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Thread: disappointed in Skytec starters

  1. #1

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    disappointed in Skytec starters

    This is a feedback on Skytec starters. Our fleet of 13 Lycoming powered airplanes has Skytec starters exclusively, Install an overhauled engine and the starter only lasts 300 hours? with 13 airplanes we go through a starter a month it seems like. Each airplane is averaging 75 hours a month or more. Totally disappointed in them. Its not rocket science, 4 bolts and a hot wire, ring gears get replaced when the teeth get worn. I do understand that students have a tendency to just crank on them but still, the old heavy starters got a set of brushes once in a while and an occasional bushing, no go with a skytec, its junk and sent back for a core. Warranty seems to be difficult to deal with also. YMMV, tim

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    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Are you saying that every aircraft gets around three hundred hours on each starter? Or is it a case of a couple of aircraft are the ones with high failure rate?

    Web
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    mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    disappointed in Skytec starters

    Bad start switch contacts. Jumper past small terminals on start solenoid (not on starter solenoid) to troubleshoot it


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    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Also, these lighter weight starters seem to be more prone to problems with bad grounds between engine and airframe.

    Web
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    Cub Builder's Avatar
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    What is failing on them? I've seen issues with the plastic starter relay/solenoid housing cracking and sticking on a couple of planes I used to maintain. But my experience with them on my planes has been stellar in that I have never had a failure. The customer support may have changed since they were bought by Hartzell, but they used to be really good.
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    Watching how my Skytec survived a kick-back that destroyed a ring gear earned my respect.

    If I had repetitive failures (that would be 2) I'd switch to a B&C to see if it lasted longer.
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    cubpilot2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stewartb View Post
    Watching how my Skytec survived a kick-back that destroyed a ring gear earned my respect.

    If I had repetitive failures (that would be 2) I'd switch to a B&C to see if it lasted longer.

    I did and have.

    Hartzell has warranted each failure in excellent fashion. Nearly got stranded out when on skis due to one failure.
    Mine we’re the NL series.

    Still have one on the 180 cub which is nearing 300 hours, but have a new spare on the shelf. If it fails the spare will B&C.
    Ed
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    behindpropellers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astjp2 View Post
    This is a feedback on Skytec starters. Our fleet of 13 Lycoming powered airplanes has Skytec starters exclusively, Install an overhauled engine and the starter only lasts 300 hours? with 13 airplanes we go through a starter a month it seems like. Each airplane is averaging 75 hours a month or more. Totally disappointed in them. Its not rocket science, 4 bolts and a hot wire, ring gears get replaced when the teeth get worn. I do understand that students have a tendency to just crank on them but still, the old heavy starters got a set of brushes once in a while and an occasional bushing, no go with a skytec, its junk and sent back for a core. Warranty seems to be difficult to deal with also. YMMV, tim
    I'm seeing a trend in aviation. People have started to just replace parts and not diagnose the root cause. Sorry folks....these are not modern cars. Some critical thinking to find the root cause is essential to keeping systems working.


    Tim

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    I just don’t see it...have had these starters on all three of my planes that I have owned...never an issue in 3000 hrs of flying...
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    mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by behindpropellers View Post
    I'm seeing a trend in aviation. People have started to just replace parts and not diagnose the root cause. Sorry folks....these are not modern cars. Some critical thinking to find the root cause is essential to keeping systems working.


    Tim
    Exactly my first thought, you canít just swap the end part. You gotta diagnose the root cause. Also the solenoids get bad-burnt-rotated contacts inside


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  11. #11
    mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wireweinie View Post
    Also, these lighter weight starters seem to be more prone to problems with bad grounds between engine and airframe.

    Web
    Interesting thought...


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    cubpilot2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by behindpropellers View Post
    I'm seeing a trend in aviation. People have started to just replace parts and not diagnose the root cause. Sorry folks....these are not modern cars. Some critical thinking to find the root cause is essential to keeping systems working.


    Tim
    i would love to be able to troubleshoot and repair these problems in the field but there are no replacement parts available.

    A simple bendix failure requires the unit to be shipped to the factory. This is extremely aggravating as a two hour repair creates two weeks down time if in Alaska. The only way to ensure minimal interruption is to buy a spare, so factor that into your decision. I got bit twice due to that, so I bought a B&C from Stoddards and was back in the air in two days.

