Lotus Elan

Starter keeps cranking

PostPost by: LoTex » Wed May 11, 2022 7:06 pm

An interesting problem-...

The starter on my 72 Elan Sprint keeps cranking even with the ignition off. The only way to shut it off is to disconnect the battery. When I reconnect the battery it starts cranking again, no matter what position the ignition switch is in, and even with the key completely out.

It's strange as it has been running fine for the past year or so, and I took her out for her usual Sunday morning drive with no problems, then tried to start her this morning and there it was. It will start but you can hear the starter cranking still while the car is running.

It's a 2 year-old High Performance starter with about 1,500 miles on it. I replaced the solenoid at the same time. I'm guessing it is perhaps an earthing problem but as the starter is down below the carbs it's in a difficult spot to see and reach.

Any suggestions?


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Steve
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PostPost by: TBG » Wed May 11, 2022 7:14 pm

A new version of an electric Elan perhaps!! D
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PostPost by: mbell » Wed May 11, 2022 7:18 pm

Stuck solenoid. My car did it once, so striped and rebuilt it but no obvious issues inside.

I'd give the solenoid on the bluckhead a wack and see if it fixes it. Assuming you still have it that is.
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PostPost by: Andy8421 » Thu May 12, 2022 5:16 am

Agree with Mbell. Very unlikely to have anything to do with earthing.

If the original solenoid (relay) is still in circuit, the armature (plunger) can stick, holding the contacts together. Given the high current, it is also possible for the contacts to weld together. A sharp tap with a ‘Birmingham spanner’ can often free it up, but it will need to be stripped or replaced as it could happen again.

If you don’t have the original solenoid in circuit, the same issues can effect the solenoid on the starter, with the added possibility that something mechanical has jammed in the mechanism that engages the starter gear and is stopping it from retracting.

Edit: It could of course be the ignition switch or a wiring short keeping the solenoid energised, though more likely to be a stuck solenoid.
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PostPost by: RogerFrench » Thu May 12, 2022 9:12 am

Steve,
I'm in France for a couple of weeks, or I'd pop round. I've been meaning to anyway!
But I'd bet on a stuck solenoid too.
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PostPost by: HCA » Thu May 12, 2022 10:40 am

LoTex wrote:An interesting problem-...


It's a 2 year-old High Performance starter with about 1,500 miles on it. I replaced the solenoid at the same time.

Steve


By high performance, I take it you mean it is a pre-engaged type, yes? And the solenoid you replaced was the original monstrosity on the bulkhead, yes?

Why?

Sure this sounds like a stuck solenoid and if you do have both solenoids in the circuit :lol: (sorry, I cannot help laughing at why someone would want to do this...) then it will the one on the bulkhead.
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PostPost by: LoTex » Thu May 12, 2022 12:59 pm

HCA,

I guess you can tell I'm not the most mechanically savvy guy out there...not a great idea for an Elan owner, is it!

Here's a picture and description of the starter I have, doesn't say pre-engaged.
Attachments
Screenshot 2022-05-12 075521.jpg and
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PostPost by: HCA » Thu May 12, 2022 1:34 pm

Yep, that is pre-engaged. What I call a proper starter.

But if you claim not be savvy, how have you wired it in…?
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PostPost by: mbell » Thu May 12, 2022 5:54 pm

HCA wrote:(sorry, I cannot help laughing at why someone would want to do this...)


I do this. Reasons:
1) I prefer not to have a completely unfused permanent live cable run down in the engine bay surround by lots of bare earthed metal.
2) The solenoid provides other functionality, like connection to ignition coil during startup (ballast system) and other wiring connections. So have to have something there anyway.
3) It was like that when I got the car and is original to the car is very visible spot.

I am perfectly happy to admit there are good reasons to remove it but for me it is a personal thing on your preference/aims for the car. It fine to explain why you think it should be removed but there no need to be disparaging to others who have made a different decision.
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PostPost by: ericbushby » Thu May 12, 2022 6:32 pm

Hi All,
I also kept the original solenoid for several reasons.
I do not like the idea of a high power, permanently live cable under the car.
It makes fitting a modern starter motor very simple.
It looks original.
I have a switch on a length of twin wire which clips on to two terminals on the solenoid. This makes cranking the engine without ignition or having to reach in to the car, very easy. I can turn the engine over as I watch or test something in the engine bay.
For ease and convenience I would recommend it.
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PostPost by: EPA » Thu May 12, 2022 7:47 pm

I also kept the original solenoid for the same reasons mentioned previously but also I wouldnt want to power the solenoid directly from the ignition switch because the coil on this solenoid does more work than the original and therefore must draw more current. The original solenoid on my car is the type that you can manually engage which I find very useful.
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PostPost by: pharriso » Thu May 12, 2022 7:48 pm

Yup, I’m an idiot as well…
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PostPost by: LoTex » Thu May 12, 2022 8:13 pm

Solenoid or no... a controversial subject.

What isn't controversial is that those of you who advised me to give the solenoid a whack were right, that did the trick! I'll still replace it right away, despite some advice to the contrary 8)

Thanks for all the suggestions!


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PostPost by: mbell » Thu May 12, 2022 9:08 pm

LoTex wrote: I'll still replace it right away, despite some advice to the contrary 8)


It'll probably work fine again now. There easily enough to open up and clean, just drill the rivets out and replace with bolts, then a bit of soldering. See:

viewtopic.php?t=44932&p=320232
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PostPost by: ericbushby » Thu May 12, 2022 10:07 pm

Well done Steve, that must be what the wheel mallet is really for. I hope you didn`t mind the small diversion.
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