I have a 1920 runabout. All four coils have been rebuilt thanks to Ron Patterson. The starter motor has also been rebuilt and a new Bendix has been installed. Here is my problem. When I press on the starter switch there is nothing. However, sometimes it does work. Today is the first day it has quit working all together. I cleaned the contacts at the switch and still nothing. I also cleaned the generator and battery contacts in the ammeter. Since I did that, the horn and lights work better and the coils sound louder. The coils buzz and I can hand crank the car quit easily. Do I need a new starter switch? Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.
It might very well be the starter switch. If you take as heavy of a battery jumper cable as you can find, jumper the switch with the battery jumper cable. See if that speeds up the starter. If yes then your switch is the problem. If not then move the jumper cable battery directly at one end and leave the other one on the starter button. If that speeds it up even more then you might also have a dirty or marginal battery to starter switch cable. Finally jumper from battery post to starter to see if that gives you even more speed. By jumpering bits of the starter cabling and starter switch you can see which section(s) of the setup are at fault. Finally it just might be the battery ground connection which you need to clean up. If the starter were to spin at all then you can simply step on the starter button for about 15-30 seconds with key off and then right after that run your hands along the various heavy cables and also over the starter switch and then battery ground cable. Whatever is HOT is a bad cable or bad connection. High resistance produces high heat when the amperage is high so the heat source is also then the problem source. Good hunting and if you see smoke you don't have to touch the thing that is smoking to know it is part of the problem.
Is it an original ? By stating you "cleaned the contacts at the switch" - are you saying you disassembled the switch itself & cleaned the internal contact points ?
There are currently two reproductions switches available - if need be, replace with the one made in the USA - not too many stellar reports regarding the "imported" choice.
Thanks John and Steve. Steve, I think the starter is an original. I have not taken the switch apart as yet. That is my next approach. Any tips on doing that would be appreciated. I took the nuts and washers off the bottom of the switch and cleaned them as well as the post. If all else fails, I plan to buy a switch from Lang's which is made in the USA. Thanks again for your help.
I strongly suggest you add a suitable relay to energize the starter and while you are at it, wire it with the battery ignition switch. This way you get the reliability of a relay and the safety of it not being pressed accidentally.
I say time for new switch. To me, these rank right up there with 96 y.o. radiators...they just plain get old and die!
A couple of years ago, I did something that just didn't make sense.
Because I was getting intermittent and then zero reaction to depressing the starter button, I started doing things like cleaning contacts and checking wiring and replacing the starter switch and so on, until I got to the point of pulling the starter and sending it out for rebuild. _Unfortunately, my '15 Touring had not been built for easy access to the starter, it having been retro-fitted, of course. _That meant lifting the front of the body off the car's frame, and let me tell you, that is one heck of a long, multi-step chore.
Turned out, after all that effort, my problem had been nothing more than a dead battery. _That's right; a stupid dead battery. _I installed a new battery and kicked myself for having sacrificed half of the driving season to a simple mistake. _I could have diagnosed this elementary, uncomplicated problem in less than five minutes with a set of jumper cables.
Thanks guys for all your suggestions. I think it is time for a new switch as the old one is probably 96 years old. The battery is charged as the lights and horn work.
Another possible point of trouble is a bad connection between the engine and the frame. Try a jumper cable from the bolt which holds the starter to the hogs head to the frame or directly to the negative terminal of the battery. Sometimes there is good enough conductivity to operate the lights, but under heavy current load of the starter, it has too much resistance.
And, once you've identified your current (no pun intended) issue, you might consider adding a 6v solenoid into the starting circuit to take the surge away from the starter switch.
Run battery cable and starter cable to the solenoid with two smaller wires to your starter switch.
Upon activation, your starter switch is just activating the solenoid and letting the solenoid doing the heavy lifting.
Here's mine bolted out of sight using existing frame holes, no cannibalization needed.
I replaced mine with one from a farm and home store. It was for a tractor and I had to modify the mounting bracket. Tractors of that vintage were 6 volt sonit is heavy enough and works ok.