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1954 century sedan. GA to NC


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15 hours ago, wndsofchng06 said:

traded the bendix for a slightly better gear,

 

More important (I think) is to use the one with the best overrunning clutch action.  I turn the gear and then reverse direction to make sure it locks reliably.  Minor burrs on the drive gear can be dressed with a file.  Be sure to inspect the ring gear as well - now would be the time to touch-up any burrs on that side too.  Make sure when you install it that the starter gear meshes correctly with the flywheel.  I use a the unbent end of a common paperclip to check the gap between the tip of the starter gear tooth and the root of the flywheel ring gear.  Too tight and the gears will clash and possibly break the housing.  Too loose and you may damage the ring gear...

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Completely resurfaced all contacts in the solenoid, new brushes, new bushings, wrong paint, and back in the car with a new wires!  6 starts later and still working good.... we'll  see.  Drove her to the local chapter meet again, another great time!  Might just drive to Charlotte Auto Fair in two weeks. 

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In other notes,  I changed the oil again (just changed it 1k miles ago, but that was the 1st time in 25+ years).  My oil pressure is down some.  Before at 55mph and above the needle would teeter up toward high.  Now it stays within the normal range.  I bypassed the under-seat heater as water was leaking from that area (hoses are new).  I find the defroster/heater now seems to work better.   Once I'm ready to do the carpet, I'll get to the other heater.

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1 hour ago, wndsofchng06 said:

In other notes,  I changed the oil again (just changed it 1k miles ago, but that was the 1st time in 25+ years).  My oil pressure is down some.  Before at 55mph and above the needle would teeter up toward high.  Now it stays within the normal range.  I bypassed the under-seat heater as water was leaking from that area (hoses are new).  I find the defroster/heater now seems to work better.   Once I'm ready to do the carpet, I'll get to the other heater.

 

A long as she is in the normal all is  normal.  Normally.  Heater /defroster is not sharing the hot coolant with the under seat heater.  I have not fooled with the heater cores on mine as yet but I would say the under seat core is the easier to R and R.   Once piece at a time brother. One piece at a time.  Eventually all is in great shape and all you do is drive it.       

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12 minutes ago, avgwarhawk said:

Eventually all is in great shape and all you do is drive it. 

 

Getting the confidence in her to stop and start safely well, then the fun gets better every day. ;)

(Ask me how I know...)

 

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That's exactly right.  Confidence.  I've gotten real lucky with some of my cars in the past, used, abused and would never die.  This one now has all new brakes and stopping seems good.   Starting has been an issue, but I think we now have that ironed out. Running, well that she does just fine and people love to hate it when I cruise past them!  Although reverse is getting tricky.... time to do those mounts next....

Edited by wndsofchng06 (see edit history)
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3 minutes ago, avgwarhawk said:

For drums this is a good as it gets. :D

 

Last weekend I took a licensed mechanic friend of mine who got his ticket working on drum brake vehicles for a ride in the Special and out on the open road he made the comment that she sounded good!

Then as we approached the off ramp he asked how were the brakes? I said hang on and hit them harder than normal but not intending to try and lock them up. 

Without seat belts in the car he slid a bit forward and then said Man they are good for drum brakes! 

Yup, everything is new and adjusted properly so with full knowledge anti-lock disc brake technology is a better design, I still have confidence when driving respectfully.

 

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18 hours ago, dei said:

Yup, everything is new and adjusted properly so with full knowledge anti-lock disc brake technology is a better design, I still have confidence when driving respectfully.

 

I found out these kids today with their Hondas and Subarus are deleting or disabling their anti-lock systems. I thought it was kinda ironic! All about "weight reduction".

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1 hour ago, Beemon said:

I found out these kids today with their Hondas and Subarus are deleting or disabling their anti-lock systems.

 

Well, two steps forward and one step backwards?:unsure: 

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Went to LKQ junk yard and go some nice speakers,  mounted one under the rear deck...stock location and two small ones in a box under the dash with a radio....  tunes are great!   the radio and equalizer are out of a box of parts Mike had and gave to me, antenna is under the seat.  While thing only cost me $8 for speakers!

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Edited by wndsofchng06
Bad memory (see edit history)
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Just now, wndsofchng06 said:

This is temporary of course until I can afford either a hidden stereo system or having the proper one updated that fits the dash.

 

Matt, I have a 54-55 radio I picked up as a spare locally for tube parts. I don't know if the dash knobs are different or not between 54 and 55 (they look like yours, round black ball knobs), but the radio seems to be in decent shape for a driver. It will unfortunately need a new speaker. If you're interested, let me know! I can recap it and test it, too, just need to make a 500 mile trip first! :P

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3 minutes ago, Beemon said:

 

Matt, I have a 54-55 radio I picked up as a spare locally for tube parts. I don't know if the dash knobs are different or not between 54 and 55 (they look like yours, round black ball knobs), but the radio seems to be in decent shape for a driver. It will unfortunately need a new speaker. If you're interested, let me know! I can recap it and test it, too, just need to make a 500 mile trip first! :P

Thanks!  I have 4 or 5 of them here.  But want to rebuild, update to handle bluetooth, etc...

