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Technical could it be the flywheel?

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by glenn velardi, Oct 11, 2020.

  1. glenn velardi
    Joined: Jul 9, 2018
    Posts: 72

    glenn velardi

    hi ya'll i'm working on a 1951 chevy deluxe, 216, 3 spd. i have posted this issue before and while i received some great leads and suggestions, such as a short or bad ground, after addressing those issues, the problem remains.
    this is the issue. i don't know the history of the car but i do know that it was not on the road since the mid 70s. i brought the car home and got it running and i still have some work, but it seems to be a runner.
    the problem is starting. some times i push the button and everything works as it should. sometimes i push the button and i get a loud clicking sound and thats it. if i continue pushing the start button, i'll notice some white wisps of smoke coming from the starter button at which time i'll give it a rest and it may or may not start later.
    what i have done so far is replace the coil, battery, (still 6 volts) replaced the starter solenoid, new ignition key/switch, new starter button, rewired the ignition circuit, points, plugs, cap, condenser, rotor, and wires, but still clicking....sometimes.

    so this morning, i was reading deve krehbiel's book on these engines and he mentioned that there are 2 different flywheels and i got to thinking that maybe the flywheel and starter gear don't mesh quite right all the time. to test this, i tried to start the car. when the clicking sound happened, i went under the car and moved the flywheel slightly by hand and the starter engaged and presto! i tried it a few times and it seemed to work. so my question is, could the flywhell be the cause and if so, what are my options?

    also worth noting is that most of the old wiring for the lights etc remains. it is the original cloth and to say it is in bad shape, well lets just say it is. with the exception of every wire that is in the ignition circuit, the old stuff remains.

    as always any and all suggestion would be a great help!
    loudbang likes this.
  2. J. A. Miller
    Joined: Dec 30, 2010
    Posts: 1,409

    J. A. Miller
    from Central NY

    What is the condition of your battery cables? 6 volts requires a lot of amps when starting and your cables and connections need to be clean and tight.
  3. Wrench97
    Joined: Jan 29, 2020
    Posts: 146


    If it was a mismatch it would happen all the time not some of the time.
  4. 325w
    Joined: Feb 18, 2008
    Posts: 5,375

    from texas

    Grounds. Even behind the dash on the starter button

  5. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 4,262


    Did you happen to replace the battery cables with store bought ones?
  6. glenn velardi
    Joined: Jul 9, 2018
    Posts: 72

    glenn velardi

    Joined: Dec 14, 2009
    Posts: 2,677


    It would make a horrible noise if you had a latter flywheel and earlier starter or vice versa and it would happen all the time.

    yeah store bought battery ends are shit and not the correct gauge for a 6volt system.

    Make your own ends out of 1 ought welding cable.

    one from the battery to frame, one from battery to engine block
    One from body to chassis
    You can also put one from engine/trans to frame.

    you can never have enough grounds.

    Also get a muti meter and check for voltage drops

    but first get rid of those crappy store bought ends and make your own

    also make your positive cable as well.
  8. glenn velardi
    Joined: Jul 9, 2018
    Posts: 72

    glenn velardi

    hey thanks. i'll give it a try.
  9. KenC
    Joined: Sep 14, 2006
    Posts: 473


    Wispsof smoke from the button? Either high amp draw by the solenoid, badbutton, poor wire connection or poor ground. I don’t think it can be the starter as that current doesn’t pass through the button. Only the current for the solenoid pullin coil.
    kevinrevin likes this.
  10. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 7,137

    jimmy six

    Cables are too small. Every one that it is correct. Make sure you have an addition ground from the engine to the body. The wire you have on the battery now will work well for that too.
    You are no alone in this. 90% have never owned a 6 volt car And don’t know. I made a great trade for a 50 Chevrolet 2 door sedan that was hard to start yrs ago. Saw what was wrong and changed them when I cot home. Never had any problem again at least with starting.
    ottoman likes this.
  11. Jimmy Petrarca
    Joined: Oct 7, 2020
    Posts: 9

    Jimmy Petrarca

    Bad grounds. Vandenpals is right. Bad grounds.
    VANDENPLAS and ottoman like this.
  12. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 4,145

    from Ioway

    Those generic drug store replacement cables in the blister pacs aren't even suitable for 12 volt engines. Not V8 anyway.

