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1922 Cadillac (Delco) Starter Problem


Sunnyjay
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One hopefully quick question for you. I was on my first drive in the 1922 Cadillac I just bought. Sadly once I arrived at our destination, the car stalled in the parking lot. I turned off and then back on the ignition switch but this time the starter was silent. Usually there is a fun clicking noise and I can then press on the starter pedal. There was no clicking, no sound at all. The amp meter does dip negative when the ignition is turned on, making me think that electricity is possibly going through the starter motor but not turning it.

 

Could the starter be jammed? Any recommendations?

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Did you check the battery and make sure it was up? Then check the cables at the battery and where they connect for a loose or bad connection? If you have a hand crank see if it turns over that way,if the starter is jammed,it probably won't,but I doubt that is the problem. If you can get a second battery that is good,try jumping the first,if you don't get anything,leave the ground on and try hitting the terminal on the starter that has the cable from the starter switch,carefully!,and see if it turns over. If not,I guess you'll have to go deeper. We had a '15 and it shouldn't have been a whole lot different. Good luck.

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Welcome aboard fellow 1922 owner!

 

My suggestion is to disconnect the rod that goes between the generator and distributor (you should be able to remove the set screw with an Allen key) and then see if the end of the generator spins when it’s not hooked up to the distributor. It won’t be engaged to the flywheel or the motor so it should spin freely. 

 

If that spins freely, then try rotating the engine with the hand crank - do not force it if it doesn’t rotate easily (there should be a bit of resistance to it but not so much that you have to apply much strength) 

 

If it doesn’t spin freely, loosen the two top screws on the generator and you will be able to see there is some terminals at the top where you will be able to check that the generator is receiving power with a multimeter

 

Let us know how you go and we can advise on the next steps - based on what you’ve described the likely suspect is going to be the generator rather than the motor (the clicking sound is essentially a clutch on the generator)

 

The generator will turn with a pretty flat battery is my experience as well 

 

Carl on here will also have some suggestions 

 

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(Unfortunately), I know little to nothing about these starter/generator units. That is because (fortunately), in all my time with the ‘24, I have never had the least problem with mine. One thing you might do , is to ask the early Buick guys how they troubleshoot their “starterators”. There will obviously be some differences, but I think your problem is more likely to be electrical than mechanical. Since the unit will not “motor” when you turn on the ignition, and will not turn the engine when you depress the starter, is there a possibility that the problem might be in the ignition switch or the associated wiring ? I think that the Buick unit would have pertinent commonality.

 

I wish I could be of some help. When I was considerably younger, I never worried much about mine, since starting with the crank was so easy. Totally impossible now for me, but easy for a normal healthy person. Please study the currently active thread regarding crank starting an engine. Always remember to totally retard the spark when starting the engine, whether by crank or starter.     -   CC

 

 

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Did you happen to notice if, while driving, that the Ammeter showed a positive charge?

Last year I drove a 1918 Cadillac which started well, but during the drive, the ammeter showed discharge, indicating that the Starter-Generator worked in Starter mode, but not in Generator mode, and that the battery was supplying the current for the car to run. By the time we got back to the garage, the battery had somewhat discharged. Of course, clean contacts are important, and brushes canhang up as well. 

Check to see, after ascertaining that the battery is charged, that when the rod is partially pushed in, that you hear the unit turning internally (called Motoring), prior to full engagement to the flywheel.

My 1915 Husdon, as well as our (former) 1914 Buick work this way.

Let us know of your progress.

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There is a pin (it’s about 1/2”) that is for sliding the starter into engagement which happens when you depress the pedal. Based on what you described I don’t think it’s jammed but it does raise the question of if the car has been lubricated recently - if the Oiler on the front is overfilled it can run in the armature which will cause issues 

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21 hours ago, sagefinds said:

Did you check the battery and make sure it was up? Then check the cables at the battery and where they connect for a loose or bad connection? If you have a hand crank see if it turns over that way,if the starter is jammed,it probably won't,but I doubt that is the problem. If you can get a second battery that is good,try jumping the first,if you don't get anything,leave the ground on and try hitting the terminal on the starter that has the cable from the starter switch,carefully!,and see if it turns over. If not,I guess you'll have to go deeper. We had a '15 and it shouldn't have been a whole lot different. Good luck.

Good Suggestions! I did try the hand crank and the engine turns freely with no odd noises. I put the battery on a charger and it seems fine, although I will try your suggestion of powering the starter directly. Thanks so much for your help!

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9 hours ago, hidden_hunter said:

Welcome aboard fellow 1922 owner!

