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Old 05-15-2019, 04:37 PM   #1
studeclunker
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Starter wiring issues...

First of all I would like to confess I am an ignoramus at anything mechanical. Hanging things on an engine is do-able, as long as things don't get complicated. This past weekend, it got complicated quickly.

The Bakelite cover on my truck's starter solenoid broke and I had to replace the starter. Of course, Chevrolet places this whole arrangement in the most inaccessible place they can contrive. Not to mention making sure the wiring is likewise inaccessible as well. SOP I suppose. Regardless, I got the thing back together and no power to the coil.

No matter what I did, no power to the coil.

My friend Dave is a wiz, usually, when it comes to mechanical things and was stumped. Being he hates any GM product, I wasn't overly surprised. He ran a wire direct from the battery to the coil and I was able to get the truck home. I re-routed the jerry-rig so that it works off the key and is fused. However, the coil still isn't working off the circuit it should be.

So, after that long preamble...

Which of the wires on the Solenoid is in the wrong place? I tried switching them around several times and no go. Is there another problem I am missing?

With this work-around the truck runs fine. However I am afraid of burning up my coil and possibly damaging something else even more expensive.

Here's an interesting side note; I just got home from a seven hundred mile round trip pulling a forty-plus foot trailer (about a 6k lb curb wt.) on the home-bound end. The truck made the whole trip with no issues at all. Not even on the two thousand foot climb over Buckhorn Pass!

Another possibly more salient side note; The little plastic plug that goes in the back of the alternator, two prong, disintegrated. So, I disconnected the battery and just put the connectors on the spades directly. It works perfectly now. I pulled over originally because the gauge on the dash went from slightly over to C to pinning D (charging to dead discharge). I pulled over figuring something had come unplugged or a wire broke. Not usually a big deal, right? <roll-eyes> Well, the plastic housing had disintegrated and the wire had broken free from the connector. Wiring I get. Especially when it's that obvious. Easy fix, that. When I got back into the truck, it wouldn't start (dead, no reaction). So I figured it was loose wires on the starter, a problem I've been dealing with for months. This is what led to the bakelite cover on the solenoid breaking. Go back to my preamble as to why I haven't taken the time to fix it. Also, I am very much aware, due to bitter experience with these starters, how fragile that housing is. Hence, I don't much like messing with the wires on it.
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Old 05-15-2019, 06:32 PM   #2
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

What year truck and what distributor?
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Old 05-16-2019, 03:27 PM   #3
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Oh crap. Sorry about that!

The truck is a '66 Camper Special (C-20?) With a 350 crate motor from the late sixties and early seventies. I'll go have a look at the distributor, I have no idea.

Okay... I pulled the air cleaner and... still have no idea what brand distributor it has. Looks like a Delco? Doesn't say on it. there is a window in the front? It looks a lot like the delco in my '56 Studebaker?

Last edited by studeclunker; 05-16-2019 at 03:43 PM.
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Old 05-16-2019, 03:58 PM   #4
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

It’s a points style distributor.
I’ve got lots of thoughts but let’s do it one at a time.
Keeps us unconfused.

When you first replaced the starter and tried to start it, did it crank over but not start?
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:34 PM   #5
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Yes, points and condenser.
It would crank, fire and as soon as I released the key, die.
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:48 PM   #6
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Did your new starter have two small wire terminals on it?
One close to the block, one on the outside.
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Old 05-16-2019, 06:12 PM   #7
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

small yellow wire goes to the R terminal on the solenoid ( outside) larger wire (purple) goes to the inside terminal near the block. The smaller wire throws 12v to the coil while cranking.

Engine dies while releasing the key indicates a possible bad ign switch.

turn key on without cranking and see if you get voltage to the coil on the pos side.
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:43 PM   #8
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Quote:
Originally Posted by geezer#99 View Post
Did your new starter have two small wire terminals on it?
One close to the block, one on the outside.
Yes

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwmech View Post
small yellow wire goes to the R terminal on the solenoid ( outside) larger wire (purple) goes to the inside terminal near the block. The smaller wire throws 12v to the coil while cranking.