    Reason I have a spare Skytec is that they warrantied the last failure and sent me a new one. It got tossed on the shelf.
    Ed
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  13. #13

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    These are flight school airplanes so quick turn around is essential to meet the company needs. I honestly think its the students just cranking and cranking that kills them. When they die, its no click, no start. Tim
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    behindpropellers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cubpilot2 View Post
    i would love to be able to troubleshoot and repair these problems in the field but there are no replacement parts available.

    A simple bendix failure requires the unit to be shipped to the factory. This is extremely aggravating as a two hour repair creates two weeks down time if in Alaska. The only way to ensure minimal interruption is to buy a spare, so factor that into your decision. I got bit twice due to that, so I bought a B&C from Stoddards and was back in the air in two days.

    Reason I have a spare Skytec is that they warrantied the last failure and sent me a new one. It got tossed on the shelf.
    ED,

    Most electrical starting problems are due to current flow. Poor grounds, old wiring, crimps installed without the proper tools.

    Tim
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    behindpropellers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astjp2 View Post
    These are flight school airplanes so quick turn around is essential to meet the company needs. I honestly think its the students just cranking and cranking that kills them. When they die, its no click, no start. Tim
    I understand that. But if you are having recurring issues you need to sit down and think about the issue and come up with a plan on how to diagnose a problem. If you have a plan in place and then have a no-fly day you can do your diagnostic work and find the problem and fix the problem forever instead of putting band aid upon band aid on every time you have an issue.
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    disappointed in Skytec starters

    Itís very quick to troubleshoot (before it goes dead)

    Props gonna spin and maybe start, so be prepared

    1. Crank with normal start button/switch. Try a few times, is it consistent? Pay attention to how fast it cranks

    2. This time jumper to the small terminal on starter solenoid with 12 volts or such appropriate. Did it spin faster? If so switch contacts are bad

    3. Carefully jumper with big wire across big terminals and see what it does. If it spins faster the solenoid contacts are burnt or the big bolts are partially rotated

    Try a jumper cable from starter base to battery ground post. Is it faster? If so clean all grounds(do this test FIRSTLY, before clearing so you identify problem)

    Do same from starter big bolt direct to battery plus post if faster itís in the hot side connections. This actually should be step 1.... but Iím to lazy to retype all this.


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    180TigerCub's Avatar
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    We have been using these starters on our engines for many many years with very few issues. Thousands of sky-tecs on Lycoming engines.
    Things are certainly not as good as the days before hartzell bought them as far as pricing and service goes. But quality has not been a factor.
    And heads up, the price went up big time for 2021 and now there is a core charge.

    And I concur with the comment above regarding B&C...they are tough for sure.
    180HP PA-18
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    cubpilot2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by behindpropellers View Post
    ED,

    Most electrical starting problems are due to current flow. Poor grounds, old wiring, crimps installed without the proper tools.

    Tim
    I’m well aware of that and agree. I’m my case this was on a fresh rebuilt airplane. Everything new. Wiring to the starter was new and correct along with its own ground cable going completely to the battery. No shortage of current.

    When this problem came up, all avenues of troubleshooting were completed, as we needed to get going.
    Never believed that a new unit would fail like these did, much less that only the factory was the only ones allowed to work on them.

    My 180 Cubs Skytec is about nine year old, so must have been better quality then.

    The first starter failed in 12 hours. Something melted or corroded and was leaking from the unit. The second was a bendix solenoid failure in less than 15 hours. No parts to fix so back for warranty.

    I posted the first episode here. https://www.supercub.org/forum/showt...-Warning-signs
    Ed
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  19. #19
    mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cubpilot2 View Post
    Iím well aware of that and agree. Iím my case this was on a fresh rebuilt airplane. Everything new. Wiring to the starter was new and correct along with its own ground cable going completely to the battery. No shortage of current.

    When this problem came up, all avenues of troubleshooting were completed, as we needed to get going.
    Never believed that a new unit would fail like these did, much less that only the factory was the only ones allowed to work on them.

    My 180 Cubs Skytec is about nine year old, so must have been better quality then.

    The first starter failed in 12 hours. Something melted or corroded and was leaking from the unit. The second was a bendix solenoid failure in less than 15 hours. No parts to fix so back for warranty.

    I posted the first episode here. https://www.supercub.org/forum/showt...-Warning-signs
    BUT, you can ruin a brand new solenoid by rotating the big studs slightly during installation. Kinda crappy design how those studs are held in the insulator. Any one have an old solenoid to cut top of to show the issue?? I used to have one I cut apart to understand the issue. But a picture here would be helpful if someone has one laying around.


