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What to do about a starter relay? (Buick)

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Gas Giant, Jul 4, 2008.

  1. Gas Giant
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    Gas Giant Member

    Working on my 56 Buick Special. The wiring has been fouled up pretty badly by previous owners.

    After a long electrical diagnosis (in the 90 degree heat) I have come to the conclusion that my starter relay isn't functioning properly. Unfortunately, I can't find a replacement online or in the stores.

    Would it be possible to use a different relay in place of the original starter relay? For instance if I just went down to the auto parts store, slapped the old relay down on the counter and told the kid behind the counter to find something that looked like it?

    Thanks for the advice.
  2. Deuce Roadster
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    Deuce Roadster Member Emeritus

  3. SlowandLow63
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    SlowandLow63 Member

    Have you converted it to push button start or start on the key or is it still on the gas pedal? Didn't Buicks have the floor the pedal to start switch?

    If not, any starter solenoid will do, the Ford style is most popular and easy.
  4. Gas Giant
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    Gas Giant Member

    Actually, the relay looks like this:

    [​IMG]


    The solenoid works. If I bypass the relay, and bump the ignition, the starter engages and spins the engine until the sparks scare me enough to let go of the wires.

    I am not using the floor mounted switch setup, mainly because it isn't there anymore. I got a 4 position universal ignition switch and I am hooking that up. (Off, Acc, Run, Start)

    So, in short, the starter solenoid works. I am getting voltage to Terminal 1 of the relay (which comes from the ignition switch) but nothing is coming out. So I am thinking I need to replace this relay, it's as old as the car, but they aren't too common and I was wondering if I could find something similar or wire it in such a way that I don't need this thing.

    Thanks for the replies so far! BTW, the pic above isn't on my car, I took it from Agent Budd's 56 Buick site.
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  5. Cooters Speed Shop
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    Cooters Speed Shop Member

    GAS GAINT,
    After converting to 12 volts on my '51 Chev using the original 6 volt starter and solenoid the solenoid would stick sometimes. I wired the original 6 volt solenoid to be always hot and installed a Ford remote solenoid. It worked for me.

    Cooter
  6. Evil Wicked Mean & Nasty
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    Evil Wicked Mean & Nasty Member

    I've used Ford solenoid's on everything imaginable. Wired correctly it should work for a 56 Special too.
  7. Larry T
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    Larry T Member

    Ditto on the Ford relay and a jumper wire on the starter solenoid.
    But if you don't want to do that, look at some horn relays for 50s/60s cars. They look about the same as your starter relay.
    Larry T
  8. dbradley
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    dbradley Member

    That's what I was thinking. A '69 Chevelle horn relay looks similar...............
  9. Gas Giant
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    Gas Giant Member

    All I really care about is being able to start the car. The Ford relay sounds interesting, I know those things are readily available and cheap. How do you wire one up? (Pretend you are explaining to a 5 year old how to wire it....)
  10. Larry T
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    Larry T Member

    Looking at the Ford solenoid above, the starter wire from the ign. switch goes to the small terminal on the left (usually marked S on the solenoid........duh ;^) ). The hot cable from the battery hooks to the large terminal on the same side. A battery cable (eye on each end) runs between the other large terminal of the solenoid and the hot terminal of the solenoid on the starter. Use a jumper wire between the cable terminal and the S terminal on the starter. If you've been doing electrical repair for long enough (or too long), you might have discovered that Ford used this exact setup on some of their 460 starters in the 70's. They even made a factory "jumper strap" that you can use, pictured below. That's about it.
    You can use the feed back wire off of the original solenoid or the small I terminal on the Ford solenoid to feed the coil while the starter is engaged.
    A benefit of this setup is that it seems to help cure the starter kickback when the engine is hot and you don't have any hot wires going to the starter when the engine is running. It's kind of a bummer when your main hot wire melts to a header tube and kills your wiring.
    Larry T

    Attached Files:

  11. d2_willys
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    d2_willys Member

    Why bother running another relay when all you need to do is to find the terminal with the wire coming from the starter solenoid on the bad relay and wire that directly to the ignition switch start terminal or if you have automatic make sure the neutral safety switch is between the ignition start terminal and the wire coming from the solenoid. If you want to use a relay just use a horny relay.
  12. Judd
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    Judd Member

    The original starter switch on a 56 Buick is on the rear passenger of the carb base it's a black plastic piece with two screws there may be two wires in that area if I remember right one is yellow. I'm not at home so I can't send wirring diagram.
  13. Gas Giant
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    Gas Giant Member

    Most of the original setup is gone. The original carb is gone as well, replaced with what I believe is a WCFB 4 barrel.

    I have started wiring up the Ford relay, but I am running into some issues. There are several wires left over that originally went to the relay. One is a green wire that goes to the voltage regulator - what should I do with this wire?

    Another in the neutral safety switch wire. Where should I connect that? Also left over is a 10 gauge black wire that goes to the starter solenoid.

