Yesterday, my son tried to start the 1926 roadster and it didn't sound quite right when he hit the starter switch. He tried it a couple of times, and we resorted to towing it to start it. It ran fine. Later, he tried again to start it with the starter, but got the same result.
Today, I worked on it a bit and can't seem to figure it out. I took the cover off, removed the Bendix starter drive parts, and reassembled them. I cannot see any obvious problems with the starter drive parts.
When I hit the starter switch, it spins briefly and then seems to freeze. There seems to be plenty of power, but it just stops trying to start it almost as fast as it engages. Every time I hit the starter switch, it tries, but freezes the same way each time.
I know I am not offering you much information to work with, but I am not sure what else to describe. Any thoughts on what is causing the starter to freeze?
Eric, when you say "it spins briefly and then seems to freeze", are you saying that the starter spins the engine briefly, then stops? Or it doesn't engage at all?
The drive gear spins real fast down the shaft/spindle for a split second and then stops.
How new or tight is the engine? Have you checked the battery voltage? Why didn't you use the crank?
Engine is about 25 years (since last rebuild). It's tight and really only starts by hand cranking after it is warmed up. It is so tight that doing a cold start with the hand crank is just too hard. Once it warms up, a handcrank start is easy. Once it warms up, a handcrank start is easy.
It sounds like a bad connection in the battery - to - starter circuit (the big wires). When the starter is spinning freely the connection can handle the load, but when the Bendix engages the flywheel the amperage load goes sky high, and the connection breaks down.
After trying several times to start it, feel every connection and wire along the circuit. Chances are the bad one will be hot. Very hot!
If you don't find it that way, take every connection apart, including the battery post clamps, and clean and tighten the connection.
Then try shorting out the starter switch with a metal bar or something, in case the bad connection is inside the switch (a possibility).
Lastly, the connection to the post on the starter motor, inside the housing, can become loose. Before you dig into that, try one more thing - take your jumper cables, and use your new car's battery to provide voltage directly to the starter's connection post and a good ground. If it doesn't spin the engine then, you've got a problem inside the starter.
One last possibility - a bad connection inside the battery. This can happen, and it can be dangerous, because it can make a spark and explode the battery. Always protect yourself from spraying acid when putting a load on a battery when things aren't working exactly right.
Starter terminal bolt to buss bar connection failure?
You might take a look at the RING GEAR on the flywheel---These tend to wear and might be causing you problems---Paul
When your starter locks by jamming the ring gear, you will not be able to turn the hand crank either. If you rock the car back and forth front to back and back to front in high gear, it will usually unlock the starter and then you can turn the hand crank.
If your problem is on the ring gear, you might find that by turning the crankshaft by the hand crank, just a little bit the starter will then engage. The engine tends to stop in one of two positions when you turn off the key. If you can turn the crank about 1/4 turn, you will align a spot where the starter does not usually hit the ring gear. The only way to fix the ring gear would be to pull the engine and separate the flywheel from the engine and transmission and then remove the brass screws which hold the magnets and then replace the gear. You will need new brass screws. Be sure to get the screws which fit the threads in your new ring gear.
If you need to do all this work it is usually profitable to go through the engine, magneto, and transmission and repair or replace all defective parts before you re-assemble everything.
Try jacking up the back wheels and then try to use the starter. If it works with the wheels jacked up, the problem is in the clutch disks. Sometimes they will get stuck together and will not release. That is especially so when the engine is cold. The hand crank will also turn easier when you jack up the wheels.
Check first all the electrical parts such as the battery, the cables, the starter switch and the starter motor itself to rule out a problem in the easier parts before pulling everything apart.
Re cranking; Has the engine been run much in those past 25 years? If it's hard to crank when cold and easier when warmed up, is it the same at all outside temps, only when it's cold or easier when warm outside? What oil are you using, is it proper for the temp. you are running the car? What weight oil?
If the engine has been run enough to be broken in, sounds to me like something is binding, not adjusted correctly, or the rods/mains are set too tight.
RE starter; all very good places to look suggested above.
I agree with Ron. This is a common problem.
Dang, these Model T problems are often solved with the simplest of solutions. After taking the starter cover off, removing the Bendix, inspecting it, reinstalling it, and convincing myself it was something quite dire, I reviewed the posts above and decided to start with the easiest first.
I went out this afternoon and tested the battery. It was not showing a good charge. The terminal posts were heavily corroded. After cleaning them, I tried recharging it, but couldn't get it to charge up. I put the starter cover back on and went to the store to buy a new 6 volt battery. I walked up to the counter and told the lady I needed a 6 volt battery for a 1926 Model T. She looked puzzled for a moment, then quickly took me to the battery section (not car batteries, but the flashlight and other similar batteries). I told her again that it was for an old car so she went to the computer and asked me for the year. I said 1926. She scrolled through the computer, but it only went back to 1941. So, after seeking advice from her boss, I got a new 6 volt battery. My grandson helped me install it and we gave it a try. Shazazm. It worked. The starter is working like a charm.
I think what was happening was that there was enough charge in the dying battery to spin the starter a little, but once it tried to engage, it gave up and couldn't spin.
I really appreciate the great advice everyone offered above. Thankfully, the low charge in the battery was the problem and I was spared some of the more complicated issues.
This forum is great.