How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter


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How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby WingAdmin » Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:57 pm



A failing starter in need of rebuild taxes your battery, solenoid and entire electrical system. A simple clean and rebuild will have your starter operating like new, and your motorcycle will start faster and easier than ever.

Thanks to Tim Wentzell for writing this How To article, and for taking the fabulous pictures that accompany it.

Starter Removal

1. Have the bike on the center stand. While in these pictures the exhaust headers are removed, this is not necessary to remove the starter.

2. VERY IMPORTANT – Remove the battery from your bike or at the very least disconnect the positive (RED) lead from the battery and TAPE it back so it can’t spring back to the battery post. No one wants a lead acid battery exploding in their face from a dead short! Safety comes first.

3. Remove the power cable that goes to the starter. VERY IMPORTANT - Make sure you use a thin end wrench to back up the lug when removing the nut from the positive lead. If that bolt starts to turn it may sever the connection internally and the starter may have to be replaced.

Remove the two bolts that mount the starter to the engine. Pull back the freed starter while wiggling it. When it is free from the engine, tilt it out and up until the starter shaft clears the engine and remove the starter. You may have to push down on the gear shift to gain a bit more room.

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4. This is the mounting hole once the starter is removed. Clean the mating surfaces where the starter will go back in. Put a very thin film of grease here. Note how the cog and starter chain looks just for a mental reference during the re-mounting of the starter.

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Starter Rebuild

5. Remove the 3 long screws and tap off the back end first and then the front end. It will be messy with carbon on one end and grease on the other.

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6. This is the front end. This is where the reduction gears are and is packed with messy stale grease. We will come back to this part later. Set the front end aside for now.

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7. This is the back end. This is the business side of the motor that most of your problems will be coming from. Note the amount of loose carbon just floating around in there. Also note the condition of the commutator on the end of the armature. All that old carbon and the debris piled up here is where the majority of you starting amps go. It has to fight through the conductive crud to make good contact to start the motor moving.

Remove the thin, delicate rubber gasket and clean it. Set it aside as you will not need it until the end.

Image

8. This is the end cap after cleaning. It was cleaned in Mineral Spirits, washed in hot soapy water and then blown dry. Make sure you get the crud packed in behind the brass bushing. You don’t remove the bushing and the bushing does not seat all the way down the bottom of the flange.

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9. Next the Brush Cover has to be removed. VERY IMPORTANTRemove the screw from the + side of the brushes as shown in the picture. Hold the screw mount with your fingers as the torque from the screwdriver may break the insulator below. If this screw is not removed you will break the insulator and have to buy this whole Brush Cover assembly. The + side has the insulation on the actual brush wires and is connected to the wire that goes down into the starter housing.

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10. Remove the Armature from the Starter Housing by gently pulling it out. You may have to gently move the wire to the side to pull the Armature out. Be careful not to damage the insulation on the wire.

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11. There are a total 6 washers on the Armature. If they are not there or some are missing, check the End Cap (which you should have found some if you cleaned it already) and check the inside of the Starter housing. They go in this order:

thick – thin – thin – ARMATURE – thin – thin – thick

Remove the washers, clean them and set them and the Armature aside for now.

Image

12. We’re going to cleaning the Brush Plate now. This is somewhat delicate work. Use Isopropyl Alcohol to clean this item. Don’t use any solvents. You don’t want anything soaking into the Brushes. They are porous material. Use the alcohol and a tooth brush to clean it with. Blow dry it gently. Measure the Brushes. If they are below 5.5 mm in length then they need to be replaced. Check the insulating plate for damage.

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13. Clean the starter housing with alcohol and a tooth brush. Make sure all the grease is off the front end. Make sure you rinse it well and blow dry it well. Set it aside. These are nice and clean.

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14. Cleaning the Armature is easy but a very important step. Clean everything off with Mineral Spirits and a toothbrush making sure you get into the groves between the commutator conductors. Dry everything off with a clean cloth.

Take 000 steel wool and dip it into clean mineral spirits and then start to clean the commutator conductors. Clean it in the direction of the spin of the Armature. You want to go with the “grain” of the rotational marks on the commutator “fingers” not against them. Do this light enough to remove the carbon build up and no more. Just get it clean. You are not trying to resurface it!!!

Also clean the armature winding itself with the steel wool especially if there is rust on it. Remember, gentle is the word of the day here.

When done, dry it off and then clean the whole thing again with Alcohol and pay extra attention to the commutator conductors, cleaning well in between them with a clean toothbrush. Make sure there is no steel wool strands left over stuck to something.

