Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Re: Hot Start or What???
Optima battery wouldn't help, but they are nice for the no-leak factor. Some have complained of short life for the expense, but I've had 3 of them for more than 3 years now with no issues.
You may be right about the starter / headers. You'll hear that condition refered to as heat soak. I have a two-ply aluminum shield around my starter and soleoid that does an excellent job of keeping the heat away.
Personally, I'd do a couple voltage checks before I spent too much money. There are lots of reasons for a starter to drag when it's hot, and heat-soak is just one.
Get a digital volt meter. If you don't have one you can get a basic one for $9. Spend $25 to $40 and you'll have a darn nice one.
When your starter is acting up, get a helper to attempt to crank it while you measure the voltage between the battery (+) and the main power stud on the starter. You should see less tha 0.5 volts or so. Repeat the test measuring between the battery (-) and the starter shell. Again look for less than 0.5 volts. Lastly, measure from the battery (+) again to the 'S' terminal while someone cranks. This time, I'd expect you to see less than 0.05V (10 times less because the current to kick in the solenoid is less than 3 amps whereas the starter draws more like 150-300 amps). If those tests all pass, then you probably do have a heat-soak issue. I'd recommend the shield in that case.
It's going to be difficult to measure those starter connections while the engine is hot. You might have to slip underneith and put a probe on there, use a test lead with an alligator clip or rig up a longer probe with a nail on the end of wooden dowel and a piece of wire.
Heat-soak does happen, but ignition switches can cause problems, as will bad connections. Current makes heat when it flows through a resistor and heat makes resistance. The two work hand in hand to spoil your day.
68 Coupe, 350 w/ Edelbrock Performer RPM heads, cam, intake, 700R4, Dave's small body HEI