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Quick question for you electricians out there


Pix3L8

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So here goes, last week I was driving my Bronco to pick up some lumber, as one does on a Sunday afternoon. The truck started a little weak but drove to the lumber yard fine. I place my order and go out to leave....CLICK..no crank. So after an hour of messing with the truck and sweating to death in the heat I called a tow truck. So my first thought was maybe a bad battery right or dead battery, jump boxes, cables etc and still nothing. So I checked my solenoid and I had 12 in and 12 out when cranking...ok great I have power where I should have power. So I went about making new cables for positive and negative connections off the battery. From battery to solonoid, from solonoid to starter, from battery to ground, etc etc you get the point. By the end of it the entire ignition system had new wires but I had my suspicions about the starter. So it was wired up but still laying on the crossmember not bolted to the tranny yet. So I drank a beer, crossed my finger and....CLICK nothing. So I got about making jumpers to bypass some of the wires and at one point got the starter to move, but I couldn’t recreate it no matter what I did. Finally I grounded the body of the starter with a jumper to a ground connection and away she went, good as new. So I got to thinking, is it that the starter won’t complete the circuit unless it is bolted into the tranny using it as a ground? I know the tranny is aluminum so I just disregarded this but I keep coming back to it. Also I should mention my battery connection were..how should I put it..basically a fire waiting to happen. Now that all that is brandy new and the starter is bolted in, the truck runs better than ever. I’m wondering if the CLICK was just a bad ground initially. The starter also would grind just after the engine fired from time to time which was odd as the whole drivetrain is new (300 miles on it) and now the grinding is miraculously gone as well as the starter being much quieter when cranking. Could the grinding and no start be attributed to bad connections and poor voltage effecting the bendix gear? Ide love to hear your thoughts
 


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fred m

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I imagine that was just a bad ground on the starter. As for the grinding, are there any shims on the starter or the bellhousing, or was the starter bolted on straight the first time around?

I've heard of starters for an automatic setup being installed with a manual transmission and kind of fitting in the hole but not really lining up, and causing similar issues. Are you sure you had the correct starter for your bellhousing/flywheel combination?

Whatever the problem was, it sounds like your re-installing and grounding the starter has solved it.
 

Uncle Gump

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So... just making sure I understand. You jumped engine ground to the starter body and it fired right up. Then you removed said ground jumper and it still cranks normal?

Any voltage drop in the starter circuit usually ends in CLICK. Seems I remember the ground cable on 4.0L going from the battery to the bell housing. Is that what yours does?
 

Pix3L8

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I imagine that was just a bad ground on the starter. As for the grinding, are there any shims on the starter or the bellhousing, or was the starter bolted on straight the first time around?

I've heard of starters for an automatic setup being installed with a manual transmission and kind of fitting in the hole but not really lining up, and causing similar issues. Are you sure you had the correct starter for your bellhousing/flywheel combination?

Whatever the problem was, it sounds like your re-installing and grounding the starter has solved it.
I haven’t played around with shims yet, the starter is bolted right onto the bellhousing with only the dust shield In between
 

Pix3L8

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So... just making sure I understand. You jumped engine ground to the starter body and it fired right up. Then you removed said ground jumper and it still cranks normal?

Any voltage drop in the starter circuit usually ends in CLICK. Seems I remember the ground cable on 4.0L going from the battery to the bell housing. Is that what yours does?
No, what I meant to say was that the starter was not bolted to the truck, just sitting on the crossmember but still wired in. Then I went and added a ground with a jumper wire and got the starter to spin. I wasn’t sure if the starter was even good so I hadn’t bolted it into place yet. My tranny is the FM145 so it doesn’t have a ground, well maybe it did 30 years ago but I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to add one now.
 

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Well, if the starter isn’t getting enough volts/amps, it would not kick out to the fly wheel quite right, would certainly make a crappy sound and or start weak. Sounds like you had a bad electrical connection to me.
 

Uncle Gump

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No, what I meant to say was that the starter was not bolted to the truck, just sitting on the crossmember but still wired in. Then I went and added a ground with a jumper wire and got the starter to spin. I wasn’t sure if the starter was even good so I hadn’t bolted it into place yet. My tranny is the FM145 so it doesn’t have a ground, well maybe it did 30 years ago but I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to add one now.
Ok... I was missing that part. If it works fine bolted up you're probably good to go... and no need for additional ground.
 

franklin2

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No, what I meant to say was that the starter was not bolted to the truck, just sitting on the crossmember but still wired in. Then I went and added a ground with a jumper wire and got the starter to spin. I wasn’t sure if the starter was even good so I hadn’t bolted it into place yet. My tranny is the FM145 so it doesn’t have a ground, well maybe it did 30 years ago but I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to add one now.
Everything needs a complete circuit to work electrically, going from the + of the battery around through to the - of the battery. The factory uses metal pieces of the vehicle for the return path to the - of the battery.

If you look at the - battery post and - battery cable, it runs down and is bolted to the engine block. The transmisson has many bolts bolting it to the engine block, so it's already grounded to the engine block. Then the starter is bolted to the transmission. So that is the ground path for the starter.

One important thing that is missed all the time is a small ground strap that is bolted back on one of the bellhousing bolts, and then is bolted to the firewall. This is the ground return path for all the electrical in the cab. The main ground for the battery goes to the engine block. But the engine, tranny, transfer case, and rearend are all mounted in rubber bushings and motor mounts. The cab and frontend are also mounted to the frame in rubber isolation mounts. So these various ground straps here and there are very important for the electrical.
 

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So you fixed it. Yes, as you have deduced and others have confirmed, the problem was a bad ground connection for your starter. While the starter was just lying on the cross-member, it had a "dirty and loose" ground connection because it was loose and the body of the starter is probably painted. Most paint does not conduct electricity well. When you bolt the starter in place, you make a tight connection of clean metal parts contacting each other. That is a connection that can carry the high current of the starter motor trying to do its job.
 


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