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View Full Version : TR2/3/3A Sickly starter or timing issue on 1959 tr3a?



Jim Lee
10-19-2012, 02:59 PM
Hi all,

I have a question about my 1959 tr3a starter. It is original and I am going to check but I am pretty sure that I have had it rebuilt recently. I vaguely remember taking it to my local Advanced Auto and for some reason I cannot remember they could not test it. In any case my issue is that when starting cold it will turn over normally a few times but before I can get it started, with the choke fully pulled out, it will slow way down in that the engine is being turned over very slowly and gets to the point where I wonder if we are going to get started. It is a hit or miss deal. When it turns over slowly....and gets to the point where it is just barely turning it seems exactly what would happen if I had a dying battery. I have checked the battery and generator (did the negative ground switch) and it all looks copesetic. The battery measures about 13.8 volts at rest and 14.9 when idling. The battery is 700/875 cranking amps. I am pretty confident about the choke because when it does start and I am pulling the choke knob all the way out (I have already broke one cable due to my overzealous pulling) the engine races at a very high idle before I push it in as it warms.

Once I start the car cold I am good for the rest of the day. It could be a few hours after I shut it down that I can push the button and it jumps right up. What I am wondering is if there is a relatively simple way of testing the condition of the starter. I am starting to wonder if my timing could be off but when running the car feels so good I hate to fiddle around with that.

Do your Triumphs jump up as soon as you hit the button....like mine does after it is warm..first start in the morning? I am pretty sure that I have had the starter rebuilt but I need to research that to confirm. So right now I am thinking that if I am at the crossroads where I am deciding between blaming the starter or the timing it would probably be simpler to do some sort of test on the starter. I am almost positive now that I had the starter rebuilt because I vividly remember taking an afternoon to get one of the two bolt of that starter fastened because it was in an ridiculously tight spot. I mean like all afternoon tight.

If there is a way for me to judge the condition of my starter without removing it I would be all ears and most grateful.

Thanks very much,
Jim Lee
1959 tr3a

TR3driver
10-19-2012, 07:47 PM
I would probably start by checking the battery voltage at the posts, while the problem is happening. (You can use the button on the solenoid to crank the engine.) Then check again right at the starter (post to housing). It may be that there is a dodgy connection somewhere (perhaps inside the solenoid) that is getting hot with the extra current.

However, I had somewhat similar symptoms, with a nearly new battery, and it turned out that the battery was bad. It wasn't obvious at first, but it gradually got worse over 6-8 months until it was painfully obvious that the battery was toast. Even then, the FLAPS said it was "70% charged"!

In my case, it seemed that the battery voltage was drooping a long way even at first, and then going down from there. For awhile, with a Pertronix ignition installed, it would never start while I was holding the button but would usually light off the instant I released the button. At the time I thought maybe the (also new) Pertronix was bad, but now I believe it was because the battery voltage was drooping so low under the load from the starter that the Pertronix flat wouldn't work.

Andrew Mace
10-19-2012, 07:57 PM
I also had somewhat similar symptoms with my '67 Herald when I first got it. Several weeks later, it got worse and worse, but swapping in a known good starter instantly cured the problem. In other words, I wouldn't be surprised if there is an issue with the starter.

Don Elliott
10-20-2012, 11:48 AM
If I don't use my 1958 TR3A for a week or two, it won't start immediately. I can keep cranking it and eventually it will catch. I suspect that the fuel is leaking back down to the pump leaving the float bowls dry - or the fuel has evaporated (I see no wet drips) out the float bowls. A quick spray of "Quick Start" into each filter and it jumps to a start right away.

Jim Lee
10-20-2012, 12:02 PM
Thanks to all for the quick responses.

Don, when you keep cranking it does the turns slow way down like all of a sudden the engine is really hard to turn? I did not mention earlier that I can spray some starting fluid on the filters and it will start right up and run fine. My non-starting problem shows up each new morning. I was running all around yesterday and this morning it cranked strong for a few revolutions then slowed down to its barely cranking mode. I have felt the wire that goes from the solenoid to the starter get warm. Is that a sign that the voltage is being delivered to the starter but not being used?

But I also have an electric fuel pump that turns on with the ignition switch a few seconds before I push the starter button.
Could I rule this out by just checking the fuel bowls before I start? Multimetered voltage on the starter from the post to the case and saw 8 to 9 volts. That is pretty normal is it not?

I am thinking it is time to test with a new or known working starter. <span style="font-weight: bold">If anyone has a known good starter that will fit on a post ts50000 (I believe I am TS50500) they would like to sell please contact me via personal message.</span> I am looking at this one on Ebay but if possible I would rather not invest this much in it.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Gear-Reduction-S...0c0&amp;vxp=mtr (https://www.ebay.com/itm/Gear-Reduction-Starter-Triumph-TR3-TR3A-TR3b-TR4-TR4a-/230620025024?pt=Vintage_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessorie s&amp;hash=item35b20650c0&amp;vxp=mtr)

TR3driver
10-20-2012, 02:35 PM
I have felt the wire that goes from the solenoid to the starter get warm. Is that a sign that the voltage is being delivered to the starter but not being used?

That's a sign of a bad connection, or corroded wire. Try feeling the solenoid posts right after you've cranked the engine until it slows down. Another place to check is where the battery strap joins the body; and that the ground strap at the RH motor mount is securely in place.

Although it is best to give it a rest after 10-15 seconds of continuous cranking, the starter should not slow down for several minutes of cranking. If it does, there is a problem with the starter or its power supply (battery, wires, solenoid) independent of whatever caused the engine to be hard to start. Personally, I would get that solved first and then worry about why it's hard to start. Sometimes they just are.

PS, starters are fairly simple devices even though you can't see the magnetic fields. If your starter is sick, the problem will usually be quite obvious once you've opened up the housing. Look for the armature dragging on the pole pieces (meaning the bushings are worn out), or burned windings, or a burned commutator (which indicates a problem with the brushes).

Jim Lee
10-21-2012, 12:09 PM
Is getting 8 to 9 volts at the starter post what I should be seeing?
If it is I would think that would point to a starter problem.

Thanks,
Jim Lee

TR3driver
10-21-2012, 12:18 PM
I agree. 8-9 volts under load should be plenty, and if the starter was stalled by the engine it would probably drop lower. Next step is to pull the starter and either check it out, or substitute with a known good unit.