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Thread: Problems with starter engagement

  1. #1

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    Default Problems with starter engagement

    So last week I was finally able to begin working on my car again after the fiasco with the shift fork last year. Fixed that and it shifts fine. New problem, and I did post about this before, is the fact that when I bolted the trans to the block and put everything back together, the starter wouldn't engage the flywheel. I have been messing with it every day since last week and I am stumped. Took the trans off and put it back on several times, messed with the spacers, and I only have one of them, the brown rusty one from the ATX with the starter hole. I even cut this hole off of the plate thinking it was interfering with the starter. Foolish right. I do not have the spacer that doesnt have the hole meant for the MTX, and I was driving it around like that since I put the trans on the first time. Also didn't have any issues with starter engagement. Note that the shift fork repair was the first time I have had the trans off the engine since it was installed. The starter worked fine before I pulled the trans, and now it doesn't. Thats why I think it is a problem with either how the trans or starter is mounted, or a spacer issue. I also purchased a reman ac delco starter from rock auto and replaced half the wiring so I know wiring / starter is not the issue.

    Starter either makes a click or grinds depending on how I position it, and sometimes it will turn the engine over, but only once or twice each time I get it in the right spot. Seems to me like it is sitting too low and the bendix is hitting the flywheel, maybe just a 1/2 or a 1/4 of a mm too low? Maybe the angle is wrong? Can't for the life of me figure this one out. Don't really want to pay someone to do it, and Im not sure they will be able to figure it out. Its frustrating and at this point I think I should try to get some new spacers. Anyone have some to sell me?
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  2. #2

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    I noticed that when you have the trans to block bolts loosened, trans flush with the block, you can rotate the trans a little in either direction. Would bolting this up so that the starter hole is at its highest point help at all?

    Could I use washers in place of the missing spacer?

    Would it matter if I put them between the trans and block or between the starter and trans? I have been trying to play around with washers and trying to change the angle of the starter. Noticed that it wont engage unless the bendix is at an upward angle to the flywheel.

  3. #3

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    I now believe the spacer issue is a cause for concern. I think that the starter is too close to the flywheel, now too low but too close. The clicking sound I hear could be the bendix passing through the ring gear and getting caught. Grinding when the teeth aren't close enough to the ring gear and clicking when they get caught. Heard the bendix pop back in when I loosened the bolts and moved the starter this last time. Thought it was the spacer, but it could be the bendix. I'm going to try washers, two on each bell housing bolt, three on the starter bolts to replace the regular spacer starter hole. This way I can see how it reacts to near to proper spacing.

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    I have the 2-pc MTX spacers. Buy me a sixer and I'll get em shipped.
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    Update!

    Thank you Dougiestyle for the spacers, atleast now I know it is lined up. I removed the ATX alignment dowel and used the dowel from the spacers.

    So with the trans out of the car, both spacers installed (bolts are centered in each hole) and using bellhousing bolts, I secured the starter into place where it would be if the bell housing was there. What I have discovered is that the starter pinion is either too close to the flywheel ring gear or its at a minute angle to it. I suspect too close. But how? Should not be an issue, although I am using a fiddy flywheel. Never had this issue till I removed the trans and reinstalled it in my driveway. I was able to get it to start once, rolled over and ran like normal. But only did it once, and only when I had the starter a a very specific angle, a minute change (I would say less than 1/16 of a mm) in any direction and it was a no go. Couldn't get it to stay in that position and have tightened bolts or I lost it. The pinion was still engaged with the ring gear after I tried to roll it over with no success. It made a single click, with no attempt to roll over, like there was too much resistance. It wasn't hitting the flywheel, the teeth engaged like they should, but the teeth were still fully engaged after releasing the key. Had to remove the bolts and remove the starter for it to pop back in. The pinion was fully engaged. What the hell is going on here?

    I tried to move it up and down but it didn't help. Wouldn't pop back in till I removed the motor from the engine. Two starters, both old and brand new confirm this scenario. From what I can tell it is too close. Like there is too much resistance for it to turn the flywheel. All the holes line up, they have too. The starter side dowel is fully seated into the lower block. How is it now too close? Are the fiddy flywheel teeth too tall now? Not sure what to do. I will take some pictures of this tomorrow when I have my wife help me test it. Obviously this is a mechanical issue. Is there a way to shave down the teeth on the ring gear so that it has more clearance? Or perhaps i should modify the spacers to move it up a tiny bit? It looked as if it was 100% jammed up. The teeth were meshed, but the pinion was stuck in the ring gear teeth even with no power connected. The clearance was so tight I wonder if it really was to close to the ring gear. I don't think the starter connections are the issue here as all are brand new and no accessories have power (wired it this way), and it had rolled over just fine, started in under a second even though it has been sitting so I don't think there is a current drain. I left the battery hooked up for a week in its current configuration and it still had the same charge when I came back to it. The problem didn't exist till I took the trans off and reinstalled it, with the exception that I sometimes had to hit the key several times to get it to roll over (it would click once, took several tries as if it were a bad starter). Is it possible I somehow bent something or changed the way the flywheel sits? Nothing is damaged so I do not suspect crank walk.

