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Old 06-11-2011, 01:40:48 PM   #1
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Location: San Leandro, CA
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Install New Starter - Can't check pinion clearance/engagement

Your resident mechanical idiot here! So, I installed my transmission with the engine out of the car and dropped the engine/tranny in as a unit. Easy peasy. I'm now wishing I would have thought of the starter prior to doing so. The problem I now face is that I have no way of checking the pinion clearance of the starter or whether or not the pinion engages. There are basically two sets of holes you can use when mounting this powerman starter to the block. One sets it further from block and one sets it closer to the block. I've installed the starter on the set of holes closer to the block. The custom bellhousing I have came with a block plate (Weir) that basically covers all viewing/working access. This prevents me from seeing whether or not I need to change the mounting location or whether or not I need to shim the starter. Any suggestions here? Should I be worried? My buddy said he's just installed starters and without even considering the pinion clearance/engagement. I just don't want to mess anything up....i.e the starter or flywheel.

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Old 06-11-2011, 02:22:15 PM   #2
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You install the starter closer to the engine if you have a 153 tooth flywheel/flexplate. If you have the more common 168 tooth flexplate, the starter is installed further from the engine. Good luck.
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Last edited by warped : 06-11-2011 at 02:28:19 PM.
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Old 06-11-2011, 05:24:39 PM   #3
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One is 14" (168 tooth) and the other 12.75" (153 tooth).
With 5/8" smaller radius it becomes obvious if you have the right DIA vs starter mount combination.
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Old 06-11-2011, 06:44:44 PM   #4
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Since you're using the set of holes closer to the engine on the starter that means you're installing it in the postion used with the larger 168 tooth flexplate. If that's the size flexplate you're using, it will likely crank and start just fine. If, however, you are using the smaller 153 tooth flexplate the starter will be too far away and won't engage at all- it will just free-spin when you turn the key.

So, it will be obvious if you got it right the first time you try to start it. If you got it wrong, just dive under and switch to the other set of bolt holes.

Shimming it for exact clearance ain't gonna happen without dropping the trans in your case. Fortunately, most starter/block combinations work just fine with no shims. Not all, but most.
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Old 06-13-2011, 02:17:08 PM   #5
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Big Help! Thanks for clearing this up for me. I am using a 168 flywheel so I should be good to go. Thanks again!
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Old 06-13-2011, 02:19:20 PM   #6
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Is that a small block? I had to shim my mini starter to get it to work right (not that brand starter but similar style). If you have too few shims the gear will come out and then jam and either never make it into the ring teeth or make it but not retract. If you have too many shims it will make horrible gear noises when it turns the engine over.
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Old 06-14-2011, 02:59:35 PM   #7
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Yes, it is a SBC 350. correct for 1970. I hear what you're saying. I guess I might just have to figure it out with trial and error when I start the engine. There is very little clearance between the starter and the block plate so you can't see in there well enough to check the pinion engagement or the pinion to flywheel gap clearance. Ugh!
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Old 06-14-2011, 03:29:08 PM   #8
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Did your kit come with 2 shims? Mine did and I thought the shim went between the mounting block and starter motor on a Power Master Mini.
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Old 06-14-2011, 04:13:25 PM   #9
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Yep, it came with two shims. The instructions that came with my starter stated to use the shims only if needed based on the clearnace measurement between the pinion ring and the flywheel. I can't measure this gap due to the block plate between the block and the bellhousing.
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