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??? I was all set to drive her the three hours to Charlotte tomorrow for the auto fair,  now tomorrow will be a bust!   Ugh!   I might try to go early Sunday morning,  but everybody is usually packed and gone by 1pm, so i suspect once many pack for Saturday's rain, they just won't return Sunday.   The fall show is fine, but the spring flea market is bigger and that's my whole reason for going...

Edited by wndsofchng06 (see edit history)
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5 hours ago, wndsofchng06 said:

??? I was all set to drive her the three hours to Charlotte tomorrow for the auto fair,  now tomorrow will be a bust!   Ugh!   I might try to go early Sunday morning,  but everybody is usually packed and gone by 1pm, so i suspect once many pack for Saturday's rain, they just won't return Sunday.   The fall show is fine, but the spring flea market is bigger and that's my whole reason for going...

I'm still down here and I don't think it will be too bad. A little dreary but not a wash out. 

 

Hit me up if you come. I'll get you free tickets and maybe even a parking spot if you bring the 54. Have to see what our parking situation is like in the morning. 

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18 minutes ago, NCReatta said:

I'm still down here and I don't think it will be too bad. A little dreary but not a wash out. 

 

Hit me up if you come. I'll get you free tickets and maybe even a parking spot if you bring the 54. Have to see what our parking situation is like in the morning. 

How do you say no to that?

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24 minutes ago, NCReatta said:

I'm still down here and I don't think it will be too bad. A little dreary but not a wash out. 

 

Hit me up if you come. I'll get you free tickets and maybe even a parking spot if you bring the 54. Have to see what our parking situation is like in the morning. 

Sent u an email

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Well, I guess for once I'm glad it rained.  If not I'd be stuck in Charlotte!!  UGH.  I drove around locally today.  Probably 30-40 miles total, at the 8th stop where I turned the car off, it wouldn't start.  Starter did the same thing as before, you could here the solenoid throw the gear forward, but not turn the engine.  Then after 3 or 4 attempts back-to-back, it would turn the engine, but sound really weird doing it and not turn it far enough or fast enough to start the car.  After the umpteenth attempt, it started and I drove home.  At home I shut it off, then when I hit the starter immediately after, it fired right up.  Shut it off again, hit the starter again and the same damn no starting.  I really want to drive and enjoy this car, but it's just not reliable enough.  I guess my next move is start saving up the $200 plus to buy a remanufactured starter online.  I've wasted so much time fooling with such a simple issue,  I'm really over it, I need to spend my money on other things like all the rotten rubber parts, I found today that the windshield is leaking badly and the springs are shot (4 adults and it's bottomed out).  Maybe this hobby isn't for me, I am just not patient enough for this.  When I hit the lottery I can buy something fully restored to look at.

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59 minutes ago, wndsofchng06 said:

Maybe this hobby isn't for me, I am just not patient enough for this. 

The 55 that I drive all over the country is finally a fantastic driver.  I bought it in 1980.  There is a profession that specializes in instant gratification.:D

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Are your starter wires tight? Did you check the starter relay? Are the starter wires solid? My car essentially has the same starter as yours and it is reliable for a daily driver. It just needs a little love, don't be discouraged.

 

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5 minutes ago, Beemon said:

Are your starter wires tight? Did you check the starter relay? Are the starter wires solid? My car essentially has the same starter as yours and it is reliable for a daily driver. It just needs a little love, don't be discouraged.

 

It's going to love the scrap pile when I go get a mini high torque unit 

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I love my mini high torque not an ounce of problems with something around four years of actual daily driving..I  will  say that before I went this route I had tried a rebuilt original starter.. All new two gauge wires and a new starter relay...a month later I had problems similar to what you're describing.. Turns out my fancy new 60 dollar relay was crap luckily I had kept the functioning original relay.. But I still thought it was better to gut it all and go with a new mini high torque 

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I am jumping in here kind of late, not knowing what all you have done but, if you are REALLY SURE you are actually hearing the gear engage.....

 

There are really only 3 possibilities.

 

1) The cables or the connections are bad (bet you have been through this already).

2) The copper bolts at the back of the solenoid are worn out and no longer quite touch the copper disc that the solenoid pushes against them. Also check the adjustment of the solenoid linkage. If it were far enough off, I think it might prevent the copper disc from touching the bolts.

3) The brushes in the starter are shot and not making good contact with the commutator.

 

Hint: it's always #2

 

#3 can be visually checked if you disassemble the starter. They are either worn really short or they arent.

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6 hours ago, Bloo said:

I am jumping in here kind of late, not knowing what all you have done but, if you are REALLY SURE you are actually hearing the gear engage.....

 

There are really only 3 possibilities.

 

1) The cables or the connections are bad (bet you have been through this already).

2) The copper bolts at the back of the solenoid are worn out and no longer quite touch the copper disc that the solenoid pushes against them. Also check the adjustment of the solenoid linkage. If it were far enough off, I think it might prevent the copper disc from touching the bolts.

3) The brushes in the starter are shot and not making good contact with the commutator.

 

Hint: it's always #2

 

#3 can be visually checked if you disassemble the starter. They are either worn really short or they arent.

