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1939 dodge won't start or attempt to


laddy

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Hey, 1939 Dodge 4 door sedan all original. Started a few weeks ago, no problem. Yesterday. turned on ignition..hit starter pedal and nothing..NOTHING..no noise at all. Checked battery. Full 8 volts (not 6 cause I switched out the battery to 8 years ago), put meter on Hot at starter and on ground and got full 8volts. Starter can't be 5 years old. Hit starter with a rubber mallet...Nothing. Can someone suggest a check list of what I am missing??? Thanks to all in advance. Fred

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cleaned all connections. Did not put the shaft in to try to tork it by hand. Started up without incident within 6months but the brakes had gone down. Waited for a friend to get time to help me bleed them. All went well. Now...no start. Just stuck what to check next. It has a new voltage regulator replaced (unwarranted ) 1 year ago. Any Help in trouble shooting GREATLY APPRECIATED. Thanks Fred

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I'd try putting the car in high gear and rock it back and forth by hand and see what happens. I've had cars stop with a starter drive tooth binding on a flywheel tooth; rocking back and forth in gear was just enough to move everything back into the correct position.

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Your '39 has a foot-pedal starter. Turn on headlights and step on starter. If headlights go dim, I'd check the starter or try to spin the engine manually to make sure it isn't stuck. If nothing flickers when you step on the starter, it might be bad contacts in the foot switch.

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Disconnect the battery cable,

Loosen the starter attaching bolts to see if you can disengage the starter drive (Bendix) from the flywheel

Per rocking the car - be sure the parking brake is off when car is in 3rd gear - then try to rock

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  • 2 weeks later...

Finally got bolts on starter loose and giggled it big time. Still no go. When I turn key and hit the starter pedal I don't see any change in dash ammeter arrow. I put a meter on the hot at starter and ground to engine and I have full current. Can't rock the car but it is huge and I am not. Could my problem be electrical and if so how to trouble shoot it? Thanks Fred

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Hook up your voltmeter across the battery as you described earlier. When you engage and attempt to crank the starter, the voltage as shown on your voltmeter should drop considerably, like several volts, as current flows through the starter motor. If it doesn't drop, that indicates an open circuit, either in the vehicle wiring or inside the starter itself.

Try bypassing the vehicle wiring and starter switch by running a heavy gauge booster cable aka battery jumper cable from the battery and momentarily connecting it directly to the terminal on the starter. (CAUTION: Engine may crank or start at that moment). You also want to inspect and test the chassis return side of the circuit in similar manner with another jumper cable. (ALSO NOTE: I believe this vehicle is positive ground. Positive or negative ground doesn't really matter in diagnosis as long as you know which.)

If the starter motor won't operate even when hot-wired, that would indicate an internal starter problem.

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Magoo is correct, 39 dodge is positive ground. Also hard to test battery when engaging starter switch as the battery is under the driver seat. I would bench test the starter, if it turns on the bench you can be almost certain it is the starter pedal contacts that are toast.

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I'll go ahead and pull the starter out. It is a bear to do. My reach and space are limited. Battery is indeed under the front seat making a lot of routine things Hard/impossible to do. Being in a cramped garage and unable to move the car makes even more times tough. The starter pedal is a mechanical press onto the lever which depresses the switch on the top of the starter. I removed the switch and checked it out already. The starter has been replaced on this car three times in 30 years. Seems like a lot to me especially given its rare use. Location is low left side of engine,, you have to bend way over the fender and way down and in. Thanks for the help any more ideas...keep them coming. Thanks Fred

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Got the starter off. Have not " Bench" tested it yet. Since starter switch is on top of starter I have to figure out how to jump to the two contacts and hit the starter button all at the same time. Any clue? Fred

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I will hit it tomorrow....Again MANY THANKS for all your help. I put a screw driver to the fly wheel of the car and at least it is free. I think the reason it won't rock is the le left front wheel. Tends to freeze up over time due to the location of the exterior door. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks Fred

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A 39 Dodge starter switch is pictured. When the silver button is pressed, it completes the circuit to supply electric power to the starter motor. I would have asked you to reach in the eng. comp. and press the button; The starter motor should spin w/o engaging the flywheel/engine. That test would eliminate or confirm the problem is with the mechanical set up for the starter foot pedal or the switch itself.

