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Old 05-12-2019, 09:14 PM   #1
chrs1961815
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Default Starter Issues and smoke?

Last night I drove the A to a get together about 15 minutes away and then back. On the way back it was dark so all of my lights were on. This morning I went to start it to adjust the wierd idle I have been having on the carburetor, and the starter wouldn't even move. Nothing. So I opened the hood to check the disconnect switch I have (which was on) and found smoke coming from somewhere around the starter so I quickly cut the power, pulled the floorboards, and disconnected the battery. The car was completely rewired last fall along with a new alternator being added. I checked the battery to starter cable for any wear or shorts from the notorious pedal rubbing but there was no evidence of it and it was clear from the pedal. The starter has not been worked on since I have had the car. Not sure if all the lights being used last night had anything to do with this, but I thought I should mention it. Anyone have any ideas as to what is going on? Hope it is nothing really serious though it probably will require me to take the starter off...
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Old 05-12-2019, 11:45 PM   #2
Tom Wesenberg
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

Check the starter switch to make sure the contact strap isn't shorting against the side of the switch housing. Remove the switch only, and not the starter.
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Old 05-13-2019, 07:09 AM   #3
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

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Check the starter switch to make sure the contact strap isn't shorting against the side of the switch housing. Remove the switch only, and not the starter.
You may be lucky and find the contacts are not welded together - in which case the starter is probably still good. May even be still good as starters are a pretty robust electrical device.

The repop starter switches are known for being "skimpy" and for the contact strap getting pulled to one side as you tighten the cable to the single connection bolt. Sometimes you can see this in the pedal connection sleeve if the pedal is not connected as you do the electrical connection.

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Old 05-13-2019, 07:44 AM   #4
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

Did it make a clunk when you first tried to start it, then nothing? If so, your Bendix may have jammed in the ring gear. Subsequent attempts to start it caused the stuck starter to overheat and smoke.

Put it in high gear and gently rock the car back and forth. If the fan turns, this is NOT the case. If it makes a clunk and THEN the fan turns, you just fixed it.

A jammed Bendix drive is quite common.
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Old 05-13-2019, 08:03 AM   #5
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

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Did it make a clunk when you first tried to start it, then nothing? If so, your Bendix may have jammed in the ring gear. Subsequent attempts to start it caused the stuck starter to overheat and smoke.

Put it in high gear and gently rock the car back and forth. If the fan turns, this is NOT the case. If it makes a clunk and THEN the fan turns, you just fixed it.

A jammed Bendix drive is quite common.
I don't remember hearing any clunk. Just nothing happening with the starter.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:33 AM   #6
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

To check for a stuck starter, try cranking the engine over w/the hand crank. If it turns easily then your starter is not stuck.
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Old 05-13-2019, 03:04 PM   #7
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

Update: I took the starter switch off. Here are some pictures. Does anything look wrong? Kinda looks like it shorted out on the insulation.
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File Type: jpg 20190513_150427.jpg (25.0 KB, 101 views)
File Type: jpg 20190513_150410.jpg (36.9 KB, 113 views)
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Old 05-13-2019, 03:09 PM   #8
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

Will the engine turn over by any means. If not, put it in third gear and push hard to the rear. Never the front.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:17 PM   #9
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

I have tried everything with the switch to no avail. Haven't had time to do the pushing others have suggested but I don't think the starter is locked up. Where should I go from here?
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:03 AM   #10
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

Don't do anything until you know that the engine will rotate.
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Old 05-14-2019, 08:51 AM   #11
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

Could the smoke have come from the cutoff switch you installed?
Some of those are such poor quality that they can't carry the current.


Since this happened right after a night of driving with the lights on, be sure the battery is fully charged. Engaging the starter with a weak battery can cause problems.

Last edited by Tom Wesenberg; 05-14-2019 at 08:58 AM.
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Old 05-14-2019, 08:58 AM   #12
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

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Could the smoke have come from the cutoff switch you installed?
Some of those are such poor quality that they can't carry the current.
I doubt it. It also looked like it came from behind the starter but I could be wrong. Could my problems be from inside the starter?
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Old 05-14-2019, 09:39 AM   #13
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

I charged the battery, but it was all right.
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Old 05-14-2019, 01:40 PM   #14
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

Like others have said.......................Rock the car in 3rd gear, or try the crank.

Then get back to us
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Old 05-14-2019, 03:32 PM   #15
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

I fixed the issue! As you guys suggested, I pushed on the rear while in third gear and heard a thud. I pushed the button and it was working again! I did not think it was hung up. How often does this happen and was it a big problem when the cars first came out?
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Old 05-14-2019, 04:46 PM   #16
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

This has been a ongoing problem not only with Model A's but with flat head V-8's.


It can usually be attributed to worn starter bendex drive, worn flywheel ring gear, bent starter shaft or worn starter bushings.


For most of the cars, it happens very seldom and usually not often enough to do anything about it. Some times you can go for a year or more without it happening again.


You just have to be aware that if the starter does not crank the engine, first try to rock the car while it is in gear to be sure the starter is not locked up.


If it keeps happening often enough to make the situation annoying or inconvenient, then you may want to get more involved in fixing the problem.


My opinion,


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Old 05-14-2019, 09:10 PM   #17
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

Actually, since apparently you tried starting it for quite a while after it locked up, until it smoked, you are very lucky that the starter still works. You could have easily burned through the windings insulation, melted some connecting solder, or melted down the switch. If this happens again, don't keep trying to start it until you have figured out what the problem is...
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Old 05-15-2019, 05:17 AM   #18
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

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Actually, since apparently you tried starting it for quite a while after it locked up, until it smoked, you are very lucky that the starter still works. You could have easily burned through the windings insulation, melted some connecting solder, or melted down the switch. If this happens again, don't keep trying to start it until you have figured out what the problem is...
It only smoked the first time : ) Hopefully it doesn't happen again, I want to drive the car and not spend time having the starter rebuilt!
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Old 05-15-2019, 06:58 AM   #19
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

You can always hand crank the car or purchase a spare starter, if not wanting down time while the starter is out and being repaired.
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Old 05-15-2019, 07:48 AM   #20
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Default Re: Starter Issues and smoke?

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You can always hand crank the car or purchase a spare starter, if not wanting down time while the starter is out and being repaired.
That is what I was thinking. I do have a few friends who could probably lend me a starter if I go that route.
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