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57 Buick Starter Problems


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I am asking the wise sages out there for some help. My 57 is having starter issues. When I go to start the car, the solenoid kicks in and chattters but doesn't turn the motor over. I know the obvious about the battery being low, but I have a new battery, and have tried it with 2 other fully charged batteries. I can start it with a jump from a battery, but when it is warm, (after running, or driving) the car will not start without a jump. I have changed out the solenoid with a new one, replaced all battery cables with new, and replaced the starter relay. I have slow charged the batteries until fully charged and still have the issue. I am open for suggestions as to what else to look for before I commit to pulling the starter motor itself. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated.

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Once had a problem like this, went through changing batteries, starter etc. Only to find someone had installed the wrong ground cable, it was too long. I'd check your cables to make sure of correct thickness, length and good contact with surfaces.

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I too, would start with the above listed ground and connection checks. Getting into the starter after that could possibly reveal worn brushes or an"open" armature. The solenoid has to complete it's circuit through the armature which includes the brushes. If the circuit is questionable then the "chattering" could occur. Hopefully this helps. Feel free to contact me with any other questions. I'd be glad to help and can be reached toll-free @ 866-228-0218.

Jason

Advanced Electrical Rebuilders

Grand Ledge, MI

jsmithaer@gmail.com

1-866-228-0218

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Thanks guys for the info. As for the cables, I purchased NOS negative and positive cables and installed them, so I am assuming that the wire gauge is proper for them. All posts and connectors on the cables are clean (new!). I will make sure that all other connecting points are spiffy clean as well. I did replace the solenoid, thinking it might be the problem, but same thing.

When I jump it (i.e. 2 batteries) it turns over and starts no problem. Would the starter being worn and additional voltage cause it to turn over and start like that? From a clean up point of view, how would one approach that? Any knowledge or experience would be very helpful. Thanks.

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Remove the starter and disassemble it. The only tricky part is removing the pinion stop and the shop manual will walk you through that. Wipe and brush out the dirt in the case. Check the brush retainers for broken springs. Look for little drops of "thrown" solder from the commutater (bad sign) and obviously broken or loose wires. Install new brushes and take armature to any motor shop for a commutator turning. Check end bearings for excessive wear and lubricate. Clean pinion/drive and lubricate with a lite coat of graphite grease. Reassemble making sure all electrical connections are clean and tight. Assuming you haven't toasted the armature or field coils you should now have a good to go starter motor........Bob

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Jim, to me, the fact that she starts with a jump says a lot. Just not sure what. If the starter is the problem, I don't see how the jumpers help. If your battery is charged, you are not adding voltage. Depending on where you attach the jumper cables, perhaps not even adding amps. But the fact that with jumpers it starts says you are getting power to the starter with them. Why is it not getting ther otherwise?? You are loseing juice somewhere.

Is this a new problem? if so, what ,if anything , did you do between the time it would statr and the time it would not? Where are you attaching the jumpers? Where is your ground cable attached to the engine?

Ben

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Thanks for the help. The prognosis thus far is I have cleaned thoroughly the negative cable connection between the engine and the connector as well as the bolt to the engine. Took off the positive cable, and low and behold, there was corrosion in the connector ferrule where the cable is soldered to the lug. Took that off and put another positive cable on and the car fired right up. Took it for a long drive today (to A2 to see UofM Football - about an hour 30 drive). Post game went back and it started right up again..no chatter. Drove the car home and then shut it off. Went to start it up 5 minutes later and back to square one. Car wouldn't start without a jump. Both times today the car was cold. It wouldn't start when it was warm. Other note was that when I drove home from the game, I turned my headlights on for the trip home. It was after that when I got home that the car wouldn't start without a jump. Any ideas?

On another note, I will check those flat ground cables as John mentioned. Cant hurt to clean them up as well. Thank everyone!!

