daniel boeve

Buick straight eight 6 volt

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I have a 1953 Buick straight eight and i wonder if starters from another GM product ( cadillac ? Pontiac ? or )would also work on my Buick .My starter is  kind of slow and i am curious what other starter would also work on my engine .I am in Belgium and so its difficult to ship heavy parts so i am curious .Thanks !

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Posted (edited)

No other manufacturer's starters will fit, but have you checked the basics?

  • Large battery cables
  • Clean grounds
  • Additional ground strap from ground point on the frame to the starter
  • Strong battery
  • Large battery cables

The cars did not start slowly when they were new and it isn't a design defect that will be cured by a starter from a different car. It's likely a product of time, dirt, corrosion, and poor mechanics working on the car. Get the basics right and I bet your problems vanish. If you have all the basics in good order and it's still slow, the starter may have worn bushings or brushes, so a rebuild should fix it if everything else is good. And did I mention getting large battery cables? That's often the #1 problem.

 

Also bear in mind that a 6-volt starter will turn slower than a modern 12-volt car. '40s Packards turn over agonizingly slowly--all of them. But they start nevertheless. Two of my 1941 Cadillacs would crank slowly and right about when you figured it wasn't going to fire it would, every single time. Slow cranking isn't necessarily indicative of a problem if the engine still fires. Fix the basics just the same to make it reliable.

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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5 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

Slow cranking isn't necessarily indicative of a problem if the engine still fires. Fix the basics just the same to make it reliable.

 

I agree with Matt.  You should not expect your 1953 Buick starter to turn the engine as rapidly as does a modern car.  It never did. The objective of the starter was not to achieve operating speed, but rather to get one cylinder to fire, then let engine do the rest.

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In my '37 Buick I did not want to possibly chip away the flywheel by repetitive weak engagement of the starter and the slow rotation.  My solution was to adjust the solenoid depth, convert to 12 volts and install an electric fuel pump. These days it starts immediately. But I also agree with the other posts that it could just be something to live with and a normal condition. The Buick Forum below might just have the best solution.

 

 

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12-volts isn't a cure, it's simply a band-aid for a curable disease. I know a lot of people do it, but that doesn't mean it's the best way to solve a hard start problem. A large-series Buick straight-8 will start like this on 6 volts, hot or cold, if everything is right:

 

 

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Posted (edited)

First thing to do with a slow turning starter is to make sure the battery cables are big enough, there is a good ground connection, and all connections are clean and tight. A 6 volt system is more sensitive to corrosion and resistance than a 12 volt. So clean and inspect the cables and connections to make sure they are clean and tight.

 

As others have said, it will turn over slower than a 12 volt modern car even if everything is perfect, but will start anyway. If the compression is good and the engine is in good tune it should start at once. You must get the factory repair manual and be sure the compression, carburetor, ignition, and valve adjustment are to factory specifications.

One issue is modern fuels are lighter and prone to evaporate when a car is left sitting for a while so some people install an electric fuel pump and turn it on for a few seconds to prime the carburetor.

 

If the starter still turns too slow it may be time for a starter overhaul or rebuild. If it works, you know it is not burned out. It is likely that replacing the bearings and brushes, and turning the commutator will make it work like new. The solenoid may also need attention but the one on your car can be taken apart and repaired, it does not have to be replaced. You may need to ask around to find an auto electric rebuilder in your area who will work on your starter, but it is not difficult if you have the right equipment, and the bearings and brushes are cheap.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

Matt mentioned large battery cables - 2 aught (aka "OO") welding cable is great with soldered ends.   I usually buy from www.brillman.com 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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Think metal to metal contact on faces of 'stuff" (ex. I have seen starter that the cases that get primed all disassembled to then be rebuilt or they perfectly paint the engine block and the bell housing - paint (and /or rust) does not allow for "great" grounding and the starter near does not work as only metal to metal contact is what is scraped off by a lock washer or ....).   Also, rivets on brush housings and .. can get corrosion under them,

 

Also ground the battery to the frame and the frame to the bell housing or perhaps a bolt on starter.

