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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Starter motor teasing

Good evening gentlemen
After the grand mechanical journey of fitting the Ford T9 gearbox I finally intended to fire up the engine today. But the starter only delivered the well known hoarse sound when not engaging the flywheel, which it didnít - the engine does not rotate. I tried to push the car a few feets in gear, it didnt make any difference.
Battery okay, the engine plate and flywheel in the same position as before the Ford gearbox installed. I have not yet had the starter on the workbench to se how ot behave with powersupply.
Any suggestions welcome, thank you
Jan Kruber

sounds like a case of grime on the armature spindle stopping the pinion barrel from flying into mesh..motor out and inspect. Don't oil the shaft when you put it back and take care not to jamb the pinion into the ring gear or you'll have a different sort of problem! Good luck!
David Cox

As David suggests it may be muck and gunge on the pinion shaft. This needs to be scrupulously clean. Brake cleaner spray is good stuff for this job. As David says don't be tempted to oil the shaft and pinion - dirt will stick to the oil and cause a problem very quickly. If you think it needs lubrication you can use a little dry PTFE spray, which is okay.
Check the pinion moves freely the full distance along the shaft by hand to make sure there are no burrs interfering with it.
While you have it on the bench you may like to check the other end of the motor to see if there is a buildup of grease and carbon dust on the commutator and brushes and check the condition of the brushes. If there's a lot of wear here the rebuild kit is cheap and fairly easy to fit.
To test on the bench take care that the motor is secured - there is a lot of inertia and it can jump about a bit. I use a battery and jump cables. When you take the power off it is crucial that the pinion returns to the resting position cleanly.
All this assumes your starter is the original type of course.

Good luck Jan.
Greybeard are good for almost everything you could want to service your motor...and more besides. Dave
David Cox

David / Greybeard
Im very relieved that none of you connect the gearbox conversion with the issue 😀
Itís strange though, that when the starter was removed during the winther, it was working allright, but thinking back, sometimes during the 2017 season, when trying to start, it would do the same noise and lack of engagement, just a single time, then start by next effort.
Iím so happy, if my problem is what you guys suggest..........
Jan Kruber

Hi Jan,
Did you remember to fit the earth strap between chassis and motor, when you refitted the engine?

some vids.

Following Guy's suggestion and before you take the starter to the bench -
32 MG Starter Problems

218 MG M35G Starter MGTD MGTD MGTF MGA MG Midget 1950-1979

246 MG T type / MGA / Midget M35G Starter Motor Repair

Nigel Atkins

Jan, i am almost complete on an Innocenti Mini restoration and had an issue similar to yours. In my case i made up a new loom for my car, and had attached a wire to the wrong terminal on the solenoid. In my case this meant that the starter was only getting a reduced voltage, more or less enough to duplicate your symptons. So whilst i am sure your set up is correct, it might be worth double checking.
Just a thought.
P Bentley

Thanks for the suggestions.
Today I removed the starter, took it on the workbench, only to notice it works well, with a slightly worn bearing lash though. So the starter should be swapped for a new actually.
I did the "John Smith" cleaning and deggreasing of the parts.
I reassembled the starter again, only to notice the same song.
Again, using the method explained by John Smith, I pulled the car a little back in fourth gear:
The noice of the the starter gear against the starter ring appeared. Hmmmm, I would bet I had checked that with eng. /gearbox on the workbench......
Winding the memory back to winther 2016/17, I fitted the Moss Europe rear crankcase oil seal kit. This contains a spacer. This meant, that the starter was touching the starter ring, so I had to have the flywheel in a lathe to have 1 or 2 mm or so taken away from the engine side, so that I had an approx 1mm gap between starter and starter ring. I worked well during 2017.
Why the situation now is how it is, is a mysteri.
I have off course, this 2017/18 winther had the flywheel off in connection with adapting the Ford gearbox conversion kit, but as the flywheel is fitted to the engine and not the new bellhousing / gearbox, it should be in the same position as last year.
?? strange.
So now in mid May, coling liquid draining, eng oil drain ing, gearbox oil draining, engine / gearbox out (%&§/=#!?) ?
Or fitting a high torque starter - because - when I look at photos of them on the www, it looks as if it engages the starter ring from the opposit side as the standard starter. What about this?:
Jan Kruber

Maybe if the starter ring/flywheel is still too far towards the gearbox, a simpler fix would be to put a spacer between the starter motor and the plate? This would bring the bendix (starter) gear nearer the flywheel.

J Smith

Its the opposite:
The starter gear is allready to near and touching the ring gear actually, thats the core of the problem really :-(
Jan Kruber

Well, now I have had the time to follow up on the challenges.
First, I have mislead you all, sorry.
1) The battery was not at all able to deliver the required power allthough it was not even one year old, and that I have had it charged. But since it was fairly I neglected the possiblity that it could be malfunctioning.
Bought a new battery.
2) The distance from the starter gear and flywheel gear is the same as before fitting the Ford conversion. Obviously! It'sa matter of how the bloke measures it!
Everything works!
Jan Kruber

this reminds us of the very often neglected or forgotten principles of always staring with the basics and never assuming that just because a part is new that it is correct or fully functioning - despite telling others this I often forget and neglect myself and usually then have cause to regret having done so.
Nigel Atkins

I now wonder if the discharged battery was only part of the problem, obviously you'll find out with use.

A discharged battery usually turns the starter slowly rather than making the sound you described - unless I interpreted your description of the sound wrong. A battery more discharged would perhaps only give the click from the solenoid.

Your former battery, if it's just a matter of normal discharge, should come back to full charge by a long, slow, low rate recharge - batteries are one of the most oversold car parts.
Nigel Atkins

Well, if nothing else, it works flawless now.
Jan Kruber

This thread was discussed between 09/05/2018 and 17/05/2018

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