Engine dies while releasing the key indicates a possible bad ign switch.

turn key on without cranking and see if you get voltage to the coil on the pos side.
I was afraid the switch might be going bad.

No voltage to the coil.
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:57 PM   #9
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Good chance your points and coil might need replaced too.
They don’t like a full 12v for long.

Does your stude have a the supercharger or did that start in 57?
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Old 05-17-2019, 10:28 AM   #10
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

First question is why did you replace the starter did it work or was it just the cover broken.
Did you disconnect the battery before you started. Is it doing exactly the same problem as before and do you have a test light to troubleshoot. Some photos of the wires at the started would help. Did you only touch the wires at the starter
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Old 05-18-2019, 06:15 PM   #11
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Quote:
Originally Posted by paul mora View Post
First question is why did you replace the starter did it work or was it just the cover broken.
The wires at the starter were loose. Most especially the main Positive lead from the battery. Since these wires are located on top of the starter the way they are, I had to drop it to tighten them. The cap on the solenoid broke when I attempted tightening the main lead from the battery.

Quote:
Originally Posted by paul mora View Post
Did you disconnect the battery before you started.
Of course.


Quote:
Originally Posted by paul mora View Post
Is it doing exactly the same problem as before and do you have a test light to troubleshoot.
No and yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by paul mora View Post
Some photos of the wires at the started would help.
Did you only touch the wires at the starter
The first would be difficult due to the starter's location. However, I will borrow a tablet and see what can be done.

Other than my work-around to power the coil, yes.
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Old 05-18-2019, 06:23 PM   #12
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Quote:
Originally Posted by geezer#99 View Post
Good chance your points and coil might need replaced too.
They donít like a full 12v for long.

Does your stude have a the supercharger or did that start in 57?
The Paxton (a Studebaker subsidiary) supercharger was first available in '57. In '56 the Golden Hawk was available with the Packard motor.

Mine is a '56 Commander Parkview Wagon. She has a 259 normally aspirated motor. All stock and a bit rusty, but I love her anyway. I also have a few '63s and a '62 pickup.
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Old 05-18-2019, 06:42 PM   #13
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Paxton or McCullough!
Thought it was a McCullough.
No matter.
Saw one with the blower back 50 years ago.
Talked to a guy in Christchurch NZ who had a 56 that he had converted to a 4 speed o/d tranny.
Nice looking cars.
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Old 05-19-2019, 04:16 PM   #14
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Quote:
Originally Posted by geezer#99 View Post
Good chance your points and coil might need replaced too.
They don’t like a full 12v for long.
Okay, I have a question.
I don't see an external resistor. Did Chevrolet use a resistor wire for this? Studebaker used both. Or did the coil have an internal resistor? However the resistance wire was pink on the Studees. In this case (chevy truck) it's just an ordinary yellow wire.

Please forgive my comparing apples to oranges, all I know are Studees.

Last edited by studeclunker; 05-19-2019 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 05-19-2019, 04:19 PM   #15
studeclunker
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Quote:
Originally Posted by geezer#99 View Post
Paxton or McCullough!
Thought it was a McCullough.
No matter.
Saw one with the blower back 50 years ago.
Talked to a guy in Christchurch NZ who had a 56 that he had converted to a 4 speed o/d tranny.
Nice looking cars.
All of mine have the stock 3-speed column shift. Most have factory OverDrive. I'm planning on converting the Champ pickup, so that will be OverDrive as well.
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Old 05-19-2019, 05:27 PM   #16
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Quote:
Originally Posted by studeclunker View Post
Okay, I have a question.
I don't see an external resistor. Did Chevrolet use a resistor wire for this? Studebaker used both. Or did the coil have an internal resistor? However the resistance wire was pink on the Studees. In this case (chevy truck) it's just an ordinary yellow wire.

