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'30 Commander starter problem


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My 1930 Commander has had a problem with the starter for a long time.

When I depress the starter foot pedal often it spins freely without engaging the ringgear. I then remove my foot, juggle the pedal around and sideways (but not turning the starter motor) a bit and depress again and it usually engages and turns the motor over properly. It seems to me like the starter starts spinning a fraction too soon before the ring gear is engaged. Is there some adjustment I could make.

Both the starter pinion and ringgear are in good shape.

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If the 30 Commander has a Bendix starter this sounds like a sticking Bendix. That is the gear-spring thingy on the end of the starter motor shaft. It uses inertia to "unscrew" when the starter motor starts which engages the gear with the flywheel ring gear. If rust, dirt, or old grease gets into the bendix it sticks. When this happens to mine (every 5 years or so) I can usually shake it loose just as you describe. Pull the starter, take the bendix off, and clean it well. When you install it use a dry lube like lock lubricant and you should be good to go.

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Nathan

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Hi Nathan,

Thanks for your response. As you can see below on a photo of a spare I have my starter is a little different. I imagined that the lever on top engaged the drive gear then further movement closed the electrical switch. However it seems that there is some sort of spring or mechanism in the section between the gear and motor. I will dismantle this spare and see what I can find this weekend.

Thanks, John.

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John,

The style starter you have has a over-running clutch style drive which is different than the inertia style shown above. When it sounds like it's not engaging, is there any grinding noise like the starter drive gear is grinding on the face of the ring gear? I'm guessing no. If not, it sounds like the starter drive clutch is bad and slipping. In this scenario the starter drive gear is actually engaging in to the ring gear, but the clutch slips so the starter motors but the drive gear just sits there engaged in to the ring gear. A lot of people miss this because the starter and drive will look fine and even bench test fine, but when the starter drive meets the resistance of the engine it slips. I should have a drive available for your starter, let me know if I can help you out.

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Hi Jason,

Thanks for your suggestion and offer of help. I will pull this spare apart over the weekend and see if I can get an understanding of its operation based on your explanation. I may have some better informed questions then.

From the photo you certainly do a nice reconditioning job and I'm afraid in my engine bay it would put the rest to shame. :)

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Hi Jason,

I pulled my starter apart and the clutch drive seems to be in good condition and working OK.

The problem is that sometimes the starter seems to start spinning before the pinion drive gear is engaged with the ring gear. Yes, to answer your question in a previous post, this results in some grinding or clashing noise. I can try again and it will more often than not work correctly and seems to depend a bit on the pressure and angle that I press with my foot.

I am wondering if filing a bit off the lever operating arm lug where it contacts the electrical switch so that the electrical switch is engaged slightly later would help? See photo.

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Regards, John.

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John,

I'd say you are correct. Thats why I was wondering if it's grinding or not. Grinding obviously is an engagement issue and non-grinding is usually a clutch issue.

You could grind a little off of that lever, but I would try and avoid doing that if possible. I always try and steer away from changing something that is suppose to be as is. Is there any type of adjustment along the way in that linkage? On the inside of the starter, that lever has two buttons that slide in to the drive pulley. Over time those buttons always wear down, I'm wondering if yours are worn down quite a ways causing the drive to engage after the starter is already motoring. Those levers are hard to find, so usually the only option is to weld them back up and then grind as close to round as possible.

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Hi Jason,

Good point about modifications because it did work ok once as is.

However I think you are on to it with the wear factor. There is a small bit of wear on the pins and probably a bit on the ring that they contact. Looking further the lever pivot pin is also worn a little. Combined they may be enough to throw the operating balance out.

My son is handy with metal and feels that he can grind off the pins then drill the arm and replace the pins to original specs. The pivot pin is an easy replace.

Thanks for your advice..I will let you know how I get on.

Regards, John.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Jason and Nathan, I have repaired the worn parts of my starter operating mechanism and it now works perfectly. The balance between the pinion engaging and motor starting is fine indeed with a bit of wear in the fork pins and the swivel pin being enough to cause the problem.

Many thanks for your help.

John.

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