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    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Okay, grab a cold one as I'm going to be long winded here.

    The starter motor is only one item of that system. You have a keyed or push button switch, which controls a start relay (start solenoid) which, in turn, routes power from the ships battery to the starter motor. And all these items are connected with wires, cables, and the airframe itself. AND, each wire or cable has terminal ends crimped on each end. All this means that there are a bunch of spots that need to be trouble shot if the system is inoperative.

    As MCS Mike pointed out above, a quick way to trobleshoot is to just bypass the bad spots. An example is, if the starter motor turns slow with the key, but fast when jumping the battery positive directly to the main starter terminal, then there is a 'bad connection' on the positive side of the system. If you jump the battery ground directly to the starter motor case, then the problem is on the negative (ground) side of the system.

    The more technically correct explanation of these problems is that a poor connection or bad switch/relay will cause a voltage drop. A voltage drop is just a point in a circuit that has a higher resistance than it's supposed to have. As the formula for voltage is amps X ohms, the current flowing across this resistance multiplied by the resistance, will give a voltage. THIS number is the voltage dropped across the bad component or connection. If we have a 12 volt battery installed, subtract this voltage drop from 12 volts and that is what will be left over to power the starter motor. This voltage drop can also be measured with a digital volt meter, with one meter lead placed on each side of the resistance. Example of this: A start solenoid has .1 ohms of resistance across the main contacts. If the starter motor draws 80 amps of current when cranking, the voltage drop will be 80 X .1 = 8. That means that after 8 volts drop at the start relay, only 4 volts are left to power the starter motor. So obviously the motor wouldn't even turn over in this case. Also notice that when drawing high current, the voltage drop is magnified. I.e., if we only drew 3 amps across the same resistance of .1 ohms, now the voltage drop would be .3 volts. Remember this, as, if the poor connection is at the battery connections, the voltage drop may not be noticeable under normal operations but still prevent proper operation of the starter motor.

    A fairly quick way of checking for voltage drops is to place the negative lead of the meter directly on the negative post of the battery. Touch the positive lead to each cable connection, starting from the battery positive and working toward the starter motor. Note the voltage at each point. You are looking for battery voltage at each measurement. If you see a drop of more than a tenth or two of a volt, note that location. There is a high resistance between this point and the last point that had good battery voltage. It may be a poor connection, poor crimp of a cable terminal, or even a worn out relay. If you suspect an item like the start relay, you can verify it by placing one meter lead on each main POST (NOT the ring terminal attached to it). And remember that the system must be energized to check voltage drops. In other words you need to be cranking the engine.

    Checking for poor ground connections is done the similarly. Place the positive meter lead on the positive battery post. While cranking the engine place the negative meter lead on the crank case. If you have a voltage reading here, there is a poor ground connection between the engine and airframe. Connecting the battery negative directly to the crank case is a good way of minimizing connections between the starter motor and the battery negative. If you have the battery negative connected to the airframe you'll need to remember that there may be several bolted or riveted connections in the airframe, that the ground path will need to cross.

    Other wiring such as the small control wires from the breaker, to the start switch, to the start solenoid, can also cause problems. A worn out switch or corroded connection can mean no or intermittent operation. Those are usually easy to verify by using a voltmeter but remember that the circuit needs to be energized when doing voltage checks. In the case of checking the small control wires, it's usually safest to disconnect the large cable between the start solenoid and the starter motor. That way the start switch can be pushed to energize the control circuit without cranking the engine.

    Don't forget the battery! If you measure a good 12 volts, at rest, and it drops to something like 9 volts when cranking, the battery may have a high internal resistance. If it doesn't improve with a top charge, swap it out with a known good battery. As batteries age the cells and chemicals lose there effectiveness and the battery will not provide rated output.

    All this adds up to not delivering the correct power to the starter motor. And if this happens repeatedly it can cause the starter motor to overheat. Even the bad connections can get hot when energized which makes the resistance even greater.