    Barely adequate for a 4 cylinder. They use nice thick plastic insulation so it appears to be heavier gauge wire than it really is.
  13. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 27,530


    The guys are right in that the skinny cables that are 4 gauge or so that are sold for 12V are way too small for 6 volt. A 6 volt battery doesn't have the push to run enough amps though the restrictive smaller gage cable.


    I had to change to larger cables on my OT truck (77 Chev with a 454) because the regular over the counter cables were too restrictive with their smaller gauge wire.

    I used an old Mopar video when I was teaching to explain volts amps and ohms and it compared the three to a water system. Volts being the water pressure Amps being the flow of water and ohms as being the restrictions in the line. While you can push a lot of water though a 1/2 inch hose with a high pressure pump it takes a 3/4 inch pipe and hose to move the same amount of water at a lower pressure. Any kink in the hose stops the flow just as any restriction in the wiring slows/stops the current flow.

    Those who say check your ground connections (and all connections) are correct too. If you are getting smoke from the push button you may have a poor ground on the push button or you may have a bad connection or corroded wire or switch. You want to check every connection in the start system though including all ground strap connections.
    pitman and VANDENPLAS like this.
  14. F-ONE
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,273

    from Alabama

    You might be on to something.
    If the ring gear is damaged it may cause the bendix gear to lock up or bind. You need to check the teeth on the ring gear, all of them. If a few are damaged, this could be your problem as the balance of the engine causes the engine to stop at about the same place. Thus the damaged teeth return to nearly the same spot.
    You may have an issue with the starter bendix and gear.
    The starter may need to be refreshed with a simple cleaning, lubrication, new brushes or a complete overhaul. The factory shop manuals and period general service manuals have the steps to check and do basic starter motor overhaul.

    Cables and grounds...
    You have been told about this before in a previous thread. By far this is the first step to keep a 6 volt system functioning well.
    My 51 Ford had cranking problems, all it required was cleaning the cable connections. Since you have small parts store cables you need to get the proper size cables. Suppliers have these like Chevs of the 40s. Tractor Supply has larger cable for 6V tractors.
    Personally I would go with correct reproduction cables from a supplier. Those business need our support and really you can spend more time and money finding and monkeying around with generic parts trying to make something fit.
    bchctybob likes this.
  15. Glenn Thoreson
    Joined: Aug 13, 2010
    Posts: 98

    Glenn Thoreson
    from SW Wyoming

    It sounds like the starter drive is not engaging the fly wheel properly and it's binding. In the days of old this was not uncommon and we would just rock the car back and forth in gear to get it loose. Pain in the ass, that.
    You say smoke comes from the starter button? A stalled or shorted starter pulls a LOT of amps. It could have a shorted armature or field winding. Since the engine has certain spots where it stops when you turn it off it could be stopping with the shorted commutator on a bad spot. I would take the starter to some place where they can run a thorough test on it. (Re-builder) I don't remember these having 2 different flywheels (?). Check the starter button for clean tight connections.
    Check the flywheel ring gear and starter drive gear and front bushing for wear or damage. Worn or damaged teeth on either will cause this problem. Check the drive fork for wear, also.Good luck...............
  16. Save yourself the pain and rewire the entire car. That wire is old, corroded and guaranteed some of the insulation is falling or has already fallen off leaving exposed wires. I put it off in my 51 Chevy. Motor went south on it swapped in a new motor, went to fire it up for the first time and the entire dash harness caught on fire. It could have been bad.

    Re wire it and it will crank how it is supposed to.
  17. 52HardTop
    Joined: Jun 21, 2007
    Posts: 915


    CHANGE THE BUTTON... There is no ground at the button. It's only a switch. Start there please?
  18. lippy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2006
    Posts: 4,981

    from Ks

    Did I hear you mention the wiring is bad? Lippy
  19. getow
    Joined: May 9, 2016
    Posts: 66


    Ditto to all that was previously stated. But once you repair or replace all known issues like poor wirering, grounds, failing starter, etc. And if at that point the problem is still present and you find that the ring gear on the flywheel is damaged or tore up? There is a rather cheap fix to it. And that is, the ring gear can be flipped over on the flywheel. Its not directional. I had mine done when i had the flywheel resurfaced and the machine shop only charged me $25. Pretty cheap for new teeth....
  20. abe lugo
    Joined: Nov 8, 2002
    Posts: 2,260

    abe lugo

    Go to Napa or the farm store find the fatter cables and get ends the with with them and make your cables. We used 00 size cables on a 33 Plymouth with6 volt. And a new optima 6 volt. Starts like a new car.
  21. bchctybob
    Joined: Sep 18, 2011
    Posts: 2,500


