Lotus Elan

Starter dead

PostPost by: ericbushby » Sun Sep 01, 2013 9:22 pm

Steve, good, that means it is not a jammed starter motor nor an overload on the starter circuit.
Bill`s idea sounded to be a good one at first. It`s thinking time again. Anybody else got an idea?
By the way, whereabouts are you? There may be someone close who is prepared to help.
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PostPost by: robertverhey » Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:43 pm

LoTex wrote:AHM,

I put a jumper on the starter connection and then onto the positive (earth) terminal of the battery and nothing happening. I then touched the negative terminal of the battery and the starter jumped, but still no response when I push the starter button after that.

Steve


Hmm a bit hard to diagnose this remotely. Just re-read the thread from the start. My original post instructions are a pretty foolproof way to isolate the faulty component/connection, though as your system is modified by addition of a starter switch, it does introduce another variable. However I'm intrigued by your post above. If your car is positive earth as you say, and you had a jumper connected between the starter terminal and the earth (still a bit unsure why you connected it to the earth!) and if you tried to start it when connected like that, it that would have effectively been the same a shorting the battery. Which would have put a big current through all of the starter motor components and may have fried something.

I think maybe your best way forward from here is to start replacing components one at a time until it works. But that's easy for me to say, I have boxes full of spare solenoids, coils, switches and starter motors. And of course, check that no wiring has become burnt by the excessive current that may have passed through it.

Or take it to an auto electrician.......
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PostPost by: billwill » Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:29 pm

You really need a multimeter.

Is there anywhere near where you can get one? A Maplins or some other electrical tool store.

You can get good ones for less than ?25


http://cpc.farnell.com/jsp/search/brows ... 1%2B204922
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PostPost by: billwill » Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:48 pm

Even after 3 pages of messages, we still don't really know if your starter motor is working.

Are the FAT terminals on top of the starter motor exposed? i.e not covered in insulation.

OK good. Find the fattest piece of insulated copper wire that you have in your junk box. About 4 to 6 inches long, bare just a tiny bit at the ends.

With the ignition switch OFF and the battery connected and the gearbox in neutral.

Wearing thick gloves because the wire will get hot very quickly and wearing safety goggles. Touch the thick wire across from one fat terminal to the other fat terminal of the starter solenoid. Not more that about 2 seconds then pull your wire away.. What you are doing is bypassing the internals of the starter solenoid and creating the connection that it normally creates inside.

The starter motor should kick or even spin the engine.

Report!

:D
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PostPost by: LoTex » Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:34 pm

Bill,

I tried that sequence with a wire last week and nothing happened but may have done something wrong so I'll try again. My multimeter packed it in due to lack of use so I just picked up a new one, can I use that instead of the copper wire?


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PostPost by: LoTex » Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:22 pm

AHM,

I'm in Houston in the states and the guys who have been helping me out online are either in the UK or Australia, so I don't think a phone call is practical. Slowly but surely I think we are sorting out the starter/solenoid issue, and I think that the battery and ignition heating up must be related.


Cheers,

Steve
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PostPost by: billwill » Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:43 pm

LoTex wrote:Bill,

I tried that sequence with a wire last week and nothing happened but may have done something wrong so I'll try again. My multimeter packed it in due to lack of use so I just picked up a new one, can I use that instead of the copper wire?


Steve


No don't use the multimeter, because the starter motor current will probably be in the range 80 to 120 amps i.e a LOT and multimeters are normally only made to go up to 10 amps.

~~~~

Note that the sequence I described yesterday is different than that described earlier. The earlier one attempted to operate the starter solenoid and needed only a thin jumper wire. The sequence that I described yesterday bypasses the solenoid, takes its place, and therefore needs a wire capable of carrying the full starter motor current around 80-120 amps for a few seconds. Too thin & the wire might explode like a fuse wire.
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PostPost by: LoTex » Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:41 pm

Bill,

I did the suggested sequence and the starter turned over quite nicely this time!

I also noticed the battery terminal and ignition didn't get hot but I guess that's because I didn't have the ignition switch on.


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PostPost by: robertverhey » Mon Sep 02, 2013 10:33 pm

Okay so based on Bill's technique (I use a dirty great screwdriver to bridge the two fat terminals), we've established that the starter motor is okay. Next thing to check is the solenoid. As previously described there are two fat terminals on it. You'll notice there are also two small terminals, one with a heavy-ish brown lead going to it (plus maybe a couple of others), and one with just one white/red lead going to it. Get yourself two short lengths of wire, a few inches long each, with insulation stripped at both ends. Now, connect the "constantly live" fat terminal to the smaller brown lead terminal. Just hold the wire against the terminals, don't connect it permanently. (something further up the line may be faulty and start to get hot, we don't want smoke!) With that still temporarily bridged, bridge the "permanently live" fat terminal to the smaller white/red terminal. If your starter kicks when you do this, your solenoid is okay. If it doesn't it's cactus.

If the solenoid checks out okay, it's time to move on to the ignition switch. In your case probably via the starter switch.
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PostPost by: billwill » Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:24 am

Note that the spade connector for the thick brown wire, is already permanently connected to the fat cable to the battery.

