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  • Starter Solenoids

    I have a 61 with a 390 and have had the solenoids go bad more than a couple times the mechanics say fords do that.The solenoids are the cheap ones from autozone like $13 so its not the end of the world to fix but im curious if their is a better product or anything that I can do to get passed this problem...

    Thanks..

  • #2
    By solenoid do you mean the one on the inner fender that provides power to the starter, or the one in the starter that engages it with the flywheel??

    If you got a replacement at Autozone for $13, I will assume the one on the fender.

    I have a 1958 TBird with about 160000 miles. I am pretty sure the solenoid is original. I have a 1979 Ford Truck where all the electrics are original including the solenoid . Mileage is maybe 120,000.

    I would be curious as to what fails. You can take these apart and clean contacts and get them working, provided the windings in the coil part are not broken (unlikely).

    So in my limited opinion, they last pretty well.
    Last edited by JohnG; September 6th, 2009, 02:34 PM.
    1958 Hardtop
    #8452 TBird Registry
    http://www.tbirdregistry.com/viewdat...tryNumber=8452


    photo: http://www.squarebirds.org/users/joh...d_June2009.jpg
    history:
    http://www.squarebirds.org/users/johng/OCC.htm

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    • #3
      krave, I too have heard thru out my entire life that Ford solenoids are notorious for failing. I can also attest to that with many personal bouts with bad Ford solenoids. My first experience was in 1972 at the MN St Highschool Basketball tournement in a UofM parkinglot in a major winter snowstorm using a screw driver to jump the solenoid and start the engine. That was in my '65 Mustang. I have owned many other Mustangs since and other Ford cars which have had failed solonoids many times. I have not ever experienced a failed solonoid yet on my 58 Tbird however.

      It is just my personal opinion that solonoids are like thermostats in that about 20% may be bad out of the box. My only suggestion would be to purchase a solonoid from Napa and buy their most expensive one, perferably one not made in China. Best of Luck2U!
      Best Birding,
      Jed Zimmerman
      '58HT and '48 Dodge Panel in MN
      Thunderbird Registry #3810 VTCI#7652
      sigpic

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      • #4
        Given what Jed said, one should buy a pair of them and tuck one away in the trunk. Either it will save you at some point or ward off the evil spirits. You have certainly convinced me to buy a spare to back up my ancient one!

        If anyone has one or two failed units and is willing to mail them to me, I would be interested in taking them apart to see just what fails. There isn't a whole lot of electrics in there...

        John
        1958 Hardtop
        #8452 TBird Registry
        http://www.tbirdregistry.com/viewdat...tryNumber=8452


        photo: http://www.squarebirds.org/users/joh...d_June2009.jpg
        history:
        http://www.squarebirds.org/users/johng/OCC.htm

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        • #5
          Originally posted by JohnG View Post
          There isn't a whole lot of electrics in there...
          This is as elementary as it gets: As you turn the key, an electro-magnet pulls the plunger up. A copper washer is attached to the plunger. It crisply snaps into place, bridging the gap between the two bolt heads. On the outside, your battery and starter cables are attached to those same bolts.

          Many hundreds of starting amps flow through this relay, every single time you start your engine. They take a beating over the years. If you take an old one apart, the contact surfaces look like the face of the moon. A very old switch will have eroded the copper contacts to where there is no metal left. Then, you can hear the plunger click, but the starter won't move.

          Many companies make these switches for the past 60-70 years. Delco, Motorcraft/Autolite, and a host of aftermarket switches are for sale. They all do the same thing.

          The switch for a 460 is the same switch a four-banger uses. Obviously, the lighter load will last far longer.

          I don't know how they could design a switch to be short-lived. I think I've changed more starter brushes and starter motors than starter solenoids. This is the first time I have heard anyone say that one particular brand is inferior. All of them should outlast a 100k warranty.

          Does anyone ever check their starter brushes, or grease the bearings? Instead of waiting for disaster, check your brushes. They are about $10 and will ensure the starter will last another 100k miles.

          The older starter motors have an inspection band you can pull back. Pull on the four brushes to make sure they slide in their holders. Also check spring tension. If a brush sticks it will arc, causing a commutator segment to fry. - Dave
          My latest project:
          CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

          "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
          --Lee Iacocca

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          • #6
            The two key words here are "cheap" and "Autozone"
            Go and buy a (real) Motorcraft solenoid. My 60 has probably had two (maybe three in almost five decades)

            When ever possible, use factory parts.
            John Byers
            1960 Convertible (Orig owner)
            sigpic

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            • #7
              my TBird has about 160K miles on it. It occurs to me that the only electrical components in it that are not original are as follows: gas tank sending unit (horrible place when you think about it), oil pressure sending unit and blinker relay. The radio has been repaired as the previous owner kind of sabotaged it. Anything else has been cleaned up and works. The starter motor had a bearing replaced.

              If you look back historically at United States manufacturing, one era of brilliance was that of electrical components in the 1920s and thereafter. Companies like Western Electric and General Electric put a ton of effort into learning how to efficiently manufacture very high quality items, like relays, electric motors, generators and so on. In fact they made it into a science which was later successfully adopted by many other areas. So it is not surprising to me that the components we have inherited from the 50s would be darned good stuff. Nothing lasts forever, so if you have to replace something, hunting down original parts seems the way to go.
              1958 Hardtop
              #8452 TBird Registry
              http://www.tbirdregistry.com/viewdat...tryNumber=8452


              photo: http://www.squarebirds.org/users/joh...d_June2009.jpg
              history:
              http://www.squarebirds.org/users/johng/OCC.htm

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