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Stock Chevy mini starter project

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Stock Chevy mini starter project Empty Stock Chevy mini starter project

Post by Hotrod Thu Jun 10, 2021 12:44 am

I thought I would post this in case it helps someone out.  I would like to say that this is my idea, but I actually stumbled across it on another forum.  Trouble is, I can’t remember where, exactly.  I have a habit of copying and pasting good info I find into a Word document so that I can find again easily.  This starter swap is pertinent to anyone with a Chevy engine in their Sebring, even though I'm talking about a street rod.  Sebrings are tight in the exhaust area and this conversion is an option if you're using the stock size big GM starter.

My 46 Coupe has always had very little clearance between the starter and the exhaust.  When I built the car almost 25 years ago, I did what I had always done.  I took it to my local exhaust shop for custom pipes.  They had always done a good job on trucks and muscle cars, but the X-member frame on the Ford apparently threw him a curve.  He didn’t run it the way I wanted (said he couldn’t do it that way) and it was way to close to the starter.  You literally had to drop the exhaust to get the starter off.  Eventually, I did get him to improve that, but it was still tight.  The full size GM starter I was using would only go in through one small gap and then had to be rotated to get it in place.  It was a real wrestling match and there was no way to hook up any of the wires before you stabbed it.  This meant that you had to try and cram your hand between the starter and header to hook up the wires, by feel.  Heat soak was a problem too.  I’ve had a couple of solenoids die from heat on it.

I could have solved this problem with an aftermarket mini starter, but I like to keep some things stock or stock pattern on cars that I intend to take on long trips.  Using an aftermarket mini starter meant that I would probably not be able to find one quickly if it took a dump somewhere on the road.  

I’ve been having some trouble lately with the starter acting up.  Occasionally, it would act like it was having a very hard time turning the basically stock 350 over.  Acted like it was kicking back even though the timing wasn’t too high.  Other times, it would spin over just fine.  I did have to replace the Optima battery, which died and the starter seems to be doing much better since then.  We are planing a trip in the future that will put us on the road for 10 or so hours.  I wanted to change the starter just for peace of mind.  Trying to get my fat  butt under this car on jack stands in parking lot to change the starter is not something I want to do or may even be able to do with the big GM starter.  It’s all I can do to change it on the rack.

I found someone that had fitted a late model GM permanent magnet gear reduction starter from a 2000 7.4 big block to his older big block.  I thought that if he could get it on a big block, it should fit my engine.  If you have a 168 tooth flywheel and a staggered bolt pattern block, this swap will also work on any Chevy small block or even a 4.3 V6.

The secret is the bolts.  The old full size starter bolts are too long and the bolts for the 2000 engine are supposedly metric.  However, GM part number 12338064 are the correct length and have standard threads to fit the older blocks.  They are true knurled starter bolts.  I got mine from Summit Racing with another order I was placing.  The Summit part number is NAL-12338064 and they were $2.99 each.  

I bought the starter from a local parts house, but you could get one from one of the big name chains with a replacement warranty.  Get a starter for a 2000 Chevy 3500 truck with a 7.4 L engine.

This conversion bolted right up to my 80’s era  “Hencho en Mexico” 350 block and I didn’t even need a shim.  Now I have plenty of room around the starter and header.  The wires are easily accessible and heat soak shouldn’t be as much of an issue as it was before.  The old starter was almost touching the tight tuck header collector! The best part is that I can replace it on the road much easier than the old starter and I can get it at most any parts house.

It seems to have plenty of torque, too.  The fellow that wrote it up on the other forum said he put it on an 11 to 1 454 and it worked fine.

Here is a comparison of the old starter and the new one.

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New bolts and old bolts.

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I wrapped the starter with some DEI Floor and Tunnel Shield that I had left over from the Healey project just for a little extra heat protection.
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Here it is on the car.  Sorry not a good picture.


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Last edited by Hotrod on Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by David V. Thu Jun 10, 2021 1:09 am

Now that is really interesting. I'm 100% with you on using OEM parts wherever possible, even if they're from a different brand. Not only is it easier to replace on a road-trip, but a lot of the aftermarket companies end up going bust and then there's no stash of replacement parts or rebuild kits to order from and you have to re-engineer everything from scratch. I also trust the quality much more if it's from an OEM supplier like Bosch that employs thousands of engineers.

Years ago I was invited to tour a Valeo factory in France (huge supplier of OEM parts world-wide) and got to see some of the really cutting-edge manufacturing processes first-hand. One of the engineers was describing to me how they are contractually obligated to produce an immense stash of replacement parts before a car goes to market, and then often have to maintain the tooling for X number of years in case more are needed. In contrast I couldn't get advance curve springs for my aftermarket Mallory distributor 1 month after I bought it new because the company got bought out by MSD.
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Post by Hotrod Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:03 pm

I made an edit to this post. I listed the flywheel tooth count as 153. It should have been 168. Sorry if this caused anyone an issue.
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