Image

15. Put a very small amount of grease on the inside surface of the brass bushing in the starter housing… just a film of it. Reassemble the Armature into the starter housing and don’t forget the washers and their proper sequence. Carefully install the Brush Cover making sure the brushes move in and out freely. Gently spin the Armature. It will probably spin only one way due to the direction of the wear on the brushes.

Screw down the + wire that comes up from the starter housing. Again, make sure you hold it with your fingers so your torque does not break the insulator below. Tighten it well.

Set this clean assembly off to the side. It’s time to get messy!

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16. Cleaning the reduction gear head assembly is messy with all the grease involved but not hard. Remove the Circlip and push the shaft through the “head”. The bearing that is left in the head does not have to be removed. The head can be cleaned with this in place.

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17. Clean the inside of the head with mineral spirits and then hot soapy water. Blow dry it when it is completely clean.

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18. Clean the “neck” of the head well. Remove the “O” ring and clean the grove.

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19. Remove the 2 gears from the shaft and clean with mineral spirits. Set them off to the side. Remove all the grease from the face and clean well. Don’t use mineral sprites unless you plan to repack the second non-sealed bearing that is still on the shaft. I planned to do this so I used the mineral spirits. Blow dry this extremely well. You want the bearing super clean.

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20. Now comes the grease! First, repack the bearings if you cleaned them with solvents. Make sure they are packed well. When done, insert the shaft back into the head and install the Circlip.

Put a little grease on each of the 2 shafts that the gears go on and then mount the two gears. Using copious amounts of grease, almost fill up the gear cavity and make sure there is grease in every nook-and-cranny.

Add a thin layer of grease to the face of the starter housing.

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21. Add your clean rubber gasket to the end cap. Carefully install the end cap after adding a film of grease to the brass bushing inside the end cap. Stand the starter up on its end and install the head. It may take a few tries to get this lined up due to the gears but it will go in place.

MAKE SURE the case marks line up during the reassembly. This picture shows the line-up-marks while the starter was still on the bike. (I forgot to take a picture while it was out.) Look for theses marks. Install the 3 long screws. Put a thin layer of grease on the neck of the starter where the “O” ring is. This will make the install very easy.

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Reinstallation

22. Install the starter back onto the engine opposite to the way you took it off. Be carful in mating it with the cog and chain in the engine. I did it on the first attempt. It’s very easy when the surfaces are cleaned and lubed. Bolt the starter down.

Make sure the power cable has a very clean connection and use a bit of dielectric grease here. Make sure there is no corrosion in/on the connector. Make sure the rubber boot fits properly over the lip of the insulator.

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23. You're done!!! Reinstall the battery and give it a test spin for a few seconds while the kill switch is off. Make sure it spins freely and your engine rotates.

When I did this refresh it fixed my starting problems in two ways:
- It takes considerably less current to roll the bike over now. The starter no longer “Stalls”.
- The bike actually starts quicker as there is more power going to the ignition system for a hotter spark.

This had made an incredible difference in the starting of my bike. I would recommend to anyone to do this. It is easy, fun and you get a great sense of accomplishment out of it. The job takes about two hours to do.



king
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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby king » Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:52 pm

Is this going to be avalible for download?... awsome! i'll be needing this tutorial someday for my '83 interstate.

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby WingAdmin » Fri Jul 24, 2009 11:36 pm

What do you mean available for download? You mean to download the web page as a PDF or something? Hm, that's not a bad idea, really.

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby king » Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:44 pm

Yeah, a downloadable PDF ! Then i can add it to the shop manual, common service manual, owners manual, etc. Which i downloaded last winter and put into a 3 ring binder. This starter tutorial, blows the one offerd at the download page, clean out of the water !!!.. Tim Wentzel got it right with this.! because he took the time to do so.. it shows in the way it is presented.. If your like me, and not to talented with the mechanical side of taking care of your bike. Then these instructions are a invaluble tool to add in at the download page. Hat's off ! to Tim Wentzel and this forum. Hope this will be availible for PDF download soon. It sure would beat paying a honda shop $75.00 an hour in labor costs and buying a complete new starter... What's in your wallet? mine has "air"... KING

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby WingAdmin » Sun Jul 26, 2009 6:16 pm

You might want to look into this product: CutePDF. It's free, it installs as a printer, and you can print ANYTHING - including web pages, and the output is rendered as a PDF file.

zebrasprits
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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby zebrasprits » Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:43 pm

Hi Tim,

Nice manual. Quick question: after putting the starter back together, does the front axe need to be able to rotate freely?

