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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Question is - what grease should I use for starter motor planetary gearset, given that the outer (ring) gear is plastic and the close proximity of exhaust manifold means the original lubricant failed?


Read on for the full story ;)

---

Today I got stuck into an annoying problem - a graunch sound after the engine started (on my red, '92, low-cost-rescue-project 164). It sounded like something dragging, but not the pinion in the driveplate (that would make a frantic whine, this was more of a low graunch).

I think I have been through a 164 rite-of-passage. Getting the starter motor out was pretty much as I had read it was - horrible.

I really couldn't see how starter motor could get out from behind manifold and heat shield - just not enough space to remove? - and end-wise blocked by two pipes near oil filter.

I decided to start by removing the foil-covered false firewall, to give a bit more space to work. The insulation cracked and fell off the wires to the small round multipin connector, which was not a good start. That's because this car is from Singapore, and all PVC has turned brittle.

Undoing the manifold nuts and bolts seemed to be only possible from underneath the car (first picture). Miraculously, all came out without problems. One bolt was already missing. I took both downpipes off as well (again, four very-rusty bolts came out without shearing) but didn't bother to remove the downpipes, since this car has all parts of the exhaust welded together (the catalytic converter has been replaced by a muffler; there is no bolted flange). LOTS of rust under this 164 compared to my two NZ-new cars. Maybe they salt the roads in Singapore in case it snows... oh, I guess it's just the sea spray then. :eek:

There wasn't room to get the manifold out because the driveshaft was in the way, so I just moved the manifold to one side, juggled the heat shield off, and retrieved the three metal gaskets which will be coated in exhaust sealant for refitting.

Now after only an hour or two, I could see two of the starter motor bolts and I could feel the third. Things would surely be pretty easy now with all that access, yes?

I even saw a 13mm bolt in line with the top of the starter but going through the bellhousing from the other side (centre of second picture). This is common on the smaller and newer engines I work on - it just makes good sense to put the top bolt in that way around, much easier to get to. I thought maybe for the 164 it secured the spacer plate to the automatic transmission, and maybe the starter could come off while still bolted to the spacer. But, no. That red-herring bolt is very short and holds only a wiring bracket.

I got a socket on the real bolt easily enough with my fingers, then tried threading a 3/8" extension between the starter solenoid and the crankcase - it just wouldn't, the webs on the starter casing prevented access. I stopped and looked everywhere for my universal joint.

Not finding it, I used the square shaft of a cheap Philips screwdriver (with broken-off handle) to make a long and slightly-loose-fitting 1/4" extension. I hammered the other end into a 7mm socket.

This square-shaft extension slipped in behind the starter and engaged with a 13mm 1/4"-drive socket on the bolt. But the 7mm socket slipped on the square shaft (four into six don't go), so I got out the MIG welder (more of a MAG welder as I couldn't be bothered getting out the shielding gas).

With the extension now working, I still couldn't exert enough torque with a 1/4" ratchet, so I used a 3/8" ratchet and a 3/8-1/4 reducer. That sheared off instantly (as they always do), so I got a better one - and, unbelievably, that cracked open at the 3/8" square-socket end. (third picture) I honestly expected my welding to fail long before the largest-diameter part cracked open.

I stopped for lunch.

After lunch, I placed a 3/8" drive socket on the bolt, threaded the 3/8" extension through under and behind the solenoid, clicked it into the socket, and undid the bolt (it was tight). Typical how it should be this easy, but wasn't the first time around. I don't know why.

The starter motor was easy to disassemble with the right tools (needs a deep 7mm socket for the nuts on the two long through-bolts, also needs a Pozidrive No.2 to get the solenoid off, not a Philips...) It seemed to be locked together by a hard black paint. (fourth picture)

I think the cause of the graunch was the armature spindle seizing in the planetary gear rotor. The gears themselves are rather knobbly (being straight-cut) in the outer ring gear. The outer ring gear is made of plastic! :eek:

Obviously the grease has become dirt - now, what grease suits this application? I thought of high-temperature copper grease, but that usually becomes a horrible sticky paste on the backs of brake pads etc. Lithium grease will dry up. CV joint grease might stay more slippery, but being mineral-based, will it harm the plastic? Silicone grease might be OK? How about rubber grease?

I was expecting to replace the brushes while I was there, but really, they don't look bad enough to merit it. This car has done 74,000 miles and so looks like the brushes might last another 74,000 miles...? All four seem fairly equal in length (I have seen two wear faster than the other two before) and seem to take up most of the brushholder lengths.

When I refit I will certainly be using the Alfisto Steve cable-tied extension-in-place trick. And also, I have the joy of all this AGAIN on my other 164, as part of the clutch change operation... :rolleyes: Do you think I can do it without removing the manifold?

Thanks for reading!

-Alex
 

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First question does 164 in question have metal heat shield with fiberglass liner between manifold and starter? If not that is cause of cooking out grease in planetary gears.

My starter guy uses white lithum grease or light marine type boat trailer wheel bearing grease. He says is no heat shield you can try regular heavy wheel bearing grease.

With proper heat shield in place it is pretty tough getting starter out without loosening manifold bolts and atleast removing two for heat shield.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
First question does 164 in question have metal heat shield with fiberglass liner between manifold and starter? If not that is cause of cooking out grease in planetary gears.

