What’s that Tic, Tic, Tic?

In the spring of 2001, I finished the restoration on my Town Sedan and found I was ready for a test trip.  I called my niece, who lives about 40 miles from me, and told her I’d pick her up for lunch.

A few miles into the trip my hands were cold.  I pulled over to find my gloves.  The engine stalled, so I hit the starter.  Uh oh, it locked up.

I tried it all, in gear rocking, drifting downhill popping the clutch and even cursing, but no dice.  Pull the starter.  Yeah, right.  With all of the bolts out, I rocked the car.  That starter was not coming out.  Finally using a pry bar, the started popped free with a loud snap.  I reassembled the starter and finished my luncheon trip without any notice.

The rest of the summer, I noticed a slight tic, tic, tic.  It drove me crazy.  I dropped the pan and plasti-gauged all the bearings.  I pulled the pistons and used the micrometer on them and the bore.  No good.

People would say “What’s that ticking?”  Embarrassed, I’d say “piston slap,” not knowing for sure what it was.

To make a long story shorter, I found it.  Yep, that locked up starter caused it.  When I pried the starter free, it moved the starter ring on the flywheel.  Just 1/8″, not much but enough to touch the bottom starter bolt for about 2” every revolution.  The only time it touched was when the clutch was depressed.  This pushed everything up tight against the thrust bearing.

Tic, tic, tic.

Editor’s note:  It’s really quite ironic how and when articles come to us.  This item was e-mailed to us one evening just as I came into the house from working on one of our Model A’s.  When I read this tip, I immediately felt relieved to learn that this was the solution to the problem that I was experiencing.

This tech tip was originally provided by AJ Pennington and printed in the May 2002 “A” Quail Call.

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