Thanks,
John

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby MIKENY51 » Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:25 am

This method does work...very well I might ad, but one item of note that is V-E-R-Y important...ya have to angle the bike to the left side while doing this job (and keep it that way until the rebuilt/new starter is back in place and bolter back up), because if ya don't...the chain can very easily fall off the gear cog and FALL down in the bottom part of the engine! Guess what then? Ya gotta pull the engine out to get the fallen chain! Item of note: The Honda Goldwing Factory Manual states that the engine does have to be pulled out of the frame to replace an electric starter! Thank goodness that I found a FAR easier way to get this job done. Best of luck.

R/,

Mike
1983 GL1100 Interstate

damianbarna
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Will this help my starter too?

Postby damianbarna » Wed Sep 30, 2009 5:29 pm

Will this solve a problem of my starter spinning and not cranking? Sometimes I hit the button and she just spins without turning the engine over. Then after a few tries she'll re-align and turn over the engine. It happens about about 30% of the tries to start. I'm going to follow the above procedures this weekend just because I'm positive it can't hurt but I'm not positive it will cure my problems. My starter seems to get stuck in between go and stop. Like a moving part is hanging up. Any Ideas?

Thanks,

Damian NJ

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby WingAdmin » Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:20 pm

Well, there's one easy thing to do that a lot of time fixes the problem:

First, drain the engine oil and refill with clean, new oil. Next add about 6 oz (around 1/4 to 1/2 can) of Seafoam (get it at Napa, Wal-Mart, and any good auto store) to the oil.

Now go out for a ride - a good couple of hours, make sure it's good and warm, and gets a good workout.

When you get home, change your oil (and filter!) again. The Seafoam should have loosened up a lot of the crud and sludge in the engine (and in the starter sprag clutch, hopefully), and that should come out with it. Fill with fresh oil, and fingers crossed, your problem should be fixed.

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby damianbarna » Thu Oct 01, 2009 8:18 am

On the way to napa and walmart to check for seafoam today.

Thanks,

Damian NJ

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby WingAdmin » Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:20 am

Seafoam is also great to run through your fuel system to keep the varnish and deposits off. I put half a can in with a full tank of gas every spring when I get my bike out of hibernation. It's like magic - I've also used it to fix a stumbling problem I had in a old Ford Explorer I used to have.

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby damianbarna » Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:59 pm

Heck, I'll just pour some in the tank as well. I'll let you all know where I find it at. I'm going to check Walmart and Napa today.

Thanks,

Damian NJ

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby 75gold » Wed Dec 09, 2009 1:17 pm

Thanks for a terrific article. And the link to the PDF downloader. Got it, used it and the printed PDF was invaluable. One question about the grease. I noticed you used a blue grease, will any good grease suffice? Black moly grease? I also have a red "gel-type" grease we use at work but not sure of it in a sealed gearcase. Any recommendations?

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby Sodapop » Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:35 am

MIKENY51 wrote:This method does work...very well I might ad, but one item of note that is V-E-R-Y important...ya have to angle the bike to the left side while doing this job (and keep it that way until the rebuilt/new starter is back in place and bolter back up), because if ya don't...the chain can very easily fall off the gear cog and FALL down in the bottom part of the engine! Guess what then? Ya gotta pull the engine out to get the fallen chain! Item of note: The Honda Goldwing Factory Manual states that the engine does have to be pulled out of the frame to replace an electric starter! Thank goodness that I found a FAR easier way to get this job done. Best of luck.

R/,

Mike
1983 GL1100 Interstate


Am I understanding correctly that this needs to be done then with bike on side stand? I think that what I thought was a battery problem may be a starter issue and I may have to attempt this and see if it cures the trouble but I want to be certain I understand all the directions before I begin.

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby WingAdmin » Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:23 am

Sodapop wrote:Am I understanding correctly that this needs to be done then with bike on side stand? I think that what I thought was a battery problem may be a starter issue and I may have to attempt this and see if it cures the trouble but I want to be certain I understand all the directions before I begin.


That's correct.

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby jap4lvr » Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:04 pm

Ok got my starter our no problem. Cleaned it up (a lot of carbon dust) and it all looks good now. Except.... The wires on the brush plate that are supposed to have insulation dont. It looks like it is burned clean off. I am assuming this is a problem as it sits. Can I do something to reinsulate those wires. Like maybe coating them with that rubber dip stuff for tool handles.
Any advice. The weather here is getting really nice so the quicker I can get it put back together the better.