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John, I knew that might have been it. I have been talking nicely to my car and repainting the garage is always a good option. I don't think it's the timing, the car runs well - no dieseling or such, idle is within spec. Battery is new. Maybe it is gremlins. I will give it a shot today and see if it starts up. If so, I am stumped. Wonder if when the car heats up something goes out of spec?

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I have had starters that work cold and then seem to object to turning over when warm. That is usually taken care of with a rebuild, and whatever goes on there. I've never rebuilt one myself so I can't be more precise about what is actually wrong, but I have experienced this abnomaly from time to time.

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Had a similiar problem all I can convey is, the solenoid contacts heat up when the car is warm, if the contacts are not "as new" just wont have enough punch to turn the engine over, mine were even melting a little. New solenoid fixed problem.

Cheers

Adam

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If the starter works good when cold and fails you when the engine is warm it is a sure sign that the starter bushings are very worn and the armature is dragging on the fields. The clearance is very close between the armature and fields in order for it all to work. Heat expands these parts and the worn bushings allow for draging together of these parts after the car has got up to temp. A starter dissasembly will tell you if the problem exists. Both the fields and the armature will be bright shinny metal caused from the 2 parts dragging together. A good starter rebuilder can fix it right up for you

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Pirate, I am assuming by bushings you mean the brushes? I have bought a rebuild kit (new brushes, commutator bushing, springs and spacers) and will attempt the rebuild my self with these components? I am missing something? I think you hit the nail on the head with your description of the failure and cause. Hopefully I will get to taking it off the car this week and trying that rebuild. Jim

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Hi Jim,

I think that what 'pirate' was referring to is the rear and front bushings on the starter drive and rear housing ends. Brushes and these bushings should always be checked when you tear a starter down, as well as wear on the armature shaft ends.

:) kaycee

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Thanks Straight Eight. Hmmm. Field Coils..? How do you test them after they are warm? Are they replaceable by the average home mechanic? Where would one find them to replace them? How do you replace them?..may be better to send the unit to a shop for repair perhaps.

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Ben, I am starting to think that way. I am quite sure there is one here in the Detroit area that can do this. I was hoping it might have been a simple fix, but it is getting pretty complex now. This forum is a great tool for figuring this stuff out as well. thanks for all your help and comments. It is awesome!

Jim

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Jim,

I sent you an email also, but figured I'd respond here as well. I have a antique electrical rebuilding shop in Grand Ledge, MI (near Lansing). The situation you are describing is what we call "Heat Soak" and it can affect any and all windings in the starter. That includes solenoid windings, field coild windings, armature windings. It can also be a symptom of oil/grease saturation on the armatures commutator and brushes or poor connections. So, there is no one fix that will cure your problems without a complete teardown and evaluation of your starter. Feel free to call me with any questions @ 866-228-0218. I would be happy to meet you or pick up the starter from you if you do not want to ship. I do head towards Detroit (Ann Arbor specifically) often as my brother lives there.

Jason Smith

Advanced Electrical Rebuilders

jason@aerrebuild.com

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Ben, I am starting to think that way. I am quite sure there is one here in the Detroit area that can do this. I was hoping it might have been a simple fix, but it is getting pretty complex now. This forum is a great tool for figuring this stuff out as well. thanks for all your help and comments. It is awesome!

Jim

Faint hearts never fair maidens won.....................Bob

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Alright Bhigdog! I see that the gaunlet has been thrown. I guess if I can run a marathon, fixing a starter should be a piece of cake. I will run down that path first. Should I fail, at least I can then send it to a good armorer to restore it. I will keep you informed my liege.:D

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Alright Bhigdog! I see that the gaunlet has been thrown. I guess if I can run a marathon, fixing a starter should be a piece of cake. I will run down that path first. Should I fail, at least I can then send it to a good armorer to restore it. I will keep you informed my liege.:D

Completing a marathon tells me you have determination, courage, and mental discipline. Rebuilding a starter requires none of those traits. When you have it all back together test it with jumper cables then give it a nice coat of rattle can semi gloss black. Better than a wreath of laurel...............Bob

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Bob,

Attached are some photos from the start of rebuild. So far so good, at least at the tear down stage. I have purchased a starter rebuild kit with a new drive, bushings, brushes, etc. It looks pretty straight forward thus far. It was pretty dirty and oily in the drive. Brushes were worn, but in not bad. Everything else was dusty (carbon, I think) but in pretty reasonable shape by looks. We will see how it all works when I get it back together later today. Thanks for the vote of confidence on this.