 

6 volt works great - tends to just have worked "more great" when everything was fresh off assembly line and not over painted and/or rusty.

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1 hour ago, PeteO said:

In my '37 Buick I did not want to possibly chip away the flywheel by repetitive weak engagement of the starter and the slow rotation.  My solution was to adjust the solenoid depth, convert to 12 volts and install an electric fuel pump. These days it starts immediately. But I also agree with the other posts that it could just be something to live with and a normal condition. The Buick Forum below might just have the best solution.

 

 

You really do not chip away at a flywheel by "slow" - you chip into a flywheel via poor Bendix to flywheel alignment (ie starter needs shimmed) or worn starter bearings and/or worn Bendix drives. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Matt Harwood said:

12-volts isn't a cure, it's simply a band-aid for a curable disease. I know a lot of people do it, but that doesn't mean it's the best way to solve a hard start problem. A large-series Buick straight-8 will start like this on 6 volts, hot or cold, if everything is right:

 

 

Matt, you are doing well, though I am wondering if you actually can improve over that in time (not sure I would, but you possibly can) - as you know just depends upon 100 things.   Ex. I had an Auburn friend mention one day that he thought he was loosing ground on a end plate rivet in the starter and suggested I replace the rivet with a screw - I did and what a difference (went from what everyone considered fine to "wow" that is impressive). 

 

I recall my 41 Buick really spinning away, but also was incredibly incredibly low mileage, smaller engine via being a Super, and ...

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)

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On 7/31/2020 at 6:31 PM, Matt Harwood said:

12-volts isn't a cure, it's simply a band-aid for a curable disease. I know a lot of people do it, but that doesn't mean it's the best way to solve a hard start problem. A large-series Buick straight-8 will start like this on 6 volts, hot or cold, if everything is right:

 

 

Matt,thanks for the good advice and alsoo to put in the video .i have to inspect all the connections to see if they have good ground and then rebuild my starter if needed .

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Dan,

X2 on Matt's ideas.

I had the same issue on my '40 Buick LTD when we brought her home.

Went to a welding supply store in Denver and rummaged thru their scrap cable box.

Wound up getting about 8 feet of 3/0 copper cable for $1,25 / ft.

Bought several copper lugs and a roll of solder and made all new replacement cables, plus 2 engine to frame jumpers, myself.

 

She rolls over quite smartly now, even in the cold Colorado winters.

I do keep a battery tender on her, most of the time.

And I do let the electric fuel pump in the back settle down, before I hit he gas pedal.

 

Mike in Colorado

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If your starter has never been cleaned, take it apart and clean then old oil/grease off the shaft and bushings and the solenoid plunger. Use steel wool to clean the shaft at the bushing locations. Lightly sand the commutator and check the brushes for good length and replace if worn. Be sure the contact surfaces of the brushes are clean, file flat.  Use fresh oil to reassemble. You’ll be amazed at how old grease and poor contacts within the started can hamper its operation. 

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In the Minnesota Winter of 2004 I drove a 1947 Chevrolet 1/2 T. truck (W/ 6v.) every day in Jan/Feb until I received my brand new truck. Prior to getting “the old rounder” out of storage I serviced everything that Matt H. pointed out in his posts. The most important was clean connections and HD cables + the ground from the frame to the block. That truck always started every morning, many times below 0 F. and several times below -10F. 

DEEDFFA6-3377-4A44-B86C-5E968FC84989.jpeg

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Posted (edited)

Sometimes a car will start as expected when cold, but grunt and turn slowly on the second start or when warm. The timing advance is important and often overlooked. The breaker plate in your distributor rotates on it's base with both mechanical and vacuum assist. If it doesn't return to it's correct position with the engine off your starting will be affected.

Many of the little tubes with the spring cap for lubrication don't get the few drops they need. To check take a look under the plate where the lubrication was supposed to go over the past 65 years.

 

Bernie

 

Edit: If 12V didn't use smaller wire we would still be on 6V. That's what your computer runs on.

Edited by 60FlatTop (see edit history)
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