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Old 06-19-2017, 08:08 PM   #1
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Ebro , Fla Panhandle
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Need a new starter motor for 454.

Well I've been doing some traveling from Az to central Ca.
The starter started to drag when the engine is hot, not giving full revs.
Today it required using the house batts and still barley started .
I'm now in Santa Cruz, and the local Napa has both OEM and a high out put starter.
Any input is welcome. The guy at the store said that the high out put starter has no housing around the gear. Different from the original in that way.

I do remember someone mentioning a high out put starter for our engines.

I'll be pulling it in the morning and biking over to the Napa store so info is useful soonest, thanks.

Sure is nice having the coach out for some adventure.
It is a nice traveling machine.
Much more relaxed without my Porsche in tow. Nice being able to back and fill to get out of a tight spot.

Early on Peter shared that carrying a spare starter is a good idea, did I listen, nope. But did catch a break in that it didn't strand me in the middle of the desert.

Cheers Richard
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Old 06-20-2017, 03:57 AM   #2
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Richard,

This is the hi-torque starter that was discussed a while back.

Here's the hi torque starter thread where chriscraw discussed using it on his new engine install. I bought the same starter but can't really vouch for it as yet since I haven't started the engine with it to date. It's definitely a lot smaller and lighter than the original starters.

If you have a heat shield it likely won't work with one of these mini hi-torque starters. From the research I've done it would seem the mini's are a good deal.

You will likely need to buy new bolts for mounting the starter as they are shorter in overall length so keep that in mind if you go the mini starter route.

Brad
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Old 06-20-2017, 07:36 AM   #3
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Thanks Brad, that was the info circling in the back of my brain too, just couldn't recall it.
I do wish that I had picked one up at the time. As the one available here is at $175. Appreciate the mention of the smaller bolts, I'll also take a bolt with me when I bike over to check what the have on hand.

I do think that ordering one from eBay and carrying a spare could really save the bacon. The thought of trying to get this sorted at some rest stop out in the middle of the desert, whew that would be frying the bacon.

Having done the trip from Az to the coast a few times now, I do most of the drive at night, in the cool. But still ended up crossing the Central Valley of Ca In the mid afternoon temps around 105. This may drive me to running the gen and rooftop AC eventually. This just seems like a lot of extra machinery running just to cool the cab a little.
A PO of my coach took out all of the engine AC parts and I find it hard to put that much into rebuilding such a marginal system.

For Bob, Mel, and you, and others that are deep into rebuilds of your coaches, I'd like to share how much fun it is out traveling in these rigs once sorted or even mostly sorted. They really are an extraordinary RV, good fun to tour around in. And very appreciated once parked at any RV gathering place.

So keep at it fellas your reward is just around the corner, and it's a good one!

Cheers Richard
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Old 06-20-2017, 08:36 AM   #4
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Before you spend the money check the positive connection on the starter. Disconnect the negative battery terminal before you put a wrench on the starter.

For a period of time GM distributed all power through that terminal and over time the connection would produce an intermittent open or high resistance and cause starter problems. Remove the cable at the terminal, clean it and reinstall.
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Old 06-20-2017, 03:28 PM   #5
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I had the same problem with heat getting to the starter and would not turn over until it was cool. A person along the way suggested to add a a stater solenoid to the fender well to the starter. There is a number of threads on line about the problem. I would check that out before getting a new starter.
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Old 06-20-2017, 04:45 PM   #6
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Richard...I am pleased to report that the mini-starter I bought through Ebay for $42 plus shipping works just fine (as linked above). I would note that when first installed, almost cooked the negative side wiring as the negative connection from the starter motor to the chassis was corroded there it bolted to the chassis. The result was that the starter motor was trying to complete the circuit through the coach wiring! Suggest whatever replacement you decide includes a new negative to chassis strap, bolts and clean off the chassis surface.
So far no sign of needing to replace the heat shield..guess because the Thornley headers pipe the exhaust further away from the starter.
Chris
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Old 06-20-2017, 04:49 PM   #7
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Holy smokes, that starter is really tucked up in there. Took only moments to get it unbolted, then an hour or so of struggle to get it wormed out of its hidy whole
Between the headers and a couple of hard oil lines.

