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Discussion Starter #1
Hello BBers,

Recently been having lots of trouble with starting the car ('79 SPICA 2l) from warm - first thing in the morning, or after having sat for a good few hours, the car starts fine. If I try to start it within the first hour or two after getting it fully warmed up, I get the hum of the fuel pump (the fuel pressure warning light comes on, then goes off), and can hear a click from the engine bay, but don't get any joy from the starter. It will bump-start easily, but it's not always possible to park facing downhill.

I've done a bit of searching on the BB, got the latest wiring diagram, and saw a link to this page which shows how to put a relay in under there - I'm going to make this mod as soon as possible. Are there any other things I should check before attempting it? In the meantime, is there a quick and dirty way to get me home the next time it happens?

Also, does anyone have any pictures of their relay/switch setups so I can get some more pointers about installing one?

Cheers,

Boggis
 

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Hey Boggi:

I would check the wiring to the starter. Make sure the wire ends are not corroded in the connectors. Also try pushing the car in 5th gear a little and see if will start then.

I guess I am thinking either the starter solenoid going bad....or not getting enough voltage from the ignition switch.

Relay setup is pretty easy to do. Ignition switch wire goes to the input on the relay. Relay has three other wires. One is the power source. One is ground. One is power output. Get a 12V output relay.

Best Regards,
John M
 

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Boggis- The relay will work, but it takes a fair bit of wiring. Another way to alleviate the problem is to re-power the cold-start solenoid from the output terminal of the starter solenoid (the big terminal on the bottom that feeds the starter motor itself. What your looking for is a terminal that's only "hot" when the key is in the start position. The starter terminal post qualifies, and then the CSS won't rob any power from the starter solenoid.

All you'll need is a large ring terminal. Clip the cold start solenoid wire at the female spade terminal on the starter solenoid, crimp a ring terminal on the end and reattach it to the large starter post on the bottom of the starter solenoid. Be SURE you disconnect the battery FIRST.

Voila! You now have the starter solenoid acting as a relay. The amount of extra current that the starter solenoid has to carry is miniscule compared to the current the starter motor uses.

BTW, it's also possible that your starter solenoid is going south on you.

In the meantime, you can just disconnect and tape up the CSS wire. That way if it does it to you again, you know the starter solenoid or ignition key switch may be giving up on you. The car may be slightly harder to start from cold, but in warm temperatures it shouldn't make much difference not having the cold start solenoid.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
OK, thanks to both Johns for the advice.

I just went out to have a look at the battery ground in the trunk, and it looks NASTY! A lot of fluffy white corrosion powder inside the battery box, though it didn't look like the ground itself was corroded at the connection point. I will vacuum out the powder (don't fancy getting it near my eyes!) and clean the area up, and see what it really looks like. When I first bought the car the battery seemed to have leaked/splashed around somehow, and though I thought I'd cleaned it up, I obviously didn't do as good a job as I thought. How can you wash out the corroded stuff out of the trunk without inviting rust etc?

I will take some time over the weekend to get in there and check the connections on the starter and CSS, and see about one or other of those relays - RTs sounds more my kind of thing, since I'm not much of an electrician.

Cheers!

Boggis
 

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Ordinary Baking soda neutralizes battery acid. You can make a paste out of 3 parts baking soda and one part water and scrub the area and rinse. BTW, coca-cola will do the same thing.
 

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You're having exactly the problem my 1979 Spica Spider had just after I purchased it. It would not reliably start when warm. Same symptoms: fuel pump hum, lights would come on OK (not a battery terminal problem) but not dim when hitting starter, and no starter engagement. No engagement means no solenoid actuation. You hear a pretty respectable clunk when the solenoid slug pulls back and pushes the starter gear into the ring gear. I first dismounted my starter, finding that there was only one (1) bolt holding it in. Fortunately for me, it was the shoulder bolt. I replaced the other bolts when I put the starter back.

Then I cleaned the solenoid housing and slug to get any accumulated gunk out of it, and lubed the slug with white lithium grease. Much better. For a while. A few weeks later it happened again, so I replaced the solenoid. A few months later (next summer) it happened again, so I swapped the old solenoid back in and cleaned up all wiring. It still does the bad thing once in a while, but I just actuate the starter switch a few times and it usually makes up. Or you can let the car slide downhill and "push-start" it. This will usually get the starter system away from any "dead spots" it might have so that the starter will work even if you don't get the engine started because you have only a shallow grade to work with.