Cables were all replaced and connections cleaned.  Although the largest I found locally was 4 gauge.  I need to find bigger.

As for #3. A few posts back you can see I put new bushings and brushes, and the interior of the starter looked good other wise.   

As for point 2, I took all this apart, and cleaned each contact thoroughly.  Had not thought that the copper bolts could be that worn down,  but still confusing that it doesn't fail every time. 

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1 hour ago, wndsofchng06 said:
11 hours ago, old-tank said:

Starter relay?

The the starter drive wouldn't move forward right? 

Bypass the relay:  apply 12v+ to the black wire on the relay that goes to the solenoid during the no start condition.  If it starts fine then it is the relay...if same condition the problem is at the starter.

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1 minute ago, old-tank said:

Bypass the relay:  apply 12v+ to the black wire on the relay that goes to the solenoid during the no start condition.  If it starts fine then it is the relay...if same condition the problem is at the starter.

Ah yes, I've done that.   Same condition!  I think bloo might have it with the contacts.  While I made sure they were all clean,  once the cover is on,  you can't see how well they do or do not contact. 

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The worn-out copper bolt problem is typically intermittent.

 

Also, if it were a misadjusted linkage, that could be dependent on temperature and where the flywheel stopped the last time the engine was shut off. For this to happen the starter drive would have to be bottoming out. I'm not sure if that is possible on a 54, but it sure is on a 37. I would sure find a way to check it while the starter is off. The 54 manual wants you to pull the solenoid in with a couple of the cells of a 6v battery IIRC. Thats unlikely. You could probably remove the connection from the solenoid down to the starter motor and just use 12v or 6v I think. On a 37 you can do it by hand, and maybe you could here, too.

 

The whole idea is to push/pull the solenoid in (just the big round part that moves) by the outer diameter of the part that moves, in other words dont push on the linkage. Then, at the starter drive (gear) push back lightly (toward disengage). Measure from the tip of the gear to the surface it could touch. I think its .010-.050 . It should definitely not bottom out hard from solenoid action.

 

So, check that the next time it is off, but if I were betting, it is the copper bolts.

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33 minutes ago, Bloo said:

The worn-out copper bolt problem is typically intermittent.

 

Also, if it were a misadjusted linkage, that could be dependent on temperature and where the flywheel stopped the last time the engine was shut off. For this to happen the starter drive would have to be bottoming out. I'm not sure if that is possible on a 54, but it sure is on a 37. I would sure find a way to check it while the starter is off. The 54 manual wants you to pull the solenoid in with a couple of the cells of a 6v battery IIRC. Thats unlikely. You could probably remove the connection from the solenoid down to the starter motor and just use 12v or 6v I think. On a 37 you can do it by hand, and maybe you could here, too.

 

The whole idea is to push/pull the solenoid in (just the big round part that moves) by the outer diameter of the part that moves, in other words dont push on the linkage. Then, at the starter drive (gear) push back lightly (toward disengage). Measure from the tip of the gear to the surface it could touch. I think its .010-.050 . It should definitely not bottom out hard from solenoid action.

 

So, check that the next time it is off, but if I were betting, it is the copper bolts.

I guess that means I'll order this: 

https://m.ebay.com/itm/1954-55-56-Buick-Chevy-Cadillac-Olds-Starter-Solenoid-Repair-Kit-NORS-STK2-/392013839598?_trksid=p2385738.m4383.l4275.c10&_mwBanner=1

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Wow... I had no idea it would be that easy to get the parts. In the past I have had to adapt bolts for newer starters to some really old ones.

 

You can take it apart and look to really see the damage. The copper disc eats a spot off one side of the bolt head. On some starters it is possible to turn the head around backwards to get a new surface. More commonly someone has already done this, and both sides are gone.

 

Here is how it is supposed to work: There is a little coil spring that "loads" the copper disc (it is not solidly connected to the solenoid). When the solenoid pulls in, and after it engages the gear, but before it bottoms in the bore, it hits a little rod that moves the copper disc. The copper disc hits the bolts, and the little spring compresses, but not very much, as the solenoid hits the bottom of it's bore.

 

The spring tension holds the disc against the bolts while you crank. It is only compressed maybe .080" (guessing because I don't know the exact number). If the spring was not in the design, the solenoid bottoming and the disc bottoming on the copper bolts would have to match exactly, and it probably wouldn't last a week. As it is, the spring tension holds the disc tightly against the copper bolts as the heads wear. Over time, the heads get further away, and eventually the solenoid bottoms before the disc touches the bolts. Near the end, it is really a crapshoot whether the car will start or not.

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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Had a similar problem with my 63 Riviera.  When everything got warmed up, the starter wouldn't budge,  I talked to a rebuilder here in the KC area and was told that as starters aged, the windings would get hot, expand, and seize the starter.  After things cooled down, the windings would cool, and contract and it will work again.  He told me the next time it happened to pour a bucket of cool water over the starter and try to start the car again.  Sure enough he was right.  He then rewound the original starter to high torque specs.  It's been fine ever since.  Lots less money than a mini-starter and it still looks stock.

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