One detail worth sharing is that wiring is long enough to allow the starter to hang down giving access to undo the wires at that point. When mounted they can't be seen and barely reached to be disconnected. The wires are held up by a metal retainer just a bit forward of the starter. It's a good idea to unhook those wires from that retainer before us bolting the the starter. Then giving you the length need to lower the starter and then disconnect the wires to the starter.

I did find the big wire going to the starter had the insulation burned off at a point where it was hanging about two inches from the headers. At this point of my trip I'll cover it with hear shrink till I can replace the cable. In a more favorable working situation.

Thanks for the tips guys, allways nice to have back up. Have checked the battery connections and will clean the terminals at the starter before installing.

The high torque starter that Napa had, needed different terminals to plug in. And At $190 vs $45 for the oem unit, I desided to wait and order that one from EBay to carry as a backup.

Right after finally dragging the starter from under the coach the park host came by and said there is no working on rigs in the place, oops.
I appogized and told him Id get it done as quickly as possible.

Oh the challenges of keeping these beasts running.
It sure did a nice run to the coast tho.

Just as a little side issue, the interior latches on the battery drawer are both compromised. One cracked and fell overboard while driving, the other is cracked and about to fail. Leaving the drawer to flop around unsecured.
Did manage to find one available across town, so will get that in and hope the other one holds till I can find another.

Never a dull moment on the road.

Cheers Richard
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Old 06-20-2017, 05:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tevake View Post

I did find the big wire going to the starter had the insulation burned off at a point where it was hanging about two inches from the headers. At this point of my trip I'll cover it with hear shrink till I can replace the cable. In a more favorable working situation.

Right after finally dragging the starter from under the coach the park host came by and said there is no working on rigs in the place, oops.
I appogized and told him Id get it done as quickly as possible.

Cheers Richard
If I remember my electricity 101, when the starter relay trips the starter solenoid the starter engages and starts pulling as much juice from the battery as possible. If the main wire is bad or the negative ground is bad it throttles the starter (like sucking a milkshake through a straw) and causes overheated wires and burnt out starters; so replacing the wires would be a great idea.

You weren't working on her; she's just keeping you in shape and limber.

Cheers
Tony
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Old 06-20-2017, 08:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tevake View Post
Holy smokes, that starter is really tucked up in there. Took only moments to get it unbolted, then an hour or so of struggle to get it wormed out of its hidy whole
Between the headers and a couple of hard oil lines....

Cheers Richard
Don't forget the shims, Richard. New starter should come with a small rod to measure the gap between starter gear and flywheel. If I remember correctly you do have to remove the flywheel cover to measure the gap. Sometimes those screws are real tight. Vice grips on the head along with a good flathead screwdriver does the trick.
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Old 06-20-2017, 10:56 PM   #10
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Glad you mentioned that Peter, as I was cleaning up this afternoon and getting for things ready to go back together. I was Eyeballing those shims comparing them with the one from the other starter.
Didn't get a rod with the new starter. But It was funny at the parts store, the guy took the new starter from the box and then put the old one back into the box for return. So Im not sure if it might still be in that box. I'll have to check in the morning.

How is the rod used to determine the correct spacing? Got no instructions with the new piece either. Must be a pretty critical measurement. Two shims came with the new one . While only one fell out when the starter started out of its hole. Also wondering how to insert the shims in its space with the starter up in there. No way it will stay in place thru the battle getting the starter back up in there. I was thinking of taping it in place on the starter, but don't think that will keep it there either.
More Houdini moves no doubt.

My access problem is that new hard oil lines have been installed to the trans, with out regards for access to the getting the starter in or out.

Thanks again for that tip Peter.

I realize that I will be revisiting this area again soon to replace cables and such, once I'm settled again.

