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Old 08-25-2007, 10:10 AM
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Starter Problems

I'm having problems with a starter on a 350 Chevy.

I've got two small guage wires (blue & orange), one larger (yellow) and of course the battery cable.

I changed out my two small terminal starter for a high torque single small terminal and combined them. This worked for awhile, but then turned into only starting and running with the key turned all the way which of course engaged the starter the entire time. If I let off the key, the car doesn't continue to run.

Hopefully this isn't too spacy of a post, but any ideas what's going on here?

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Old 08-25-2007, 11:00 AM
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On older GM starters there was 2 small terminals. One is to engage the solenoid. The other gets power when the soleniod is engaged as you hold it to "start". That 2nd wire was to feed a full 12v to the external ignition coil, before the HEIs came out.

On very early Chevs there was a ceramic external resistor to feed the coil, and later ones had a resistor wire running to the coil. That 2nd wire bypassed the resistor or resistor wire when cranking only. So you may have a bad resistor wire or resistor.

I do not have a positive answer why it would work for a while then not. I would seperate the 2 small wires and see which goes to the "ign" terminal on key switch, and find out why it lost power with the key at "on".
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Old 08-25-2007, 06:32 PM
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Doc here,

FIRST: You need to determine IF you now have points Type or HEI Distributer..a simple glance should tell you..

IF: the Dizzy WAS POINTS type at some point, and UPGRADED at some point to HEI.. AND you never removed the secondary Ignition..That is probably part one of your problem..

TRADITIONALLY, Looking At A *STOCK* General Mystery Solenoid, (in a Normal "Clocked" position) You will see 4 Terminals..



Two large, two small, There is an "Ear" pointing down that "slides or screws" into the starter noise piece..we will call that "Bottom"..

The Bottom has a Large terminal..this bolts Directly to the Starter motor..nothing else goes here...

ON the "TOP" of the Solenoid..There is A LARGE Terminal Also, This terminal receives the BATTERY CABLE, and the Fuse link for the Main FUSE BUSS SUPPORT wire..(power to the rest of the car from the body) AND a FUSE LINK or MAXI FUSE for the Alternator output wire The large Alternator Terminal...

NOW: Laying under the car , looking up at the starter, you will see 2 smaller (14 gauge wires) The One Closest To The BLOCK...Is the "S" Terminal..This wire goes from the Ignition Switch, "Hot in Start Only" Position, to the NSS Neutral Safety Switch, (or Clutch override, or Both) , Then Directly to the "S" terminal on the Starter..No other wire should be here..USUALLY on a STOCK wired GM (SBC) this wire is Purple in Color...

Verify and Confirm it is here, AND working..(With a DVOM set to DCV, Vx20 or higher) this wire will only have power in "Start ONLY!", and be dead in run and acc..)

NEXT: looking at the solenoid, you will see the "I" terminal..this is the smallest terminal nearest the right Fenderwell...

This wire is the secondary Ignition wire, It's purpose in life was/is when points type Ignition is/was used, a Ballast resistor system was use to limit the power to the Coil, and points from 14.4 Volts to 6 to 9 Volts in "Normal" Driving situations..the higher power was detrimental to those parts, as coils would overheat and prematurely fail, and points would pit and short every few weeks..

General Mystery Engineers Soon found this to be problematic for First of the Day "Cold Starts" requiring a "Shot " of higher ignition power to get the heartbeat flowing..So they made the secondary Ignition wire..This wire BYPASSES the regular Ignition Ballast system, by placing 12 volts directly OFF the starter to the + side of the coil, PAST the ballast system (wire/or resistor).



IF you are using HEI..this wire is NOT needed..Hand over hand the wire from the starter and Dizzy Coil, and REMOVE it..(in your case, HP aftermarket Solenoid..you only have ONE terminal, (small terminal) So I'm betting it is hooked up wrong IF all wires are now connected..)..An HEI will RUN 24/7/365 IF this wire gets connected to the "BATT" trminal..and WILL not shut off with the key..IF it happens to be the ONLY wire going to the HEI anymore, IT will only have Fire in "Start" only..and Die in Run..when the key is released..REMOVE the wire.




NEXT, Inspect the Dizzy wire..(assuming HEI) the BATT terminal on the Cap, traditionally is pink, red or orange..12 gauge wire and plugs DIRECTLY into the cap..AND comes from the "Hot in RUN only " position on the Ignition switch..and goes NOWHERE else..

