1. #1
    pwheeze's Avatar
    pwheeze is offline Junior Member
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    Engine Help for the not so mechanically inclined

    Hello all,

    I am new on here and new to the world of jeeps. I just purchased a 1948 Willys Flat Fender CJ2A. It is overall in pretty good condition physically, and mechanically speaking it doesn't seem too bad either.

    One issue I am having is with turning it on (yes that seems like a pretty big deal.) I replaced the battery last week and also bought a re-manufactured starter for it. The engine in the Willy's is a Ford 302 Mustang that was rebuilt 5 years ago. I took off the old starter and put on the new one, but am having a hell of a time getting it to catch the fly wheel. It wants to turn on, but they aren't engaging.

    I'm not very mechanically inclined, and I have limited capital because im still a college student (I also am a car salesman so I do have a little money). When I bought it, everything on it worked fine. But my friends are idiots and one of them turned the kill switch while it was running (yes, there is a weird kill switch function that I hope to take out sooner than later).

    I'm planning to do a disc brake conversion over the winter or spring for the front end, and I plan to rhino line the interior as well (there is astro turf in the main part of the cabin which looks absurd).

    if you have experience installing starters, especially without a lift, your advice would be much appreciated. I have an appointment with the local 4x4 shop to get it done in a week and a half but I really want to get it running sooner than later so I can hit some trails before the weather turns really bad (I'm in Colorado).

    Thanks for all the help and I look forward to chatting with many of you.

  2. #2
    Tony Marc's Avatar
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    I'm no Willys expert... But by chance are the teeth on the flywheel chews up or have a flat spot ? I had an old bronco with a 302 in it. Every once in a while when I parked it, the teeth on the flywheel would land on the flat spot. So when I turned the key, the starter would just scream from spinning.

    I actually had to put it in gear, clutch in, let it roll a bit, dump the clutch to get the flywheel to spin just a tooth or so and then the starter would catch.

    You could remove the starter and turn the engine over with a breaker bar on the crank. Just spin it a little and look at the teeth. Would be better to have two people.. One the turn the engine and the other to watch the teeth of the flywheel.

    For me. It was a $20 repair. The teeth of the flywheel was a separate ring. To get the old ring off you had to heat it with a torch. Same process to put it on. Heat it so it expands and it goes right on.


    Again. It's merely a suggestion to look into.

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    Re: Engine Help for the not so mechanically inclined

    When you say "your having a issue turning it on" what does that mean exactly? when you turn the key, what happens? nothing, clicking, grinding? could just be a bad starter, or as stated above you could have a couple bad teeth on the flywheel. I have had to do the exact same thing to start my jeep as described above. to check flywheel teeth, chaulk the wheels so the jeep wont roll, put the trans in neutral, pull the coil wire (that would be the center spark plug wire on your distributer cap) lay under the jeep and take the starter out, look in the hole that the starter sits in and you should see the flywheel and teeth. Have someone else bump the key so the flywheel turns just a little at a time, look to see if any of the teeth are chewed up. If not, did you get a starter for a mustang (you need a mustang) and not a jeep? It is possible the starter gear is kicking out too far and going past the flywheel or not coming out far enough. If it is kicking out too far you can buy starter shims and shim it out (the place you got the starter should have shims) so the gear don't pass the flywheel. If it is not coming out far enough its probably the wrong starter. If you are tight on money I would not take it to a shop for the starter unless your flywheel is chewed up, starter is pretty easy to deal with for anyone. THE KILL switch, I would KEEP that! Drag racers are required to have a kill switch incase of a crash or rollover, you just hit the kill switch. You don't need the switch but its a cool feature. Let us know what you find

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    Tony Marc's Avatar
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    Dang nabb it..... I forgot about shims. Yes starter shims may be another part of the equation here.

    Although, I have removed plenty of starters on mustangs (87-93) and never had one that had shims for the starter. Even my old 69 Bronco with a 302 didn't have shims. But it sure had a flat spot on the flywheel ring. Lol.

    Good luck with it and Let us know what you find....

    If it does turn out to be the ring on the flywheel, it's a cheap part, and installing on the flywheel is a breeze. Getting the flywheel off is the challenge.... And there are a ton of "well.. While I'm here I might as well take care of this....." With a 302.... Rear main seal, pilot bearing, clutch kit, u joints on the drive shafts, re-surface the flywheel.... Those are just a few "while I'm in there" things that come to mind.

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    Re: Engine Help for the not so mechanically inclined

    Thanks for the suggestions y'all, I look forward to digging into it a bit more now that I have gotten some feedback. I'll be attempting most of this Sunday so we shall see how that plays out for me. I did look at the flywheel (which I bought for a 1970 mustang, not sure if that's the right one 69jeepcj) and noticed some chipped teeth and or spots that were flatter than others. I hope that I can try to shim it properly so that I can work on the flywheel at a later time if I can put it off for a little.

    ill keep you all updated how it goes, thank you all so much for your fast help already!

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    Re: Engine Help for the not so mechanically inclined

    Yes the flywheel would be for a mustang and not a jeep. tonymarc forgot about shims and I told you to have someone bump the motor over with the starter out, cant check the flywheel by bumping the motor if there is not starter in it, lol (sorry about that). You say the flywheel has some chipped teeth and or flat spots, that could definitely be causing your problem. As TonyMarc I have also never seen a starter with shims on it, but apparently lots of people have to do it. I think it may need done with engine swaps where different bellhousings (different lengths) are used. You may or may not fall into this category. Lay under the jeep and have someone bump the key so you can see how far the starter gear kicks out, you should be able to see the gear laying under the jeep. Does it do this everytime you try to start it or just now and then?