Please forgive my comparing apples to oranges, all I know are Studees.
Itís a resistor wire.
If you follow the yellow wire into the wire bundle youíll find where the yellow is teed with the resistor wire.
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Old 05-20-2019, 11:57 PM   #17
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Quote:
Originally Posted by geezer#99 View Post
Itís a resistor wire.
If you follow the yellow wire into the wire bundle youíll find where the yellow is teed with the resistor wire.
Okay, so I am back to square one. Why isn't there power to this wire? Looks like it's time to get greasy again just as soon as it stops raining. I'll bet either I have a wire misplaced, or a broken one.
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Old 05-21-2019, 12:08 AM   #18
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Are you talking the yellow wire?
If so it’s not powered until the solenoid works to spin the starter.
When the motor starts and you release the key to the run position the power is cut off to the yellow and the power to the coil comes from the resistor wire.
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:32 AM   #19
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Quote:
Originally Posted by geezer#99 View Post
Are you talking the yellow wire?
If so itís not powered until the solenoid works to spin the starter.
When the motor starts and you release the key to the run position the power is cut off to the yellow and the power to the coil comes from the resistor wire.
Okay, where does the resistor wire come from? Does it begin at the Ign. Switch or the Starter?
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:02 AM   #20
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

At the ignition switch. Partly.
It’s a normal wire from the switch to the junction box on the firewall. Then the resistor wire runs from the junction box towards the coil where it is spliced with the yellow wire from the starter solenoid.
Do you want me to explain how it all works or are you up to speed on that.
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Old 05-21-2019, 07:13 PM   #21
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Turn you key on at check to see if you have power at the coil and the terminals on the starter. This will determine if the you have a problem at the starter for engaging the starter motor or power for spark. The ignition has a built in switch that remove everything from the circuit except what it takes to crank and fire up the engine
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Old 05-22-2019, 02:20 AM   #22
studeclunker
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Okay. I turn on the ignition switch without engaging the starter, right? Basically just turn on the power?

Checking the coil is easy. The starter is another thing entirely. I'll get on this first thing tomorrow. Probably I should disconnect the work-around first?

By Junction Box, do you mean where the fuses are? Is that the IGN circuit?

Last edited by studeclunker; 05-22-2019 at 02:26 AM.
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Old 05-22-2019, 08:49 AM   #23
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Simple explanation.
You turn the key to the start position and 12v is sent to the solenoid.
Two things happen.
The starter spins and cranks over the motor.
Power is supplied to the coil wire thru a connection in the solenoid. Usually a yellow wire.
Motor starts.
You release the key to the run position.
Starter stops.
Yellow wire gets no power. No connection in the solenoid now.
Power is supplied thru the resistor wire to the coil. Usually 7 to 9 volts.
To trouble shoot the system.
Key in start position, starter spinning you should have 12v to the coil.
Key in run position, you should have 7 to 9 v at the coil.
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Old 05-22-2019, 08:58 AM   #24
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Quote:
Originally Posted by studeclunker View Post
Okay. I turn on the ignition switch without engaging the starter, right? Basically just turn on the power?

Checking the coil is easy. The starter is another thing entirely. I'll get on this first thing tomorrow. Probably I should disconnect the work-around first?

By Junction Box, do you mean where the fuses are? Is that the IGN circuit?
Yes. Fuse box and junction box are the same.
12v is supplied to it from the battery.
Itís not the ign circuit.
Itís a 12v supply for the circuit though.
Everything electrical should originate from the fuse box.
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Old 05-23-2019, 05:44 PM   #25
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Re: Starter wiring issues...

Okay, I stripped the casing or wrapping off the wiring harness where the temp sender and coil wire enter it and found white rayon-wrapped wire. As per usual, the rayon disintegrated upon contact. Well, now I know why there are spliced wires at the starter. So I'll have to hitch a ride into town to get wire. Oi...

EDIT
I borrowed a camera and took some pics:
Since Flickr is down, I'll try sourcing from Facebook,
Oh dear, although that seems to have worked, the size is a bit... generous.

EDIT
Okay, this should make the pics a more... convenient size.





Last edited by studeclunker; 05-24-2019 at 08:57 PM. Reason: reduce size of pics
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