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Discussion Starter #1
I replaced the starter on this 396 engine. I noticed the starter I removed had several shims under the outer bolt to angle the starter toward the flex plate. The new starter from DB Electrical I first mounted with no shims.

This starter: https://www.dbelectrical.com/produc...-jeep-mini-starter-long-short-mt-sdr0059.html

When I turned the key the starter gear chattered but the engine did not rotate.

Thinking maybe the starter gear is too close to the flex plate I added one shim. When I turned the key I had the same results, the starter chattered but the engine did not rotate.

So I added a 2nd shim and this time the starter gear turned with no contact with the flex plate.

This told me that the starter gear is too far from the flex plate. So I removed the starter and shims, ground a little clearance in the transmission dust shield, and reinstalled with a washer under the outer bolt to angle the starter toward the flex plate.

Now the car will start but I don't believe the starter is meshing correctly to the flex plate. And I don't like it mounted at an angle.

What am I missing? Could this engine have too small diameter of a flex plate? Might I have a 153 tooth flex plate when it should have a larger one? Should I get another design of starter?
 

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You can use a medium size paper clip for the wire to test adjustment.



Without a proper mesh (why there exist shims in the first place) it will never work and you will just eat the start ring gear off the flex plate and bur the pinion gears.

Big Dave
 

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I’m not a fan of those DB starters. I would install a quality full size starter from PowerMaster. Mine was #3689 (4 speed). I had zero issues. Headers too. Just my .02
 

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Al - Waterloo, Iowa
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Andrew, I would first determine the number of teeth on the flex plate. Because the stater you removed
was shimmed at an angle and the new starter required the same I wouldn't blame the starter. I just
installed the exact same starter and it works just fine with no shims. Mine is a small block.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You can use a medium size paper clip for the wire to test adjustment.

Without a proper mesh (why there exist shims in the first place) it will never work and you will just eat the start ring gear off the flex plate and bur the pinion gears.

Big Dave
How does one get the starter to extend the gear to mesh to utilize the paper clip? Please excuse my ignorance but this I have never figured out.

I’m not a fan of those DB starters. I would install a quality full size starter from Powerhouse. Mine was #3689 (4 speed). I had zero issues. Headers too. Just my .02
I have the same DB starter on my 302 engine since about 2005. It was bolted on with no shims and has worked flawlessly. The Powerhouse might very well be better quality but thus far I'm good.

Andrew, I would first determine the number of teeth on the flex plate. Because the stater you removed
was shimmed at an angle and the new starter required the same I wouldn't blame the starter. I just
installed the exact same starter and it works just fine with no shims. Mine is a small block.
I'm working from the garage floor with the car on jack stands. Pulling the auto transmission to resolve this concern is something I really want to avoid. And tomorrow I'm scheduled to have a dual exhaust installed. Once the exhaust is installed pulling the tranny becomes more difficult.

Will a starter that installs in the adjoining holes, instead of staggered holes, tighten the mesh of the gears?
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)

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Was the original set-up - OE starter & shims- working?
If not broke, or starter needs a rebuild, why not rebuild OE starter and use the same nose piece & shims?
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
 

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Discussion Starter #8

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I'm working from the garage floor with the car on jack stands. Pulling the auto transmission to resolve this concern is something I really want to avoid. And tomorrow I'm scheduled to have a dual exhaust installed. Once the exhaust is installed pulling the tranny becomes more difficult.
You can pull it out with a screw driver as it it slides easily and the spring that retracts the gear isn't that strong.

Mini starters are purchased by GM from Hitachi. All modern cars and trucks use them so a factory quality starter can be had used in junk yards.

Big Dave
 

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Al - Waterloo, Iowa
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Andrew, If you remove the spark plugs you can use a flywheel turning tool to
rotate the engine allowing you to count the number of teeth on the flexplate.
I think you can rent the tool from Autozone or the like for free. For checking
starter drive engagement there is a slot on the bottom of the starter nose you
can fit a very small screwdriver in to slide the drive gear outward. It's a tight
fight especially laying on your back but it's doable. I did it.
 

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Verify: A starter for a 12 3/4" 153tooth flexplate has a straight bolt pattern. A starter for the 168 tooth flexplate has a staggered bolt pattern.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Verify: A starter for a 12 3/4" 153tooth flexplate has a straight bolt pattern. A starter for the 168 tooth flexplate has a staggered bolt pattern.
I'm thinking this is the 153 tooth flexplate and someone previously used the staggered bolt pattern starter when it should be straight. I purchased staggered bolt because that is what was on it. I'll try a straight bolt pattern starter.