    Get yourself one of these crimpers and a big hammer. Then get some fat copper welding cable and copper ends. Unless you spring for the cables from a trusted restoration place this is your best bet for good cables. Shop around, I think Walmart has 'em cheaper. If you mess with cars much it will pay for itself quickly.
    If your switch smoked it may be damaged enough to require replacement at this point.
    Also, loosen the starter bolts and see if the slop in the bolt holes will allow you to move the starter away from the flywheel slightly then tighten 'em back up. It may be just enough to help with a tight spot. Good luck.
  22. sunbeam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2010
    Posts: 4,974


    The starter button only controls the solenoid My first thought you have a interminted short in the wire from the button to the solenoid. Turn on the lights when starting if they don't get very dim when starting the cables are probally OK.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2020
  23. glenn velardi
    Joined: Jul 9, 2018
    Posts: 72

    glenn velardi

    ok ya'll thanks for all the great info and sorry it took so long for an up date.

    after trying a bunch of stuff, i decided to listen to everyone and break down and buy some welding cable. at $4.00 a foot i was being cheap. i hooked up grounds from the battery to the block, block to the frame, body to the frame. after about 5 starts, the symptom returned. i should also say that the start button had previously been replaced, don't know if i mentioned that but there was some input to change it. that and the ignition key switch are new.

    so at this point i had the cable, so i changed the hot wire from battery to starter using the 1 ott welding cable. so as of today, i don't want to jinks my luck but the problem seems to be solved. to be honest, i delayed an update because i was sure it would return but, so far so good.

    thanks again and from this point forward my advice to any issue is, "check the grounds!"
  24. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 4,351


    F-one, gave you the solution! It’s a fundamental transmission problem! Yes transmission! The starter drive and flywheel are a transmission. The teeth need to mesh! When new, both starter drive and flywheel teeth are sharp, it’s like trying to balance two knife blades on each other on the sharp side!Can’t be done! After years of wear, the gears get blunt, now it’s like balancing two knife blades on the back side, easily done!
    When two blunt gears hit each other, they don’t engage, they just sit there, causing the solenoid to struggle, drawing more amps!
    You proved this theory my moving your flywheel a little, thus allowing the starter drive gears and flywheel gears to mesh!
    That’s why it happens sometimes and sometimes not!

    Also, engines tend to stop in the same spot, causing more wear in spots on the flywheel.

    Your improved current to the starter is causing the solenoid to “ hit” harder, causing the blunt gears to move a little.

    Last edited: Oct 20, 2020
  25. One thing not mentioned is the starter. Starter armatures can partially short out on one or two poles, creating a 'dead spot' that draws excessive current. If the armature doesn't stop at the 'dead spot', the starter will work. Land on the dead spot, it'll act just the way you mention. Inadequate current to the starter can make it obvious, high enough current will 'disguise' it. A inexpensive inductive ammeter will show this, if you see current in excess of about 450 amps @ 6V or a big swing in current while turning, the starter probably needs rebuilding or replacement.
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  26. sdroadster
    Joined: Jul 27, 2006
    Posts: 328


    X2 on the above comment.
  27. treb11
    Joined: Jan 21, 2006
    Posts: 3,573


  28. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 4,351


    I think you nailed Steve! I’ve got to start reading better. I read that he had replaced the starter also. So I discounted the dead spot in the armature. I when back a saw that he only replaced the “ starter solenoid “ .

  29. Reman
    Joined: Jul 8, 2010
    Posts: 328

    from Florida

    My 2 cents worth......It's already been covered, need large factory gauge cables or larger, grounds, grounds and grounds. I was originally thinking a bad chinese solenoid, but if the problem existed before you changed the solenoid, maybe that cancels itself out.........I thought I knew basics of the old 216's fairly well, but I never heard of, or dealt with there being 2 different flywheels. I would have guessed the heavy trucks may have a different one from cars, but I have no experience with anything heavier than a half ton pick up. Hope you can your issues anyway. Be sure and post back when you find the cure. I am interested as I am sure most others are.
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  30. nochop
    Joined: Nov 13, 2005
    Posts: 1,729

    from norcal

    Clean the contacts while your at it, can’t hurt
    Boneyard51 likes this.

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