Cheers Richard
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Old 06-21-2017, 01:26 AM   #11
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I wrapped my starter in Heat shield material..it was better in resisting the high engine heat..especially from the manifolds. Burnt wires were a problem for me..
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Old 06-21-2017, 04:51 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Don't forget the shims, Richard. New starter should come with a small rod to measure the gap between starter gear and flywheel. If I remember correctly you do have to remove the flywheel cover to measure the gap. Sometimes those screws are real tight. Vice grips on the head along with a good flathead screwdriver does the trick.
Peter, this is a HUGE gray area for me. When I was originally assembling my Argosy motor I didn't have any shims to work with (to be honest hadn't even heard about shims at that time) when I bolted the starter in place. I went through all of my test runs and everything seemed to be fine. Starter sounded fine and worked every time. The starter was a used starter either from the 345 or the truck the 454 came out of, not sure which.

I now have the mini starter installed, without shims, and there were no shims in the box either. I'm assuming they din't ship shims with the starter as it was a way to save a buck or two on the cost.

I did some research a while back and as expected all I found was conflicting information as to when to use shims, how to measure to see if they are needed, etc. At the moment I don't have any shims installed and am planning on starting the engine the way it is.

What exactly do you look for to determine whether you need shims?

Brad
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Old 06-21-2017, 05:10 AM   #13
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Richard, the shims can be slipped in after the starter is mounted loosely.
Brad,
here is some info from a 1986 service manual. Everytime I replaced a starter the same shims worked, but I always checked for clearance.
High pitched whine during cranking (distance too great) or High pitch whine after engine fires as the key is being released (distance too small) Either condition will eventually self-destruct either of the gears or both.
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Old 06-21-2017, 05:28 AM   #14
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Thanks Peter. How do you get the pinion to engage the flywheel so you can measure?

Looks like I need to look closer at my service manual
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Old 06-21-2017, 05:33 AM   #15
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Thanks Peter. How do you get the pinion to engage the flywheel so you can measure?

Looks like I need to look closer at my service manual
the rods I used never had the small hook at the end, like it shows in this picture. I just bridged the the offset of the gears to check. Could the hook be used to pull the pinion ?
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Old 06-21-2017, 06:13 AM   #16
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the rods I used never had the small hook at the end, like it shows in this picture. I just bridged the the offset of the gears to check. Could the hook be used to pull the pinion ?
I can't think of any other reason for the hook. I guess sometime this weekend I'll crawl back underneath and see about checking the clearance.

It never ends, does it!
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Old 06-21-2017, 06:50 AM   #17
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I just ran across this instruction sheet describing how to check the clearance. Seems easier than the paperclip method. For some reason I hadn't ran across this document before.
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Old 06-21-2017, 07:03 AM   #18
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When I replaced mine a few months ago, it came with shims, but I used my own method to check for fit.
Since the old starter engaged properly, I used a linear caliper to measure from the starter shaft to the bolting surface of the starter on the old and new starter and they matched perfect, so no shims for me.
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Old 06-21-2017, 08:00 AM   #19
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Brad could you repost that info sheet at a larger size, I can't read it. As it expands on my screen it becomes unreadable. So close yet.

Cheers Richard
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Old 06-21-2017, 08:34 AM   #20
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Brad could you repost that info sheet at a larger size, I can't read it. As it expands on my screen it becomes unreadable. So close yet.

Cheers Richard
Richard, I don't actually have the source paper to scan. Here's the text portion only.

1) Install starter following instructions provided with unit.

2) Remove flywheel cover and check the flywheels ring gear clearance by inserting the 1/8" gauge tool (provided in the shim package) between the armature shaft and a tooth of the ring gear.

3) Remove shim(s) if the gauge tool is loose between the shaft and the tooth.

4) If no shims have been used and the fit of the 1/8" gauge too is to loose (refer to Fig.1) on opposite side), cut shim(s) in two and add half shims(s) to the outside pad only until a proper fit is obtained. This moves the starter in and TOWARD the flywheel.

5) If the gauge tool cannot be inserted (fits too tight, refer to Fig. 2 on opposite side) use the entire shim or shims across both holes. This moves the starter down and out, AWAY from the flywheel.

6) Tighten and torque mounting bolts.


I also saw a youtube video showing how to use the 1/8" tool to check for clearance. The presenter is a little crude in his language but he had some good points.

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