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Old 27-03-2007, 15:40   #1
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Starter Worked 6(!!) Times Before Dying - AGAIN!

Does anyone have any clue on this starter issue I have?

I have a Perkins 4.108. When I bought this boat 2 yrs ago, it had a new starter put in by the previous owner. It was a Delco Remy. The starter worked maybe once, then would whir (spin without making contact with the flywheel) until you let go of the starter button. Next, it would go "clunk" as the bendix engaged the flywheel upon spin-down of the starter motor.

I started the boat by hitting the starter switch very quickly after the "clunk", taking advantage of the fact that the flywheel and pinion were in contact for that brief moment. Under load, they stayed in contact for a few seconds, which was long enough for me to get the Perkins up and running. I started the boat probably 50 times last season in this fashion.

At the end of the season, the starter stopped "clunking" and just "whirred", not engaging the flywheel at all.

I went through a complete electrical diagnostic and have excellent juice at the starter terminal posts. Since that was the case, I brought the old Delco Remy in for a re-build, which was really a swap. They took the old starter and gave me a new one off the shelf, charging about $200, I think. The guy working the counter took one glance at the starter and say "yup... this thing is hosed. The bendix is broken."

I installed the new starter and have used it 6(!!!!!) damn times and now it's doing the same as the old. It already ate through the f'in bendix!!! I hear clunking and rattling when the Perkins is running, and it sound like the benix is not disengaging from the flywheel, EXCEPT when you press the starter button.

I am LOST. Why would these Delco Remy starters be going so quickly? What's eating up the bendix? (flywheel teeth all look like new)

Could it be that these cheap (probably Chinese) replacement starters are made this poorly or the specification has changed just enough to chew through the bendixes?

I have the Perkins shop manual, which specifies the following starter:

Lucas MG45 or 2M113, 900A and 10 teeth on the pinion.

Where can I buy a REAL one of these that might last more than 6 starts?

Anyone want to sell me one?

Also, do any of you diesel jockeys know what would cause an engine to chew up starter bendixes like this?

I'm at my wit's end here. Sure wish the old Perkins had some kind of hand cranking system I could use. The engine runs PERFECTLY and is in excellent shape. The starters I keep getting however....

Thanks in advance to anyone who has any insight here.
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Old 27-03-2007, 18:05   #2
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A few bucks more than the DElco that doesn't work. Also Delco has a 2 year 250,000 mile warantee maybe can just get your monay back.

API Marine - Diesel Inboard Starter Motor - LUC101
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Old 27-03-2007, 18:25   #3
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Hi Charley:

Thanks for the feedback. I did see this starter and another for $600. Honestly, I try to buy everything as high quality as possible now, since I have spent money on garbage that has broken so many times. The Luc 101 does look pretty nice.

Buying it was my next step, but I wanted to make sure there isn't something else wrong that is eating up my bendixes. It would be even worse to chew up that LUC 101, or the other $600 starter.

I'm just a little nervous about buying one if there is an unseen problem I'm missing...

Also, the words "Lucas Style" starter spooked me a bit. My Delco Remy is a knockoff as well, and has failed spectaculary.
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Old 27-03-2007, 18:42   #4
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Go to Napa and buy a higher quality new Bendix and a spare, replacing the Bendix is no be deal unless it is in a real hard spot in your boat. As long as it is only the Bendix being your problem, I would not replace the whole starter.
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Old 27-03-2007, 19:09   #5
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I did notice that after I posted link most say Lucas style. I have been in the same situation, the aftermarket parts are usually sub par and do not carry a very good warantee. I have had issues with remanufactered starters doing the same thing. Spending several hours replacing a "brand new starter" cause it was crap to begin with.
I did have a problem simalar to the one you are having where the Bendex would spin itself out and no longer engage. Now I cant think of what we did to fix it for the life of me know. It was on a forklift not a marine motor.

Also check your starter switch, you have had this problem from day one?

Here is a link that might help SERVER BUSY
I am with you on paying the extra for the quality. Good luck with that.
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Old 27-03-2007, 19:12   #6
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Sorry the link didn't take. It is boatdiesel.com
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Old 28-03-2007, 00:35   #7
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Sean, it is possible the spring has failed. Hey, it's rare but possible. And I doubt it's Chinese either. It can happen, simple as that. Surely it must have some warranty. I would take it back and get them to sort it for you. The Delco Starter should give you years of trouble free service.
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Old 28-03-2007, 03:03   #8
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Sean, it's possible the ring gear on the flywheel of your motor is a different size, (maybe bigger) and the starter pinion is jamming in mesh which is wrecking the bendix when the motor starts. Maybe try to get hold of a starter with say, 9 teeth on the pinion?