~~~~~

First check that the case of the solenoid is earthed. You can do this with your new multimeter.

Set it on low ohms, them put one prod onto the metal case of the solenoid and the other prod onto the exposed metal of the engine; I usually use the top of one of the cam cover studs.
Low OHM reading is good, as there should be a copper wire pathway between those two points. If it is infinity or high you need to fix a wire (black) from one of the securing bolts of the solenoid to an earthy bolt-head on the chassis. PS you will also need to make sure of this if you fit a new solenoid. The solenoids are designed for METAL cars on our fibre-glass cars we need to provide the earthing pathway.


Once you are sure that the solenoid case is earthed, you can test the solenoid. I described this earlier, Pull off both the thick brown wire from its spade and the smaller wire between the two big fat ones (this is the actuating contact from the starter switch. Then with battery connected, out of gear, Ignition switch off. Use a small wire to bridge from the spade that was the thick brown wire to the spade that was holding the thin actuator wire. This will bypass your ignition switch circuits and supply power direct to the actuating coil of the solenoid. If it is working it will pull in and supply power to the starter motor, which we now already know, should make it spin.

If the starter spins, the solenoid is probably OK and your problem is the wiring behind the dashboard.

If nothing happens the solenoid is probably busted. It could be jammed from rust or the coil could be open circuit (burned out) . This time use your multimeter set to 10 amps instead of the wire, Put one prod on the spade that used to hold the thick brown wire and the other prod on the actuating spade connector where the thin wire used to be. For a working solenoid, I expect the current is in the range 0.5 to 1.5 amps, but I'm not sure of the actual figure. No current at all means the coil is burned out. Current but no click means the innards are jammed.
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PostPost by: RogerFrench » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:09 am

Lotex, I'm in Richmond, Tx, just down 59 from Houston. I'd be glad to help, and I'm an ancient Brit reared on Lucas and the like.
PM me if you'd like that.
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PostPost by: LoTex » Sat Sep 07, 2013 3:27 pm

Roger,

I tried to send you a PM earlier this week without success, not sure what I'm doing wrong, do I need to register separately for that?

Small world, I used to live in Richmond. moved out to Fulshear about a year ago. Finally got a 3 car garage which allows me to try (operative word) to do some of my own work on the Elan. I believe with the help from the forum we have isolated the problem and I will be installing the new solenoid this weekend. At the moment my allergies are acting up and I don't feel up to it this morning, perhaps later today or tomorrow.

In any case I'd love to have a chat about Elans in general, and will followup with you, Bill and AHM when I have made the new install. Thanks-


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PostPost by: billwill » Sat Sep 07, 2013 6:28 pm

You haven't yet found what is heating the battery terminal and switch.

It will help diagnosis if you measure what current is involved. If (as I suspect) your ignition switch is burned out inside and connecting your battery to the the start position, when it is supposed to be just in the normal run position, then it will burn out your new solenoid too.

Before removing the old solenoid. Disconnect the battery then turn on the ignition switch. Then set your multimeter to 10 amps and put one prod on the battery terminal and the other prod on the cable (that normally goes on the battery) If it reads over 10 amps you will get some overload indication on the meter, disconnect immediately.

If you get less than 10 amps tell us what it is and whether it is the same amperage that you got when you measured as the actuating current of the old solenoid.
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PostPost by: LoTex » Sun Sep 08, 2013 4:29 pm

Bill,
Let me update you on progress so far.

Per your suggestion I tried checking the ground on the Solenoid using the multimeter but got no reading. I do have a ground wire connected to a solenoid mounting bolt so I don't think that's a problem. I was able to get the starter to spin using the copper wire to bypass the solenoid, I did that last weekend.

The ignition continues to heat up although the battery terminal no longer does.

Next? How about replacing the ignition as well?


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PostPost by: billwill » Sun Sep 08, 2013 6:10 pm

Steve if you got no reading of ohms from the body of the solenoid to the metal of the engine, then the black wire that you say you see is not connecting properly., either at the solenoid or at the other end.



You must fix that. Or the ignition switch will not be able to control the solenoid.

Indeed there may be nothing wrong with your old solenoid.


The test of using a thick wire to connect the two FAT terminals of the solenoid tests only the starter and the earth from Chassis to engine and the thick wires at the battery. The fact that that spun the starter is good, but it has noting to do with making the solenoid or the ignition switch circuits work.

I had a simple diagram of the starter & ignition circuit somewhere. I will see if I can find it.
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