    An observation I made was oil leaking through the gap between the engine and bellhousing when it was hanging from the crank the first time I tried to install it. Like it was putting pressure on the seal. I straightened it out and the leak stopped, and hasn't been back since I have been using the cable crank. I will also be removing the clutch and flywheel tomorrow to check the rear main. No oil is leaking, nor did it leak when it turned over. Anything I should look for?

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    So I tore everything down this morning, took off the clutch. I rotated the flywheel and using a drill bit as a feeler gauge I found that in two spots the flywheel was too close and everywhere else it could fit between the block and flywheel. I used the flywheel bolts to rotate the flywheel. I noticed that if I hit the flywheel with a hammer on the opposite side from the drill bit that it would allow me to fit the bit between the two. When I took the flywheel off and laid it on a flat surface I found that it was perfectly flat. I suspect that there is a tiny amount of end play. Not sure why it would cause binding of the starter with the ring gear, as it is such a small amount. I believe the bit I used was a 12/38 or something like that. I removed the end seal and it looks perfect. The oil was coming from between the block halves, there was a bit of oil at the bottom of the round part of the seal cap. Not sure why it never leaked except when I tried to install the trans.

    Tomorrow I plan to feeler gauge the end of the crank to see if there is indeed end play.

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    If the end play is not an issue, then perhaps the starter really is too close. The nose barely passed over the ring gear, had to be less than a mm of clearance. Not much room for error should the seal or the bearing decided to give up. A drill bit is hardly an accurate form of measure, honestly it was the only thing I had that could slide between the upper block and the flywheel with zero play.

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    How long has this been an issue?
    I am dealing with probably a similar problem. My post "Bad Starter Again" details everything so far.
    The car is currently at the shop, and they really have no idea why the car won't start. just gets the noticeable starter "click" and will not turn over.

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    Quote Originally Posted by evadfa View Post
    How long has this been an issue?
    I am dealing with probably a similar problem. My post "Bad Starter Again" details everything so far.
    The car is currently at the shop, and they really have no idea why the car won't start. just gets the noticeable starter "click" and will not turn over.
    I helped a friend a few weeks ago with a similar sounding problem on a newer Mustang. Turn the key and you could hear the starter engage, but it wouldn't turn over. He thought it was locking up on the flywheel, but all clearances looked fine. Tried different starters, same thing. If I put a screwdriver across the heavy gauge starter cable terminal and the solenoid terminal, it turned over fine. Measured the voltage at solenoid wire with the key turned to the start position and it was only 8 volts. I told him to check the wiring between the ignition switch and relay and between relay and starter. Loose crimp on a terminal end was found at the relay and starter now works peachy

    1 running Ford out of 5 isn't bad, right?

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    Seems I actually have a similar issue. Tried that this morning and sure as shit the starter engaged and turned over perfectly. I'm going to see if it's a loose wire, or maybe a bad ground connection. Used the jumper cables and a screw driver to do the work. Tried it a few times with the same result. Something so simple has completely consumed almost a year of my time.

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    I had a bad ignition switch. I checked everything this time. I tested the starter with battery cables and a screwdriver, and that worked well. Did the same with the accessory power hooked up to the battery and the starter too see if current draw was a factor and again everything was good. There is an inhibitor relay on the starter circuit so I started there. As I removed the fuse and relay box completely from the equation in an effort to save space I had hand wired every fuse and relay so I could easily figure out where the problem was. Simply disconnecting the solenoid wire and connecting it to the wire from the switch led me to discover the condition only existed with the ignition switch, as it did with the accessory power. The solenoid was only getting half the voltage every time I turned the key to start. Luckily it is ~$20 part on rock auto. So I have replaced that and everything is right as rain. My mistake for foolishly thinking it was a mechanical issue. I didn't think the starter would work at all if the switch went bad, although it can happen suddenly as it did with this switch failure. I didn't think to check this until I had removed the intake.

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