I wouldn't bet on Lucas being better than Delco. The Brits used to have such a high opinion of lucas auto electrics they used to call Lucas "prince of darkness". They were only half joking.
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Old 28-03-2007, 07:55   #9
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the springs on the bendix may be a sub-par batch. you could also have a mating/meshing issue with the ramp cut on the teeth of the bendix versus your ring gear teeth. there could also be a problem with the spiral ramp on the armature shaft, ie burrs, to loose a fit etc. there could also be a problem with the solenoid plunger that pushes the drive out into the ring gear. ran into these probs. with my g.m. autos yrs ago.
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Old 28-03-2007, 08:23   #10
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Thank you!

Thank you for the inputs, everyone. I have looked into the issues above, and having talked to a dozen places today, it has been determined that I have either of the following 2 problems:

1) The starter the PO put in was of the wrong type, so the starter I traded it in for at the starter rebuild place is also of the wrong type.

2) A Perkins distributor in Jersey here said there is a 3/4" aluminum plate between the flywheel housing and the starter. My engine does NOT have this plate. Does anyone else's 4.108 have this plate?

URGENT: If anyone out there has a working Perkins 4.108 that starts well, could you please post up the starter number and let me know if you have a 3/4" aluminum plate that is sitting between your flywheel housing and your starter? At this point, with all the conflicting info I'm getting from the "experts", it would be good to verify what a working starter looks like. The starter number is usually approx 5 digits and looks something like this: 27680, which is the number for both starters I have put into this engine... probably incorrectly.

Thanks to all!!
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Old 28-03-2007, 13:17   #11
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Sean I can't see how a 3/4" plate missing would allow the gearbox to mate correctly. Let alone the starter to engage. However, if it were missing, then certainly that could damage the starter. It would be very easy to tell. Look at both the sarter and ring gear. Use a torch and look at the ring gear through the hole the starter fits into. The gear will most likely have sevear wear on the front of the teeth area where the starter gear is over extending into it. The same should be evident on the starter gear. The back of the gear will have wear marks where the gear is trying to drive into and most likely up onto the ring gear.
The other tell tale sign would be excessive noise when starting. It would most likely have sounded harsh and loud. You shouldn't be able to really hear the starter gear when turning over.
When it comes to which starter you need, there is only one. So surely the guy that sold you the starter should be able to look up a book and say, Perkins 4.108 takes this starter.
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Old 28-03-2007, 13:20   #12
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Sean I can't see how a 3/4" plate missing would allow the gearbox to mate correctly.
Arr sorry, readign the other thread you started, I see you are refering to a plate between the starter and engine plate.
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Old 28-03-2007, 13:54   #13
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Sean, I'm on the side of "not meshing" properly. You've got two leads pointing in the same direction--your PO may have done a kludge job by removing that spacer plate, in order to try "making do" with the wrong (Delco) starter. Since the only way to chew up the throw-out gear (the gear on the Bendix, not to be confused with a whole "Bendix" mechanism<G>) is by literally CHEWING on it, the gears or the way they mesh has to be the problem.
OK, maybe not has to be, but damn well ought to be the only possible problem.

Somewhere you need a reality check on what your flywheel gearing really is, and what the gear teeth on your starter really are, and some basic "does this mesh with that?" math.

IIRC Perkins are still in business in England and you can obtain all the engine specs--including those--from them. I'd start there.

A $600 starter would seem like throwing money away, especially if you didn't know whether that spacer plate was supposed to be in there. All this falls under the old fashioned heading of "mechanics" and making do, and there's no reason it can't be made to work right--if you can get a clear picture of the gear sizes and spacing.

Probably no way to get a good eyeball on the flywheel to see how the gears mesh up, is there? If you can take the starter to a machinist, or call ahead, he might be able to look at the wear on the gears and give you a good idea on how to do some measuring and fitting.

Sounds like you PO is related to the guy who kludged in the wrong alternator on another boat I know. Same same, we couldn't figure out why it wasn't working right, until we got the archaeology done. "Whaddayamean, this isn't stock?"
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Old 28-03-2007, 14:14   #14
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Thanks for the replies. The problem is most certainly looking like Hellosailor is right here. The missing 3/4" spacer plate would cause a meshing problem consistent with the symptoms described in my first post up there.

I will try tomorrow to see if it works better with a new spacer and ANOTHER new starter. ha ha

Will follow up with some results.
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Old 29-03-2007, 12:52   #15
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Another PROBLEM SOLVED, thank to the brains at the Cruiser's Forum.

The spacer plate was indeed missing from my engine (let me at that previous owner blunder thread!). This seems to have been putting the pinion 3/4" too close to the flywheel, which allowed it to catch the flywheel while the engine was running. It also explains why it was still working, even when the bendix was fried and not throwing the pinion out... it was close enough to still catch.

So, I put a new reduction gear starter in along with that aluminum spacer plate and it sounds like it's working quite well. We'll see over time, but if I don't post here again, this was indeed the correct solution to the problem. Any Perkins 4.108 people out there who are having starter issues, check to be sure some moron didn't remove your spacer plate.
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