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Technical Pontiac starter question.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by wvenfield, Jun 3, 2021.

  1. wvenfield
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 5,371

    wvenfield
    Member

    Probably something I'm just missing.

    I have a 56 Pontiac. 64 389. 4 speed. Bellhousing is a 61-64 big Pontiac bellhousing.

    We made the clutch linkage around all of this because everything seemed to work when I pulled the engine from old car.

    Starter bolts to bellhousing BUT the gear sticks out too far. It is always up against the flywheel. Old starter was cobbled together. Looked like maybe had a shorter Chevy armature and a copper bushing. It worked but it would hang up. It did hang up and fried the starter.

    I could make a spacer to set the starter back but am I simply missing or not using the right things?

    IMG_20210603_094956842.jpg IMG_20210603_095242082.jpg IMG_20210603_095308099.jpg
     
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  2. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 9,988

    jimmy six
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    It looks like you can also bolt a starter to the block. Some have shims that can move the starter motor back from the attaching block so the pinion gear can miss the ring gear. I have done this in the past on some converter GMC 6’s. The shims mimicked the design on where the motor attacked to the aluminum starter block. Good luck.
     
  3. wvenfield
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 5,371

    wvenfield
    Member

    Starter that mounts to block won't fit the bellhousing.......forgot to mention that.
     
  4. Bird man
    Joined: Dec 28, 2009
    Posts: 697

    Bird man
    Member
    from Milwaukee

    GM had several lengths of starter drives, perhaps it is that simple?
     

  5. Sorry if this is a dumb question, but can you measure what you have and call summit to see if they have a hi torque mini starter that will fit?
     
  6. wvenfield
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 5,371

    wvenfield
    Member

    I didn't want a mini starter.......anyway, here is what we did and what I ended up finding out in case this ever comes up again.

    I am running a 1964 389 that came out of a 1964 4 Speed Catalina.

    Pontiac made two starters in 1964. 1964 is where they started to transition to block mounted. The 4 speed GTO was block mounted. The big Pontiacs were still mounted to the bellhousing. In 1964 Pontiac made a small change to the size of the block. To make everything work the bellhousing is different in a Big Pontiac 1964 4 speed car. If you take a starter for a 4 speed Pontiac and mount it, it will clamp right against the flywheel on the 1964. NO ONE offers a 4 speed starter. I looked everywhere. Heck there may be some rebuilt out there not labelled as so. Anyway, the drive gear is far shorter in the 4 speed starter. Also I should note, the nose of the starter for an automatic will not fit the 4 speed bellhousing.

    I wish I had taken pics. On the Pontiac there is a spacer on the drive gear that causes it to stick out too far. We noticed that a Chevy drive gear does not have this spacer. BUT the Chevy gear is longer. We cut down the Chevy gear and installed a spacer on the end to limit possible travel.. You also have to slightly machine the front of the nose that sticks into the bellhousing or it will hit the flywheel on older starters which I assume we got.

    To make a short story long, the previous owner (long gone) had modified the starter which had stumped us. While it "worked" the drive gear was ever so slightly too long and would hit the flywheel. (which we weren't able to tell until it all came apart, stuck and we spun the starter from a flywheel turning 2000 rpm's. That makes short work of a starter.

    There is a guy that rebuilds electrical motors locally that has been doing it for 40 years and he did locate the proper drive gear. (but not complete starter) I bought it up. I still do not have a proper nose but maybe some day I'll find one.

    It all seems to be working fine..............
     
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  7. John Milner
    Joined: Jun 3, 2006
    Posts: 154

    John Milner
    Member
    from Oklahoma

    Pontiac did make two different kinds of flywheels. Usually a Pontiac with a bellhousing mount starter takes a flywheel with the ring gear further back.
     

    Attached Files:

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  8. wvenfield
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 5,371

    wvenfield
    Member

    Yes but from discussions with quite a few old Pontiac guys, (well a couple, there aren't many) 1964 was an anomaly. One guy said "This is why Pontiac was ended, they wouldn't quit doing dumb things like this". LOL
     
  9. Elcohaulic
    Joined: Dec 27, 2017
    Posts: 2,462

    Elcohaulic
    Member

    I was into Pontiacs, I liked the bigger ones. The 64 Grand Prix was such a beautiful car, that tail light treatment was a work of art..The Beach Boys used one on there album. Then those 8 lug wheels on the 65 2+2 or the Bonneville with the fender skirts. The look of those 8 lugs under a fender skirt was amazing. The 67 Grand Prix had one of best looking front ends, that hidden head light treatment was amazing. I remember this sexy blond coming up behind me on the interstate. I was in a 64 Bonneville 421 cruising at 90-110 when this lady passes me like I was in reverse! She blew the horn and gave me the thumbs up, she was in a 67 Grand Prix 428 she had to be doing 135-140! That car look haunted, it was just getting dark out and she had those cool looking parking lights on.. The car was a 2 door hard top all dark blue and had a rear fender antenna and 428 badges. I'll never forget that encounter.. Her gorgeous blond hair against that dark interior and she handled that big car with a comfortable ease.. I never saw her again...
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2021
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  10. buds56
    Joined: Dec 9, 2004
    Posts: 189

    buds56
    Member

    In my experiences the full size cars with a bellhousing mount starter had the ring gear further back on the flywheel (towards the transmission). Those flywheels are pretty hard to find anymore.
    IMHO I would install a later bellhousing and a block mounted starter, your clutch fork will work in the later bell.
    Of course this option stinks since the car is all together after several yrs of work.
    Good luck
     
  11. wvenfield
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 5,371

    wvenfield
    Member

    The Pontiac guy in Minnesota suggested the same thing (he was who verified the multiple different starters) but when we explained what we were going to do he said "Yeah, that will work also". LOL

    We would have done it different perhaps if we had known from the beginning.
     
  12. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 2,099

    ekimneirbo
    Member
    from Brooks Ky

    Could someone just put a flywheel spacer in place and move the whole flywheel back .030 or so? Then you might be able to get away with using a standard unmodified starter if it fails when you are away from home.
     
  13. wvenfield
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 5,371

    wvenfield
    Member

    Possible.
     
  14. Elcohaulic
    Joined: Dec 27, 2017
    Posts: 2,462

    Elcohaulic
    Member

    I would never turn in a old starter while buying a new starter. They usually have two heavy leads to the windings. My electric motor shop told me to never turn in old starters or alternators and just have them built.
    There's a company called RobbMcc that sells a special mini starter with a full Bendix cage. They also make 1/2" gasoline tank pick ups..

    RobbMcPerformance - Pontiac Starter
     
  15. wvenfield
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 5,371

    wvenfield
    Member

    I have my old starter but as I noted, it was modified to work so it's not the original starter. There really is no rebuilding it either after getting spun, well someone else do the math, tens of thousands of RPM's.
     

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