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Starter Hang Up?

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  • Starter Hang Up?

    Hi all,

    The new site looks great! Asking for your help with a sticky issue I've been wrestling with.

    My restoration was coming along well until I tried to crank the new engine for the first time today. I've upgraded to a 12v system and put in the modern Bendix drive on the existing starter. When I try to crank the engine, I get a click and then nothing. The starter seems to spin well when I try it out of the engine, and the Bendix drive seems to spin and move like it's supposed to. Brand new battery, so that's not the issue.

    I can crank the engine by hand (both with the starter attached and removed) it doesn't seem too difficult. Not sure if I installed the modern Bendix correctly or if it's something else, but the installation seems straightforward.

    Any thoughts on what else I should be looking at? As always, your insights and help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.


  • #2
    Welcome Pat to the VFF

    When you try the starter removed from the engine are you bench testing this with a jump box?
    3~ Tudor's & 1~ Coupe
    Henry Ford said,
    "It's all nuts and bolts"
    "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

    Mitch's Auto Service ctr


    • Mitch
      Mitch commented
      Editing a comment
      The modern drive can not be use on early 28 starters with the 1/2" shaft.
      Did you tighten the set screw? Ring gear bevel installed in the right direction

  • #3
    Hi Mitch,

    Thanks for the welcome!

    I tested the starter on a bench and all appears to be fine. Bendix moves up and down. Confirmed that it's a 5/8" shaft. Set screw is in. I took a couple of pics. I'm curious about the Bendix itself, as I'm not seeing any spring action - when I spin it, it stays extended (trying to upload a pic now). Wondering if I installed it incorrectly or maybe it's defective. It's brand new. I'm curious about the ring gear bevel - do you have more info on that?


    Last edited by Pklarkin; 09-05-2017, 09:05 AM. Reason: Figured out how to post a picture :)


    • #4
      Since your bench testing it are you sure your powers and grounds are good on the car? The ring gear is beveled on one side so the starter drive teeth can engage easily. The tapered or beveled side of the flywheel faces the rear of the car

      3~ Tudor's & 1~ Coupe
      Henry Ford said,
      "It's all nuts and bolts"
      "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

      Mitch's Auto Service ctr


      • Mitch
        Mitch commented
        Editing a comment
        Make sure your starter bolts are not to long but since you can turn it easily by hand i doubt it. The ring gear needs to be flush on the wheel

    • #5
      Thanks. The bevels on the ring gear are facing the right way, but the bevels on the Bendix appear to run counter to the way the starter is spinning. The bevels on the modern Bendix are on the clockwise side of the gear but the starter is spinning counter clockwise, regardless of whether I'm testing a positive or negative ground.

      Regarding electrical, tested with both direct connection to the battery via jumper cable and via regular car wiring. Bolts are brand new from Brattons and seem to be the right length. Ditto for the ring gear - brand new and fitting ok.

      I'm thinking of pulling the starter and trying to install with the Bendix fully extended to see if I can install with the gears meshed already... I doubt that will do anything but at this point I'll try anything.

      This is a weird one...


      • #6
        I assume you read this????

        3~ Tudor's & 1~ Coupe
        Henry Ford said,
        "It's all nuts and bolts"
        "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

        Mitch's Auto Service ctr


        • #7
          i'm betting on a weak ground or hot connection the battery or where the ground cable is attached to the frame. Typically there is a lot of fresh paint on a resto to interfere with the electricity. Then, the juice also has to pass thru some riveted metal frame joints. We run the ground cable to a bell housing bolt to get the juice closer to the starter.
          If this is fine point, try a bellhousing bolt anyway for purposes of testing, and it it works, you can clean up your ground connections later.

          You could also run a jumper cable from the battery neg post to a starter mounting bolt as a temp. diagnostic.

          A starter can easily draw 200 amps and that many amps needs a mucho clean electrical pathway.

          Doubt it is the bendix


          • #8
            It's tattooed on my chest at this point...

            Could it be that the starter itself just isn't strong enough? I think it's original to the car. On the bench, it spins well but I haven't tested the torque (is there a way to do that?). I just installed the starter with the Bendix extended and engaged and got the same "click" and then nothing. When I cranked it by hand the Bendix disengaged per normal and I tried it again to the same "click". I'm pretty sure that the click is either the gear engaging or hitting the ring gear and then stopping.

            I removed the spark plugs to eliminate the potential extra load from compression in the cylinders but still nada.


            • Mitch
              Mitch commented
              Editing a comment
              Check your battery voltage,, brand new does not mean anything, it may not be holding a load

              Here at the shop i test the torque of the starter by very carefully putting a piece of wood against the drive when its spinning

              I don't like testing things with jumper cables as they are only for power assist and wont carry the amps needed. Cut open a jumper cable, there i usually only a handful of strands inside that thick casing

              i'm still thinking connections or battery at this point

          • #9
            Just saw this.

            Wondering if that might help? Cheaper than a new starter.
            Buy Starter Shim for your Model A at


            • #10
              Hi Tbirdtbird,

              Thanks for your reply. Just tested connecting the negative to the starter mounting bolt and bypassing the starter switch by connecting the positive jumper cable to the copper lead directly and got the same result.

              I replaced the spark plugs with the blue plastic caps that came with the rebuilt engine, and it looks like the starter did turn the engine for a fraction of a second as it was enough to pop out one of the caps. That would suggest to me that the Bendix may be engaging after all and I just don't have enough oomph in the starter.

              Thanks for your help though!



              • #11
                Hmmm, did the starter work OK before?
                Could still be weak cable connections, or weak battery. We have all had 'new' parts that were defective. If you had a voltmeter across the battery when activating the starter, you would want to see a minimum of 10 volts when under load. A fresh battery will give you 11.5 under heavy load.
                Bench testing the torque of a starter in a meaningful way can be tricky. Anyone nearby that you can borrow their starter ?


                • #12
                  Putting the blue caps back in was a great idea, too.

                  We have used a similar idea using corks when trying to determine the firing order of an unknown engine


                  • #13
                    Good news and bad news....

                    The good news is it worked! I'll need to clean up the electrical connections and the jumper cables weren't carrying enough juice to make it crank. Turns like a champ with direct connections to the battery. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

                    The bad news is that I forgot how loud it gets when turning over and it scared the heck out of me when it kicked in.

                    Thanks again all - I hope I get a chance to return the favor.


                    • #14
                      Great thanks for the follow up!!:D
                      3~ Tudor's & 1~ Coupe
                      Henry Ford said,
                      "It's all nuts and bolts"
                      "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

                      Mitch's Auto Service ctr


                      • #15
                        glad it worked, no worries about returning the favor, tho, everyone on here wants everyone else to succeed


                        • #16
                          FWIW I had to add a second ground from the trans bolt to the frame on one car. The reg ground was not enough.
                          Glad your issue worked out,now on to the next problem.


                          • #17
                            BTW, some starter drives have a pin that drops into a pocket and holds the drive in the engaged position until the engine fires up, and the fast spinning drive then throws the pin back out of engagement and allows the drive pinion to return to the off position.


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