 

My suggestion is to disconnect the rod that goes between the generator and distributor (you should be able to remove the set screw with an Allen key) and then see if the end of the generator spins when it’s not hooked up to the distributor. It won’t be engaged to the flywheel or the motor so it should spin freely. 

 

If that spins freely, then try rotating the engine with the hand crank - do not force it if it doesn’t rotate easily (there should be a bit of resistance to it but not so much that you have to apply much strength) 

 

If it doesn’t spin freely, loosen the two top screws on the generator and you will be able to see there is some terminals at the top where you will be able to check that the generator is receiving power with a multimeter

 

Let us know how you go and we can advise on the next steps - based on what you’ve described the likely suspect is going to be the generator rather than the motor (the clicking sound is essentially a clutch on the generator)

 

The generator will turn with a pretty flat battery is my experience as well 

 

Carl on here will also have some suggestions 

 

I'll give that a try! Thanks so much fellow '22 owner. haha.

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53 minutes ago, hidden_hunter said:

There is a pin (it’s about 1/2”) that is for sliding the starter into engagement which happens when you depress the pedal. Based on what you described I don’t think it’s jammed but it does raise the question of if the car has been lubricated recently - if the Oiler on the front is overfilled it can run in the armature which will cause issues 

That's a good point. I just got the car and while it seems very well cared for, I don't know when it was last oiled. I'll try to check that pin. Thanks!

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3 hours ago, Marty Roth said:

Did you happen to notice if, while driving, that the Ammeter showed a positive charge?

Last year I drove a 1918 Cadillac which started well, but during the drive, the ammeter showed discharge, indicating that the Starter-Generator worked in Starter mode, but not in Generator mode, and that the battery was supplying the current for the car to run. By the time we got back to the garage, the battery had somewhat discharged. Of course, clean contacts are important, and brushes canhang up as well. 

Check to see, after ascertaining that the battery is charged, that when the rod is partially pushed in, that you hear the unit turning internally (called Motoring), prior to full engagement to the flywheel.

My 1915 Husdon, as well as our (former) 1914 Buick work this way.

Let us know of your progress.

Thanks so much Marty. I did check the amp meter and it was indicating a positive charge. Assuming the gauge is reliable I think it is working. I also charged the battery at home with a separate charger after being towed back in case that was the issue, and it didn't fix the issue. Right now when the starter pedal is pressed I don't hear any noise at all. which makes me think perhaps a brush is jammed up or something. The amp meter does go negative when the ignition is switched on, which I think indicates power is flowing, but no movement is happening. Could that indicate a brush issue?

 

Thanks so much for your help. I've had the car about two weeks and obviously have a lot to learn!

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6 hours ago, C Carl said:

(Unfortunately), I know little to nothing about these starter/generator units. That is because (fortunately), in all my time with the ‘24, I have never had the least problem with mine. One thing you might do , is to ask the early Buick guys how they troubleshoot their “starterators”. There will obviously be some differences, but I think your problem is more likely to be electrical than mechanical. Since the unit will not “motor” when you turn on the ignition, and will not turn the engine when you depress the starter, is there a possibility that the problem might be in the ignition switch or the associated wiring ? I think that the Buick unit would have pertinent commonality.

 

I wish I could be of some help. When I was considerably younger, I never worried much about mine, since starting with the crank was so easy. Totally impossible now for me, but easy for a normal healthy person. Please study the currently active thread regarding crank starting an engine. Always remember to totally retard the spark when starting the engine, whether by crank or starter.     -   CC

 

 

Thanks so much Carl! I have a friend with a 1922 and 1929 Buick (among several other cars) coming down to take a look next Saturday.

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To answer your question Yes it is possible to have a stuck start brush and still charge as these units have 2 separate commutators for start and charge. The start commutator has 2 brushes. New the brushes are 7/8" long. 

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2 minutes ago, Sunnyjay said:

Thank you! These pages are very helpful.

 

They're from the shop manual, they come up from time to time on ebay and definitely worth getting 

 

GM heritage centre scans aren't great quality but can do in a pinch - the manual for the v63 is also suitable for the typ61 and has updated procedures for a few things 

https://www.gmheritagecenter.com/docs/gm-heritage-archive/vehicle-information-kits/Cadillac/1922_Cadillac_VVI.pdf

 

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Good news! I was able to get the starter working again. With your help and the help of my friend Kyle Barrow, we found the issue was caused (as some of you suggested) by a faulty electrical contact in the Generator switch. I think lack of use may have allowed the connection to deteriorate. A little sandpaper and dielectric grease and the car started right up.

 

Thanks so much for your help and guidance.

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