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    Quote Originally Posted by astjp2 View Post
    This is a feedback on Skytec starters. Our fleet of 13 Lycoming powered airplanes has Skytec starters exclusively, Install an overhauled engine and the starter only lasts 300 hours? with 13 airplanes we go through a starter a month it seems like. Each airplane is averaging 75 hours a month or more. Totally disappointed in them. Its not rocket science, 4 bolts and a hot wire, ring gears get replaced when the teeth get worn. I do understand that students have a tendency to just crank on them but still, the old heavy starters got a set of brushes once in a while and an occasional bushing, no go with a skytec, its junk and sent back for a core. Warranty seems to be difficult to deal with also. YMMV, tim
    Which starter and what engine. I have figured out the the the LS has a shorter life on an O-360 or 540 than an NL. Had no issues with the NL.
    Steve Pierce

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    Quote Originally Posted by astjp2 View Post
    This is a feedback on Skytec starters. Our fleet of 13 Lycoming powered airplanes has Skytec starters exclusively, Install an overhauled engine and the starter only lasts 300 hours? with 13 airplanes we go through a starter a month it seems like. Each airplane is averaging 75 hours a month or more. Totally disappointed in them. Its not rocket science, 4 bolts and a hot wire, ring gears get replaced when the teeth get worn. I do understand that students have a tendency to just crank on them but still, the old heavy starters got a set of brushes once in a while and an occasional bushing, no go with a skytec, its junk and sent back for a core. Warranty seems to be difficult to deal with also. YMMV, tim
    Likely a school program? I ran one of those for seven years, not that big, but.....Students, and especially flight instructors are the WORST enemy of an airplane’s starter. And a few other parts.

    Im not defending one starter over another, but has management at your school initiated a program to ENSURE everyone there knows how to start an aircraft engine?

    Oh, I know....it’s not rocket science, right! But I can tell you that knowing how to start an engine WELL has prevented me from sleeping in bug infested swamps and with brown bears many times. Being “stuck” in Ekalaka, MTisnt near as bad, but....

    Id highly recommend you create a short but pointed mandatory training for all, instructors especially, on how to start an aircraft engine. Sounds silly, I realize, but I guarantee it’ll pay for itself regardless of starter brand.

    MTV
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    The original Skytec starters were Ford permanent magnet starters. I had access to the design since I had supplied the manufacturing system. In exchange for that info they supplied me with a couple of starters that I believe are still working. It was a good, proven design with only the housing added to adapt to a Lycoming.
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve pierce View Post
    which starter and what engine. I have figured out the the the ls has a shorter life on an o-360 or 540 than an nl. Had no issues with the nl.
    149-24ls, io-360 m1a
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    hotrod180's Avatar
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    I installed a SkyTec Flyweight starter on my old 320-powered C150TD--
    worked great (much better than the stock Prestolite), no problems.
    I ran it til I sold the airplane-- 5-1/2 years and 680 hours, never any issues.
    Cessna Skywagon-- accept no substitute!

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    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astjp2 View Post
    149-24ls, io-360 m1a
    From my experience if you switch over to the NL your problems will go away. Knew all the guys at SkyTec when they were in Grandbury and they came here and me there several times. Inside knowledge is a good thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by behindpropellers View Post
    I understand that. But if you are having recurring issues you need to sit down and think about the issue and come up with a plan on how to diagnose a problem. If you have a plan in place and then have a no-fly day you can do your diagnostic work and find the problem and fix the problem forever instead of putting band aid upon band aid on every time you have an issue.
    I dont believe that 10 airplanes out a fleet of 13 all have problems...one or 2 maybe and the all were built after 2005.

  28. #28
    mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astjp2 View Post
    I dont believe that 10 airplanes out a fleet of 13 all have problems...one or 2 maybe and the all were built after 2005.
    So you didnít troubleshoot any of them for the underlying causes? Great!


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    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astjp2 View Post
    These are flight school airplanes so quick turn around is essential to meet the company needs. I honestly think its the students just cranking and cranking that kills them. When they die, its no click, no start. Tim
    Just curious about this description. When you say 'no click' do you mean that the starter motor doesn't click when the switch is engaged? Or do you mean that you cannot hear the relay 'click' when the switch is engaged?

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    Relay on firewall clicks, starter no crank. Remove several starters and the rotors are flopping around, loose, pulled one apart and the magnet was broken because it would not rotate at all, and no I did not troubleshoot the airframe for those problems, totally a starter issue. Hardware holding the starter to the engine was secure, wire connection was secure when I pulled them.
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  31. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by wireweinie View Post
    Also, these lighter weight starters seem to be more prone to problems with bad grounds between engine and airframe.

    Web
    There is a ground wire on both sides of the engine...at each motor mount, lots of grounds and most if not all would be adequate.
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    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Is the battery negative cable connected directly to the crank case? If not, How is the crank case grounded to the airframe. What size cable? The ground path should not be multiple wire/cables but one correctly sized cable.

