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Discussion Starter #1
Nothing befuddles me more that auto electrical problems...well, maybe the number of Thai food restaurants in Seattle, but that's another story. My current problem (no pun intended), involves my '66 Malibu 327. Headers = hot starter = lots of time waiting for 'cool down' at gas stations....so, in my attempt to fix this quick & cheap, I purchase a heat shield blanket thingy and install w/ the provided metal straps. Not only does this not work (big surprise), but as I'm pulling in to park, I notice the display on the stereo is blank. I figure it's a fuse and leave it for tomorrow. Next time I get in the car, the battery's dead. I jump it, check the fuses- everything looks fine. Then I notice my heater fan's not working, and neither is the elec. choke on my Holley- basically nothing on the right side of my fuse block is getting power. I look at the starter, because I hate it, it is my enemy and figure it must be the cause of this. It appears that one of the metal straps holding the worthless heatshield has decided to gouge into one of the wires coming off the starter. I'm thinking this just has to be the source of my problem.

My question is: How can I, an admitted amateur- especially electrically, get to the bottom of this and correct it? Yes, I've ditched the goofy heat wrap thing and plan on settling the score w/ Mr. Starter soon- but I'd like to know if I've completely fried a portion of the electrical system before going any further. Sorry for the rambling explanation- any help is appreciated!!

Mike

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I would look @ getting a Ford solenoid for your hot start problems, as far as your wires being toasted i don't know.
 

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Hmmm, maybe not so amateur. If you are able to determine that the right side is dead, this may be a help. The right side is the switched side off the ignition switch. Can you see if there is power to the switch input when everything dies? Red is the switch input and pink is the main output.
 

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I don't really know what you did exactly. What colour wire did the shield gouge? Was it purple? Have you modified the wiring or is it not stock anymore?

The below applies to a stock system only.

I'd expect it to be purple wire because that is the starting wire. If it was shorted that could cause you to do damage when you tried to start.

The yellow wire would just cause the resistor wire between the bulkhead connector and the ignition coil to begin to burn if you shorted it. And, the engine would die because it would lose ignition power.

Either way, I don't know why you'd loose power at the fuse block while driving. Neither of these wires should have caused that while driving.

Since you have power to 1/2 of the fuse block there must be a wiring problem somewhere around the fuse block.

Peter
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies, guys.

gUm: The remote, er....F_ _ D solenoid is definitely something I'm considering- or maybe a mini-starter....

John: I'll attempt to check those wires when I'm back at the car tomorrow. Now, I'll be checking them at the ignition switch? See, I told you- total amateur. I really do need the most basic guidance through this stuff. I'll thank you in advance for your patience and if it runs out, I won't hold it against you!

Peter: Purple & yellow might be what the wires are, but the color's been baked off both starter wires in this area (if that makes any sense)- I can uncover them a little further up and try to trace back, but I think it's the wire coming off the top left post- same as the battery's pos. connection. I'll check that tomorrow as well.

Thanks again to everyone!!!

Mike

[This message has been edited by mikeclam (edited 02-07-2003).]

[This message has been edited by mikeclam (edited 02-07-2003).]
 

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Heavy gauge battery cables would do much for your starter. I run a Ford solenoid and 2/0 wires. That combined with low resistance plug wires and a proper tune add up to instant starting under all everyday conditions, hot or cold.

Since putting the heavy battery cables, I don't think the Ford solenoid is necessary any more, but since it's already there, why get rid of it? It sure makes it easy when I need to bump the starter for lashing valves.

I've also had instances in the past where a wire melted itself to the headers. That will shut everything down real quick!

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Chad Landry
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I didn't think that a 66 had the power feed coming off the battery post of the solenoid. There should have been only the main heavy battery wire connecting to the top post. The power feed was a wire from the pos battery post. I may be confused here but I don't think so?

It is possible that the solenoid you have is just bad. My car was doing the same as you describe and a new GM solenoid fixed it. The one on it was drawing >30A all the time and the new one drew only about 11A. The higher current caused a bigger voltage drop which then meant it wouldn't engage. The old one actually would act up when it was cold every once in a while.

You do not have to cut a Ford solenoid into the main battery cable. All you have to do is use a relay (or the Ford solenoid) to switch power to the inside small terminal on the solenoid. Put the wire from there (purple) to the coil of the new relay and then run a #12 wire from the battery to the NO contact and then from the other NO terminal to that terminal. Put a 30A fuse at the battery. Without having to cut into the big power wire it's a lot easier to hide the relay and wiring.

