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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi
Spider 1974
Just fitted a recon starter from centerline. Worked fine for a month. Tried to start car this evening and starter did a couple of reluctant turns, then ceased to respond at all, no click, nothing. Got out to take a look and there was a fine plume of smoke coming from the region of the starter, and the starter was fierce hot to touch. Smelled like burning plastic. Disconnected the battery and left it to cool down.

Any ideas what has happened?

Thanks for any suggestions

TS
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I used the shoulder bolt and I was careful to make sure that the grounding was good
Maybe I have to send it back unless other thoughts
Why would a faulty ground result in over heating?

Thanks for your thoughts

Ts
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I see how that works, thanks for response
I took the starter out and there is some wear on the ring gear, a few tiny metal shards here and there. Does any one have a view on whether a mechanical problem at the interface between ring and pinion gears could lead to a failed starter which heats up whenever connected to 12v. I had noticed that the starter sound was not uniform before this all happened

Thanks agin for input
 

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'66 Sprint GT, '67 Duetto, '70 BMW 2800CS
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resistance, increased current draw, increased heat
I think Ohm's Law (I = V/R) says the opposite: since the voltage is constant (approx. 12 volts), if R goes up, then current (the "I" in the equation) goes down.

A proper ground is important to the proper functioning of a starter. Without a proper ground, the current will find an alternate path - such as the throttle linkage - and that component may get hot and smoke.

rogerspeed said:
sounds like the solenoid part of the starter burned up, could be faulty rebuild,
I like that theory. When a component fails shortly after being replaced, it is usually the new part, not something tried & true.
 

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'66 Sprint GT, '67 Duetto, '70 BMW 2800CS
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I took the starter out and there is some wear on the ring gear, a few tiny metal shards here and there. Does any one have a view on whether a mechanical problem at the interface between ring and pinion gears could lead to a failed starter which heats up whenever connected to 12v.
Sure, if the starter has to grind up the ring gear, as well as turn the engine, it is going to get overworked. Might this be as simple as you needed a starter for a 130 tooth ringgear, and you got one intended for a 131? Did the numbers stamped on the starter bodies match for the old and new units? My notes show that a '74 would use a Bosch 001-211-987.

I had noticed that the starter sound was not uniform before this all happened
When you write "before this all happened", do you mean "even with my old starter, the sound was not uniform", or "the new starter worked OK initially, but then began to make a sound that was not uniform" ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
As you guessed there is a back story (isn't there always)

Here goes, and sorry for the long winded tale.

The original starter failed several months ago, and I took it into a local auto electric shop for rebuild. They said that this would be too difficult and would take months, so they sold me a modern unit that they swore was the exact replacement part. I fitted it, and it worked fine for several weeks, then started to run without meshing the ring gear, so couldn't start the car. I took it out and it was then that I noticed the metal shards, very fine, clearly from the ring gear. The ring gear was visible through the bell housing, and the teeth were all present perhaps rather worn but not too bad to my inexperienced eye. It seemed clear to me that the modern replacement was not a mechanical fit and I was very worried that the ring gear was toast.

The auto electric shop refunded me for the starter but refused to accept that it might have not been the right part. I subsequently found out that 1974 was a special year re the ring gear tooth number, and that not all parts suppliers recognized this fact. Not wanting to take any more risks, I bought a old recon unit from centerline, identical unit to the original starter. Fitted it in, and it worked fine again for a month or so (the car is only used once a week at most). Latterly I noticed that the starter would be a little slow to get going on turning over a cold engine, and also that the noise on starting would sometimes give a little intermittent "crash" sound as the starter was running. which I attributed to the engine firing but failing to pick up. There was never a grinding sound, and never a failure to mesh.

The most recent event was the complete failure of the starter this week, couple of cranks then it was dead, no click, nothing. The starter was issuing gey smoke, and the starter housing, not the solenoid, was piping hot.

I have sent the starter back to canterline since I worry about an internal short. However, the ring gear is worn and possibly further damaged by the episode with the modern starter.

Here's my concern: is it a reasonable bet to try again with the reconditioned unit if centerline can repair it, or am I going to keep destroying starters because the ring gear is worn? From my reading of the alfa BB, ring gear problems seem to mostly result in terrible noise and failure to mesh rather than starter destruction...

