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Tips
Tips

Starter Button

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After only 65 years of use the original starter button on my car has crapped out.
The Moss replacement lacks the "S"- is there a source for as-original?
Also, how do I remove the present button without damaging the dash?
 

Scottswim

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The switch mechanism has a big nut on the back behind the dash to unscrew and the switch comes out through the front.
 
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Michael Oritt
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After removing the speedometer I could lay eyes on the back of the start switch and all three wires--the two whites and one white/red--seemed in place under the jam screws, reinforcing my belief that the switch was defective.

I removed the switch and, despite my assumption, I decided to check it for continuity. Lo and behold the circuit closed when the button was pushed.

At this point I had already removed the wires and, thinking that perhaps one of them was open I turned the key on and touched the white/red to the two whites--and the engine turned over!

I can only surmise that there was corrosion under one or both of the jam screws.

By now I had been working in a hunched over position for about 1.5 hours so I decided to finish up things tomorrow. However, so that I would be able to sleep tonight I temporarily reconnected the wires to the switch and pushed the button. Voila--we have ignition!

To be continued, hopefully tomorrow or Thursday.
 
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In my experience, many switches go intermittent before they fail outright. I'd probably go ahead and get a new one on order (even though 'new' may be questionable quality).
 
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Michael Oritt
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Good point Bob. The weather here in MD is definitely changing and I am eager to get the car on the road. OTOH I certainly do not want to have to do this again. I believe I have a source for a NOS switch, and I can always get one recently made, so perhaps I need to wait for a replacement.
 
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Michael Oritt
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Conclusion...

I have a new switch on order and was going to wait for its arrival next week to install it and relegate the existing switch to the "Questionable Parts" bin. But the weather here in Southern Maryland is outstanding and I really want to get away this weekend--either to the VA Tidewater area or Fredericksburg, VA.

So notwithstanding Bob's warning in post #5 I wrapped everything up today using the existing switch, hoping that the problem was simply with the connections at its rear. If it craps out I can easily jump around it (Famous last words).
 
Last edited:

Healey Nut

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Just remember to pack your trusty starter solenoid bypass tool and all will be fine 😁
 

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Michael Oritt
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I have a high-torque starter with built-in solenoid.
 

roscoe

Jedi Knight
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If it fails, just remember the phrase, "Drive it like you stole it," and hope onlookers don't call the fuzz when you duck under the dash and pull out some wires to touch together to get that vroom vroom noise going.
 

Rob Glasgow

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A guy in college showed me how to start my Healey without a key. Just take a copper penny and hold it up to the back of the key switch mechanism. The penny would bridge the two screws that held the hot wires and all you had to do was hit the starter button and you were ready to go. Of course it was difficult to change gears while keeping the penny held to the back of the key switch.
 

CraigC

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I have a high-torque starter with built-in solenoid.
This statement reminded me that you installed and wired your gear-reduction starter in a fashion that took the original solenoid(actually a high current relay) out of the circuit. By doing so, you have more than doubled the current flowing through the starter switch on your dashboard. The continuous draw of my gear reduction starter's solenoid is 10.5 amps. The continuous draw of the original Healey solenoid is 4.5 amps. I did not measure the "pull-in" current of either unit but, during my working years, I routinely saw 20 plus as the pull in on a Denso or Hitachi gear reduction starter. Now, you may not think that an additional 5 or 6 amps is a big deal, but it all depends on the voltage/current rating of the switch and its age. Also remember that loose connections and higher current = heat, which may be why the system started working after you tightened the terminals.

If you want to avoid using the factory solenoid, but also reduce the current passing through the starter switch, I would suggest wiring the solenoid trigger circuit through a small relay. That should drop the switch current to about 0.25 amps or less.