Now with the starter (secured) on the bench, you might consider hooking up the battery and then pushing the starter button or "plunger" with your thumb. The starter motor should spin vigorously. If still "nothing", inspect sw contacts or consider possible hungup or worn out brushes.

post-44716-143142179673_thumb.jpg

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Hooked Positive to housing. Touched negative to switch housing. Sparks but no starter movement at all. Guess I get to invest in a new starter. Agree??? Thanks to all for your help. My very best regards to all. Fred

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Other cable goes on switch terminal [bolt],,,

The switch body is bolted to the motor body directly,,,,

therefore you made a direct short,,,

much like shorting the pliers across the battery terminals

Dont do it,,,Think it over again and retest,,,Cheers,,Ben

p/s,,,can someone elaborate,,and give better picture of the problem,,,CB

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Don't touch negative to switch housing. You should attach it to the switch terminal bolt. Once that is done you can trigger the starter with the switch by depressing it.

I also wouldn't run out and get a new starter until you confirm it is the starter, and then it may be an easy fix (dirty contacts, stuck brush, dirty armature, etc)

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I had similar trouble with my car. Turns out I twisted the inner contact of the starter switch while tightening down the battery cable. Take off the starter switch. You can see the contacts inside the switch and how overtightening the nut messes up the alignment. I learned this from an auto electric tech who took the time to school me. Lesson learned; use 2 wrenches when tightening the battery cable.:rolleyes:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Still screwing around with this thing. Starter was rebuilt, remounted ( what a pain in the a**) Now hit starter it whines but doesn't deploy the bendix. Loosened nuts, hit with rubber hammer etc. Getting to roll the thing out of the garage and light it on fire.

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As seen on other posts in this forum, its these little glitches that make the car "enduring" to its owner. Don't give up yet!! Getting the starter to spin is farther ahead that you were when you started this discussion.

Terry

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Does The amount of depression of the lever on the starter have anything to do with deployment of the bendix??? If so I may have screwed myself. Rather than depressing the starter pedal 3 inches I made an aluminum block to take up about 2.5" of travel so I only have to depress the starter pedal half an inch. That could be why the starter spins and the bendix doesn't fly out inside????

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Be careful of any and all assumptions when working on non currant models,,

We assume the starter has been SUCCESSFULLY rebuilt,,,,,as A 6 VOLT,,What if the fellow put in a 12 volt field coil,,,Just a part # or 22 different,,Sure it'll run ,,,,but no ZZIP,,,lazy,,,

When on the bench,,make contact w/ 6v and it should want to flip around,,,NO I dont have a meter,,,Is there anyone around you that has experience with older [6v] tractors,,They tend to be in service longer,,,

Many years ago I had 5 rebuilt/remanufactured clutch pressure plates,,,#6 was the good one,,

Could ya believe,,,I do now,,,I went over to the clutch shop and talked to the owner,,as it was

his nickel that was at stake,,I think 3 guys were fired on that one,,,

Any clutch that came out of the old Chickering Piano building [boston Clutch] was perfect,,

corner of Mass Ave and Washington st,,Largest piano factory in the world,,back when Boston

was piano capitol of the world,,,It was just a few streets over on Mass Av, from Symphony Hall

Oh yes,,the 1906 Stanley [record racer 127mph] was on Sympony Hall stage at the auto show that year,,1906 was a good year,,

A friend of mine worked at the generator/starter shop,,HE told me that one guy would test em and then THROW em into a laundry cart to be boxed and shipped,,So every one had a good chance of failure,,,The shop was located in a hi drug area also,,,So look around,,the problems may not all be yours,,Alcohol may be a larger problem than pot,,,If you cant control it might as well at least be aware,,,

