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starter stuck on, almost caught fire.


Jerrys 49

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I just got my starter and generator rebuilt for my 1949 Roadmaster hoping it would help with my hot start problems. I put them in tonight and fired her up. Well, she fired up but the starter was whizzing and stayed on even when I turned the car off. I quickly popped the passenger side of the hood, and disconnected the battery. While doing this I saw that my positive battery cable was sticking onto the other terminal on the starter and smoking! A little flame even started..

Ok. So back tracking in my mind, I remember that when I connected my positive cable to the terminal on the starter, the cable was touching the other terminal on the starter. Now, even though the positive cable is new, proper gauge, and insulated, do you guys think that current may have arced and caused my starter to stay on and nearly catch fire??? Please let me hear your thoughts.

Jerry

1949 Roadmaster

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I am now concerned and even scared about driving her.. I don't want to catch my car on fire! The ol side to side hoods are difficult to open quickly in the event of a fire.. and, if the starter got stuck again I may not hear it if I was driving..

Jerry

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The main cable cannot touch the solenoid engage cable. They must be separated or what you have descibed will happen. The only time the "sol" or "s" post on the starter solenoid should get power is when the starter switch, or bush button is in start position. A defective solenoid can also stick and keep the starter turning, or a faulty switch can also be a cause. Disconnect the "Sol" wire and check it with a test light to see that it is getting power it the start position only. Becareful about letting the smoke out of any electrical unit as this usually means you will be returning to the rebuilders. Dandy Dave!

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Dave. When you speak of the "main" cable, are you talking about the wire on the back of the starter towards the bendix and firewall? In my case, the positive battery cable was touching the terminal on the starter that connects the solenoid to the starter with a copper strap. Would that cause my problem as well even thought the positive battery cable is new and insulated?

Jerry

1949 Roadmaster

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Main wire is the one off of the battery to the starter solenoid. The strap that feeds the starter should be on a second post and not connected on the post with the main feed from the battery. How about a photo of what you have so we can see what needs sorting.

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Hey Dave. I have those cables/wires on properly. I thought you were speaking about the wires that connect to the solenoid on the opposite side of where the battery cable connects to.

Well, I hooked everything up again, and now when I go to connect the Negative battery cable, a get a HUGE spark. No good. Kinda getting frustrated at this point. Spark=short somewhere. I can't seem to find the short either. I'm thinking perhaps something in my starter solenoid is screwed up now. I should have never sent it off to get rebuilt!! AHHH! Could the solenoid be causing a short and giving me the spark??

Jerry

1949 Roadmaster

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Jerry, loosen the two small wires on the front of the solenoid, and then rotate the wire ends so that they are not laying on the terminal which has the battery cable . While you're at it, I'd also compare the solenoid end of the new battery cable to the solenoid end of the old cable. The old one may have a 90 * turn at the solenoid and the new one may be just straight? If so, use a pair of vice grips to make a 90 * turn in the end of the new cable and then reinstall and tighten the cable so it is not laying against the starter or any other terminal.

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The solenoid may also be faulty and stuck. Pull the starter out and check it for proper function in a vice. If it works correctly then you will need to look elsewhere. If not, then you have found your problem and can take it back to the rebuilder. Dandy Dave!

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The solenoid may also be faulty and stuck. Pull the starter out and check it for proper function in a vice. If it works correctly then you will need to look elsewhere. If not, then you have found your problem and can take it back to the rebuilder. Dandy Dave!

There is a good chance that the contacts in the solenoid are fused due to a low voltage condition...usually caused by a defective starter relay. The starter rebuilder will recognized this and recommend a replacement or one added to the circuit.

Willie

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There is a good chance that the contacts in the solenoid are fused due to a low voltage condition...usually caused by a defective starter relay. The starter rebuilder will recognized this and recommend a replacement or one added to the circuit.

Willie

So Old Tank has been there too... :D Happens all the time on old tractors with weak batterys and dirty old cables. Dandy Dave!

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I am thinking after examining my wire connections (all over the damn car!) that the points must be stuck on the solenoid. What if I just tap it with a hammer and get it to work?? Would this be a "safe" method to use? Or will I still run the risk of the starter sticking on while driving and cause an engine fire? OR, should I attempt to open the solenoid and clean the points?

From what I have seen over the internet, a starter solenoid for a 1949 Roadmaster is hard to come by.. I've seen rebuilt ones on Bob's, but a bit pricy... trying to save up for the ultimate purchase- a complete new wiring harness fashioned in the original manner with cloth braiding.

If I finally get some time after work, I am going to try the 'ol tap the solenoid with hammer trick.

Jerry

1949 Roadmaster

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Jerry

I haved tapped with some success in the past and in your case it is worth a try, but the solenoid is not that hard to take apart for cleaning. You still need to find and fix the weak signal to the 'S' or 'solenoid' terminal that would cause it to stick.

Willie

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Jerry;is the vacum switch on the carb[gas pedal start] hanging up?