Jim

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Bob,

Did that with a toothbrush, light emery on the commutator end, both where the brushes contact and the shaft, cleaned all the dust out of the field coils, wiped down the armature, bushings looked good, light clean on them with 600 grit, light emery on drive end shaft, installed new brushes, leather throw out pad oon commutator end, new thrust washer?, re-assembled and now ready for a test. Question is...how do i bench test the thing prior to reinstallation to check all systems work? I know I will need a battery, but where to connect? Any advice would be helpful. Thanks.

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To test just the motor use jumper cables. Neg to motor case, pos to big lug on bottom of solinoid. That's direct juice to motor. If OK then pos to top lug of solinoid. Then thin wire jumper from pos to one of small screw terminals on back of solinoid. That should pull in solinoid which activates motor. Solinoid, besides engaging starter gear also is a relay to energize motor. If you didn't have a new solinoid that is the first thing I would have suspected. Make sure motor is secure, it will start with a bit of torque.

If still not OK then it's time to send off because there is most likely an intermittant internal open which is difficult to pinpoint.

Whatever the outcome you do get to wear a wreath of laurel, you are a winner....................Bob

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Alrighty then! Let's get them there jumper cables and give it a whirrrr. Or at least some sort of motor sound. Hopefully this cured the starter's ills. And I will make sure that I don't electrocute myself at the same time. Thanks for all your insight on this Bob. You are a champion yourself! I will let you know how it flies. Thanks again.

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Bob, by the big lug do you mean the one that attached the solenoid to the starter or the onw where the battery cable attaches to the soleniod? I tried the one at the solenoid starter connection, got sparks then worried that I might have fried something. Also, I am using a battery charger rather than a battery. I can set the charger to 50 amps. Should I use that setting to try to test it? Rarin' and ready to go. Looking forward to your assistance. Thanks. Jim

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The lug closest to the motor case that "attaches" the solenoid to the starter should cause the starter motor only to spin. The top or one that the cable attaches to should do nothing until you jump it to the S terminal then the solinoid should pull in and the motor spin. A charger may not have enough juice. use the highest output setting...........Bob

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SUCCESS!!!!! I would like to thank the Academy for the honor tonight, The BCA and all of its wonderful members and especially Mr. Bob Beck for his patience and guidance through the long haul of getting this fixed. KUDOS to you Mr. Beck...you have been a brilliant light in the long tunnel of starter darkness...now let's see if the darn thing works when it is warm.....:D

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Well.....test drive prognosis.. Started right up cold. :) Took her for a 30 minute drive to get the car good and warmed up. Pulle back in the driveway. Shut the car down. Tried to restart..clickkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk.:( Looks like starter goes to the starter hospital now. At least I know I can get it out fairly quickly and it is already cleaned up, just like your mom said, cause you never know when you will have to go to the hospital. :confused: Hey, I can't say I never tried. Now needs more specialist work. Oh Well..who said this was a cheap hobby!

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Well...went out 30 min later and the beast started right up again...argghhhh. I so dislike intermittent problems...but it started..still think off to the starter rebuilder guy to make sure it becomes a previous problem...hey maybe i just don't need to shut off the car..almost like Forest Gump running across America???:D

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Thanks for the tip Dan. Did that and tightened it all down. Cable is NOS and very clean, the cable from the battery to starter is new as well. I have cleaned all connections to almost a sanitary condition. I am beginning to think my car doesnt like me anymore. Maybe just a spat..:D

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