View Full Version : 80 starter grinding noise

10-23-2009, 03:25 PM
So my trusty Cruiser has devopled a new noise... about once every 10 starts, the starter makes a horrible half engaged grinding sound while cranking the engine. It has new contacts and plunger in the starter as of 6 months ago. At first I thought it might be getting a flaky signal from the ignition switch but after searching on MUD, it sounds like other people have eliminated the switch. There are lots of comments on this issue but not a solid consensus on how to fix it. I'm guessing the solenoid isn't keeping the starter gear extended while the motor is cranking. Is it worth going through the current starter to try to fix it or is this a problem that requires the starter to be replaced?


Uncle Ben
10-23-2009, 03:46 PM
You need a new muffler! Once you can hear thats it's already running you won't hit the starter 9 more times! :p:

10-24-2009, 02:19 AM
Well...I proved that rebuilding the starter isn't fool proof :hill: - Might be worth taking it off to have a look...

10-24-2009, 07:43 AM
One of the things that I have run into is if either one of the contact are not totally flat when you rebuild it. The starter will exhibit the same symptoms as a worn out set of contacts.
Is the main power wire in good shape and has no corrosion build up in the wire, if so replace the wire.

10-24-2009, 08:22 AM
I'll check out the cable and all of the electrical connections outside the starter first but expect to be examining the starter guts on Sunday.

10-31-2009, 07:05 PM
The cable looked good so I pulled the starter and checked the contacts. As Robbie described, only part of the contact is connecting with the plunger. It looks like the contacts should be crooked but both are squarely seated on the phenolic insulator under them. Rotating them isn't an option so I filed down the high spots and polished the contacts and the plunger. Its been working fine for a week now but I still can't explain what the root problem was that caused the poor contact.

10-31-2009, 11:07 PM
You can see the high spots in the first picture are directly related to how the contacts were torqued when you cranked down the nuts. i'm sure they were flat and you held them in place by hand, but when that nut got cranked I bet the edges lifted .010"- probably enough to make a difference.

If someone wanted to get fancy they should make a little jig that would bolt to the holes in the case, with a big jack bolt that you could crank down to keep the edge of the contact in place. Only better way to get it all flat would be to indicate the thing up in a mill and mill it all flat.

I got lucky when I did mine last winter because I definitely didn't give contact flatness the attention it deserved and I've thankfully had no problems. It's funny how these little intricacies are revealing themselves the more and more folks do these jobs... Or maybe I just notice it more now after so many years of web wrenching. Only bright spot on this one is the second time you take off the starter only takes about 1/3 of the time, right? That second pic looks pretty Bruce, good for another 120K miles.

11-01-2009, 10:46 AM
Looks really familiar Bruce :hill: - First rebuild on the starter in the 80 only lasted ~7 months before I had this:


I rebuilt the starter again in April so it is coming up on 7 months again...Funny though...on the LX I rebuilt the starter 2+ years ago (way before I had much of a clue about anything :hill:) and not a single issue...Sort of hit or miss on getting the contacts flush I guess without a real tool vs the end of my mallet.

06-26-2010, 09:52 AM
So as I've got my starter apart and I'm replacing the contacts and plunger, I'm looking at all you shade tree guys that had issues seating the contacts, and I'm wonder if the issues have continued? Bruce - you're about 6 months from this last clean-up - has it been good this time around?

Obviously when I seat the contacts, they look to be square and flush, but I also realize that my naked eye can't see the smallest of gaps.

06-26-2010, 11:16 PM
I gave up Matt and had a professional (aka Ben) rebuild mine for me - money well spent IMO...The :Princess: was getting tired of my failed attemps :doh:

Seems the trick is to actually make a block sized per the FSM to keep the contacts "square" and then use a press or something to keep them "flat" while tightening everything up. The other trick per Ben is not having the contact rotate when you are connecting back up the wires.

I can't explain why my rebuild on the LX is going on 3+ years with no problems while I failed twice on the 80 other than I got lucky with the LX :D

06-27-2010, 08:09 AM
One trick to help learn is to use a little black magic marker and color the contact. Push the plunger down with out the spring and turn it back and forth. This should yield a pattern on the contacts showing how much metal to metal contact you have.

06-27-2010, 11:15 PM
One trick to help learn is to use a little black magic marker and color the contact. Push the plunger down with out the spring and turn it back and forth. This should yield a pattern on the contacts showing how much metal to metal contact you have.

:thumb: - I seem to recall you mentioning that before...Now if I can just remember it :rolleyes: - I think I might print this trick out and stick it in my FSM :)