    As to the starters themselves; have they all had the same failures? I.e. mechanical or electrical? And sorry, but I would not be surprised with 10 aircraft having 'issues' especially if they are similar age and from the same factory. Wouldn't be the first time.

    Web
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    Quote Originally Posted by wireweinie View Post
    Is the battery negative cable connected directly to the crank case? If not, How is the crank case grounded to the airframe. What size cable? The ground path should not be multiple wire/cables but one correctly sized cable.

    As to the starters themselves; have they all had the same failures? I.e. mechanical or electrical? And sorry, but I would not be surprised with 10 aircraft having 'issues' especially if they are similar age and from the same factory. Wouldn't be the first time.

    Web
    We bought 3 identical aircraft, consecutive serial numbers. We had multiple examples of the same item failing on all 3 aircraft within a week of each other. Lesson learned!
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  34. #34
    mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    disappointed in Skytec starters

    Quote Originally Posted by astjp2 View Post
    Relay on firewall clicks,.
    Just because it clicks DOES NOT MEAN ITS DELIVERING FULL POWER TO STARTER UNDER LOAD, you must do the troubleshooting steps I described above to verify. You can even do them AFTER installing new starter... so you donít burn up another starter. Donít just swap starters without verifying that start system can deliver the right amount of power to the starter under LOAD.


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    Last edited by mike mcs repair; 01-25-2021 at 08:51 PM.
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  35. #35
    behindpropellers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike mcs repair View Post
    Just because it clicks DOES NOT MEAN ITS DELIVERING FULL POWER TO STARTER UNDER LOAD, you must do the troubleshooting steps I described above to verify. You can even do them AFTER i sty we starter so you don’t burn up another starter. Don’t just swap starters without verifying that start system can deliver the right amount of power to the starter under LOAD.


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    Exactly what I was getting at earlier. Fakebook is ripe with these sort of complaints. There is one thread where the guy replaced the starter Solenoid FIVE times!!!!

    Take time to troubleshoot.
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  36. #36
    mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by behindpropellers View Post
    Fakebook is ripe with these sort of complaints.
    I gave up on facebook(too much censorship and Ads...) join me at mewe.com / app instead.... link below in my signature to my account

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    Quote Originally Posted by mike mcs repair View Post
    I gave up on facebook(too much censorship and Ads...) join me at mewe.com / app instead.... link below in my signature to my account
    Same here, censorship and privacy concerns. Facebook can kiss my a**. Deleted my account.

  38. #38
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by behindpropellers View Post
    Exactly what I was getting at earlier. Fakebook is ripe with these sort of complaints. There is one thread where the guy replaced the starter Solenoid FIVE times!!!!

    Take time to troubleshoot.
    Thread here where the guy replaced everything and it still didn't work. I asked about using a multimeter. Said he had one.
    https://www.shortwingpipers.org/foru...6-Slow-starter
    Steve Pierce

    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
    Will Rogers
    Likes mike mcs repair liked this post

  39. #39

    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike mcs repair View Post
    I gave up on facebook(too much censorship and Ads...) join me at mewe.com / app instead.... link below in my signature to my account
    I don't have a censorship problem because I'm not interested in the politics of hate regardless of which side is spewing it. I don't get together with friends to argue about election stuff. I unfollow anyone who can't let go of politics. Pretty simple. For airplanes, dogs, grandkids, and the stuff real friends share? It suits me fine. People spend way too much time looking for reasons to be angry.
    Likes Steve Pierce, mam90, DENNY, windy liked this post

  40. #40
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Geez, thanks Mr Pierce. I read through that and now I have to make an appointment with my Dr. to check for stomach ulcers. That post #1 is the perfect example of trying to fix an electrical problem without troubleshooting at all. And so much mis information given through out the rest of the thread. It's amazing to me that when some people are given direction on how to troubleshoot, their immediate response is a guess as to what they can do instead of the advised action.

    Please! If you are not strong on electrical, ask questions! If you don't know where to start, ask questions! If you don't understand 'why', ask questions! It may seem quirky to work with but there are specific reasons why some actions are taken when maintaining or troubleshooting electrical systems. If your advisor cannot explain why his advised actions are necessary or if it's preceded by a phrase such as " well, my brother in law's a mechanic and he says . . ." find some one else.

    Web
    Life's tough . . . wear a cup.
    Thanks ojiisan thanked for this post

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