Friday, July 14, 2023

It's a Nice Day To... START AGAAAAAAAIN!

 One of the joys of vintage car ownership is the attention you get when you're driving around, especially if you have a unique looking vehicle like Alice.  Of course, you have to be able to start the car in order to drive it.  That's the topic of this article.

It's been hot in Arizona this summer.  (I know.  Go figure.)  Temps over 100 degrees are not kind to cars, especially those with 48-year old starters.  How do I know this? Because I foolishly decided to go for a drive with Alice when it was 105 degrees.  I figured it was just to the store, and maybe a stop or two... but it seems I cooked the starter just by being out in the heat.  I went to start her up and heard some odd, slow whiny noises, and no start was evident.  A good Samaritan helped me push-start her and I got home.  But from then on, all I'd get were slow, whining, whirry noises and maybe get her to start.

You know what that means - it's time for a new starter!

Replacing the starter in an MGB is not the ordeal you'd think it to be.  The starter is readily accessible from above and below the engine.  The simplest way to remove the starter is to remove the distributor.  

Before you start, DISCONNECT THE BATTERY.  You are playing with dangerous amounts of current when you unhook the starter leads.

Mark the orientation of the distributor, loosen the clamp with a 7/16" wrench, and pull it out (after unhooking all the wires).

Once removed, remove the leads from the starter solenoid from underneath the car, remove the two 9/16" bolts, and pull the starter free.  It is literally a 5 minute job!

The old starter is a pretty heavy lump.  Newer replacement starters are available at a pretty good price.  I bought a Premier Gear starter on Amazon for $82.  It came recommended by other MG owners.

Look how much smaller the new starter is!

I did find one little hiccup.  There is a flange on the new starter that makes it impossible to get a 9/16" socket on the lower bolt.  I ground this flange down a bit after a test fit.

From there, it was as simple as bolting the starter into place, hooking up the leads, and reinstalling the distributor with the alignment mark I made lined up.  I did have to remove the distributor cap to get the shaft to seat into the drive gear, but that's not a big deal.

The new starter is quite a bit lighter and it was easy to hold it in place from above while starting the top bolt.  It fits perfectly.  All in all, this took me maybe a half hour.

I reconnected the battery and turned the key.  I got a smooth, fast crank and then Alice fired to life.  The old starter cranked much more slowly, so it was either already weak or the new starter is more powerful.  (Probably a bit of both.)  I didn't even have to check the timing since I knew it was right, thanks to that alignment mark I made.

That's it!  Replacing the starter is a pretty straightforward job and extremely satisfying.  With luck, it will go another 48 years.

1 comment:

  1. Steve, you are amazing. I hope you have recovered from your heat stroke. Probably by jumping into you hot pool. At least it was a nice day for a WHITE WEDDING!!!