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1918 E-49 starter/generator restoration job


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This morning I took the starter out of my E-49, it wasn't difficult at all. Yesterday I took the starter out of my spare E-49 for a practice run.

 

I am taking them to Day's Repair in Kinderhook, NY for refurbishment. All they do is repair generators and starters all day.

 

After this I'll be able to start the car for the first time in 80 years.

 

 

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Edited by Morgan Wright
error (see edit history)
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That's the spare engine, it also has a water pump that looks like something taken off a rot-gut "family secret" mill during prohibition.

 

It's getting parted out, Tom Black has the head, other parts remain.....block, crank, rods etc.

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Here are the 2 rocker stanchions I have.

 

There are 2 exhaust rocker arms, 1 front intake rocker arm, and 1 rear intake rocker arms.

 

On one stanchion I removed the red paint with bulldog because I was going to use it to replace one on my car that was welded decades ago, but decided not to because they did a good weld job.

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This starter generator has 5 brushes. 3 for the generator and 2 for the motor. A guy on ebay has them for $145 but no way I'm paying that, so I took all the brushes out of my 3 generator/motors and am using the longest of each one. Between the 3 there are enough decent brushes for the 5 spots. 

 

 

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Today the starter/generator was finished at the repair shop (he owns a shop where all they repair is alternators generators and starters all day) finished my starter on Jughead. It's the oldest one he has ever worked on and he's been there since 1984. He had no source for new brushes for a starter that old, and the guy selling the set of brushes on ebay for $145 has to find a new sucker, I'm not paying that kind of money for brushes. What I did was take all the brushes out of the two spare starters I have (one from my spare E-49 one from a 1919 K-49), he took all the brushes out of Jughead's starter,  we compared them all and put the best brushes in the 5 spots in Jughead's starter. Some of the brushes were pretty good and barely worn, and I had a few new ones I got on ebay. There were 4 different size brushes.

 

1 upper starter brush

1 lower starter brush

2 generator brushes both the same

1 "third" generator brush

 

So 4 different brushes for 5 spots. I have one spare starter from my spare car and a really rusty and seized starter full of mud, etc. Believe it or not, 2 of the best brushes were in that really bad starter. It seems that graphite never decomposes over time.

 

Anyway, after oiling Jughead's starter, putting new insulation on some of the wires, hooking it up to 6V, he got the generator to motor, and then pushed in the plunger and WOOOOO WOOOOO WOOOOO that starter was cranking for the first time in 80 years!  Then he spun the generator on his mill and it made enough juice to turn a light on. 

 

In just a short while I'll have the car running.

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I'm going to run new ignition wires down the conduit from the dashboard first. These have slightly cracked insulation, not good. There is a circuit breaker for the headlight circuit but none for the ignition wires, can't risk a short. Looking around for black cloth-covered 14 gauge.

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Thanks. I bought 8 feet of heat shrink to insulate the original wires. Now it's all safe.

 

I left the parts of the wires that show in the engine compartment exposed, so it looks original. 

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The generator "motors" but only when you give it a shove to get it started. Of the 5 times I "motored" it, it only started on its own once. The other times I had to use a screwdriver to push the drive teeth to make it start. What's wrong with it?

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Morgan

   Did you clean the generator commutator.  You do not need to clean the starter commutator because the brushes are harder,  but the generator commutator  needs to be cleaned using a broken hacksaw blade.    Hugh

 

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Wow! I guess I'll be slotting some mica tomorrow. Thanks Hugh!

 

I have to take the starter out tomorrow anyway. The distributor is off by one gear tooth. When I move the generator so the distributor rotor points to #1 on the cap, and align the taper pin on the shaft, it's off by the tiniest amount, I want to be able to advance and retard the distributor around the #1 button, with the engine at 7 before top dead center #1:

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Edited by Morgan Wright (see edit history)
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Morgan, 

   I did have a little trouble finding a fine tooth and narrow hack saw blade in my tool box, but they are out there.

    I just rotated the distributor and pointed the rotor at #1 roughly.  Then I found it easier to use a 12 volt timing light powered from a battery and clipped on number 1.   Also that factory mark is 7 degrees AFTER TDC.  I was informed to make a mark 7 degrees Before TDC and use that for when the spark lever is all the way up (for starting).  Better performance will be the benefit, but you can't use the hand crank for starting.  Your call.  

 

Hugh

Edited by Hubert_25-25 (see edit history)
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Morgan,

 

I had the SG same problem with my '18. Wouldnt always motor. Turned out to be a bad commutator segment connection on the generator part. I replaced it.

