Lotus Elan

Starter pinions - ring gears and Hi Torque starters

PostPost by: Baggy2 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 3:53 pm

Hello everyone
I am a long term owner of my +2 (since 1976) and one slight disappointment has always been starting the car has made a rather unsexy noise rather than the high precision ' Whizz' that I would like. The car is now undergoing its third (and last? ) major rebuild in my ownership so I'm trying to get such things sorted.
Question 1 - The presence of 9 or 10 tooth pinions has been referred to many times on this forum but I've never seen any reference to the number of teeth on the ring gear. Are there different ring gears to go with a 9 or 10 tooth pinion ? If so how many ring gear teeth go with each type of pinion?
Question 2 - Some years ago I bought a WOSP Hi Torque starter motor hoping to help make starting the car sound as good as it should - It still doesn't sound great. ( I'm avoiding the use of the word 'grinding' because its not that bad . it just doesn't live up to the cars image.) I've read quite a few negative comments about the Hi Torque starters on this forum with issues about the degree of engagement and at the moment I'm minded to go back to the original Lucas unit with the right number of teeth what ever that might be - I've got both in stock - Any comments from the forum would be welcome.
Question 3 - Re Hi Torque Starter. I have been told that because the pinion of the Hi Torque starter engages with the ring gear from the opposite side of the ring gear to the inertia type the ring gear should be installed the other way round. This means it hits the 'lead in' angle on the ring gear teeth. I cant believe this because I guess thousands of Hi Torque starter motors have been sold as after market items and I doubt that all these buyers have taken their engines out and turned their ring gears round. Once again , any comments from the forum welcome.
Thank you everyone.
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PostPost by: 69S4 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 4:20 pm

Can't think that any of our cars - even the modern ones - 'whizz' before they fire. The WOSP starter in my Elan at least turns the engine over reliably, something that the old Lucas one couldn't be relied on to do, particularly when hot. When the starter and Odyssey battery fitted at the same time were new the combination turned the engine over at about twice the rate of the original. That's been reducing as time has gone on but it's still a lot better than the Lucas setup.

When I bought the starter (direct from WOSP - they used to be just up the road from me) about 10yrs ago I went with the 10 tooth pinion as that's what they recommended. They do (did) list both 9 and 10 tooth pinions so you could just swap to whatever you think is best. I didn't change the ring gear when I fitted the starter and I've never had any problems with the whole set up since.
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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:01 pm

Baggy,

I am not aware of any motor vehicle manufacturer who uses a high torque starter, but then I am an old man and out of date.

The important feature of the starter motor is power. Power is torque multiplied by rotational speed or if you prefer, torque is power divided by rotational speed. A reduction gear attached to a starter motor will increase the torque, but will probably reduce the speed at which the engine turns. As you will know from starting a small engine (a lawn mower or strimmer) rotational speed is as important as torque. You only get both with more power. I suspect that the main advantage of a high torque starter is that it is pre engaged. Our vehicles are from the bendix era of starters, with their characteristic hack hack whirr noise. With this design, the bendix is thrown out of engagement when the engine fires, if that initial fire was insufficient to start the engine, the driver will have to try and start the engine again. The pre engaged starter will stay engaged until the driver releases the switch when he is satisfied that the engine has started. You will also get the noise you are after.

Hope this helps,

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PostPost by: Andy8421 » Sat Aug 10, 2019 5:47 am

Richard,

I believe most, if not all, modern cars use gear reduction starters (although I could be wrong of course). They are smaller and lighter than their direct drive equivalent, draw less power, and are more suited to the multi stop/start of modern eco engines that shut off when the car is stationary. The lower power draw allows thinner/lighter starter cables and smaller/lighter batteries than would otherwise be needed with direct drive. Colin would have liked them, except for the price I guess.

I have a GR starter on the Elan I race(d), and a direct drive on my road going Elan. The GR is great, the engine in the race car was always a bit of a challenge to start when hot, and went through the 'fire once, throw out the bendix, repeat' cycle with a direct drive starter. I much prefer the GR starter to the direct drive starter, and have bought a replacement for my road going Elan.

I just need to get around to fitting it.

Andy.

Edit: - should have added - For those who have looked under their modern car's bonnet and not seen the characteristic offset motor of a GR starter, many modern GR starters uses a planetary reduction gear which is in-line with the motor and doesn't look very different to a direct drive starter.
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PostPost by: ericbushby » Sat Aug 10, 2019 9:11 am

Baggy,
This is my experience.
As recommended by the local Lotus specialist I fitted a Powerlite starter after getting fed up with the Lucas motor. It would nearly always throw out the bendix gear and fail to start. That motor was in good condition and passed what bench tests I could do. I gave it to a club member as a good spare.
Powerlite make one specially for the Elan with 9 teeth and I can recommend it.
I understand that nine teeth is for a ring gear of 110 teeth.
The engine revs were increased to at least double and the motor current reduced from 190 amps to 160 amps.
My starter ring was chamfered on both sides, so nothing to think about there.
A friends engine was only chamfered on one side so we thought the starter might hit
the tooth edge. Powerlite assured him that would not cause a problem and their motor could cope with that. This has proved to be the case.
I have wondered if the solenoid current of about 6 amps also goes through the motor winding causing it to turn slowly until the teeth are in line, at which point the pinion will extend into the starter ring and only then close the internal contact to put full drive current to the motor winding.
This is speculation but I cannot think of any other way the motor copes with misengagement, but it does. Perhaps someone knows more.
I have had mine about five years and would not go back.
Eric in Burnley
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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Sat Aug 10, 2019 10:17 am

Andy,

Thanks for updating me, I have not had a starter off a car for many years now, they seem to last the life of the vehicle. On my current daily use car I can't even see it.

Baggy,

With reference to you initial question about ring gears I have just remembered that I have seen a variety of ring gears in the Burton catalogue. You do need to make sure that any alternative you choose is the correct size for your flywheel.

Hope this helps,

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PostPost by: Baggy2 » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:18 pm

Many thanks everyone for the comments. On balance I think'retain the WOSP ' came out on top and I think that's what I'll do with a new double sided ring gear from Burtons.
Thanks again
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PostPost by: Baggy2 » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:19 pm

Many thanks everyone for the comments. On balance I think'retain the WOSP ' came out on top and I think that's what I'll do with a new double sided ring gear from Burtons.
Thanks again
Baggy
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PostPost by: vxah » Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:23 am

Your probably not interested but, starter motors did indeed get much smaller from the 70’s lumps until the now modern stop/start engines! They are now bigger again!
Had one off a little 1.4 turbo petrol and it was much bigger than the Lucas one fitted to the Elans.
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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Sun Aug 11, 2019 8:39 am

Vxah,

Thanks for the information, and yes I am interested. I suppose that is what I should expect, cars with stop start will use the starter motor so much more than once every journey.

When I was working (chemical industry) our electric motors were huge compared to domestic motors of a similar capacity, and the reason was they were "continuously rated" ie they ran 24 hours a day 365 days a year whilst also tolerating abuse.

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