I bought a 1915 Speedster with a 1920ish engine and starter. When I engage the starter button, the battery sparks as if the car is not grounded. Starter does not spin. Here are all my troubleshooting steps so far:
1.The car is grounded properly. I even sanded and tried a different ground location. Bolts are tight and ohm meter confirms good ground.
2. I removed all extra wires to the accessories and lights and it appears the trouble is be between the starter button and the starter.
3. I have a 12v battery, so I bought a new 12v starter - yes I removed the bendix first
4. I tried a different battery.
5. I tried to crank the car by hand, but no luck. Admittedly I never was able to hand crank it anyway.
6. Cables/wires look good and ohm meter tests are strong and good.
7. Starter button tests well.
Car did start and run for a dozen trips, but for the past month no luck. Originally the car was grounded with the positive terminal, but I changed that prior to my maiden ride and haven't changed it back. Any help would be appreciated.
Any oil dripping out from the starter? I had a similar problem where my starter filled with oil and shorted the parts where the brushes touch. To fix mine I removed the starter and cleaned everything well. I had to replace my battery (6 volt) it would only get up to 4 volt after I shorted it a few times through the oily starter.
I should say the oil got into the starter from my own fault. I changed and filled oil then forgot I had filled it and filled it again.
What do you mean the battery sparks like it is not grounded?
It sparks when you are attaching the ground cable and it is the terminal and cable that are sparking? Or the starter switch sparks when you step on the starter switch? Or the battery itself is sparking?
Someone else suggested oil in the starter, but the problem occured with a newly refurbished starter too.
@Jeff, I hear a loud click from the battery negative terminal similar in sound to a grounding issue. I don't see sparks, sorry for the confusion.
@James, yes oil is leaking from my starter. But the problem occurs with a 12v newly refurbished starter too. New starter seems oil free.
Chad, if you hear a loud click from the battery but see no spark, it could be a loose connection inside the battery. That's not uncommon - newer 12 volt batteries are built as light-duty and as marginal as they can get away with, and installing a terminal onto the post can break the internal connection. Especially if you had to hit it a few times to get the terminal on.
THIS IS DANGEROUS!! Explosive gasses build up inside a battery, and when they are ignited by a spark, it isn't pretty!! Especially if you happen to be leaning over it at the time. A face full of hot sulphuric acid will ruin your day! Maybe your life!
Use extreme caution.
Use extreme caution.
Use extreme caution.
@Peter Thanks for the advice!! I don't think it's a bad battery. I tried a spare battery, but no difference. I pulled my other battery out of my Tudor and tried it, but still no luck.
Admittedly all of my batteries are the cheapest ones I could find at Walmart or an auto parts store. Just to be safe, since the battery is in a box on the Speedster, I'll keep the lid closed for a minor bit of protection.
A loud click from the battery terminal is not normal. It indicates something is wrong at the terminal, if the battery is ok, the connection is not good, or the clamp is not good, or there is corrosion on the connection, or the cable is bad...but battery terminals should not make a clicking sound. Have you tried a jumper cable from a different battery directly to the starter and bypass your battery connection, starter switch, and existing wiring? Not to start the engine, just to test the starter. Then, if the starter cranks with a jump, your car battery, or starter, or cables, or ground, or connections are the issue and you know the starter is ok.
If the jumper cable cranks the starter, then put the jumper cable on the starter side of the starter switch and see if the starter cranks. If it cranks you keep moving the jumper cable to each connection moving away from the starter until the jumper no longer cranks the starter and you have isolated the problem. YOU MUST HAVE THE CAR BATTERY DISCONNECTED, REMOVED IS EVEN BETTER.
Polarity, did you check the battery polarity it can change, are you still connecting - ground?
For What its worth dept. a lead acid battery can be reverse charged and you end up with a positive ground. Takes some doing, can occur when a dead battery is charged and the red and black lead are crossed or in my case some nut used red wire for the ground on My sons old BMW and I didn't catch it before I charged it.
Chad, you might have a broken cable. When I was having starter issues, I replace the button and when pushed I saw an arch where the ground cable was attached to the engine block. I replaced the cable to where it was traditionally attached to the frame. Worked great for about a day of driving then quit on me. Since that time I've added an extra ground strap from engine to frame . works great and no issues. It seems to me an old-time mechanic ran a long round cable from Batt terminal all the way up to the engine pan and over the years finally broke inside the cable insulation at the block. I've discovered a lot T guys do this.
Are you sure the terminal to the starter on your starter switch is not sorted to ground? Had this happen on my 23 when I installed a rebuilt starter. I guess when I put the battery cable to the starter it worked loose at the switch.
That should read "shorted to ground". I managed to catch when auto correct changed "starter" to "started", but missed "shorted" to "sorted". So much for A.I. to make life easier...
An often overlooked battery problem with a 12 volt battery installed in a 6 volt battery box is the fact that there are 6 more cell walls and 3 more cell partitions.
This results in a far fewer number of the plates that are required to make the electric current.
Either your T engine will start right away or you will have to hand crank it anyway, as the 12 volt battery will be drained much faster.
I didn't get a chance to troubleshoot today, but will tackle tomorrow evening after work. I will check the starter switch, bypass the wires/cables using jumper cables, try additional ground points, recheck batteries, etc... At this point all bets are off.
Keep'em coming. Thanks!
After a few hours of troubleshooting to include adding extra grounds, I think I identified the problem (although I had this false sense of cautious optimism before).
The positive wire/cable from the battery to the starter switch had continuity, a good reading, and had no problem running accessories like the lights - yet when I engaged the starter, nothing happened. When I bypassed this wire/cable with jumper cables, the starter worked! I'm going to buy a new cable/wire and hope for the best tomorrow!
Have you verified the starter switch is good? From your description I conclude you are bypassing both switch and cable with the jumper?
@James, I don't see any arcing on the starter switch. The ohm meter shows a clean signal when engaged. I'm not ruling this out yet, but I feel semi confident the switch is good.
Early tests with a new wire/cable seems to solve the problem. I'll fully reassemble and hope for the best tomorrow. I'm growing more optimistic.
As a follow up to close this thread, the new wire worked from the battery to the switch. I suspect it was solid enough to carry a current for the lights and show continuity, but could not sustain a draw for the starter.