Peter
 

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Notwithstanding the electrical issue, whereas you could have taken a fusible link out or just burned the wire in two, I would like to offer you and others the heat soak problem insight and some solutions. Albeit long, here is an excerpt from the article that I recently wrote for the upcoming March issue of Northern and Southern Rodder Magazines for this very issue. Enjoy!

The term "heat soak" is applied to engines that start just fine and dandy when cold or cool, but subsequently are operated or driven and as a result build heat in the engine compartment and surrounding engine parts. This is especially true in and around the exhaust manifolds, headers and engine blocks or in the slipstream of the radiator exhaust. The acute abundance of heat actually raises the ambient temperatures of the surrounding areas including that of the starter, solenoid and wires thru conduction from the actual block, radiation from the exhaust/headers and simple air convection/conduction/movement as well. This is an inherent problem by design.... or lack thereof and a multi-faceted problem to explain. This malady usually accompanies the hotter summer weather for the most part but can be multi-seasonal.

First, a physics factoid. Copper looses its ability to conduct electrons as its temperature rises. Current is the sum effect of electrons moving through a typical copper wire. When the wire heats up for example by a heat source, in our case manifolds, headers and blocks, it causes the electrons to become chaotic and unorganized than when cool. Therefore, current flow is greatly reduced by this random chaos affect of the electrons. This means that the copper wire now literally has a higher resistance to current flow. Most metals or alloys thereof increase their electrical resistivity by about 0.005° per degree C. So, if the resistivity of a copper wire at 25° C is 1 ohm, then at 100° C (212° F) it will be 1+(100 X .005) = 1.5! This means if you heat your wires to 100* C, then its resistance increases 1.5 times! The current is thus inversely proportional and then drops by 1.5 times.

The result is big energy losses in long wires and is typified in these coil designed (literally hundreds of feet of copper wire in windings) apparatus such as starter solenoids and old starter motors. The resistance rises dramatically with the addition of heat and acts literally like a built-in resistor to limit the correct operating current and therefore wattage (or ability to do work) of the device whether it be the solenoid that goes click…click or the starter that barely grinds over or both that work real slow or not at all.
Put on top of that, the feed wiring from the battery (the major carrier of large amounts of current to the starter) is also tremendously affected by the heat by raising its resistance somewhat as well. This is an exacerbating issue with small/undersized starter feeder wire where the resistance is high anyway to large starter currents.
Focusing on the solenoid, frequently waste heat will get the solenoid conductors/coils so hot and dysfunctional that the solenoid will not fully engage the starter, if at all. This is indicated by the infamous clickity-clickity or buzzing sound that mimics a loud buzzer! This is why in some cases moving the solenoid to a cooler location is a preventative measure for alleviating some aspects of "heat soak", but does NOT guarantee it "heatsoak" proof. I have seen Ford solenoids put on many applications which moves them to a remote and less heated location making for a better engagement situation of the starter. Sometimes this works. But, when things got really hot at the starter plus the feeder cables become so resistive that heatsoak continued to be an overall problem.
Another thing to throw in is the condition of the “start” wire that comes from the ignition switch via the neutral safety device to energize the solenoid. This wire can become heat degraded and annealed at the connections and induce further resistance to the solenoid coil circuit causing a dead start circuit (this is where you turn the key and hear dead silence).
Also there are other mitigating nuisances. In summer weather, hot ambient temperatures reduce a battery’s cranking capacity. Most engines will operate at about 180-210 degrees Fahrenheit and in traffic the temperature under the hood rises quickly as does the parts contained therein. Additional heat load comes from the air conditioner and the automatic transmission. Even when the engine is shut off, all components, including the battery and starter, continue to heat up for some time before they begin to eventually cool. During this "heat soak", engine components expand; increasing friction on the moving parts and making them harder work for the starting system!
The TOTAL effect of all this resistive mess is a dramatically reduced current flow and energy to accomplish work, which in turn means the starter is limited in current/wattage and therefore either turns very slow or not at all and that's only if the solenoid is working at this point! Some of these old time starters take almost 200+amps typically to achieve the work necessary to successfully turn over your engine. Some of the old starters are not made for high compression engines with lower torque capability. Chevrolet makes a high-torque starter for high performance applications, however they are as susceptible as any to “heatsoak”.