NoW,,,when you had it on the bench,,,how free was the gear on that twist spline part of the shaft where the pinion rides,,,,,,There is a li'll [tiny] pin[nail] spring,,,a bit larger than a ball point pen guts,,that prevents the gear from rattling back/forth on the spline/shaft,,

There is a weight on one side also to assist in this I think,,,Refer to Dyke's manual,,

The model T used these also,,,,Hope you enjoy a history lesson with the tech comments,,

Were all waiting for the next installment,,Cheers,,Ben,,,,Now you know why I don't like electric

poorly made anything,,Gas lights always work,,Still dont like juce brakes Nothing

in the world like a good Packard 30 as a daily driver,,,lets see how many smile on that one,,,CB

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OOOOOps,,,,A BENDIX drive has an enerta engagement,,pinion on a shaft with

SPLINE,,,about an inch or 2 per revolution,,,like an ACME thread on a lathe lead screw,,,[do lathes still have lead screws??],,

The manual engagement gear is on a spline shaft,,,and the gear is pushed back an forth into--out of the flywheel by PEDAL---OR--SLENOID,,,,thats the 2"d thing 3" long sits atop the starter and has a couple of wire terminals,,, Selenoid is good because in winter,,,if 1 cyl fires it sometimes causes the BENIX to kick out,,,and the starter spins,,,,no go,,,grr,,Cheers,,Ben

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Achtung! Achtung! Yes....I screwed myself machining the part between the foot starter pedal and the starter. Bone tumor in the femur and multiple surgeries left a weak leg. Thought to reduce travel (and pressure on the femur) was a good idea. NO!! The pedal needs to go down to throw out the bendix as well as deploy the starter motor. Still not started but getting closer!!!!! Thanks Will let you know! Fred

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For later on,,,,,,,There is probably a retro fit starter that will have the engagement selenoid on top to make it a push button affair,,like a 1915 Pierce-arrow or Locomobile,,haha,,Ben

Need a second person,,,,Put a wire from the coil to spark plug lying loose on the engine,,

kick er over w/key on,,,should get spark on every compression sroke,,ie,,3sparksm/ rev,,

Pit about 1/2 to 1 oz gas down the carb,, wires where they belong,,,see if she fires,,,

If theres compression it should fire,,,,

We didn't check the rotor,,dist,,,so if no go,,pull the plug wires off and hook to spare set of [good] plugs,,,and see if they all spark,,A word here,,,be sure plug wires have not gottn

mixed up,,,1no start,,,,2,,,If a plug fires when the intake valve is open,,,chance of a fire ,,flare up,is quite likely,,,Have friend put an old # plate over carb,,to cut off air ,,fire goes out,,,puttin on the aircleaner probably same effect,,,[ [The Stanley steamer handbook says to lift the hood so it don't burn the paint]]]

Listen to the starter noise,,,,,,,,good compression will crank slower,,,,,,uneven cranking

indicates leaky valves,,,,oh yeh,,,squirt a few shots from the oil can in the cylenders,,,engine oil,,,It will help seal the rings,,,,even briefly,,,,and help get it running

There was a fishing boat 1cyl engine make an' break ign,,,so loose ,,to get it started,,they took off the head and greesed the bore put in a prime charge of gas and started it first pull,,,

If it didnt start first pull,,,head off again,,,,That engine was Loooose,,Eventually they made a new set of rings for the old girl,,,,,Memories,,,Ben

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STARTED!!!!!

My Many thanks to all that helped and stuck with me. There were a multiple failures....All sorted out and started today! Ran for 20 minutes. Fuel leak at the filter bowl. Shut it down. Will deal with that tomorrow. I think I am out of luck for at least today. Many thanks to all that helped and supported me!!!! Thank you, Thank you, thank you. Lots of times it just takes reinforcement of what you are thinking to push you forward. THANKS TO ALL!! Fred

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