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Dave's Garage

Dave Sander [ November 2013 ]

Six Volt Starter Woes

Q. “Dave, The battery is strong & keeps a charge...'the' starter works well when it is not installed in the car...when (you) install the starter & depress the starter switch (you) get a clunk & then an excessive pow-er draw (all other power will go out, lights, etc.)." -Ken

A. Ken, I suggest load testing the starter, to ensure the current draw was not excessive.

Q. Here is what I did:

"1. With the starter out of the car, I used my volt meter and checked to make sure I had power to the "in" connection of my starter switch.I then checked to make sure there was no power at the "out" connection (the connection that goes to the starter). Then I had my wife step on the starter switch, and verified that I had power at the "out" connection. Everything worked fine, as expected. So far, so good.

2. I then installed the starter motor and did the same thing. Had power at the "in" connector of the starter switch, no power at the "out" connector. Then I had my wife step on the starter switch. I lost all power. No power at the "out connector", no power at the "in" connector either! She would release the starter switch, I again had power at the "In" connection of the starter switch.
I have taken the starter out of the car, I will get it load tested. But I am confused about what is happening.- Ken"

A. Ken, It sounds like either the ground side or the hot side has a bad connection, one that breaks when there is a strong load on the circuit. I would check the grounds first. There should be a stout ground from the battery to the frame, and another from the engine to the frame. If there is a strong cable connection from the starter ground to the ground side of the battery, then the next thing to check is the cable from the hot side of the battery to the starter switch. There should be a large cable with a smaller one branching off for the car electrical system. There should be a straight shot with the main cable from the battery to the starter switch.
Keep me posted...

Q. "Dave, I bought another battery and two new battery cables. I disconnected the regular battery from the starter and then connected the positive terminal of the new battery directly to the starter switch. Then I connected the negative terminal of the new battery directly to the bolt that holds the starter in place (attached to the engine). The car started just fine. That proves there is nothing wrong with the starter or the starter switch.
The problem is when the car is hooked up to the regular battery. The car was originally set up to have positive ground, and the negative line going to the starter switch and ignition switch. But it apparently was changed at some point, as the positive now goes to the starter switch and ignition switch.
I still don't understand why I would lose all power (to the starter and to the ignition switch) when the starter switch is pressed (I lose headlights, dash lights - everything). Perhaps the battery is not well grounded to the car.
I finally had some time to work on the Packard today.

As you last remember, when I hooked the starter to a separate battery, it worked fine. But when hooked to the regular battery it would not work (a quick "glug", then I would lose power to everything - headlights, horn, starter).

Today I hooked up the starter to the old battery, but replaced the cable from the battery to the starter. It was the only "original" cable of the starter circuit of the car. This cable was cloth covered. The other three cables were plastic covered - the original cloth covered cables had been replaced at some point before I got the car. When I bent the cable as I was taking it out, the cloth cover disintegrated.

Please email all inquiries to: Dave
or snail mail
32 Turkey Hill Road
Richmond VT 05477

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