Where does all this heat come from?
The heat that creates “heatsoak” comes from many sources. Of course, given that the engine is producing all this heat as a byproduct of combustion in the block, exhaust and coolant jacket. Thus, the real culprit heat comes from radiant heat from the exhaust manifold or headers (headers are worst because they run hotter than cast iron manifolds) and block, direct conduction of heat from the block to the starter/solenoid mounting frame, and lastly from heat-saturated air within the compartment.
Another physics fact. Heat is like a fluid when conducted directly through conductive materials. This occurs because there is a temperature differential (really a gradient) between the engines metal that is in close contact with the coolant and that which is farther away. So, heat always flows from the hottest points to the coolest points. When the engine is off and there is not coolant flow through the cooling system, the cooling effect is low in the areas surrounding the coolant, which removes this heat during normal operation. This allows heat from these substantially hotter areas to flow to areas that are usually much cooler when the engine is running and coolant is absorbing the waste heat as designed. Sometimes this also results in fuel percolation, evaporation, coolant boiling and our beloved subject, heatsoak of the solenoid and starter apparatus. So, in essence, heat comes from everywhere!


What steps can I take to eliminate heatsoak?
Here is a list of things to minimize and even eliminate the likelihood of heatsoak.

1. Make sure that your ignition wires and feeder wires are fresh and sized correctly for the job (I would recommend at least number 2 for all feeder applications, both positive and ground) and all terminals/wires are crimped, gas-tight and sealed will silicone to prevent moisture contamination. Also, routing wires away from heat sources is a given.

2. Most associate having a fresh battery with cold weather survival when actually hot summer weather can be more devastating. Make sure your battery is up to the job and has plenty of capacity to do the job.

3. Proper engine compartment ventilation can help lower under the hood temperatures by 50 degrees F. Vents and removable sides for those of you that have them is a good thing in the summer.

4. Electric cooling fans that run after the engine shuts off aid and abet “heatsoak” through inducing heat-saturated air around the engine. This cuts off natural convection thru the compartment that will provide cooler air for cooling the compartment. Wire these fans to operate on the ignition circuit function only.

5. Tubed, single-walled headers get inherently hotter than cast iron manifolds. Header wraps are a common product that helps reduce radiated heat to other components and do work!

6. Heat shields/wraps for the starter and/or solenoids work sometimes, but eventually can also become heatsoaked and dysfunctional. This may work for you if things don’t get too hot.

7. The starter and solenoid must be in good condition internally. If the internal contacts of the solenoid are worn the starter will not get full power. The starter brushes must be in good condition as well. They can be accessed and examined by removing the end cover from the starter. If the brushes wear down to the screws, it will cause drag and increase starter load enough to prevent starting. If the starter armature bushings are worn, the armatures will move or wriggle enough to drag on the magnets and thus the starter will require more torque and power to operate.

8. Isolating the solenoid/starter mounting block from the engine block can be done to a certain extent by using a thin paper/cardboard gasket placed between the two. This will help cut off heat transfer through direct conduction but is NOT the ultimate solution either.

9. Relocating the starting solenoid to a remote location can be helpful and Ford remote solenoids are used for doing such. However, this may not be the ultimate fix with the starter still vulnerable to heatsoak.

10. If you have a high performance engine make sure you have a high-torque starter to match. Permanent magnet, gear reduction ministarters do not require the amount of current/wattage (because they do not contain large wire-wound field coils and/or have the amount of copper in the device to precipitate resistance to the extent that would limit the current, which is typically less than half of a old time starter) and therefore are not as susceptible to heat soak. This is why they can be put on an application that heatsoak other common starters, but does not affect the ministarter. This is the number one wanted upgrade to the starting system that just may alleviate the entire problem. Because ministarters have no field coils, current is delivered directly to the armature through the commutator and brushes. The permanent magnet starter also uses gear reduction through a planetary gear set. The planetary gear train transmits power between the armature and the pinion shaft. This allows the armature to rotate at greater speed and increased torque with lower power requirements from the electrical delivery system. This is good!



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Steve "Jack'stands" Jack
Tech forum at Jack'Stands Cooling Forum

[This message has been edited by HOTRODSRJ (edited 02-08-2003).]
 