Thanks for the input everyone, I appreciate the time you have taken to think about this

TS
 

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is it a reasonable bet to try again with the reconditioned unit if centerline can repair it, or am I going to keep destroying starters because the ring gear is worn? From my reading of the alfa BB, ring gear problems seem to mostly result in terrible noise and failure to mesh rather than starter destruction...
Ugh! I'd say that the local shop who swore that their unit was the exact replacement part succeeded in destroying your ring gear. There is a reason to deal with Alfa specialists. But, that's water under the bridge now.

Maybe you have two problems going on - a ring gear that is chewed up AND a defective starter from CL. But, the odds of both happening seem low, and since you know the ring gear is damaged, the odds that the starter from CL was also defective seems low.

What does CL say? Do they know the backstory? Are they willing to send you a replacement starter?

I'm no expert on damaged ring gears, and haven't even seen yours. But I can picture a gear that is chewed up in a way that forces the starter to work much harder when it trys to mesh against the damaged teeth. Installing a new ring gear is a huge job, but I'm guessing that's what you'll need to do to stop sacrificing more starters.
 

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I would give it one more go and see how the next new starter works out. I suspect that there was an issue with the rebuild if you were not hearing grinding when cranking the engine.

When you get the new starter back from CL, clamp it in a vise if you have one, or secure it toma bench and energize it to see what it sounds like. You can use a set of jumper cables to your battery, negative to outside of starter and positive to lug on starter. Use a small wire and connect to the positive jumper at the lug and then touch the solenoid. The starter should spin. Make a mental note of the sound. Compare that to what it sounds like when installed on the engine.

If this starter fails after some use, your next step will be to remove the engine and replace the ring gear and get a matching starter. That is a big job and will cost a lot more than a starter.

Regarding the 74 Spider 2L, I do not think it was a special ring gear, just one with 130 teeth.

See this posting for a good write up of the starter and ring gear combinations and issues.
http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/electrical-chassis-lighting/197190-starter-help.html
It will help you understand the different years and models but it is not conclusive. I just went through the starter ring gear exercise on my 74. The testing results are in the above thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
In the event that the ring gear proves to be the problem is the task of replacing it beyond my level of ability. I have done lots of small stuff like replacing water pump and exhaust , pinion seal and transmission mount. I have most of the tools that would be required, including decent compressor and air tools, but no car lift and i work in a pretty cramped and dark space. I would say that I am an enthusiastic beginner. Any thoughts would be appreciated

Ts
 

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Ring Gear Replacement

Ts,
Anyway you look at this, it is a big job. I think there are two approaches.
The first is to change it with the engine in the car and the second is to remove the engine and do it in the open. Different tools are required for the different approaches.

The object is to remove the flywheel from the engine and then you will have to have a machine shop or engine shop remove and replace the ring gear from the flywheel. Obviously the transmission, drive shaft, bell housing and clutch have to come out to remove the flywheel. Then there is the issue of getting the flywheel off the crankshaft. Those bolts sometimes require heat.

First you have to get the clutch assembly off. Notice the VW ring gear locking tool ($6), worth it's weight in gold!
Auto part Engine Rotor Wheel


Then you have to remove the flywheel and those 6 bolts are tight.
Auto part Tire Wheel Automotive tire Vehicle brake


If you leave the engine in the car, all of the work is done on your back, you will need a transmission jack and high (6Ton) jack stands at least.
Vehicle Car

If you pull the engine, you will need the wheel ramps and an engine hoist and probably an engine stand. The work can be done outside so long as you have a place to keep the car and a garage to work on the engine.
Motor vehicle Auto part Vehicle Engine Car


I bought my hoist and stand off of Craigs List. You can get them new at Harbor Freight or Northern Tools. They are not too expensive and you can sell them on Craigs List when finished to get some cash back.

There are a number of threads on engine removal that will give you step by step checklists. Easy to get it out in a Saturday, especially if you have the tools and a helper. It helps to take lots of photos before, during and after you remove the engine.

I prefer to work on the engine in the open so would encourage you to go the removal route. This will also give you the option of doing a few other things while you are there, like engine mounts and cleaning up ground connections and maybe painting the engine bay.

Let us know what you decide and keep us updated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I have decided to bite the bullet and change the ring gear and starter in one unit since I am getting nowhere with trying reconditioned starters. The ring gear is definitely chewed up and I am tired of sacrificing starters
If any one is interested I will send pics from though the starter aperture to show what a chewed up ring gear looks like.