My starter guy uses white lithum grease or light marine type boat trailer wheel bearing grease. He says is no heat shield you can try regular heavy wheel bearing grease.

With proper heat shield in place it is pretty tough getting starter out without loosening manifold bolts and atleast removing two for heat shield.
Thanks - as shown in the first photo and as I mentioned in the text, there was a heat shield (with fibreglass) to remove.

I will probably use a red lithium grease that I have abundant quantities of.

-Alex
 

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Question is - what grease should I use for starter motor planetary gearset, given that the outer (ring) gear is plastic and the close proximity of exhaust manifold means the original lubricant failed?


Read on for the full story ;)

---

Today I got stuck into an annoying problem - a graunch sound after the engine started (on my red, '92, low-cost-rescue-project 164). It sounded like something dragging, but not the pinion in the driveplate (that would make a frantic whine, this was more of a low graunch).

I think I have been through a 164 rite-of-passage. Getting the starter motor out was pretty much as I had read it was - horrible.

I really couldn't see how starter motor could get out from behind manifold and heat shield - just not enough space to remove? - and end-wise blocked by two pipes near oil filter.

I decided to start by removing the foil-covered false firewall, to give a bit more space to work. The insulation cracked and fell off the wires to the small round multipin connector, which was not a good start. That's because this car is from Singapore, and all PVC has turned brittle.

Undoing the manifold nuts and bolts seemed to be only possible from underneath the car (first picture). Miraculously, all came out without problems. One bolt was already missing. I took both downpipes off as well (again, four very-rusty bolts came out without shearing) but didn't bother to remove the downpipes, since this car has all parts of the exhaust welded together (the catalytic converter has been replaced by a muffler; there is no bolted flange). LOTS of rust under this 164 compared to my two NZ-new cars. Maybe they salt the roads in Singapore in case it snows... oh, I guess it's just the sea spray then. :eek:

There wasn't room to get the manifold out because the driveshaft was in the way, so I just moved the manifold to one side, juggled the heat shield off, and retrieved the three metal gaskets which will be coated in exhaust sealant for refitting.

Now after only an hour or two, I could see two of the starter motor bolts and I could feel the third. Things would surely be pretty easy now with all that access, yes?

I even saw a 13mm bolt in line with the top of the starter but going through the bellhousing from the other side (centre of second picture). This is common on the smaller and newer engines I work on - it just makes good sense to put the top bolt in that way around, much easier to get to. I thought maybe for the 164 it secured the spacer plate to the automatic transmission, and maybe the starter could come off while still bolted to the spacer. But, no. That red-herring bolt is very short and holds only a wiring bracket.

I got a socket on the real bolt easily enough with my fingers, then tried threading a 3/8" extension between the starter solenoid and the crankcase - it just wouldn't, the webs on the starter casing prevented access. I stopped and looked everywhere for my universal joint.

Not finding it, I used the square shaft of a cheap Philips screwdriver (with broken-off handle) to make a long and slightly-loose-fitting 1/4" extension. I hammered the other end into a 7mm socket.

This square-shaft extension slipped in behind the starter and engaged with a 13mm 1/4"-drive socket on the bolt. But the 7mm socket slipped on the square shaft (four into six don't go), so I got out the MIG welder (more of a MAG welder as I couldn't be bothered getting out the shielding gas).

With the extension now working, I still couldn't exert enough torque with a 1/4" ratchet, so I used a 3/8" ratchet and a 3/8-1/4 reducer. That sheared off instantly (as they always do), so I got a better one - and, unbelievably, that cracked open at the 3/8" square-socket end. (third picture) I honestly expected my welding to fail long before the largest-diameter part cracked open.

I stopped for lunch.

After lunch, I placed a 3/8" drive socket on the bolt, threaded the 3/8" extension through under and behind the solenoid, clicked it into the socket, and undid the bolt (it was tight). Typical how it should be this easy, but wasn't the first time around. I don't know why.

The starter motor was easy to disassemble with the right tools (needs a deep 7mm socket for the nuts on the two long through-bolts, also needs a Pozidrive No.2 to get the solenoid off, not a Philips...) It seemed to be locked together by a hard black paint. (fourth picture)

I think the cause of the graunch was the armature spindle seizing in the planetary gear rotor. The gears themselves are rather knobbly (being straight-cut) in the outer ring gear. The outer ring gear is made of plastic! :eek:

Obviously the grease has become dirt - now, what grease suits this application? I thought of high-temperature copper grease, but that usually becomes a horrible sticky paste on the backs of brake pads etc. Lithium grease will dry up. CV joint grease might stay more slippery, but being mineral-based, will it harm the plastic? Silicone grease might be OK? How about rubber grease?

I was expecting to replace the brushes while I was there, but really, they don't look bad enough to merit it. This car has done 74,000 miles and so looks like the brushes might last another 74,000 miles...? All four seem fairly equal in length (I have seen two wear faster than the other two before) and seem to take up most of the brushholder lengths.

When I refit I will certainly be using the Alfisto Steve cable-tied extension-in-place trick. And also, I have the joy of all this AGAIN on my other 164, as part of the clutch change operation... :rolleyes: Do you think I can do it without removing the manifold?

Thanks for reading!

-Alex
Shell AEROSHELL GREASE 16
Shell ALVANIA EP(LF) 2
or any synthetic EP grease
 
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