12 July 2013

how to rebuild a ford starter in a week

It's been two weeks now since my proposed wrenching thrash,
which lasted less than two days after a few severe road blocks.

perich brothers (and sister): wrenching - day 1

A brief recap...
a couple batteries seemed to all of a sudden fail,
right at the most exciting moment of testing the new/old fuel regulator.
old trusty #3

Instead of rushing into it,
I charged the trusty 3rd battery,
and rewired it as close as possible to the starter solenoid.
This had got to work.
Barely turn and click...click...
Dang it what are the chances of 3 once reliable batteries taking a chit?
Time to do some troubleshooting.
1990 lincoln ford starter

One thing that was strange,
was the lights wouldn't dim when the starter was activated,
and the batteries all read a strong 12+ volts.
Let's see what's behind door #2.
uh oh

Time to check out the starter.
The outside was nice and clean as I had wiped it down long ago.
Bad sign when the long bolt was covered with grease.
holey chit

A quick back story on this starter.
Do you remember the engine came out of our beater 1990 lincoln town car?
Well we got the car for a steal,
as every rubber gasket had disintegrated,
and oil could not be contained in the pan.
After a couple months of driving,
and becoming environmental catastrophe #1 with all the oil spots,
the engine was removed, cleaned, torn apart,
and put back together.
4 years and barely 10,000 miles later,
the car self-destructed around the purring engine.
brushes? we don't need no stinking brushes

The starter had never skipped a beat,
until last week when it started wheezing a bit.
Even a clueless friend could hear it,
but I had thought it was just a strained battery.
Little did I realize the guts were contaminated with oil and grease,
along with some seriously worn out brushes.
we can rebuild it

At the time dollar signs were chachinging in my head.
A new starter is an easy $150,
and junkyard starters are usually the first things scrapped.
Fortunately the commutator looked smooth enough for a spray can rebuild.

A quick search online uncovered a local brush kit for $35-50,
or I could wait and get one shipped for $17.
You may have gathered it's been over a week since updating this,
so obviously my cheap a$$ went with the slow boat from china.
Hey don't snicker like that!
That extra $20 is enough to buy all the rear brake lines!
that's it?

Less than a week later the box finally arrived.
One of the more interesting packaging jobs here.
You'd figure they would put the part in the middle of the bubble wrap.
new vs old ford starter brush set

Whatever the part was fine and that's all that mattered.
Oh yeah.
Did I say that in the wait time
I had reassembled the starter after only cleaning the parts up?
Well I did,
and man it fired right up.
Then wheeze...click...click...
burnt commutator

Super lucky that I didn't burn out the commutator.
Even a couple starts really charred the copper.
shiny commutator

A couple passes with some fine 600 sand paper,
and this was as good as a 23 year old starter could get.

Now for the easy part,
putting it all back together.
This is not my first starter (or alternator) rodeo,
and this new brush housing design seemed idiot proof.
If anyone has done this it is tough to spread the brushes around the spinner.
Joke was definitely on me.
something wrong

And here is the whole point of this EPICally long post.
I thought this would be a simple slam dunk rebuild.
If anyone can learn from my trial and error,
all this jibber jabber is worth it.
Especially if you are reading this at night,
stuck on the side of the road working to a cell phone light.
I feel for ya bro...

My first try was to remove two of the brush springs
This made it easy and quick to slide the housing down,
then reinstall the compressed springs.
The only catch was this dang fiberglass cover plate.
There was no way to slide it over the end and through the clamps.
Holey Chit!
To make it worse,
I slowly slid the housing back off,
and all the springs shot in the air.
Super high like a friggin' jack in the box.
Double Holey Chit...
Ok where's the candid camera.
Very lucky to have the dead brush housing,
as it donated the missing spring!
correct way step #1

That old saying about necessity and invention fits here.
At this point I should have sat down.
Got out the little droid phone,
and searched online for the proper technique.
I could beat this.
It's only a chinese puzzle level 45 right?
Let's finish this.
how to replace brushes on ford lincoln SBF starter - step #2

Here it goes, really easy.
- Remove TWO of the brush springs as in the previous mishap.
- Place the FG cover plate into the clamps as far to one side as possible.
- Spread the brushes over the commutator
- replace the 2 compressed brush springs
- slide the FG cover plate and snap in place.
step #3

And that was it!
I'm really lucky to have had the spare springs.
(I did put some grease into the bushings and gears as well)
ford lincoln starter

Time to test it out.
Engine started right up.

Wouldn't you know it that all the batteries were good!
And here I thought 8 year old batteries were toast.


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