For a while I carried around a 2 foot crowbar to tap the starter solenoid with after opening up the engine bay. It would fit around the air box and let me beat on the starter in case it was just sticky. I ultimately decided that was not the problem, although it would help often enough for me to wonder.

Somewhere along the line I checked the starter brushes (carbon rods that wear out and no longer contact the armature so the starter doesn't engage when the solenoid is making up and supplying it power) but the starter was a recently rebuilt one with almost new brushes. If you don't know that your solenoid is not making up, or if you know that it is, then this might be something for you to check. (Brushes are a couple of dollars, and a rebuilt starter is much more.) I ultimately decided it was the starter switch getting old and tired from pushing all of that current through the solenoids, and I have plans for the summer to add a relay for the starter solenoid (I assume it isn't now there) and to hook the CSS to the starter post so it can't backfeed. (I haven't yet had _that_ problem and don't want to have it.)

Michael
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Roadtrip said:
Boggis- The relay will work, but it takes a fair bit of wiring. Another way to alleviate the problem is to re-power the cold-start solenoid from the output terminal of the starter solenoid (the big terminal on the bottom that feeds the starter motor itself. What your looking for is a terminal that's only "hot" when the key is in the start position. The starter terminal post qualifies, and then the CSS won't rob any power from the starter solenoid.

All you'll need is a large ring terminal. Clip the cold start solenoid wire at the female spade terminal on the starter solenoid, crimp a ring terminal on the end and reattach it to the large starter post on the bottom of the starter solenoid. Be SURE you disconnect the battery FIRST.
OK, I did this yesterday, and everything seemed to be simple - wired the ends previously going into the female spade on the starter into a ring terminal, attached it to the bottom post on the starter, put the air box back on, reconnected the battery, put my tools away, went to start the car.......and just heard a fairly quiet whine, increasing in pitch, like something was spinning. No clunk like before, and no engine start. Took a break to go and catch some sun by the pool before coming back to work out what had gone wrong.

Since the fall-back plan was just to disconnect the CSS, I tried that - both by unplugging the connector on the CSS itself (since I could get my hand in and do that without removing the air cleaner), and by removing the ring connector from the starter and putting it out of the way: in both cases there was no noise AT ALL when I tried to start the car - no clunk, no whine, no spinning of anything.

Eventually I just reattached the wire to the female spade terminal and put it back on where I found it, since at least then the car starts *most* of the time.

So, now that we're running again, does it sound like I should go for the whole switched relay thing, or do I need a new starter/CSS/ignition switch?

Cheers,

Boggis

(P.S. I also cleaned/neutralised the battery-acid corrosion in the boot, so the connections are fine in there)
 

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boggis
i did this mod to my 74 gtv for a starter run on problem. from what you wrote, it seems to me that you cut BOTH wires attached to the spade terminal an rewired them with a ring terminal. if this is the case, then your problem is that you should have only cut and "ring terminaled" one of the wires (the one to the css) and left the other with the spade terminal attached and on the starter in its original position. hope this helps.
john d
 

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Discussion Starter #11
SILVERBULLET said:
boggis
i did this mod to my 74 gtv for a starter run on problem. from what you wrote, it seems to me that you cut BOTH wires attached to the spade terminal an rewired them with a ring terminal.
I did, yes. Now re-reading RoadTrip's instructions, I can see he didn't say to cut both.....DOH!

SILVERBULLET said:
if this is the case, then your problem is that you should have only cut and "ring terminaled" one of the wires (the one to the css) and left the other with the spade terminal attached and on the starter in its original position. hope this helps.
john d
That helps a lot, thanks John - I'll try that solution asap.

(feeling silly now)
 

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exact same problem in a '74

Starter always works cold. Occasionally when hot, I here the CSS fire, but nothing happens at the starter. Short term fix has been pulling air cleaner off to bump short the solenoid against the hot terminal from the battery. Then the starter works fine from the ignition switch. I assumed the problem was too much resistance at the ignition switch, so wired in another heavy gage wire to the steering column (so now one dedicated wire for starter solenoid, and one for CSS), both hooked to an aftermarket starter button. After all this, it still has the same problem and I am starting to get frustrated. The relay at the starter sounds like a good idea. I am also considering running a dedicated wire from the battery to the starter button I installed. The starter is recently re-built.

Any suggested sources for the relay (radio shack, NAPA)?
 

