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Starter/Generator question..

8383 Views 37 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Tractor-Holic
I noticed the other day after using my Suburban 12 to mulch leaves for about 15 minutes ,that the starter generator felt very warm,hot enough to not allow you to touch it for long...I also noticed a slight noise ,that may be the belt or perhaps the bearing or bushing on the pulley side ..

I tried dripping some oil onto the generator's shaft behind the pulley ,to see if that made any difference,but I could not tell if any actually made its way into the bushing..(I do not think it has ball bearings)...unlike some I've seen,this one does not have any "gibs" or oil cups where you could lube the bushings..

It still charges fine ,it could crank the engine over faster though,my other tractors with the same setup seem to whip over faster..since its not exactly an easy job to pull the starter/generator out and work on it,I'd rather not,if there is nothing "wrong" with it...perhaps its "normal" for them to run fairly "hot"..?:..or maybe its dragging on dry bushings ?..:dunno:

I guess if it really starts to squeal I'll know in a hurry whether that is the case or not..:hide:
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Why don't you try your spare S/G? It does not take too long to swap it out. Then you will have a better idea of what to do.
Guess I'm going to have to do just that...I had a tough time getting it to start this morning..but got it going ..

Then today, while mulching all the leaves that decided to drop off all at once (thanks to 2" of rain with 40+mph winds last night),--near the end of the run,about a half hour,I noticed the red dash lamp was on,indicating no charge...:(
I finished the job and put it in the garage,and when I tried starting it again,all I got was a "clunk" out of the S/G..

The S/G was very hot too..I let it cool off about an hour,and then it would crank again,slow,but I only got it to run for a short time--I forgot I had shut the gas off..

I took off the belt gaurd and took off the belt,then tried "starting" it--the S/G does spin but sounds labored,spinning the pulley by hand it doesn't seem that "stiff" though...boosting the battery with a car battery didn't improve the cranking speed any,so I think its about done the least it will likely need a good cleaning inside and the bushings lubed up..if its not cooked maybe I'll put new brushes in it if any can be found locally..if it needs them..

I attempted to take the S/G off,but had to give up for the day,it was getting dark and I was not feeling good,and was in no mood to deal with it today--had a lot of other discouraging things happen today too, and that was the last straw..
I've got 2 upper molars that need to be yanked and cant get it done for 2 weeks,and the 10 days of antibiotics has made my stomach a mess..on top of being in agony with back I really needed it to crap out now..:mad:

It appears there is a bolt under the side of the dash on the battery tray that has to come off to get the belt shield off that covers the back side of the S/G--that will be a real joy to remove,I may just cut an access hole in the side of the dash with a hole saw to gain easier access to it..dont care if its "mint",I'd rather be able to fix the darn thing easier...looks like the S/G is the hardest thing on the tractor to remove,second only to the transaxle..might be easier to just yank the whole engine out complete ?..

I may just push it aside for now,and if I need to mow again,just swap the deck onto my '67 Suburban 12..getting discouraged having so many things that need work,and I'm not up to doing it myself any more..I also have other things more important to deal with..
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I have not made much progress on the removal of the starter/generator..

Had other bigger things to fix since it went out,(like one of my trucks )-and I'm not looking forward to having to "gut" the whole tractor to get the thing out--looks like it'll require removal of the gas tank,which is not a fun job,and removing the battery tray..then you might be able to SEE it...:(

If I could get that belt shield off the right side I "might" be able to remove it that way,but one bolt that holds that shield to the battery tray is proving to be near impossible to get at..:mad:..

I noticed while poking around it yesterday that the pulley on the S/G tilts to one side when you activate it,with the v-belt off--so it appears the rear bushing has hogged itself out enough to let the armature not stay in alignment,and it wont spin,it just pulls it to one side..--if I put some pressure on the pulley,it'll start to spin faster like it should..I'm hoping just replacing the bushing or bearing will make it work again..

Beginning to wish I had a HH120 with a geared starter to put on this tractor..or they had a recoil starter available as a back up..
I never was a big fan of starter-generators,now I'm even less of one..especially since they buried the darn thing in the chassis and made it so hard to R&R...dont know why things they know will fail are made so difficult to replace..:dunno:

I may just try to use a rope to start the tractor and run it with no v-belt--the leaves are piling up again,and I want to get them mulched before they get too deep..once I pull the tractor apart I may not get it back together right away..

I thought about swapping the mower deck to one of my other 3 Suburbans ,but one has a front bucket/plow on it that has the sub frame bolted to the mower deck mounts,the other has a snowblower on it...the third has no engine on it !..