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Not getting into the heatsoak discussion, but Peter is correct on the 66 wiring. The battery to fuseblock wires route around the engine up the foward lamp harness. A frozen solenoid shouldn't affect power to the fuseblock.
Chevy didn't move around the wiring until 72. That's when they decided it was a better idea to run main power off the solenoid B+ terminal and move the fusible link down next to the engine. No idea why but it's a pain to work on.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by John_Muha:
Hmmm, maybe not so amateur. If you are able to determine that the right side is dead, this may be a help. The right side is the switched side off the ignition switch. Can you see if there is power to the switch input when everything dies? Red is the switch input and pink is the main output.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Here goes... exposing my total idiocy, laugh all you want- I gotta get this thing fixed: Where am I checking these wires at? Do I need to remove the key cylinder? Or remove the fuse box from below the dash? I'm trying to ready this car for sale due to family medical stuff, and the more I can get right on it, the more $ I can ask for. Sorry to be a nagging neophyte- I'll disappear soon as I get this thing fixed, I promise!!! Thanks to all-

Mike
 

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Mike;

I see where John's going. At the ignition switch there is a red power wire. Then, when you turn it on the pink wire gets power which feeds the rest of the fuse block. So, at the switch check for power on the red all the time and pink when it's on.

Steve;

If you read this again, the main problem with the "heatsoak" is that the Chevy solenoid requires a lot of current to energize. Somewhere around 12-15A of current. The #12 wire running from the battery through all the connections (bulkhead connector, Ign sw. neutral swith etc) and back to the starter just has too much resistance to be able to provide a full 12V to the solenoid terminal. This means that the solenoid won't engage at all so nothing happens when you turn the key.

That's why having a relay providing better power to the solenoid start terminal usually fixes the problem. If the starter won't engage when hot you never ever need to switch the main battery power feed to fix the problem.

FYI, the Ford solenoid requires something like 3A to energize. That's why it will always energize when powered from the purple wire that would not energize the GM solenoid.

Peter
 

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For openers check the fuseblock BAT terminal. This is off the left side of the block. It should always be hot and is the red wire. After that check the IGN terminal with the key ON. This is a fused line from the ignition switch that comes from the pink ignition switch output wire. No need to pull the key tumbler. The ignition switch connector can be removed from the rear IF NEED BE.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
O.K.- checked the BAT terminal, it's hot. The IGN term. is hot with the key in the "on" position. Does this sound right, or do anything to explain my problem?
 

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Sounds right to me. That's the way it should work. If you are losing the radio power when the car is hot, perhaps there's another problem.
I assume you took these measurements when the car was cool.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
the radio, heater fan, and electric choke are not working at all- whether the car is hot or cold. I'll pokle around the wiring a bit more tomorrow and see if I missed a fusible link somewhere.....
 

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I had a similar problem with my old Torino. It was the battery cables that were at fault. When the engine and surrounding engine bay got hot, the strands within the cables separated, and starting again hot was difficult. Changed over to thick cables and the problem went away.


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Joe G.
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Any car past 1972 is just simply transportation, really!
 

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With all this expert technical assistance going on here I hesitate putting my oar in the water but I will anyway.


IF, after all of your other problems are solved , you are still having your "hot soak" problem I would suggest the following:

Either buy a NEW (not reman) solenoid OR take the "Bakelite" end cap off your old solenoid and wire brush the electrical contacts you will find therein including the copper coated contact disk. Every time you engage/disengage the solenoid a little induced spark occurs that leaves deposits/pits on the three primary contact surfaces in the solenoid.
Over time those contact surfaces get more and more resistive until they won't pass adequate starting current to spin the starter when the starting current demand is highest (read: hot soak). When that happens all the bright new shiny cable in the world won't help you start your car cause the solenoid has become your problem.

While I agree that headers can give you some grief I will stipulate that they will only cause problems on a system that is already crippled in some way such as a highly resistive solenoid.

I have run headers in my past too and never experienced "hot soak" but then I paid attention to little things like solenoid condition.

All IMHO of course
 

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Discussion Starter #18
o.k., the battery drain seems to have been solved by repairing the damaged wire. And I think the electric choke will function if I move it from the ACC terminal to the IGN terminal.....right? So, that leaves me with the stereo and heater fan still not working. The stereo is connected to the ACC terminal, the fan I don't know- definitely not the stock wiring and switch at this point, so where this is being fed from is not obvious- at least to me. I'm assuming it's got something to do with the ACC circuit. Any additional help would be great- I really wish I wasn't forced to sell the car now. I'd strayed from the Team Chevelle message boards for awhile and forgot what a great place this was. Thanks to everyone.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Anyone? looking for one last bit of advice before I send this car off Monday- would like to have it in as good a shape as possible for the new owner. Thanks
 

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On an AC car there is a brown wire that goes up to the blower switch. Comes from the fuseblock. This wire should have 12 volts on it when the key is on. Since you can't get the radio or the heater working, guessing this wire doesn't have 12 volts. Think I would check this first.
 
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