For these tests you need a multi meter to test for continuity with the battery disconnected. If you have continuity with the wires feeding it disconnected, the switch is stuck. If not, then the switch is fine. This is assuming the car is still equiped this way. Dandy Dave!

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Jerry;is the vacum switch on the carb[gas pedal start] hanging up?

Even if the switch is hanging it will not cause the starter to run on if the generator is properly connected and functioning. There are two (2) safety items in the starting system to prevent run on of the starter: 1-vacuum at the carb switch to break the contact and 2-the generator which supplies the ground for the starter relay...this ground is not present when it starts charging, so the starter cannot be activated.

Willie

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Even if the switch is hanging it will not cause the starter to run on if the generator is properly connected and functioning. There are two (2) safety items in the starting system to prevent run on of the starter: 1-vacuum at the carb switch to break the contact and 2-the generator which supplies the ground for the starter relay...this ground is not present when it starts charging, so the starter cannot be activated.

Willie

Ahh Yes Willy, I can see where that would be neccesary after the car is running so that the starter does not engage everytime you step on the gas. I had a 1940 Packard once, and that car had a vacumm module to keep the starter from engaging after it started. I like the voltage regulator connection even better. Like the slogan goes, When Better Cars are Built, Buick will build them. :cool:

If the car did not start, and the carb switch is stuck, the regulator would still be in the starter turning position, so the starter would continue to turn. Yes??? Dandy Dave!

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If the car did not start, and the carb switch is stuck, the regulator would still be in the starter turning position, so the starter would continue to turn. Yes??? Dandy Dave!

If the switch is stuck so that the vacuum does not break the contact it would still function as normal up to that point: it would only engage when the accelerator pedal is depressed.

(You're giving me a headache:D)

Willie

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When this happened the car tried to start up and that's when I heard the starter being stuck. I turned the key to off and tried to start her up again and she fired up but the starter was still whizzing. That's when I popped the hood to disconnect the negative battery cable and saw the positive battery cable touching the other terminal on the starter which caused a small flame.

Jerry

1949 Roadmaster

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When this happened the car tried to start up and that's when I heard the starter being stuck. I turned the key to off and tried to start her up again and she fired up but the starter was still whizzing. That's when I popped the hood to disconnect the negative battery cable and saw the positive battery cable touching the other terminal on the starter which caused a small flame.

Jerry

1949 Roadmaster

Jerry, Job 1, Pull the starter off and bench test it. Dandy Dave!

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Well guys.. I pulled the starter back out and removed the solenoid. I opened the solenoid up to see if the points were stuck and noticed that inside on the terminal which connects to the positive battery cable, there is a metal strip that has been broken. It is broken at the solder spot.. I'm thinking I may have broken it due to over tightening it when I put on my battery cable... SO... unless regular electric solder can do the trick, I may have to purchase a new solenoid from Bob's.

Jerry

1949 Roadmaster

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Dennis.. I took your advice and soldered it back on, put the solenoid and starter back together and mounted in into the car. Went to start it up and same thing. BIG sparks on the negative battery terminal. SO.. I took opened the solenoid back up, and decided that perhaps the strap was touching the case of the solenoid causing a short. I repositioned it.. and VOILA! My car started up... I let the car idle for a long time being happy that she finally started up.

After about 20 minutes of leaving the car running, I turned it off to see if she would start up (since I have been having problems with the car not starting up after being driven)... WELL, here I am again. The car DOES NOT start back up after being hot. NO turning of the motor, NO sound from the starter. NOTHING.

I am confused. I can't figure out why the car won't start after getting hot. All I want to do is go cruise somewhere, stop, and be able to turn the car back on after hanging out with friends!!

Vapor lock?? Can't be the starter being hot since I touched it and it is cool to the touch.

Back to the drawing board!

Jerry

1949 Roadmaster

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JERRY;check the selenoid [unsoldered,vibration],motor doesnt turn,check your head lights while attempting to crank[battery connections],still could be back to the starter[armature/brushes],guage showed a charge when it was running?regulator is hooked up correct?sparks and cables are not good,worse if it was longer than brief.nothing can touch nothing and short,big sparks are not good.could be vapor lock,but your motor didnt run,or even crank after you shut it off.

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I had just taken the starter to the shop.. the guy cleaned it up. Everything was fine on it at the shop... Gauge did show charge while I had it running.. regulator is hooked up correctly... I have new CORRECT gauge cables for the battery.. I got rid of the sparking problem...

After I had the car running I turned it off to see if it would start back up. That's the problem now.. When I go to start it up when it's hot, there is nothing. Actually NO sound at all. No motor turning, no starter, nothing. Kind of odd.. Not sure what it could be.

Jerry

1949 Roadmaster

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I had just taken the starter to the shop.. the guy cleaned it up. Everything was fine on it at the shop... Gauge did show charge while I had it running.. regulator is hooked up correctly... I have new CORRECT gauge cables for the battery.. I got rid of the sparking problem...

After I had the car running I turned it off to see if it would start back up. That's the problem now.. When I go to start it up when it's hot, there is nothing. Actually NO sound at all. No motor turning, no starter, nothing. Kind of odd.. Not sure what it could be.