IF this wire STILL has a ballast system , it may be a Smaller gauge wire, that feeds a ballast resistor, or ballast wire..TO test, get a tail-lamp light and socket, plug it into the terminal, and ground, turn the key on, and with a DVOM, set For DCV, VX20 or higher, test the terminal, IF the lamp is dimmer than normal, and the meter reads 6 to 9 volts..your ballast is STILL connected..backtrack and remove the Ballast system/ Wire and replace with a 10 gauge red wire (The HEI needs MORE power to the coil to perform better than it's predecessor..or IF it runs..It will perform like "Crap in a CAN " so upgrade the WIRE also!!

IF that proves to be problematic, remove the ballast, take the wire from there to a RELAY coil , Coil terminals# 85 & 86, makes no differance on which is power or ground to the coil, a coil is bidirectional..) (contact rating: 30 amp or better) , and ground.

Contact # 30 (The Center wiper) will go to the Dizzy Coil "BATT" VIA a 10 gauge red wire..and relay Contact # 87 (Normally open), goes DIRECTLY to the battery, Via a proper FUSE LINK, or maxi Fuse (40 amp should do..) The 87a contact (normally closed) is not used for this application..



This is the equivalent circuit for replacing the "BATT" wire to the IGN switch, using a relay two deliver more current to the coil..(Trust me..you''ll feel the difference when it pegs you in the seat, AS well as in overall Fuel Ecomny..) A STOCK coil will draw under max load , 12 to 15 amps..an HEI can pull up to double that under max load, and performance Ignition Can pull up to 48 amps ... Feeding it with 18 gauge wire is just creating wire heat, doing no useful work, swamping the coil of current, and it will never perform as well as it should until the upgrade is done.

ANYWAY, Back to your problem. IF the ballast wire/System is / Was still in place, Chances are that the Resistor wire/Resistor has burned open under the strain of the higher current coil demands..so there Exists an "Open" between the "Hot in RUN Only" wire (BATT) and the actual Coil (BATT) terminal..because the resistor has burned out..THEN the coil would ONLY get power in the SECONDARY position (Hot in START only) during cranking, AND lose power in the run position after it was started, and the key relaxed to the run position, hence, the engine will die out..until cranked again..(The same test applies here as above with the lamp and meter, except if the wire is dead..the ballast is open..)


TYPICAL BALLAST WIRE SYSTEM

To Quick test, just run a jumper from the battery, to the BATT terminal on the HEI , and fire it off..If it starts and runs normal, you have found your culprit..remove it..Be advised: To shut the engine OFF , you MUST remove the jumper...your bypassing the ignition system...

Since you DID not mention the Vehicle , Ford, Chevy , Hillman..American LaFrance..It could be any set of color body wires..the ones you gave "ALMOST" match General Mystery..so I am assuming that is the Body the SBC is in..If different you'll need a manual for the car.

There are other Causes, but these are the FIRST you must inspect/Correct beformoving on..


Doc
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Old 08-26-2007, 02:45 PM
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WOW! Great reply and very informative!!!

I will read over it more, but I did get it working. I ended up running a two terminal starter and it worked that way.

I am running a Unilite Dist, so it's all electronic.

BTW, this is on a 38 Ford 2 door sedan that my family built 15 years ago and it's been in storage for the past 7 or so. I'm just glad that's it's going.

Now I'm wondering if it will work with the other single wire, high torque starter. I will mess with it more once it gets cooler....this TX heat is killer. I mainly wanted to get it going so we can take it to a couple car shows here in the next few months (one being next month)

Thanks for you guy's help!!
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Old 08-26-2007, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jsquier
WOW! Great reply and very informative!!!

I will read over it more, but I did get it working. I ended up running a two terminal starter and it worked that way.

I am running a Unilite Dist, so it's all electronic.

BTW, this is on a 38 Ford 2 door sedan that my family built 15 years ago and it's been in storage for the past 7 or so. I'm just glad that's it's going.

Now I'm wondering if it will work with the other single wire, high torque starter. I will mess with it more once it gets cooler....this TX heat is killer. I mainly wanted to get it going so we can take it to a couple car shows here in the next few months (one being next month)

Thanks for you guy's help!!


Doc here,


Your welcome..


If your HEI, (Electronic) then the single post Solenoid will work fine..EVEN if you were not, you Could parallel off the "S" wire and achieve an Equivalent circuit..either direct or through a relay. So it still Could be used.

So yeah, your good to go.


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Old 08-26-2007, 05:32 PM
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Jsquier.

Your Mallory Unilite distributor definitely does need to have a 1.5ohm ballast resister....see page one and two on the link attached.... Mallory says:"failure to use a blast resistor will eventually cause the unit to fail".......and that's always in a driving rain at 3am and 40* temp in the boon docks and you forgot to take your cell with you!

http://www.mr-gasket.com/pdf/1214M.pdf

if you don't have one, at your local parts store, ask for a "Chrysler ign ballast resistor" $6?
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