Just for the record, my gear-reduction starter is wired like the original through the stock solenoid with the necessary jumper wire fom the starter's batter cable lug to the solenoid terminal.
 

gonzo

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Craig. Your explanation and insights are extremely helpful. Like yours, my GRstarter is wired through original solenoid. I also appreciate the function of relays since I recently installed them for low/high beams and driving lights after several hours of research. The difference is, well, night and day. GONZO
 
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Michael Oritt
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Craig--

I just returned from that overnight trip down to Fredericksburg VA, and now that its replacement arrived from Moss while I was away the old button is on its best behavior and did just fine.

Thanks for the interesting data on comparative current draws between the original solenoid and that fitted to gear reduction starters. Yes, that increased load must indeed present a challenge to the start button. Also problematic is the size of the original white/red wire between the button and the solenoid, which seems to be 18 or 20 gauge at most. Undersize wiring results in resistance, the heat from which is detrimental to connections, not to mention the wire's insulation.

Now that I have the replacement switch on hand I'll wait for a rainy day and install it along with heavier gauge wire and heat-shrink terminals where possible.
 

CraigC

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Michael, while I agree that an upgrade to that particular wire may be in order, you need to consider the rest of the circuit as well. The current path starts where the battery cable and wire harness join--originally at the starter solenoid battery cable terminal. From there it goes to the "A" terminal of the voltage regulator, through the regulator and out at "A1" continuing on to the lighting switch where it daisy chains off to the ignition switch, passes through the switch and over to the starter switch. All of those wires and connections should also be inspected.

At the end of the day you still have more current flowing through the entire circuit including both switches. Who knows where the quality of the new switch falls compared to the original and what condition your ignition switch is currently(pun intended) in. I really do think you should consider wiring in a relay. It would eliminate all these concerns.
 
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Michael Oritt
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Craig--

Not to be contrary but....

1. I did away with the VR a long time ago when I upped to an alternator.
2. The battery cables and wires to starter have all been replaced and upsized, though I now realize I neglected to replace/upgrade the white/red.
3. While your suggestion re installing a relay is a good one and I may very well take it, interestingly in this morning's cool temperatures I had to crank the engine over for about 8-10 seconds before it fired off with no damage to the old/installed starter button and undersized white/red wire.
4. I do not have the proper meter to measure the current running to the solenoid when starting but am going to contact my starter's manufacturer (Britishstarter.com) to see if I can get a spec before installing new wire and/or a relay.
 

CraigC

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Michael, although I addressed my post to you, what I posted was for the benefit of all the readers here on this forum, most of whom have bone stock wiring.

Did you remove your solenoid from the car and run the new battery cable directly to the starter and make the wiring harness connection there as well?

8-10 seconds is nothing for a starter or solenoid. We would generally go with 30 seconds when testing.

I have the exact same starter as you. Been running it for about 5 years.
 
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Michael Oritt
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Mark--

The 12VDC + cable runs to a large terminal post in the engine compartment, about where the VR was originally located and from that a short length of cable runs to the starter. The post, and a similar one energized from the ignition switch, serve as the power sources for two six-position fuse panels protecting various appliance and lighting circuits

I have a large alternator installed and my car is usually a quick starter, though this morning it was about 30 degrees and it did take longer than normal to produce ignition. In fact I was just about to release the start button when the engine coughed just before firing.

To me, 10 seconds of cranking is a long time. I'm not sure for what you are testing but with all due respect I would never run the starter for 30 seconds straight.
 

CraigC

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Michael, thanks for that info. I occasionally consider doing something similar, but always go back to keeping it original(it is one of the 640), well, except for the starter. I'm still having trouble getting used to it sounding like a Toyota while cranking rather than a Healey.

You may have forgotten, as I know I have mentioned it both here and on the other forum, but I spent 40+ years in the automotive repair field. The last 25 were as a Toyota Master Diagnostic tech. I have way more than a passing knowledge of this design starter as it was basically all they used during that time. We were occasionally required to hold starters in operation for that amount of time during specific test procedures. It was during some of these procedures where I saw a measured 20+ amps of solenoid draw during pull-in coil operation.
 
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