JV Puleo

REO Chain starter

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In the teens REO used a chain driven starter that was attached to the connection between the engine and the separate gearbox. Others may have used it too but by then it was becoming much more common for the engine and gearbox to be directly connected through a bell housing. I'm curious to find one, or parts of one or any reference that will point me in the direction of the patent drawings as I might want to incorporate one in my refurbishment of my 1910 Mitchell. I'm not keen on adding a ring gear and a conventional starter and really don't mind cranking but the time will eventually come when that might not be such a good idea... it's not here yet but since the chassis is completely apart and I'm making a hundred other things I'd certainly think about adding this one.

 

It might be a Northeast Electric system as they made the combination generator/distributor used at the same time.

 

Thanks,

 

JV Puleo

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)

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Thanks very much.

Since I posted this I did a little searching and came to the conclusion that they used a roller clutch on the sprocket attached to the drive shaft. That would have disengaged the starter motor as soon as the engine started. The photo confirms that. It is actually a very simple system although it is only applicable when the transmission and engine are separate. It will be a lot easier to make than modifying the flywheel to take a ring gear and, at the same time, be almost "authentic". In thinking about this, I remember an early Peerless (maybe c.1910, in the Heritage Plantation collection) that had an electric starter added around 1914 and I suspect this is how it was done.  I think the major issue is that it needs a gear reduction starter motor to get the sprockets small enough. That is certainly what the picture seems to show. If Dodge used a starter like this it would certainly be easier to find. Did the early Dodge's have a separate engine & transmission?

 

RR ghosts and PIs used a chain drive starter as did (I think) Pierce Arrow but in both cases, they acted on the transmission. With a RR you have to have the car in neutral with the clutch out in order to start it. If you press in the clutch the starter just spins.

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If anyone could manufacture one of these it would be you.  Carry on with your excellent work.

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Yes! With a big gear reduction. I actually found one on ebay but the asking price is stratospheric. About 4 times what I'd value it at. I might have a problem with the voltage too. The electrical system I'm making is 12 volt. The earliest electrical systems could be almost anything - 12, 14 and 24 volt systems were used. I chose 12 simply because all the other parts, like bulbs, are easily found. Since the car didn't have an electrical system, to begin with, I'm more or less re-creating an early one. Six volt systems don't start to become the norm until the teens so I'm going to have to find a 12-volt gear reduction starter. Ironically, until a few years ago I had one but, thinking "I'll never use that" I sold it.

Can 6-volt starters be rewound as 12-volt? I confess that electrics is not my strong point.

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12 volts wouldn't hurt a 6 volt starter.  The problem is more with the starter drive because the extra voltage engages the drive quicker and harder.  Shouldn't be a concern if you aren't trying to use a flywheel ring gear.

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You can change a 12V starter to 6V and vice versa by installing the appropriate field coils.

 

There was another system sometimes called Dynastart. It used the same motor as starter and generator. It mounted on the front of the engine and drove through a planetary reduction gear for starting, then was driven directly by the engine for generating.

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The chain drive starter above for the REO was also used on the Studebaker Big Six from 1918 through 1927. Same starter... 6 volts. it was mounted on the front of the crankshaft.

 

Frank

Edited by oldford (see edit history)

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Thanks guys. This is a big help. If I do this I have to put it at the back of the engine at some place on the connection between the engine and transmission. I think there is room but I took the car apart a long time ago and until I put some of those chassis parts back I won't have a good idea of where there is room. Also, I'd prefer that it not show. I read the discussion of this in a 1917  edition of Automobile Engineering where the observation was that these were going out of use although if Studebaker used it as late as '27 that wasn't entirely true.

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If you aren't concerned about using modern parts you could use a cheap reduction gear starter, substitute a sprocket for the drive gear and make a suitable sprocket on an over running hub for the drive shaft or the front end of the engine.

 

Then you could add an alternator off some mini car. Chain or belt driven or even friction drive on the flywheel. If you want to go friction drive use a skate board wheel in place of the pulley.