Regardless, the starter should crank the engine once the gears are engaged and the starter brushes dropped.

You shouldnt need to remove the distributor to change the timing. Loosening the screw in the center of the points cam should make the point cam totally loose to rotate.

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You replaced the commutator segment, or replaced the whole generator? How does one go about replacing a commutator segment?  Or maybe you mean you replaced the brush.

 

This morning I got the timing right. Today I'm cleaning "mica".

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I wasnt very clear. I should have said that I replaced the Armature.

 

I actually was able to get the original armature generating and starting again by shorting the dead segment to one adjacent to it by soldering it.  Crude but effective and I was just doing the so I'd have a spare in a pinch.

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Morgan, 

    I know your SG unit is similar to mine although different.  Here is a picture of the mica cut out on mine.  I did the Starter commutator as well (the larger brushes), but I read later that you do not need to remove the mica on the Starter commutator because the brushes are bronze type and will take care of themselves.   The generator brushes are carbon so they require the mica cleaning.  Also a note about not getting any paint on the metal that grounds the brush holder, and that the SG unit base needs a good ground as well by not having any paint on it.   The block attachment has no paint also.  Follow your wiring diagram and bench test the unit for both motoring and cranking.  To do the cranking operation, use a wood dowel to lift the generator brushes and allow the starter brushes to drop in.  You can do this on the floor or on the work bench.  It beats lugging the 60 lb unit in and out.  It should have 100% repeatability.  

 

Hugh

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Now the generator motors solid every time!!! 100% repeatability!

 

I took the motor generator back out, I find it easier to work on the bench, taking it out is not hard.

 

I have a tiny file no bigger than a nail file. Only 0.050" thick, just thick enough to gouge out that "mica" between copper segments. Then I turned the generator with a WD-40 soaked rag on it, then spun it with the file on the copper to remove any copper burrs or scratches, which would quickly destroy the brushes. Then used Q-tips and compressed air to remove anything loose. Lots of mica came out.

 

I took all 3 generator brushes out and filed them with a fine-tooth half-round file, big enough so the radius of curvature of the round part of the file is around 3 inches, same as the commutator. I wanted the entire brush to meet plumb with the commutator, and I did a perfect fit, even on the "third brush"

 

Back in the car again, bolts in, wires back on, distributor cap on, new spark plug wires in place......I even drove the taper pin in the water pump shaft so it's in for good now. Now when it "motors" I get the clicking from the clutch. I understand that a few years later Buick clutches were silent, but the 1918 model clicks. Also now, when it motors, the distributor doesn't turn anymore because it's held by the shaft. Hence the clutch clicking.

 

I still have to replace the starter foot pedal gears and cross shaft and tie up a few more loose ends before putting gas in the tank and starting the car. 

.

 

 

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There is a one way clutch in that sliding gear. That keeps the flywheel from spinning the generato too fast should the gears not disengage when the engine starts.

 

Make sure that clutch is working. If not you could destroy the SG armature from over revving

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You might not believe it, but I got oil in my windmill months ago from hand cranking. I saw the oil, so I asked my wife to look at the dial when I hand-cranked. She said it spun like a whirling dervish at a Pentecostal revival on Christmas during a tornado. She tends to understate things, so I figure it spun.

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When I was checking bearing clearances on my car a couple of years ago, on reassembly I went to start the car. The engine spun very fast...I had forgot to install the plugs (thus making it unlikely it would start).

I was surprised at how quickly that little oil pump got oil to the dash oil gage. I let it spin for a while so I would get oil into the troughs under the rods.

In retrospect, I though that turned out to be a good idea.

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I'm going to do another compression test, the last one I did was by hand cranking and the compressions were lousy. Hope they are better using the starter motor. I plan to do it with all the plugs out so I'm sure it will crank very fast. Certainly enough to fill the troughs in the oil pan if they aren't filled already. 

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Here are the compressions by hand crank last year and with starter today

 

cyl...........hand..........starter with throttle open and choke off

 

1...............58................80

2...............49................75

3...............35................60

4...............35................65

5...............31................46

6...............44................53

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2 minutes ago, Morgan Wright said:

Here are the compressions by hand crank last year and with starter today

 

cyl...........hand..........starter with throttle open and choke off

 

1...............58................80

2...............49................75

3...............35................60

4...............35................65

5...............31................46

6...............44................53

 

If the valves have been done, then you need rings.  More than 10% difference from the highest to the lowest.  If neither have been done, put about three squirts of oil in the cylinders and redo the compression check.  If it stays the same, then valves.  If it goes up, then rings.

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