Lotus Elan

Starter question

PostPost by: seniorchristo » Mon Sep 22, 2014 11:52 pm

'67 Elan SE
Starter won't turn over. Starter solenoid only clicks when ignition start circuit is activated. When I test voltage from the large terminal post coming out of the solenoid to ground (starter cable disconnected) and with ignition/start circuit activated, I get 12.4 volts vs. 12.6V coming into the solenoid. I also tried to bypass the solenoid by touching the starter cable to the battery cable but the sparks scared me. :shock: It seemed like a short circuit. Is this normal? Is a bad starter most likely the problem? Thanks, Chris
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PostPost by: billwill » Mon Sep 22, 2014 11:56 pm

The most likely cause is that the earth point in the boot is corroded. Follow the earth cable from the battery and undo the nut and clean up the connection.

Or else you have a poor battery.
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PostPost by: seniorchristo » Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:15 am

Thanks for the reply Bill. I just read a (5) page thread from the archives on starter problems and remember your good advice there. I just replaced the battery. Wouldn't 12.4V to the starter be sufficient? I followed the battery ground wire out of the trunk but I'm not sure how to access the nut. It looks go up past the rear shock tower. Again, Thanks :)
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PostPost by: robertverhey » Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:20 am

Maybe worth checking that pinion isn't jammed against ring gear? If so rocking car backwards and forwards usually frees it
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PostPost by: seniorchristo » Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:32 am

Funny you should suggest that Bill! Because I believe that was initially the problem but rocking in 4th gear got it freed up. However the problem persists. Do you know how to access the battery to frame ground wire?
Thanks
Chris
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PostPost by: seniorchristo » Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:33 am

Funny you should suggest that Bill! Because I believe that was initially the problem but rocking in 4th gear got it freed up. However the problem persists. Do you know how to access the battery to frame ground wire?
Thanks
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Tue Sep 23, 2014 9:03 am

Is your battery in the trunk? Then the ground cable goes to the floor of the trunk where it is attached to the body mounting bolt. You'll have to remove the masonite board that covers the spare tire. Bolt comes up from below and is longer than normal to accept the cable end.

However, if you're getting over 12v at the solenoid, then good chance ground is good, but it's worth removing and cleaning anyway.

Another possibility is a loose starter or the cable attachement at the starter is loose.

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PostPost by: PeterK » Tue Sep 23, 2014 10:10 am

Connect jump leads to the starter solenoid (the feed side from the battery) and a suitable earth and try again. If the starter works normally, then the problem is either dead battery or (more likely) poor earth from the battery to the frame.
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PostPost by: William2 » Tue Sep 23, 2014 10:51 am

I would also suggest you fit a new solenoid as it is also possible that the contacts in your existing one are pitted and could be causing a volt drop. They are as cheap as chips.
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PostPost by: billwill » Tue Sep 23, 2014 11:19 am

gjz30075 wrote:Is your battery in the trunk? Then the ground cable goes to the floor of the trunk where it is attached to the body mounting bolt. You'll have to remove the masonite board that covers the spare tire. Bolt comes up from below and is longer than normal to accept the cable end.

However, if you're getting over 12v at the solenoid, then good chance ground is good, but it's worth removing and cleaning anyway.

Another possibility is a loose starter or the cable attachement at the starter is loose.

Greg Z



Sorry to correct you Greg, but the small current drawn by a voltmeter, will not show up a voltage drop, so a voltmeter at the solenoid may still show a healthy voltage, despite a poor earth in the boot. A more realistic test is to see the voltage on no load like that then observe the voltage when the starter is engaged. A normal healthy circuit may show a drop of about 3 volts, a bad earth connection may drop many more volts.

Chris, I don#'t think you said whether it is a two-seater or a Plus 2; the position of the earthing point may vary between the models and a previous owner may have moved the earthing point. But the main cable to the solenoid goes up near the rear tower so you may be looking at the wrong wire.
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PostPost by: gus » Tue Sep 23, 2014 11:28 am

a starter will pull several hundred amps, sparks are to be expected. if you jump the solenoid and it works,the solenoid is dead
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PostPost by: seniorchristo » Tue Sep 23, 2014 1:45 pm

Thanks to everyone for the advice. However I'll have to try again in two weeks when I return home from business. The battery ground on my car ('67 Elan SE) runs UP through the trunk by the left rear shock tower and disappears. Maybe it was moved? I think my next step will be to just bypass the solenoid with a jumper cable and see if the starter spins. Later Chris
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Tue Sep 23, 2014 3:06 pm

Thats odd. Normally thats the route for the positive cable. Do both go that route?

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PostPost by: Galwaylotus » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:08 pm

seniorchristo wrote:Thanks to everyone for the advice. However I'll have to try again in two weeks when I return home from business. The battery ground on my car ('67 Elan SE) runs UP through the trunk by the left rear shock tower and disappears. Maybe it was moved? I think my next step will be to just bypass the solenoid with a jumper cable and see if the starter spins. Later Chris

Positive or negative earth? My '67 S3 S/E came with positive earth and the cable from the (-) terminal on the battery went up and through the boot wall as you describe. If it's positive earth, that's the "live" feed to the starter solenoid. The cable from the (+) terminal on the battery should then go to the earthing point in the boot below the removable floor as someone else mentioned. :wink:
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PostPost by: seniorchristo » Tue Sep 23, 2014 9:41 pm

Originally the car came with negative ground as indicated on the tachometer. However it looks to have what is an RD supplied alternator so I assumed the ground had been switched to negative. I am unable to look at it now but I seem to remember both battery cables going up through the top of the trunk but I'm not sure. I just purchased the car. It started three different times but since then nothing. I replaced the battery and cleaned all the cables up to and out of the solenoid. My next step is to clean the battery ground to chassis, if I can find it, and also the cable at the starter motor. I'll let you know my progress when I return home. Thanks, Chris :)
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