  7. #7
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    Re: Engine Help for the not so mechanically inclined

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Fords had two different size flywheels. The size of the flywheel will determine the size ( diameter )of the starter gear. So for example. if you have the smaller diameter flywheel you would need a starter that has a larger pinion gear to take up the space so to speak. Your issue my be a small flywheel diameter and a starter for a large diameter flywheel ( smaller pinion gear ). This will create a gap between the two and then there will be no engagement. The starter will just spin as you described.

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    I did a small amount of Sunday reading. I believe there was only 1 starter drive gear for 1970 5.0l mustang manual trans. It had 9 teeth on it. The funny part is that there were 2 different flywheels available. A 164 tooth and a 157 tooth. Either way, the starter should engage either one. The real question is, how often does it do this? Is it every single time you start it? Or, is it only when the flywheel happens to stop where the flat spot is? In my case it was a 50/50 shot.... Sometimes I turned the key and everything was ok. Sometimes I would only hear the high pitch whine if a starter not engaging the flywheel. Here's a thought. Start it up a few times or at least until you hear the starter whine (miss engagement of the ring gear). Then pull the starter out and look at the flywheel gear. If you see any type of broken or flat teeth... You know the gear needs to be changed. Also.... I believe the flywheel gear should have some stamping on it signifying if it's a 164 or 157 tooth. It would say "164T" on it... But you may need to remove the flywheel of the vehicle to see it clearly. Or.... You could just bring a breaker bar and the correct size socket with you everywhere you go. When the starter won't engage to flywheel..... Put your breaker bar and socket on the crank bolt and turn the engine over manually. It's a pain to do... Especially if the weather is bad. Once I changed my ring gear..... I had no more starting problems .... Sent from my iPhone using Jeepz
    Last edited by Tony Marc; 09-07-2014 at 09:40 AM.

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    Sorry. I meant " I believe there was only one starter drive gear..." Sorry for the confusion. I tried to edit my response... But got a error when I hit send. I should have proof read!!!! Lol

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    Re: Engine Help for the not so mechanically inclined

    One starter drive gear, TWO diff flywheels, Two diff starters. The teeth count on the flywheel will determine what starter you use. The small tooth count flywheel uses a starter with the mounting bolts straight across from one another, the larger flywheel uses a starter with staggered mounting bolts. They will not interchange.

  11. #11
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    Re: Engine Help for the not so mechanically inclined

    Right now, I am having this problem every time I try to start the jeep. We did roll it an pop the clutch once, but were unsuccessfully in other attempts to do the same thing. I think a new flywheel is going to be necessary, I want it to start for me reliably (even though it's not a daily driver). How difficult is it to replace the flywheel? Just looking at its placement, it looks like a tough thing to pull off with limited skills/tools

  12. #12
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    If you want to do it on the cheap... Just the flywheel gear will get you going.

    Getting to it is the fun part.... Drive shaft(s) has to come out. Trans and linkage... Basically it's almost like doing a clutch job.

    The only "special tools" you will need are a torque wrench and a clutch alignment tool. And a torch if you are going to just install the gear.

    A full new flywheel will cost way more than just the gear. Just my $0.02 worth.

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    Re: Engine Help for the not so mechanically inclined

    I just installed a flywheel on my neighbors 67 truck, he got it at autozone for $79. Replacing just the ring gear on the flywheel will be cheaper but the flywheel surface could be warped or have small cracks in it. You will have to drop the transmission and tcase, starter, pull clutch, pressure plate, bellhousing. I stated above that the two starters would not interchange, that's not completely true, some starters, and engine blocks are drilled to accept either (two sets of holes), don't think it affects you just wanted to correct myself. Is there a way you can pull the starter and take a pic of the bad flywheel teeth and post them for us?

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    Re: Engine Help for the not so mechanically inclined

    Got an idea, you could pull your starter and paint the starter drive gear, put the starter back in and try to start the jeep. pull the starter back out and look at the tooth contact pattern on the painted drive gear. You will know if it is engaging and how much.

  15. #15
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    Re: Engine Help for the not so mechanically inclined

    69jeepCj the painting thing might be a good idea, i should try that. I will try to crawl under there and snap some pictures to show you, but dropping all of those components to put in the new ring gear is something that I will need the shop to do for me cause I dont have a lift built into my apartment parking lot unfortunately. I might try to see if I can Shim it before I take it into the shop but at this point it might just end up getting done when it goes in.

  16. #16
    Tony Marc's Avatar
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    Well... An apartment parking lot is not the ideal spot to do what needs to be done. And a lift is for sure a luxury item. I've done several clutches on my back in my driveway. It was never a pretty sight or the most convenient. But we got it done. A land lord probably wouldn't be too happy about it either.

    Hopefully they don't rake you over the coals wherever you take it.

    Best of luck with it. ....

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    Re: Engine Help for the not so mechanically inclined

    Update: got the willy into the shop, and we discovered the problem. I needed a different starter (ended with an auto transmission out of a 74 ranchero) instead of the manual mustang starter that I purchased. Overall paid $75 for service and $50 for the new starter, but returned the other starter and got my $50 back on the other one. So it only cost me $70 which was pretty nice.

    I've been driving it around a little but the last few days, and yesterday, it started making a horrible noise that sounds like it's grinding the gears or from underneath the jeep. Tried shifting gears and the noise was even worse. Not sure what that might be, I know I have a small t-case leak so that might be contribute?

    if you have an idea what that may be, please let me know (I'm aware that was not a detailed description at all). But thank you for the help with my starter issue, they said that there wasn't really a way for me to know that the starter was the wrong one based off the info I had

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