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no need to feel silly. EVERYONE does that kind of thing. when i rewired mine i put everything together, got in the car and turned the key.....nothing but the whine of the fuel pump. i had that "what have i done now?" feeling. and
since no one had done this mod on this board before (i got it off the AD), there was nobody to really ask. after checking my work three times i realized that i had forgotten to put the spade terminal back on the solenoid...DOH! one of the best things about airing out your problems on this board seems to be that you have like 30 pairs of eyes checking your work. i'm sure it will start fine now.
john d
 

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Yea, attaching both wires to the starter terminal on the starter soleniod means that you're using the ignition switch to run a very high draw item like the starter motor. Since no current was going to the starter solenoid to engage the starter on the flywheel, the current draw was pretty light and probably didn't damage the starter switch contacts too badly.

When you're doing wiring, THINK and understand what you're doing. I think you figured out what blindly following written instructions can result in.

For perspective, about a year ago my 74 was doing something similar. The old click, no crank routine. The starter would usually catch after about the fourth cycle of the key switch. I replaced the starter and solenoid and it's been fine since. As a matter of fact, my car is still factory wired. Hmmm. . . why you say?

Clark - 74s already have a relay in the system. It's located up by the coil and behind the washer reservoir. Look in your owner's manual wiring diagram and you'll see it. Other year cars don't have the relay . . . it's peculiar to the 74s. That said, there's nothing wrong with wiring the CSS to the starter terminal, but I don't think it makes much difference. If you're having a problem, it probably isn't the switch . . . .. most like dirty contacts in the solenoid or a dead spot in the starter. It is possible to take the bakelite cover off the back of the solenoid and clean the contacts, but you have to be very careful because the shaft that goes through the middle is very fragile
 

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IPO removed my '74's relay!

John-

So the red box in your picture is actually the factory relay? Clearly I am missing this! In my car, the wire from the ignition switch (now two wires since I added another) goes directly to the starter solenoid and CSS. So it sounds like I need to add a relay. I assume the factory part is NLA?

Thanks,
Clark
 

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No, the red thing is the ballast resistor. The silver thing with the wires attached underneath is the starter relay. If you have a Bosch blue coil replacement part, it doesn't need a ballast resistor, hence why you probably don't have one. However, you should have a relay, unless a PO removed it.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
SILVERBULLET said:
no need to feel silly. EVERYONE does that kind of thing. when i rewired mine i put everything together, got in the car and turned the key.....nothing but the whine of the fuel pump. i had that "what have i done now?" feeling. and
since no one had done this mod on this board before (i got it off the AD), there was nobody to really ask. after checking my work three times i realized that i had forgotten to put the spade terminal back on the solenoid...DOH! one of the best things about airing out your problems on this board seems to be that you have like 30 pairs of eyes checking your work. i'm sure it will start fine now.
john d
Yep. And at least I'm getting quicker at removing and replacing the air cleaner!

Thanks again for the crucial extra pair of eyes.

Boggis
 

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Ok, recently had the starter rebuilt on my '84 Spider... about 3 weeks ago... now I drive to lunch, eat lunch, back outside (about 97 degrees here today) - try to start, bingo, the ol Click and fuel pump hum only... fortunately I was able to get 1 10 foot push from someone and we fired right back up. I reckon I'm going to try John's fix, the one without the relay. Being a very novice mechanic/engineer... first thing I do is "try and find the starter"... ok, when underneath, if I twist a certain way...I can see it... can't reach it... but can see "some" of it. So, now I'm looking from the top of of car... and seeing the Plenum... sure seems to be right in the way of everything. So, reckon I'll need to remove that first. I have to admit, at this point, I'm thinking... "ok, bet I can disconnect, but bet I'll never get it back together again.

I do have to remove this to try John's fix right?

Is it as tough as it looks to remove? Looks like wires, hoses, just running everywhere...

I plan on printing John's directions and giving this a shot... any advice or suggestions greatly appreciated. But gotta tell you, to "me" the plenum looks pretty intimidating. But getting bit by the no start problem is getting to me even more.
 

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Oh, one other (stupid) question, would anyone out there have any other diagrams, steps or pictures of John's fix... a before/after for same? I'm assuming it may help for when I actually can get to the starter. I'm going to look around for wiring diagram for the '84 Spider, hoping that will tell me things like which is the female Spade terminal (I have no idea, yet, as to what that is) and which wire is for the CSS etc. Sorry for all the questions. But as always, thanks either way.
 

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don't cut anything! my car is a 74 SPICA car. i don't think your car has the same electrical set up as mine. you better check with others on this board who know way more than me about the electric system.
 
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