Might as well just take the starter-generator off..its just as much or more work to swap things around..Thought about waking my Yard-Man in the shed up from it's 3 year nap too,but that thing will likely be a pain and need more work than the Sears would..

My back is not doing well at all and the last thing I feel like doing is lifting heavy objects or bending over for hours..seems like everything breaks down when my back is fubared..:mad:
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The rear bushing on my S/G was worn enough so the armature was rubbing on the field coil. Wish you were nearby, I'd give you a hand. Hang in there.
I managed to get it fired up with a rope yesterday,though it took several tries to get it going from a cold start...had to pull it over several times fully choked,then no choke and full throttle,it finally fired can only get one "wrap" of the rope around the starter pulley..

I used it almost an hour after I got it running without issue ,and was able to mulch up the leaves,hopefully I wont have to do it again,or mow again,before the snow flies...for the heck of it,I tried starting it after it was hot with the rope--Man,that HH120 had some super compression after it warms up !,I had to really pull hard,and it tried kicking back,but it fired instantly..(made me kind of wish it had a hand crank option!)..

I think for now I'm just going to leave the S/G on it and rope start it if I need to use it again,then dismantle the tractor later on,in the months I'll be using the others for snow removal..and praying the S/G on those two dont crap out !..

The SS-12 I have with the ancient 6 HP Briggs is still the one I tend to like best--recoil start,no battery to die,no starter to go south--I don't like pulling ropes much,but it starts pretty easily usually,and I've only had the rope break 2-3 times in 4 years...the screeching starter clutch was responsible for that happening at least two of those times,when it was like -10 out!...sometimes I wish it had more HP,so I could use second and third gear for plowing,but the lower speed & HP will likely make it live longer...
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Well,I finally felt well enough to attempt taking the starter/generator off yesterday..

I managed to get it off easier than I thought--I removed two of the side cover belt gaurd bolts and was able to swing the gaurd up far enough to gain access to the generator bolt on the right side..glad I did not have to take that bolt off holding the gaurd to the battery tray,which is buried beneath the fiberglass dash on the right side..

After I removed the bolts holding the S/G in,I was able to thread it out from the left (pulley) side,I had to depress the clutch pedal to get enough clearance--after I had it part way out,I could remove the two wires going to the posts on it and get it out the rest of the way...I imagine putting it back in that way might be tricky,getting it positioned properly,and the bolts started..but at least I now know it can be done,without pulling the engine & grille or battery tray off..

I took it apart and found it is in decent shape inside,the rear bushing is worn out--this one only has one ball bearing on the pulley end,which also has some radial play..brushes are at least half length still,and there appears to be no burnt windings or wear on the commutator,or other defects...

I'm hoping I can get away with just replacing the bearing and bushing and it'll work OK the fun begins,trying to track down a bushing--the bearing will be easy to find,the bushing may not..trying not to end up at a starter shop,because they will want to go right through it ,and the only local starter R&R place isn't fond of selling you parts so you can try fixing one yourself..might end up going to a John Deere dealer or NAPA to get the parts..
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Good to hear you are feeling better. I brought my S/G in to the shop for the rear bushing. They have the puller that gets into the hole to grab the inside edge to extract it. I suppose a Dremel or die grinder would work to cut it out. Brushes and bushing were $10.
Good to hear you are feeling better. I brought my S/G in to the shop for the rear bushing. They have the puller that gets into the hole to grab the inside edge to extract it. I suppose a Dremel or die grinder would work to cut it out. Brushes and bushing were $10.
I've removed bushing on generators and pilot bearings on the end of crank shafts with this method-
Fill the space where the shaft was with chassis grease.
Take a 3/8" drive extension and your closest fitting socket.
Insert in the "hole" and whack it with a 3-4 lb. Hammer.
Really whack it the next time.
The hydraulic force will push the bushing out.
I just screwed a 5/8" coarse tap into the bushing ,and kept turning it gently after it bottomed out,it came right out nicely..was a bit paranoid about the cast housing having the tap go right thru at first,but then I felt the bushing come free..

I had to go to a starter shop yesterday to get a bushing--5 bucks..could have ordered 2 from NAPA if I wanted to go back a day later to get them for that much,but I had enough of traffic gridlock,wanted to get one and get it over with--wanted a "spare" in case I muckled one up installing it--but I pressed it in with a 1/2" socket and my bench vise...worked slick..

The guy at the starter shop offered to extract the bushing for me,but lacked a small enough set of jaws to fit his puller tool..

I'm wishing now I had the money to just buy a new starter/generator,or have them rebuild it for me..I see places online selling new ones for 125-150 bucks..
I suppose a rebuild if it needs field coils or an armature wont cost much less..

