Starter woes 2.0

honeybadger

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Alright ladies and gents,

back with another mystery - it’s been a while, yet it feels sofamiliar :crackup:

So in 2019 my starter failed in October…I replaced the solenoid and soldiered on. Fast forward to last week, the starter dies again. Replace the solenoid again, and it works again.

Go to start the car Friday night, and it won’t work. 2 starts total on that solenoid before failure.

Alright, so I swap in an entirely new unit. It lasts 6 starts before it dies.

So I pull it out and take apart both on the bench - this reveals some good insight

Original starter
02F670BA-4D2C-4745-B882-1537E778C1F9.jpeg


Starter
CD1F9545-47B7-4D70-A54A-5A15B6D53DB0.jpeg


ok, so the leads being melted or vibrated to death. My hypothesis is excessive heat from a short or bad ground. I checked the obvious grounds on top of strut tower, engine mount, back of engine and at the battery. No issues.

what’s next?
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KeyLime

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Any signs of heat stress or damage elsewhere in the starter besides the leads?
 

KeyLime

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I'm almost embarrassed to bring this up because it sounds so off the wall. I once had a starter hang and stay engaged after startup. Then it acted as an unregulated generator and tried to cook itself. Probably totally unrelated to your problem but I thought I'd throw it out there.
 
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honeybadger

honeybadger

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Any signs of heat stress or damage elsewhere in the starter besides the leads?
I'm almost embarrassed to bring this up because it sounds so off the wall. I once had a starter hang and stay engaged after startup. Then it acted as an unregulated generator and tried to cook itself. Probably totally unrelated to your problem but I thought I'd throw it out there.
No signs of stress that I can see. Just that the leads are broken on both. Really surprised that the new one broke in only 6 starts.

Regarding the unregulated generator, doesn't seem likely to happen to two different starters--but I've been wrong before :)
 

JAJ

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I dealt with a lot of burned copper wiring back in the '80's, that wire doesn't look burned or melted. The fine-strand stranded wire is used because it's very flexible, so there must be some bending involved when the starter operates. Does that plate move relative to the housing when the starter engages? It's not clear from the pictures how the starter works.

If that plate moves and the wires are broken, then it moved too far and broke them off. If that's correct, then there's something about the way the starter is installed or the way the flywheel is positioned that's making the starter gear travel further than it was designed to travel.

It's a theory...
 

ChipG

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It does appear to be mechanical breakage rather than burn/melt. If it isn't some kind of relative motion (one/few time stretch/break from pulling too far) it would take, I would think, some serious high-magnitude vibration to fatigue in 6 starts.
 

bobsled

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That, sir, is a head scratcher. Looks to me like the starter never disengaged by the frayed wires. @JAJ is right - they don't look melted. The charring is from the wires being worn down. If the pinion doesn't disengage, it's going to spin at 80,000 rpm. Was the pinion too tight against the flywheel? You can shim the starter if it fits too tight so it will disengage. Just a guess - the HoneyBadger is a better mechanic than I will ever be.
 

The Chairman

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It appears that posts 0 & 9 are the ground side and use the case as ground. Those look fine.
Posts 7 & 8 are insulated as they are the + side power to the stator. Those wires were very poorly connected to the brushes and failed. Either a manufacturing problem or higher than spec’d current load fried the wires.
If you are running a higher comp ratio, you’ll need a higher powered starter to crank it.
Or find a better brush plate design that can handle the load.
Can you find a new wired up brush plate and add additional contact materials from the wires to the brush holders? I can envision a Rube Goldberg set up to take the load.
 

Lurker_350

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It appears that posts 0 & 9 are the ground side and use the case as ground. Those look fine.
Posts 7 & 8 are insulated as they are the + side power to the stator. Those wires were very poorly connected to the brushes and failed. Either a manufacturing problem or higher than spec’d current load fried the wires.
If you are running a higher comp ratio, you’ll need a higher powered starter to crank it.
Or find a better brush plate design that can handle the load.
Can you find a new wired up brush plate and add additional contact materials from the wires to the brush holders? I can envision a Rube Goldberg set up to take the load.
Does Ford's variable cam timing reduce the starter loads of the high compression 5.2 by managing valve timing during start? Could using a fixed cam timing (like HB does) result in higher starting loads on the starter - even if compression ratio was the same?
 
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honeybadger

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I went and grabbed some pictures. The internals appear to be identical from what I can tell. Same markings, part numbers, etc.

This is how the leads are attached when they aren't broken. They're floating from what I can tell

IMG_0079.JPEG



Slots into this opening and then the back of the case just slides over
IMG_0078.JPEG


New on the left, old on the right. Leads appear to be the same wire gauge to me
IMG_0077.JPEG


IMG_0076.JPEG



IMG_0075.JPEG
IMG_0074.JPEG
 
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honeybadger

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JAJ

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I might need to try something like this

https://www.blowbyracing.com/poxstost5co.html
I was thinking maybe one of those big long F1 starters.

Clearly the OEM starter isn't working, so the Powermaster might be a good idea. Maybe contact Powermaster's customer service and ask them if one of their starters can withstand whatever is killing the Ford unit. After all, the last thing they want is a new customer buying a lovely new starter and having it fail after six starts.

Actually, the Powermaster website says to call their tech support folks before you choose a starter so you get the right one for your specific needs. Give it a whirl.
 
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honeybadger

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Do they make one for a 5.2
I've reached out, so we'll see. The 5.0/5.2 should be interchangeable - outside of the of bracket on the back of the case, I'm not sure what the difference is between the GT and GT350 starters.

We'll find out.
 
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