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Old 04-04-2018, 09:07 AM   #1
cederholm
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Default Starter switch - fascinating!!

Hi all,

As mentioned in another post, I'm new to A ownership, in my case a 1930 Coupe. Not only is this my first A, it's also the first pre-war car that I've had the opportunity to crawl around - well without museum security getting involved.

When buying the car I assumed the floor starter button was an electrical switch on the floor. Now I see its a rod and the high-amp switch is on the starter itself. Whoa! ...yeah I'm easily amused.

Why is it like that? Had the relay not been invented yet? Was this more reliable at the time? Was this just a Ford thing? ...and when was the electric starter introduced in the first place?

Sorry for all the questions, but I'm curious.

Best,
Carl
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Old 04-04-2018, 09:16 AM   #2
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

Enjoy your new adventure. Gather the right books, manuals and watch lot's of You Tube Videos on the subject. Just type in "Model A" in the You Tube Search Box and get you a tall glass of iced tea and enjoy.
All questions are good ones. Somebody knows the answer, or will make up a believable one.
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Old 04-04-2018, 09:38 AM   #3
Great Lakes Greg
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

General Motors Delco Division invented the self starter around 1912. I believe the engineer behind it was "Doc" Kettering. The catalyst for it was Billy Durant, president of GM, had a friend who broke his arm crank starting a car, and subsequently died of pneumonia. That
part may or may not be true, but it is what I read somewhere.
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Old 04-04-2018, 09:40 AM   #4
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

Just off the top of my head I would think the design is the way it is for simplicity and the simpler a system is the more durable it usually is.

The electric starter was introduced on the 1912 Cadillac and became available on Fords in 1919 as an option.
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Old 04-04-2018, 10:02 AM   #5
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

I had some fun with the starter switch on my 30 coupe when I first took delivery. First, it had an aftermarket extension assembly with hand operated switch which clamped to the steering column. Someone here probably knows the name/maker of this mod, but I put the original foot operated starter button/rod back in place. The switch would stick the first few times I tried starting it, so when I released the starter button she just kept on cranking! Someone from my club suggested tapping on the switch to "unstick" it, which we had to do several times. The insulating material inside the switch had warped, causing the copper strip to stick against the contact. No issues since I fixed the switch, and I have also since installed a battery disconnect switch.
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Old 04-04-2018, 10:27 AM   #6
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

Neat! Thanks for the responses all!

~ Carl
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Old 04-04-2018, 10:31 AM   #7
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

No starter relay was pretty common across all makes for that time period.
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Old 04-04-2018, 10:53 AM   #8
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

Just one note about reproductions vs. originals. The movable contact in an original switch is, I believe, some kind of copper/bronze alloy that is much springier than the soft copper contacts in the repros. Sometimes the soft copper contact will weld itself to the fixed contact on the starter body due to the current passing through, and it doesn't have the springiness to separate itself. The original contact looks a little more yellow in color than the soft copper in the repros.
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Old 04-04-2018, 12:10 PM   #9
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

I had one of the aftermarket extension as in post #5 during high school and loved it.
After removing and reinstalling the engine it never lined up again.
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Old 04-04-2018, 12:51 PM   #10
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JayGriff View Post
I had some fun with the starter switch on my 30 coupe when I first took delivery. First, it had an aftermarket extension assembly with hand operated switch which clamped to the steering column. Someone here probably knows the name/maker of this mod, but I put the original foot operated starter button/rod back in place. The switch would stick the first few times I tried starting it, so when I released the starter button she just kept on cranking! Someone from my club suggested tapping on the switch to "unstick" it, which we had to do several times. The insulating material inside the switch had warped, causing the copper strip to stick against the contact. No issues since I fixed the switch, and I have also since installed a battery disconnect switch.
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Originally Posted by Curtis in MA View Post
I had one of the aftermarket extension as in post #5 during high school and loved it.
After removing and reinstalling the engine it never lined up again.

