Keep Chewing up AMC 304 Starter. -

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post #1 of 6 Old 03-04-2009, 05:35 PM Thread Starter
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1980 CJ7 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Houston
Posts: 3
Keep Chewing up AMC 304 Starter.

Does anyone out there know why my starter gear keeps getting chewed up? I've been doing a rebuild on a 1980 CJ 7. Everything is new. This is the second starter I've gone through. It'll go fine for about two months and then it gets all messed up. It'll push the gear out and spin, but it won't engage to the flywheel. When I pull the starter off it doesn't have hardly any teeth left on the gear. Should I try a spacer? It didn't have one, but that's not saying much for a CJ. Any help would be great.

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post #2 of 6 Old 03-04-2009, 06:54 PM
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1980 CJ5 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Newport News, VA
Posts: 12,285
What type of shape are the flywheel teeth in now? I'd at least take a look.

I ran thru a couple starters on my 360 over the course of 2 months. Installed the 3rd and haven't had a problem since (about 6 months). I was beginning to wonder if my flywheel teeth weren't chewed up (turns out they weren't). On some rebuilt starters, the rebuild company mills the snout mounting surface "flat". If too much material is taken off, it can throw off starter gear engagement (can be shimmed for better engagement). I know this can be a problem on Small Block Chevies but not sure if AMC starters get a similar treatment.. never really looked for machining marks.

'80 CJ5 w/AMC360, T176, D44 w/Detroit 4.56, RE 4" YJ lift and 35s..

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post #3 of 6 Old 03-04-2009, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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1980 CJ7 
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Location: Houston
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Thanks. We looked at the flywheel when we pulled th first one out because it was so bad we were really worried about the flywheel. I'm planning on pulling the starter this weekend to put a new one on AND to inspect the flywheel.......again. I don't know what it is but we have had to go through a couple of different pieces before we get a "good" one. Frustrating!!! Thanks again. Any other ideas are welcome.
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post #4 of 6 Old 03-04-2009, 10:44 PM
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1973 CJ5 
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I used to own a rebuild business for starters and alternators...

And the answer to your question is two fold...

1. Loose Starter Mounting Bolts, or Starter Incorrectly Installed, 'Cocked' at an angle.

About half the second 'Grinding' starter complaints I looked at were installed incorrectly, with the alignment ring not seated in the housing,
Some adapter or dust cover tin in the way, cocking the starter in it's mount,
Or just plain old loose bolts!

2. Armature/Spindle Support Bushing at the end of the housing.

Spindle support bushing is in the very nose of the starter...

The spindle support bushing should ALWAYS be changed, and checked for clearance!
This is what keeps the starter drive gear (sometimes called a 'Bendix') in contact with your flywheel.
If that bushing is worn out, then the starter drive gear will be allowed to 'Slip' off the contact patch of the flywheel/flex plate teeth.

Same with the actual bearing in the starter drive gear, once ruined it will allow the drive gear to misalign with the ring gear teeth, and you will get 'Grinding'...

This is WAY common with AMC engines!
There is a 153 tooth ring gear,
And a 168 tooth ring gear.
If you get the starter drive for the wrong gear, you will VERY QUICKLY have problems with the 'New' starter.

Normally, once you get the 'Wrong' starter from the parts places, they will continue to give you more of the same WRONG starters!

With a 4 cylinder, that means on the same TWO spots on the ring gear every time,
With an I-6 engine, that means the same THREE spots every time,
With a V-8 engine, that means the same FOUR spots every time...
So most of your ring gear wear will be on those compression stroke spots on the ring gear... Same spots, over, and over, and over, and over again...

If your ring gear teeth look like this one,

You either have a worn out nose bushing,
You have the incorrect starter drive for your ring gear.

If the edges are being 'Smeared' to a sharp edge,
(not clipped on the corners like the one in the image)
Your starter is cocked side ways, or the starter drive gear has worn out bearings.
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post #5 of 6 Old 03-04-2009, 11:11 PM
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1978 CJ7 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Cottonflat, TX
Posts: 677
Soon after i got my jeep, I replaced my good but 30 year old starter. bad idea, i should have rebuilt that starter. The starter i replaced it with lasted about 2 months because i did not shim it (fly wheel teeth ok). The parts store made that starter good and i did shim the newest starter with a really crummy shim that has been ok for some time now.
Question is where do i find a good quality more so good fitting Shim. I got the crummy one from the "Help" line of products. but with two choices (nothing for Jeep, but Ford I think), only one fits the bolt holes but nothing else. the center hole the starter goes through, is about 3/4 in too big diameter . It has all worked fine, but such poor quality in fitting. Who makes a good fitting shim?
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post #6 of 6 Old 03-06-2009, 08:46 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks JeepHammer! That is what I need to know.
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