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby WingAdmin » Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:45 pm

That's not good. I wouldn't use the rubber tool dip - it will likely just burn/melt right off - things get hot in there. I might try liquid electrical tape - the stuff you brush on - if you can find one that will sustain high temperatures.

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby Old Fogey » Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:42 pm

Just a small addition to the rebuild pages. I believe that the 'brass bush' in the end cap is actually an 'Oilite' sintered bronze bush that, due to it's open porous structure will hold, and is originally impregnated with, lubricating oil. This lubrication last a long time but does eventually dry out. Before re-assembling the starter, fill the bush cavity with a light oil and let it soak for a day. Dry out the excess before re-assembly.
Image Image

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby bigray122 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:40 am

What kind of grease are we using to repack this thing? And thank you for posting this as well....I found my starter problem. I have it apart and the negative wires from the brush to the little screw is fried. So I'm assuming I need to replace the brush. Any idea what online vendor might have the brushes or whole brush plate?

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby bigray122 » Fri Mar 26, 2010 12:54 pm

IS there a specific grease to repack the starter with? I have a high temp grease that is used for repacking bearings, U-joints etc. I can't continue with the rebuild if I don't know.... Thank you...

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby WingAdmin » Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:09 pm

Any grease should be OK, your high-temp grease should be just fine. I might consider some moly grease on the planetary gears, but on the armature ends any standard grease will be fine. Just make sure not to get any grease on the windings.

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby bigray122 » Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:08 pm

WingAdmin wrote:Any grease should be OK, your high-temp grease should be just fine. I might consider some moly grease on the planetary gears, but on the armature ends any standard grease will be fine. Just make sure not to get any grease on the windings.

Thank you very much

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby WA9FWT » Fri Mar 26, 2010 6:10 pm

bigray122 wrote:IS there a specific grease to repack the starter with? I have a high temp grease that is used for repacking bearings, U-joints etc. I can't continue with the rebuild if I don't know.... Thank you...

I don't see why you can't use what you have.It's not that those gears are turning all the time.I just rebuilt one and used a
Marine & Trailer Grease. And this grease is for high temperature +water resistant. I'm sure you will never have a failure because of the grease.
As soon as you get that starter back in, I think you will see a big improvement. Make sure the bike stays on it's side stand until the starter is back in.

WA9FWt Phil

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby bigray122 » Sat Mar 27, 2010 10:52 am

Upon taking it apart I found some interesting stuff. Number one, there were two washers just laying in the end cup with all the carbon dust. One thick one thin, no other washers on that end (Then end cup with the brass bushing).Also, should I pour 3 in 1 oil into the bushing area and let it sit for a bit. Some have noted that it should be lubed with a lighter oil. Overall I don't have all the washers that are listed with this tutorial. Also, upon inspecting the brush plate I found the real issue. The negative cable coming from the brush to the little screw was so brittle and had a stress crack in it. I'm sure once a charge hit it, it was jumping around. When I slightly touched it, the whole thing crumbled. New brushes have been ordered and should be on their way....

Just waiting for brushes and hope to have the old girl back up and running.

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Re: How to remove, rebuild and reinstall your starter

Postby WA9FWT » Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:31 am

bigray122 wrote:Upon taking it apart I found some interesting stuff. Number one, there were two washers just laying in the end cup with all the carbon dust. One thick one thin, no other washers on that end (Then end cup with the brass bushing).Also, should I pour 3 in 1 oil into the bushing area and let it sit for a bit. Some have noted that it should be lubed with a lighter oil. Overall I don't have all the washers that are listed with this tutorial. Also, upon inspecting the brush plate I found the real issue. The negative cable coming from the brush to the little screw was so brittle and had a stress crack in it. I'm sure once a charge hit it, it was jumping around. When I slightly touched it, the whole thing crumbled. New brushes have been ordered and should be on their way....

Just waiting for brushes and hope to have the old girl back up and running.

I have seen some of those bushing's with a felt like peace behind or on the bottom of the bushing that holds the oil .
I can see were that would prelong the sevice in time.I guess it all depends how much that starter is used over time too as to how many times it should be looked at.That engine should start just like that, not that a guy has to hold the starter in until the battery is dead.Give me the old kick start, if it didn't start fast , some thing was wrong, then fix it.Better check out those washers too, and get whats needed!!

WA9FWT Phil




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