I'm having "issues" with the threads on the pulley shaft,the nut got tweaked slightly when I lightly tapped on it to get the drive end off,now it goes on stiffly..:(
--had fun getting the woodruff key off too,and the pulley evidently was run slightly loose and it has some slop in the keyway--also I think there is a spacer missing,that caused the pulley not to be tight--there was only one spacer behind the pulley--pictures I found online show one on both sides of the bearing..of course it is a "special" size,like a ring,and has to fit perfect...I'm going to see if one off a GM alernator I have will work,if not I'll either have to make one out of tubing,or trot back to the starter shop,and hope they have something that'll work..:(

I'm starting to hate starter/generators...:mad:..

I am tempted to bolt one of my Chevy flex plate/ring gears to the flywheel,and mount a Chevy starter on the stupid thing..that'll end all my hard starting woes,even if the compression release failed..I only have a dozen Chevy starters and alternators hanging around..and I know how to rig up a GM alternator to a Suburban,one already has one on it..
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Its official..
I hate Starter/Generators !..

After finding the missing spacer and getting the thing assembled,I tried testing it on a fully charged battery....did the same thing as before--barley spins over,its struggling to turn at all..bearings are nice and free,so I assumed its either a fried armature,or field coils..

I had a "spare" one a member here gave me--tested that one--nada...wouldn't do anything..dead as a doornail!..:mad:...:dunno:

So,I decided to take both apart...the spare one had very little brush length left,but all else looked good inside..:dunno:..couldn't see why it didn't work..

I swapped the commutator end plate off the spare one,that had ball bearings ,and the armature from it also (which has a larger diameter shaft for ball bearings vs a bushing armature) onto the "case" with the field coils of the first one,and tested it with a battery and jumper cables,and ta-da,it spun like new..took me all of 5 minutes..
So I assume the armature is toast on the original one,that had the bushing..

I also applied power to the field terminal while it was coasting,and it stopped the rotation--learned that trick on Youtube,how to "bench test" one ..
So,I assumed my heinz 57 S/G was OK ,and I went about installing it..

Took me the better part of 2.5 hours,to put 3 stupid bolts in ,after a long struggle to get the generator in place...dare I say Roper made it very tough for a Sears mechanic ?..seems like every bolt is in the worst spot possible..

Long story short,after it was all back together,I tried starting the tractor up..
It hesitates still when you hit the key some,like it has too much compression,but it overcomes it after a few tries,and fires it up..maybe it does have a bad compression release ...:dunno:

BUT the red lamp wont go off !--its not charging!!...:mad:

Going by the tests I did with the battery,I assume the starter/generator is "OK"...maybe the regulator got fried when the original one started acting up...I don't know..:dunno:

What I do know is I'm sick of wasting day after day trying to fix this stupid thing,and my back and hips are now so sore, I wont be able to do much more than lie down or sit,for another week probably..

I have a few used regulators I could try ,if those dont get it to charge,then I'm just going to have to either go buy some used starter/generators off craigslist,there is a few local for sale--or bite the bullet and buy one brand new,or get the ones I have rebuilt...
I dont like owning 4 tractors with these starter/generators--one dies and I'm screwed,with no "good spare"..

Cant afford that right now--my furnace decided to pee all over my cellar floor recently --praying its not a crack in the boiler...hoping its just a faulty safety pressure relief valve...all my money will be tied up getting that fixed,and paying taxes,house insurance,etc...every Christmas something "bad" happens..this year it came in 3's..
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Did you polarize it?
Google polarizing a generator.

BTW, I had to climb out of my deathbed to post this.
A lot of golf carts also have starter generators. They seem to be a stronger unit.
But they are also big $$$. I have around 10 of the starter generators in storage
that came off tractors from the junkyard. Some are much stronger than others
and some run cw and some ccw. There is a big difference in one from an 8hp or
one from an 16hp.
A lot of golf carts also have starter generators. They seem to be a stronger unit.
But they are also big $$$. I have around 10 of the starter generators in storage
that came off tractors from the junkyard. Some are much stronger than others
and some run cw and some ccw. There is a big difference in one from an 8hp or
one from an 16hp.
Thanks for the information.

I had a S/G on my 66 Triumph Spitfire with an 1147cc 4 cyl 45hp engine. (The MTD 990 Briggs is 531cc). Like the rest of the car, it needed to be cared for on a regular basis. The voltage regulator was always acting up needing contact cleaning.
Did you polarize it?
Google polarizing a generator.

