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Tool Talk Discussion Forum

Re: Simultaneous starter and battery failure

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Author  [Modern View]

06-02-2014 11:28:18

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Being a mechanic I have seen many case where one thing led to another, and either could have caused the initial problem. That said, if the bendix didn't retract on the starter, even once, it was better off to spend the money and replace it while you already had it off than for it to leave you stranded in a parking lot, or on the side of the road somewhere. Yes, it might have retracted when the engine started, but then again, it might now. I have seen what happens when one doesn't retract and gets spun by the engine. Think about it like this, the reduction ration between the bendix gear and flywheel gear is usually better than 10 to 1. In other words when the engine is running at 2500 RPM, the starter would be turning at least 25,000 RPM. Given it's not designed to do that, things happen like the windings fly apart, bearings sieze, and when things like that happen, they can cause damage to the flywheel ring.....and that means a tow bill and a lot more for the repair than the cost of the starter.

Better to eliminate any chance of a problem when the cost is manageable, than to chance a problem that will cost 10 times more to repair. Like the old saying, a stich in time saves nine.

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06-02-2014 13:55:39

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 Re: Simultaneous starter and battery failure in reply to NCWayne, 06-02-2014 11:28:18  
I'll have to disagree about the engine turning the 25000rpm???? As a mechanic, you should be aware that the starter drive (Bendix is a TRADE NAME) also has a one-way clutch in it to prevent exactly that situation from happening. It may be either a roller clutch or a sprag, but there is a one-way clutch in the starter drive.

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06-07-2014 20:57:22

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 Re: Simultaneous starter and battery failure in reply to jimg.allentown, 06-02-2014 13:55:39  
it happens. have had a couple myself. but the best was a guy I worked with had a ford mustang and a few to many beers when the starter drive stuck he liked the turbo whine so revved it till it blew. then drove home. said it didn't hurt anything else but the starter was grenaded.

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06-02-2014 14:48:30

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 Re: Simultaneous starter and battery failure in reply to jimg.allentown, 06-02-2014 13:55:39  
Ok, the generic name for the drive gear on a starter is the bendix, just like slip joint pliers is usually called Channel Locks, in the South a soda is a Coke, etc, etc, etc.

That said, some starters have a one way clutch, sprag, roller, or otherwise, and some don't. In any case, even a one way clutch can lock up and not allow a reverse rotation if it gets dry, is spun too fast, etc. This being the case, as I stated, the engine can easily turn the starter.

Having been around and worked on machines for the majority of my 46 years, I know of others that have seen it happen, have seen the results of it happening in starters at the repair shop I use, and have seen it once for myself that I can recall on a piece of heavy equipment and several times on small engines.

In my personal experience the heavy equipment incident went like this. A call came in about a CAT scraper making a strange noise. When at an idle you couldn't hear much, but when you wound the engine up you got a high pitch whine that sounded like a turbo, but wasn't. When I got there and started looking, got the operator to run the machine around while I listened, etc, we finally traced the sound to the starter. By that time the starter was so hot it took two pairs of heavy welding gloves on my hands, and another pair as a buffer, before I could comfortably put my hands on it to do anything with it. Once out of the machine, it was obvious what had happened as the drive gear was stuck in the extended position. As you'd expect, this kept it engaged with the starter ring on the flywheel.

From that point, it was several hours before I got it back to town to the repair shop. At that time I still had to wear one of the pairs of gloves to pick it up as it was still that hot.

When they opened it up the windings were screwed up, the bearings were blue from the heat, and the thing was basically so close to locking up/blowing up, it wasn't funny.

That all said, a common number of teeth that I can remember on a drive gear is 13, and a number I can remember counting on a ring gear on a piece of equipment is something like 140. This gives approximately a 10.769 to 1 ratio. That being the case, if a starter and ring gear with this combination locked up, when the engine was turning 2800 RPM, (high end for many diesels) the starter would be turning in excess of 30,000 RPM. This is about the speed that many turbos turn, thus the whining sound heard when the starter on the scraper hung up.

Doubt it if you want, but having been in the industry all my life I have seen it happen at least once on a piece of heavy equipment, and several times on small engines myself. Between personal experience and the experiences of others I have heard of or seen second hand, there is no doubt in my mind how ugly, and expensive, the result is.

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Stan in Oly, WA

06-02-2014 19:19:32

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 Re: Simultaneous starter and battery failure in reply to NCWayne, 06-02-2014 14:48:30  
Thanks, Wayne. That about puts the final nail in the coffin of any worries I had about whether I needed to replace the starter. And your story was pretty interesting, too. (BTW, 13 teeth is correct.)


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