The hand starter was made by Fulton (and maybe other manufacturers as well). Fulton had a line of aftermarket auto accessories - I think they're still in business. You can't retire on what you'd get for a pull-up starter but they are worth some money.
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Old 04-04-2018, 06:43 PM   #11
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

The original Ford starter switch is the way to go.
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Old 04-04-2018, 11:00 PM   #12
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

Welcome to the Ford Barn, first self starter from Ford was back in 1919 it was an option. You are about an hour and a half drive from the Cider Mill meet next month, scroll around here for the details. Bob
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Old 04-04-2018, 11:33 PM   #13
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

Certainly they had relays when the Model A was made. The cut-out on the generator is a relay, although much lighter duty than one would be required for the current of the starter.

I am convinced that the only reason for not putting in a relay was purely cost. Henry made the cars very simple and straight forward and knew the cost of every nut and bolt. They all add up.

Given the alternative of going out front in freezing windy wet weather and cranking the engine by hand versus the absolute convenience of having a simple button to press on the floor, that would have seemed pretty danged convenient at the time.

The best part of it all is that it is reliable.
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Old 04-04-2018, 11:48 PM   #14
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

Hi Carl,
Congrats on your Coupe and welcome.
My 29 Chevy has exactly the same floor start button setup as my 28 Model A. Works well and lasts long.
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Old 04-05-2018, 09:48 AM   #15
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

Glad I posted this - great responses. And thanks for the warm welcomes. Since we're talking about starting the car and not that I'm going to try it, how do you crank start the car?

I assume it's, key on, all levers to the correct "start" positions, car out of gear and parking break on. But once the motor fires how to you remove the hand crank fast enough not to get whacked?

Man those guys were brave.
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Old 04-05-2018, 10:03 AM   #16
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

Heck, my 47 chevy (my first car) had a similar foot starter.
Oh, and the crank kicks itself out by the shape of the pawl on the crankshaft. It won't spin. Except backwards if it backfires.
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Old 04-05-2018, 04:14 PM   #17
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

what oldforder said above...the crank kicks itself out by design, no problem there, BUT...be certain you know to not wrap your thumb around the crank, keep all fingers and thumb on one side, otherwise if it kicks back, your thumb will be in the way and could get broken. Buy some books and study up.
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Old 04-06-2018, 12:45 AM   #18
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

the starter switch is like that so you can weld the contacts together with 12v. most advocate a battery cut off switch if you do not already have one.
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Old 04-06-2018, 02:05 AM   #19
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

My first experience with a vintage car at age seventeen was when I dragged a 1927 Chevrolet home. I had very little mechanical experience. Tried to start it, turned the ignition key and nothing happened. It took some time to figure out that the button on the floor was the starter switch and not the headlight dipper switch which was common in the day.
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Old 04-06-2018, 03:58 AM   #20
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

Carl,
Don’t crank it before youve had some dual instruction from a ‘qualified’ instructor. They start quite easily but things can go very wrong, very quickly.
Chris
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Old 04-06-2018, 07:10 AM   #21
cederholm
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

Thanks all, and don't worry I'm not going near the hand crank without an instructor. I was just curious and the "kick-out" makes perfect sense.

Hi Mike, I'm a little confused by your statement below. Are you saying if I convert to 12v, be careful not to weld the started contacts together? ...and I do have plans to install a cut off.

~ Carl

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the starter switch is like that so you can weld the contacts together with 12v. most advocate a battery cut off switch if you do not already have one.
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Old 04-06-2018, 07:26 AM   #22
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

Welcome Cederholm, Enjoy driving your great car around NYC lol As far as the original starter here is a link to some info about it.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_F._Kettering
Enjoy
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Old 04-06-2018, 07:32 AM   #23
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

Carl,
You Tube is your friend. Search it on starting and driving the Model A. There are even posts on hand cranking.
I am sure you will find this will be helpful. Chap
http://motormayhem.net/wp-uploads/20...ion-Manual.pdf
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Old 04-08-2018, 09:34 AM   #24
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Default Re: Starter switch - fascinating!!

Interesting how Henry saved money by putting the floor starter button directly in line with the starter motor so you have to contort the toe of your right foot to the left in order to hit the starter and gas pedal at the same time. Tried to use the hand throttle alone but doesn't work so well if you have to pump the gas a few times to keep it running after initial start. Our Chrysler of the same 1931 year has the foot starter pedal to the right of the gas pedal with linkage to the starter motor which is in about the same location as the Model A, but making it much easier on the foot. However, Walter spent money for this convenience. I like the beauty of simplicity Henry used to keep costs down without sacrificing quality or reliability.

Glen
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