CJ3A - Starter - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 4 Old 08-06-2020, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
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2000 TJ Wrangler 
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Location: Jackson, MI
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CJ3A - Starter

Just got a 1950 CJ3A. This is my first CJ. The previous owner did a partial 12V conversion. An alternator was installed along with a 12V battery. im not sure what else has been switched over at this point. The starter looks like the OE unit but a solenoid has been installed. It looks like they just ran the 6V starter at 12V. Well the motor turns over by hand but the starer seems dead. Im going to pull it and try to verify. For people that did convert to 12V what starter did you use?

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post #2 of 4 Old 08-06-2020, 12:00 PM
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1974 CJ6 
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You can take the starter to a starter/alternator shop and have it re-wound for 12v or just leave it 6 volt and it will crank a bit faster. if it is dead, Kaiser-Willys has new 12v starters or 12v hi-torque starters



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post #3 of 4 Old 08-06-2020, 12:58 PM
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1977 CJ5 
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I have a 2A,

I switched to 12 Volt when surgery began in '91

No more floor start, I installed a solenoid just like my '77 CJ-5 has

I was told to leave the starter 6 Volts for faster turning

It does go faster!!!!

Every 100 or so starts (maybe more),

It's constantly SLINGING the starter drive out to the end of it's travel at MACH 4 and slamming its stop at 3 million ft.lbs.

At start "101"

The starter drive debris is down in the bottom of the bell housing, larger stuff remains dangling on the shaft.

I went thru 4 drives of 2 other manufacturers.

This was '91, no net, only some "old fellers" with stories, some unreliable! Pretty much---I was on my own!


The feller that sold me the drives recommended a 12 volt field. Kinda let's get rich from the poor guy!

At the time, $70 seemed steep for him to provide and install.

I got the puppy for $12 from him---me install!

Installed it (fits all around the inside of the case)

Sucker was spinning backwards, I unsoldered it and took it back, surely it was the wrong one?

Feller said all I needed to do was rotate the end (brush holder) 1/4 turn to change the direction.

Couple of hours of "Me-Tube" and 2---75 mile trips to the starter/ alternator guy, not to mention the embarrassment of not marking the housing from head to toe to get it back like it was.

It now spins slower (like it should), and I feel like it has more torque.

Since then, and having moved back to my home state/ town, I replaced the drive once more when I installed a new clutch and starter ring gear on my flywheel.

When one of ya'll sends me some money, I will purchase a 12 Volt reduction starter for it.

Ever since I got it running, every now and again (even with new parts) the starter drive will bind in the flywheel and starter/ nor engine will move. It's EZ to free up by turning the crank with a wrench or my hand-crank. So far---no one has a real explanation.

My buddy with a MB and reduction starter, swears a reduction starter will fix it!

We'll see one day!

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post #4 of 4 Old 08-06-2020, 08:43 PM
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1981 CJ7 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Bali
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My 3A was converted and an alternator and starter solenoid installed, definitely a good upgrade from the 6V system as you can now have ordinary car parts on there and smaller cables.

The starter motor is pieced together from what I believe is a Mitsubishi, those parts are cheap. As Mitsubishi made the 3A under licence until the late 1990s and made a version of the L134, all sorts of bits are available.

You have to be careful as to what you have as many CJ3A are bitsas. The 10 tooth pinion starter matches a 97 tooth flywheel, the early small frame starter (long open face Bendix) and the early bell housing. The kick in style small frame starter used with the 124 tooth flywheel is a 9 tooth in the early bell housing. The later Bendix folo-thru drive (key start type) in the large frame starters was 9 tooth and used in the later bell housing with the 129 tooth flywheel.

So you need to know how many teeth and which bell housing.

I suggest you go to a specialist for advice, walcke's or Kaiser Willys.

However, a rebuilt original 6V starter is now $350 to $550. Yep, you see now why mine is from a Mitsubishi.

It may be easier and quicker and cheaper to remove the starter and just take it apart and have a look. The failed starters I have had in the last 10 years, only one could not be rebuilt, all the others needed was (to be honest) a strip down and WD40 on stuck brushes. If the teeth are chewed, they are $45. The last one was resurrected in 30 minutes for 25c.

It is possible to have it rewound if it is a 6V starter, your local specialist could rebuild it quite cheaply.

However, if you are not worried about originality and the old one is beyond a quick fix with WD40, a reduction gear starter is a good option. About $350 but make sure you get the right one for your flywheel and bellhousing.

BagusJeep lives in Bali.

1981 CJ7 258ci - Bagusjeep
1984 CJ7 258ci - Puthijeep
1981 J20 258ci - Gladys
1951 Willys CJ3A/MB/M38 - Little Willy
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