BTW, I had to climb out of my deathbed to post this.
I did not polarize it Bill--I know you should on vehicles with generators,but I read the starter-generators will self polarize the first time you energize it to start the engine...(maybe they are wrong ?)...:dunno:

The symptoms started off with the original unit making some noises,most likely from the bushing wear--then the red charge indicator lamp started flickering,and eventually stayed on...the unit was very hot too,but the service manual does state it is "normal" for them to get quite hot,being a sealed unit with no cooling fan,etc..

I tend to think the regulator may have been damaged while it was run with the damaged bushing ...also I'm pretty sure the armature in the original was bad,seeing I was able to use the armature out of the spare one, and it then worked OK (other than not charging)..the original armature has the mica about flush with the commutator bars,it may have been turned down in a lathe by the looks of it..

The more I think about these starter-generators,the more I'd like to rig up a better way to start the engine,like adapting a car flywheel and starter to it..they are the achille's heel of the Tecumseh HH engines,next to the solid state ignition going south and being a pain to work around..(at least it can be done though!)...a kick starter like a Harley would be neat,especially if you could use it while seated on the tractor..heck,even a hand crank would beat a rope...

Someone should invent a starter/alternator combo that has enough torque to whip it over no matter what,and provide 20+ amps charging ability..but I suppose no one will ,since there isn't much of a market for 40+ year old tractor "upgrades"...

I hope you feel better Bill,I can relate to the "deathbed"...not from a cold or flu,but backaches and muscle spasms,and some severe arthritis !...and I appreciate you getting up to reply to my posts ...
...Merry Christmas !..
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The one I gave you didn't work? It always started my motor, just don't know if it charged... I always have been adding extra grounds to my tractors which seems to help- one to the pivot bolt on the S/G and goes to the neg side of the battery
These are very simple and reliable units but due to the extreme temperatures they operate at they require attention from time to time, using a battery thats old will also wreak them they are not a charger but a maintainer and only are designed for keeping a good battery topped off so to speak.
Many charging issues can be traced to regulator failure as well.
The one I gave you didn't work? It always started my motor, just don't know if it charged... I always have been adding extra grounds to my tractors which seems to help- one to the pivot bolt on the S/G and goes to the neg side of the battery
No James,I couldn't get it to spin,maybe it did work before, but I had no luck with it till I swapped the field coils/case and brushes off my original onto it..the brushes that were in it were pretty worn down,maybe they just were not making good contact ?..anyway I'm not upset with you,I'm just glad I had it period,if for nothing else than the spare parts !..

I "think" it now works OK going by the bench tests,but maybe the regulator is possibly keeping it from charging..I can live with it not charging,I have a few battery chargers I can use to keep the battery up,and the engine has a magneto,so once it is running,it doesn't need a battery to make spark..(I do have an electric fuel pump though,that might take an hour or more to run down the battery)..

I am probably stubborn enough to try to attempt to adapt a car starter & flex plate to one of these HH Tecumsehs,and use a GM alternator on the PTO side for the charging needs...might be a project for the cold winter months..
I've already added an alternator my my SS-12,and it was pretty easy--the starter conversion will be a challenge though..but worth it!..

I had a thought last night,maybe you could use a v-belt centrifical clutch on a car starter,so it wont be spun by the engine, once it started--a one way sprag bearing would work too...I have both of those items in my stash of parts,along with an old Ford "long shaft" starter,the type that has no nose on it..

I know you can buy new starter-generators ,but I feel they are marginal at best for starting a cold engine in winter,and dont put out enough amps to charge the battery and operate things like a winch ,and those 2 items are costly and fragile...I think there is lots of room for improvement!..
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Are these delco remy starter generators?

If so I'll provide a bit of info on them, If not disregard this post LOL

These are a completely sealed unit and will run considerably hotter than most starters, the delco book says about 250 to 300 degrees at operating temperature

These were designed to be a maintainer charger only and were not designed to be bringing low or dying batteries back to life, this will put a heavy strain on the unit and make it run much hotter, also if your voltage regulator is in need of adjustment and over charging that will also cause premature failure. The Delco dealer told me these should be run to charge from 13.0 vts to no greater than 14.5 volts

Hope this helps.
If you are still reading and posting here Bolens 1000, can you help answer a question in another thread? Wondering how many amps the Delco Remy starter/generators produce when running. The tractor is a 1969 Sears Suburban SS12. Thinking of adding some additional lighting but want to make sure I don't overwork the charging system.

Most starter/generators only put out 10 to 15 amps max..
The design requires them to be a more efficient starter than a generator..
I was told by a rebuilder that you cant hove both a strong starter OR a powerful output generator..the "starter" requires heavier gauge windings and they will not produce as much of a charge as a generator only would..

Putting a 70's GM alternator on my SS-12 took me about a half hour,and I did not even need to drill any holes...


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