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My 1917 Studebaker uses a Wagner EM-183.  I understand that various Studebaker models also used Wagner EM-201, Wagner S-503 and Remy 723A.

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Actually, I am making a concerted effort to keep all my modifications in the context of the working life of the car. Some compromises have to be made, as they are with all restorations (although I don't use that word to describe what I'm doing. This isn't even an attempt to "restore" the car to its original specifications). But, I am trying not to do anything that would be impossible in, say 1915. I would use a later starter but I'd prefer to use one that was essentially the same as those available before that date.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)

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The North East starter generator off a teens or twenties Dodge is probably your best choice, and it is 12 volt. But, you never know your luck. Similar units were used on other cars, I suppose it depends on what you can find.

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On 9/21/2018 at 4:13 PM, JV Puleo said:

 

 

With a RR you have to have the car in neutral with the clutch out in order to start it. If you press in the clutch the starter just spins.

 

Learned the hard way with the same sort of situation on an old triumph motorcycle. Put it in neutral but pulled the clutch lever in as I went to kick it over. Resulted in a hyper extended knee! Gave it a good kick with follow through and no resistance left me pretty crippled for a few days. Only takes once with something like that to learn!

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Studebaker used a chain dtive starter which drove through a one way clutch at the front of the crankshaft.  It was used until 1928.

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You could still have your 12v system but use 2 - 6v batteries in series. Tap the 6v starter off the grounded battery. Having said that, I don't know what electrical devices you intend to put on a brass car other than gages & bulbs? 6v gages & bulbs are just as easy to find as 12v.

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It is lights that concern me the most. I've been caught out by darkness - after a minor breakdown with nothing but the kerosene side and tail light working. I don't have a trailer or anything to tow it with so anywhere this car goes it will have to do so under its own power. That isn't a problem here in New England where there are almost always old roads that you can use to avoid the highways.

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This has been a big help. I now think I know exactly what will be appropriate if I decide to do this. There are some complications that come from the odd arrangement of the transmission (it moves with the drive shaft) but they aren't insurmountable. It essentially boils down to a starter motor with a gear reduction attached to the drive train through an overunning clutch. Does anyone know what the usual gear reduction for a ring gear starter is (i.e. the number of teeth on the Bendix gear as opposed to the number of teeth on the flywheel)? That would give me a rough idea of the total reduction needed.

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Typical flywheel gear reduction would be about 10:1. The starter in PFindlay's picture looks to be about 3 or 4 to 1. That is why the North East starters had a built in gear reduction, you can see the round gearbox on the end of the starter motor. I don't suppose the exact ratio is critical.

 

I heard of someone who did what you are planning many years ago in the 1950s. He installed a Dodge chain drive starter on a WW1 era monster like a 600 cu in Pierce Arrow or Locomobile. It did not have the oomph to turn over such a big engine but it made it easy to swing it over with the crank. He had a switch by the front of the car that looked like a choke knob, he would pull it out, crank the engine by hand then push it in.

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That is interesting. For some reason, I was thinking about something like 30:1 but I admit I've never counted the teeth in a ring gear. In any case, getting a 10:1 or even 20:1 reduction is not difficult. I think you're right on with the 3:1 reduction on the REO/Northeast setup. That's the same figure I came up with looking at it. The RR's I've worked on turned quite slowly by modern standards, probably because they needed a large reduction to move that massive engine.

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Chevrolet  ring gear 139 teeth (6 volt starter) or 162 teeth (12 volt starter). Both starters had 9 teeth. So, the first was a 15.44:1 ratio and the second was 18:1. They went to a finer mesh gear for 12V because the starter ran a lot faster and they did not want to chew up the gears. 6V 4 teeth to the inch, 12V 5 teeth to the inch.

 

I suppose this was typical. Larger cars may have had a larger diameter flywheel and clutch and maybe lower gearing.

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