If I have to pull the plugs to count the teeth I will do so.

I talked to Josh at DBElectric who recommends this starter with the straight bolt pattern. https://www.dbelectrical.com/produc...i-starter-super-torque-series-3-hp-mt200.html

A story from long ago: About 1978 I purchased a used '74 Datsun 260Z that kept burning up the distributor rotor. When that occurred I would remove the burnt rotor and replace it with another just like it.

After several incidents I just asked for the correct rotor and was given one with a longer arm moving the contact points closer. I argued with the counter guy it was incorrect but he said their books said it was. That rotor never burned up. Someone had utilized the wrong rotor, probably just to get the car running for as cheap as possible, and it had been biting me in the butt. I was glad I stumbled upon the solution.
 

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I'm thinking this is the 153 tooth flexplate and someone previously used the staggered bolt pattern starter when it should be straight. I purchased staggered bolt because that is what was on it. I'll try a straight bolt pattern starter.

If I have to pull the plugs to count the teeth I will do so.

I talked to Josh at DBElectric who recommends this starter with the straight bolt pattern. https://www.dbelectrical.com/produc...i-starter-super-torque-series-3-hp-mt200.html

A story from long ago: About 1978 I purchased a used '74 Datsun 260Z that kept burning up the distributor rotor. When that occurred I would remove the burnt rotor and replace it with another just like it.

After several incidents I just asked for the correct rotor and was given one with a longer arm moving the contact points closer. I argued with the counter guy it was incorrect but he said their books said it was. That rotor never burned up. Someone had utilized the wrong rotor, probably just to get the car running for as cheap as possible, and it had been biting me in the butt. I was glad I stumbled upon the solution.
I hope you get it sorted out. My DB starter lasted a week on my 396 and I have been sour on them ever since. I'm sure yours will be fine, I had a lemon LOL.
 

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Was the original set-up - OE starter & shims- working?
If not broke, or starter needs a rebuild, why not rebuild OE starter and use the same nose piece & shims?

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Like talking to the wall..... Most everyone thinks hot rod stuff is better than the way GM did it, even though the hot rod stuff has to be modified to make it work. It's just a fact of life, I guess.
 
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Was the original set-up - OE starter & shims- working?
If not broke, or starter needs a rebuild, why not rebuild OE starter and use the same nose piece & shims?
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Agree completely. It took me so long to find one that worked correctly and quietly. When it got weak I ordered a "mini", big mistake couldn't even bolt it up, sent it back. Took the one I had to a starter shop with a big tag "REBUILD THIS ONE. NO EXCHANGE". It has been probably 15 years and going strong. I think I have the 168 tooth flywheel since I run a 11" clutch. Been a long time.
 
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Discussion Starter #17
Okay, the starter adventure continues. I tried a starter for a 153 tooth flexplate but the nose would not fit into the bell housing opening.

I tried a flat plate starter that can clock in 3 directions. With the solenoid clocked pointed up it hits the engine block. When I move it to the next hole the starter motor bumps against the header tube. Cannot use that one.

I've now ordered a Powermaster 9100 in the hopes it will fit properly. However it doesn't have the connections for a points distributor. This 396 has the pertronics distributor conversion. Do I need the "R" Terminal Diode to use this starter?
 

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Your ignition switch does not flow power to the ignition when you turn the switch to the start position. That is the whole reason for the R terminal.
 

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I'm thinking this is the 153 tooth flexplate and someone previously used the staggered bolt pattern starter when it should be straight. I purchased staggered bolt because that is what was on it. I'll try a straight bolt pattern starter.

If I have to pull the plugs to count the teeth I will do so.

I talked to Josh at DBElectric who recommends this starter with the straight bolt pattern. https://www.dbelectrical.com/produc...i-starter-super-torque-series-3-hp-mt200.html
According to this article, big blocks all had 168 tooth flywheels.

So that's probably your problem; your starter is made for 153 tooth flywheels. Or it has the wrong style nosecone.

https://www.chevyhardcore.com/news/chevy-starter-fitment-is-not-a-one-size-fits-all-situation/
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
This engine is not original to this car and I don't know how much the builder deviated from original. As stated in post #6 there is rumor that Chevrolet drilled the starter mount holes .100" off on some 396 blocks. I'm skeptical this happened but I'm beginning to believe we might have one here. Maybe this is a 168 tooth flex plate with the starter mount holes incorrectly drilled.
It will be interesting if the new starter I have ordered will mate properly with the flex plate.

https://www.chevelles.com/forums/45-chevelle-tech/321211-starter-too-far-flexplate-what-do.html
 
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