Jerry

1949 Roadmaster

Jerry will it start if you jump 6v to the solenoid or that terminal at the starter relay? An answer to that question will help narrow it down.

Willie

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Haven't had much time if any this week to tinker around on the ol' Buick... This weekend I should be able to attempt to problem solve again, and this time hopefully with GREAT results..

Willie, how exactly would I jump 6v to the above mentioned locations? (ok ok.. everyone laugh now... :) I can take it.. I have a good sense of humor!

Jerry

1949 Roadmaster

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Haven't had much time if any this week to tinker around on the ol' Buick... This weekend I should be able to attempt to problem solve again, and this time hopefully with GREAT results..

Willie, how exactly would I jump 6v to the above mentioned locations? (ok ok.. everyone laugh now... :) I can take it.. I have a good sense of humor!

Jerry

1949 Roadmaster

First use a simple test light from the ground cable of the battery and see if you are getting power from the ignition switch to the switch on the carburetor. One side should have power all the time with the switch in the run position so the light should light. The other wire will have power when you move the throttle and it closes and the starter should then turn. The test light should light only when you work the throttle to start position and the car is not running. Start the car, get it hot, and then do these tests to see if it is a faulty switch on the Carb first.

Wiring is a lot like plumbing. You need to see where you have, and do not have flow. Dandy Dave!

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First use a simple test light from the ground cable of the battery and see if you are getting power from the ignition switch to the switch on the carburetor. One side should have power all the time with the switch in the run position so the light should light. The other wire will have power when you move the throttle and it closes and the starter should then turn. The test light should light only when you work the throttle to start position and the car is not running. Start the car, get it hot, and then do these tests to see if it is a faulty switch on the Carb first.

Wiring is a lot like plumbing. You need to see where you have, and do not have flow. Dandy Dave!

OK, this is good detail on the carb switch, however the starter relay could still be bad. To jump the solenoid look at it and you will see 2 connections: one is large with a battery cable attached, the other is smaller and is the signal for everything to work....that is where you jump 6v. This will activate the starter whether the key is on or not. (another jumper to the coil and you have just "hot wired" your first car.:D) This technique bypasses your neutral safety switch, so be sure it is in N or P or you will be chasing a car.:eek:

Willie

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OK, this is good detail on the carb switch, however the starter relay could still be bad. To jump the solenoid look at it and you will see 2 connections: one is large with a battery cable attached, the other is smaller and is the signal for everything to work....that is where you jump 6v. This will activate the starter whether the key is on or not. (another jumper to the coil and you have just "hot wired" your first car.:D) This technique bypasses your neutral safety switch, so be sure it is in N or P or you will be chasing a car.:eek:

Willie

Hey Old Tank,.... Wonder if he s corn fused yet??? This is when the corn your boilin gets fused together by extreme heat while you talkin bout how it.... LOL. :D I really think we need to collaborate and get him though this one step at a time. If the solinoid is jumped out and works every time then all he needs is a push button hid under the dash. Dandy Dave!

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Hey Old Tank,.... Wonder if he s corn fused yet??? This is when the corn your boilin gets fused together by extreme heat while you talkin bout how it.... LOL. :D I really think we need to collaborate and get him though this one step at a time. If the solinoid is jumped out and works every time then all he needs is a push button hid under the dash. Dandy Dave!

I pride myself on being an equal opportunity corn fuser...can't wait for Jerry's next post to see how misguided he is now:D.

Jumping the solenoid establishes that the starter and solenoid works or not. Then we move on to other parts in the system that could be defective: starter vacuum switch, starter relay, voltage regulator, generator...

Willie

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  • 2 weeks later...

Willie.. I started her up and let her get hot. Turned her off and same situation. SO, I jumped the starter solenoid like you said. The starter motor ran but did not engage the flywheel. Not sure if this is what is supposed to happen. I am going to try and jump the carb switch now..

Jerry

1949 Roadmaster

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Dave.. I hooked up my test light to the carb switch. With the key in the OFF position, only one side lights up. With the key in the ON position, BOTH side light up (with out me even pressing the gas pedal to start her up)..

Give me insight PLEASE! :)

Jerry

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Aaaa haaaa. There is your culprit. it should not light up on both sides without the peddle pressed. Question is, is it adjusted correctly??? Or being back fed from something else??? It could be being backfed from faulty starter connections that are feeding it. Dandy Dave.

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I wonder why is it that a hot engine causing this switch to all of a sudden malfunction?? I jumped the Carb switch as well, and all i got was a "click" when I turned the key only to off or on..

Jerry

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Ok.. so I've been tinkering with the ol Buick again. It wouldn't start still after about 3 hrs. So I grabbed the two wires going to the Carb switch and started moving them around. I noticed (through the frayed and old cloth wiring) that while moving them around I would get a spark. So I held them together while sparking (minimal spark) and boom! She starts right up. Essentially I think I've jumped the Carb switch (with the key in the ON position). So, is my goblin of a problem a defective Carb switch or old wires??

Jerry

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