Centerline described the last starter as a total melt down, but were good enough to refund the rebuild cost. It was certainly smoking pretty actively when i removed it. I do suspect that it was either spinning at engine speed for a while, or perhaps locked into the ring gear and jammed while activated.

So, am following the alfa bb trail with some great entries on dropping the transmission.

First step is getthe car up, back wheel;s on ramps, front jacked up onto axle stands under the stiffening rails under the floor pans.

So far I have removed the drive shaft, gear lever, decoupled the exhaust and loosened the fan shroud (can get to the lower drivers side bolt from under the car). the starter is already out so ahead on that step.

I have the harborfreight trans jack. In fact, just the weight of the transmission tilts the engine so that the rear almost touches the firewall without having to jack up the front of the engine. When the engine was tilted down, I could see the top 2 bell housing bolts along the top of the trans tunnel above the transmission, and with long enough extensions get a socket onto each and undo that way. Very helpful to know that the top 2 are nuts and bolts (as opposed to nuts on studs, thanks bb), otherwise would never have known that theres a nut on the other side. I have the drivers side out, will attack the passenger side etc later this week if I can find time.

The other bell housing bolts look more accessible. I will need to release the 4 inspection cover bolts, then the ground strap. I butchered the speedo cable because forgot to remove this before angling the trans, oops.

The clutch is after that. Is it possible to disconnect the clutch coupling from the transmission without draining the hydraulic fluid?

Then the bit I am very apprehensive about, pulling the transmission. The trans jack should help. We will see

More to come

Hands beeding and neck aching..its pretty tight under there in the smallest and darkest garage ever built.

Thanks to bb members for truly great resource and excellent encouragement.

TS
 

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Way to jump in!
Keep pushing and you will get it out.
Don't know about the clutch hose. I suspect you will lose the fluid if you disconnect the hose.

While you are there, consider the following:
New lightened flywheel to go along with the ring gear. You have to take the old one out any way. Richard has some and so does Hans Milo.
New clutch slave cylinder.
Possibly new clutch and TO bearing.
You will see marked improvement from lightened FW.

Something to think about.

Keep us posted.
 

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just the weight of the transmission tilts the engine so that the rear almost touches the firewall without having to jack up the front of the engine.
Keep in mind that once you detach the transmission from the engine, its weight will no longer pull the rear of the engine downward. You should probably put a support under the engine's front to hold it in that position.

Is it possible to disconnect the clutch coupling from the transmission without draining the hydraulic fluid?
Not quite sure what "coupling" you are referring to. The way I do it is to remove the boot and front circlip from the slave cylinder, and just slide the whole slave cylinder rearward out of the hoop in the bellhousing. I use a large "C" clamp to make sure the piston stays inside the slave, and a piece of wire to hang the thing out of the way. But if your slave cylinder is rusty, it will not come out easily.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Perhaps I should consider the lightened fly wheel. As long as there is no risk of the flywheel breaking up. Thanks for the advice re things to do while there. The clutch is pretty new and the slave also. But will make sure it all looks ok. Have another jack to elevate the front of the engine once the transmission. Is (hopefully) out

In a way I am looking forward to the challenge. Maybe that will change when I get into my first spot of trouble. Watch this space for desperate pleas for advice as I blunder on

Ts
 

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I would not undo the trans from the engine without the trans supported by the transmission jack. but first the front jack stands should be on the suspension pivots at the front crossmember, you won't have enough room for you and the tranny jack with stands on the frame rails. undo the slave feed line at the coupling on the rear of the crossmember, one way or another it needs to be seperated and I'd replace the rubber hose with flex steel line as a priority, also carefully inspect the guibo and the trans support bushing, don't forget the speedo cable and the centerlink is best moved out of the way.


PS - rear main seal engine
 

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Just a bit of an FYI on the following;
I do suspect that it was either spinning at engine speed for a while...
Technically, this can not happen because of the sprag clutch in the starter drive. This sprag clutch is a one way clutch that is engaged when driving the flywheel but is disengaged if being driven by the flywheel. This is to prevent the armature in the starter from spinning too fast and flying apart (like if the engine starts and the key is not released right away).
 
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