "juice" going around a closed pipe or circuit, from one side of the battery to the other. If there's a fault anywhere in the circuit, it can't flow.
If your connections are good (clean and tight) and your cables are internally intact, then there are two places the circuit can be faulty.
The easier one is the starter switch. It's a very simple device, wherein your foot mashes a piece of metal down so that it makes an electrical connection between its two poles. Original Model T starter switches are known to arc and burn the metal of the poles and the connector, and refuse to make good contact. The easy way to check whether the fault is in the switch, is to bridge across the two terminals with a wrench or big screwdriver. If you get sparks and the starter spins, the problem is in the switch. You can take it apart and repair it, or replace it, or put a solenoid in its place (details elsewhere).
If you've determined that the circuit is all good, including the switch, then your problem is probably the starter itself. Before going in to it, I'd do one last test - use a light bulb or volt meter between the starter's input post and bare metal somewhere nearby, and see if you get a light or reading when the button is pressed. If so, the starter needs to be removed and opened up.
CAUTION: Before removing the starter, you must remove the tin can over the Bendix drive and remove the Bendix drive from the starter shaft. If you try to remove the starter with the Bendix on it, you run a very high likelihood of damaging your magneto coils, and that means pulling the engine and a difficult and expensive repair.
Listen: do you have a set of jumper cables? If so hook them up to your battery with it's clean connections. Attach the positive from the other end to the cable terminal on the starter then ground the negative to the engine or frame. Cranks? Starters OK. So if your battery & connections are OK too it's most likely the starter switch. If you have lights power is at least getting to the switch.
You said your battery is full so I assume (which might get me in trouble) that you checked with a voltmeter. While the "jumping" methods above will work there's some risk of arcing or accidentally hitting the frame and shorting to ground.
Personally I would use the method described by Milt Webb here
The whole point of hooking it up the way it's described is to prevent arcing at the starter terminal and possibly wrecking the threads. Of course there's going to be a spark when you ground the neg. jumper cable end which is why you do it in a relatively "safe" spot on the left engine /frame area.
That business listed in the starter site isn't necessary in this situation. He has 2 possibilities: the starter is N.G. or an open circuit as in bad cable / connection or bad switch. A bit of savvy a set of jumpers and possibly a test lamp is all that's needed. Keep it simple.
Battery was tested with a voltmeter, yes. I didn't think the old spark on tongue method was reliable here.
Let's start with he easy stuff before we start with more complex or risky stuff. I'd like to isolate the starter switch. Do I need to remove it to check it? Any risk there?
My gut tells me the starter switch is the culprit here.
Try what I suggested. It'll eliminate the starter. Again I'll ask: do you have lights? If you do power is at least getting to the starter switch and feeding the terminal block on the firewall. With a test lamp or any style voltmeter and an assistant to hit the switch for you you can tell if the power is getting through the switch. Or pull the floor boards and you'll be able to check it out the switch yourself.
Why not attach a jumper cable to the cable terminal at the starter side of the switch and touch the other end to the cable terminal at the battery side of the switch? If the starter moves, that shows the jumper is conducting the current but the switch isn't. Switch not working. Mystery solved. If that doesn't move the starter, try it with the jumper attached to the cable terminal at the starter and touch the other end to the battery post. If the starter doesn't move then, and the ground and battery are good, the problem is the starter.
Yes, I've got strong lights and horn.
OK, good. You've got juice to the power side of the starter switch. Next eliminate the starter with the jumper set-up I suggested OR check the switch as I suggested. Good luck. Hope it's the switch.
Steve: what you suggest will work. One problem: You'll notice I suggest you hook the + end of the cable to the starter terminal and use the - end to complete the circuit. The reason is that even if the starter is working perfectly it's as close to a dead short as you can get and you're going to get sparking/arcing that might wreck the threads on the terminal making you cry when you try to remove the cable if you have to.
You can accomplish a lot with a volt meter;
1. Put the volt meter to the battery and hit the starter switch. A small voltage droop is expected. A major voltage drop says the battery is no good or needs charging.
2. Move the negative of the volt meter to the body of the starter and repeat the test. You should get the same result as on the first test.
3. Move the positive to the starter connection and test. You should get close to full battery voltage reading with only a small "droop". If you get NO droop then the starter is defective.
To remove the starter you need to remove the Bendix FIRST!!
It is inside the little tin cover opposite the starter. Remove the furthest end bolt only. Watch for a small "woodruff" key, it is important!!
Not to sound argumentative, but as soon as the positive post on the starter is hit since the starter is grounded?
... or are you suggesting he disconnect the cables from the battery first in which case I agree that would be the safest way to arc.
If you suspect the starter switch and would like to try the voltage drop test V3 on the diagram is the one you care about. A good switch will show 12V when not depressed and around 1v when depressed.
Sorry not sure how to edit post above. Meant to say as soon as post is hit it will arc am motor will spin.
I was at Eido's house last night. The battery is good - 6.34 volts. We replaced the ground cable after cleaning up the frame where it is attached. The previous owner also had a cable going from the frame to a bolt on the motor - just to help ground the motor better. We also installed a new cable from the battery post to the starter switch. I have 6 volts at the starter switch now, where before we had nothing.
I took the starter cable and bypassed the starter switch. I got sparks and I assume the noise I heard was the starter engaging. The car was running previously, so I assume the starter switch is at fault.
Later we were able to start the car by cranking her, but the timing needs to be corrected because the crank went backwards on me and I need my wrist!
Eido and his family would love to be able to just drive the car around the block. I took my speedster over and gave everyone a ride.
So I removed the starter switch today. No easy task as the bolts were pretty rusty, but I got it out. I cleaned the thing top to bottom with a wire brush. I cleaned the plunger, the posts, the cable connections, everything. I got the copper shiny. Pulled it all back together and a couple kicks later, the starter kicked right on.
I've clearly got some other issues to deal with now, but no action from the starter switch is one less thing I need to deal with. For now.
Thanks for the help everyone. This listserv is truly the best.
Now that the switch problem is solved, I guess the next thing to fix is that kickback Dave mentioned: http://dauntlessgeezer.com/DG97.html
Eido is going to rebuild his coils and then we will work on the timing. Im sure he also has babbit thrust washers so that is a future project. Havent looked at his bands yet, hope those are still good.
Some old tractors use a starter switch similar to one on a T. I replaced mine with one from Tractor Supply.