    I haven't been able to get under the car to install the jumper on the starter yet, but I should be able to tomorrow. I apologize for dragging this out so long, but I am absolutely terrible at understanding wiring.
  14. Larry T
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    Larry T Member

    The neutral safety switch should have two wires coming from it. You can splice it between the ignition switch and the S terminal of the Ford solenoid. That is, S wire from starter switch to one side of the neutral safety switch, the other wire from the neutral safety switch to the S terminal on the Ford solenoid. If the black wire goes from the relay to the small terminal of the starter solenoid, you can eliminate it. The jumper wire on the starter solenoid replaces it. I don't know about the green wire, unless it is a hot wire for the original relay. If it is you can eliminate it too.
    Larry T
  15. d2_willys
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    d2_willys Member

    Try this: Connect the wire from the neutral safety switch to the wire going to the solenoid. Then (if the other wire from the neutral safety switch goes to the ignition switch start terminal) try starting the car. (The other wire from the neutral safety switch probably goes to the IGN terminal of the Ignition switch as it did in the original configuration. Move it to the start terminal and it should work. If it starts then observe if the battery is charging, if not then the wire from the voltage regulator needs to be connected. My thought is that the wire from the voltage regulator is actually the armature terminal of the generator. This is used to prevent run-on of the starter when starting the car with the old gas pedal start setup. In your case forget about it and the FURD relay, you don't need it. DON'T OVER COMPLICATE something very simple. Need a before and after wiring diagram PM me:cool:
  16. docauto
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    docauto Member

  17. duste01
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    duste01 Member

    A relay is a relay. Its just big enough to handle the amperage load of a full jolt of everything the battery can throw at it. If you take a hammer to it after you fix it, or destroy one you dont have any use for, all thats in there is a low amp coil used as an electro magnet to pull the steel rod against the two poles to connect the hot side of the battery to the hot side of the starter. Thats all any starter relay does.
  18. Larry T
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    Larry T Member

    Quick sketch on the back of an envelope. This will work on just about any 12 volt engine.
    Larry T

    Attached Files:

  19. lewislynn
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    lewislynn Member

    What I see circled in your photo is a horn relay. Where's the starter relay? The relay that directly connects the battery to the starter...The one with the really big wires to put it simple.
  20. lewislynn
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    lewislynn Member

    I'm betting you don't have a starter solenoid.

    "I am getting voltage to Terminal 1 of the relay (which comes from the ignition switch) but nothing is coming out."
    Try honking the horn to see if anything is coming out then....Since it's a horn relay.​

    Somewhere at the other end of that black shielded battery cable is a solenoid or a foot switch.
  21. Gas Giant
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    Gas Giant Member

    It's actually not the horn relay. The horn relay is on the other side of the voltage regulator, and only has 3 terminals vs. the 4 the starter relay has. Here is a pic of it from the same site as the starter relay:

    [​IMG]
  22. lewislynn
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    lewislynn Member

    You aren't going to solve your problem untill you understand that the relay you circled in that photo is not a starter relay and that a solenoid is a relay. Since a solenoid is a relay it really doesn't require another relay to activate it.
  23. Gas Giant
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    Gas Giant Member

    Well, the wiring diagram refers to it as a starter relay....

    But nonetheless, it's not on the car anymore anyway.
  24. lewislynn
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    lewislynn Member

  25. Gas Giant
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    Gas Giant Member

    Well, it's plain as day on the 56 wiring diagram, separate relay and solenoid. I appreciate your assistance, so I'm not going to argue this any further.
  26. d2_willys
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    d2_willys Member

    You need to understand that the relay is indeed a starter relay and not a solenoid. The relay is not a horn relay either. It is used to take the starter switch, which Buick had mounted to the carb and was actuated by the gas pedal, and "relay to the starter solenoid (on the starter) to start cranking. Since the start switch is gas pedal controlled, the relay also prevents the starter from engaging while the engine is running by having this relay coil returned through the generator armature terminal on the voltage regulator. By doing this, the relay will be deactivated when the generator starts to charge the battery.

    Is this helping you understand what is going on here? If not, check out a Buick wiring diagram and you will see why the relay is necessary.:eek:
  27. Judd
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    Judd Member

    This is from the 56 Buick factory shop manual and may help.

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  28. lewislynn
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    lewislynn Member

    Sorry, I stand corrected. I had no idea Rube Goldberg engineered the starting/charging circuit on early Buicks.
  29. Gas Giant
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    Gas Giant Member

    It does have a very Rube Goldberg feel to it. I'm surprised hitting the switch doesn't turn a boot that kicks a cue ball down a ramp that hits a catapult that launches a hamster at a target that.....you get the idea.

    Anyway, I took the Ford solenoid route and got it to crank today. Thanks to everyone who replied!
  30. Judd
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    Judd Member

    Close the carb switch has a metal ball that runs down a chute and is sucked up with vacume when the motor starts. I got pictures to prove it! LOL!


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