<VV> Another Starter issue

Brian bmoneill at juno.com
Wed Jun 29 11:54:34 EDT 2016

The recent posts concerning this starter problems experienced by Mike Kovacs, prompt me to recount my recent issue with starters and ring gears. It all began about six weeks ago as I was getting my track already poured event at the New York Safety Track last Saturday. My original plan was to use of 3.1 L engine. I had assembled over the winter. When it was installed in the car the high torque starter I have been using for years had no problem in cranking the engine. It immediately fired but I heard a strange knocking sound. Mad at myself I decided to use my standby track engine which at last run almost 2 years ago.
After installing the standby engine, I went to start it up. The same high torque starter, which I had been using for years, did not turn the engine but instead made a horrible grinding sound. My first reaction was that this daughter had failed. So I took it to my local starter and alternator guy was extremely knowledgeable. Years ago when I first met him, I walked into the shop with the Corvair alternator in my hand and from the back of the shop he yelled out that's a Corvair alternator. Right then I knew he knew what he was talking about.
He looked at my high torque starter and told me he believed that the clutch pack was bad. He said he would research his suppliers and get a new clutch pack for me. I had to leave for a high school graduation and South Carolina and wasn't back for a week. I went to a shop and he informed me that no one made a clutch pack for this high torque starter. My only option was to buy a new starter. Expensive yes but I couldn't see any other way. I ordered a new high torque starter from our famous New England parts supplier and promptly installed it.
Imagine my dismay when the new starter made the same grinding sound and would not spin the engine. I have to use a high torque starter because of the custom five link rear suspension on my track car. I removed the upper link from the hub to the differential and this gave me the space to install a stock Corvair starter. The stock starter worked fine! I was bewildered.
Not knowing what else to do I remove the engine and place it on an engine stand. Using a piece of a Corvair differential which gives me the correct spacing to install the starter, I installed the new high torque starter. With this configuration I am able to look up and watch this daughter engage the ring gear on the pressure plate. It didn't look right. It happened so fast though that I really couldn't tell. So I took the engine off the stand and remove the pressure plate to inspect the teeth. They looked beat up so I ordered a new pressure plate. Not knowing what else to do I ordered a new pressure plate. Now I am into this whole deal for about 700 bucks!
When the new pressure plate arrived I compared the teeth to the old pressure plate and discovered a difference. The new pressure plate from our New England supplier had teeth that did not have this step found on the stock ring gear. When the new pressure plate was installed the high torque starter worked perfectly. I started to do some measurements of the teeth on both ring gears and the teeth on the stock starter and the high torque one.
I discovered that the teeth on the high torque starter are shorter than those of the ones on the stock starter. What was happening was when the solenoid on the high torque starter engaged and pushed out the teeth they went past the raised portion of the teeth on the stock ring gear. (I hope you're not confused at this point.) I don't know why the stock ring gear had this step in it. Had I been smart enough to realize this early on I guess I could have used a couple of flat washers to space the stock starter out away from the differential. But that's how things go. So now I have an extra high torque starter and an extra pressure plate. Knowing how things go in this hobby embouchure I'll need them someday.
So far I have checked seven stock ring gears and they all have this step. Anybody have any ideas as to why this step exists?

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