TR4 & TR4A Forum

Starter alternative for TR4?

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SevenAmerica Avatar
SevenAmerica John Donohoe
Williamston, MI, USA   USA
So I'm not usually over in this forum, but I'm trying to get my brother, with a fair TR4A IRS, to get involved here to get some help for his car... at least its a runner, but he has pretty regular questions for me some which I can answer, some not.

The current questions is both his starter motor. Although cleaned and tested good, it pulls a lot of current (cables get hot) and still barely turns the motor over. He's thinking he wants a gear reduction starter, but chokes at $250 - $350 prices that he sees.

I came a cross a note about using a gear reduction starter from an Isuzu Trooper on my BMC A series engine (it really does bolt right up, and works great!) so I am wondering if there is any similar type of 'alternative' gear reduction starter for the TR4?

Thanks in advance!

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Geo Hahn Avatar
Mt Lemmon, AZ, USA   USA
Good luck if your heart is set on a high-torque alternative - but the stock starters are eminently rebuildable and should give decades of service once put right. I would not expect a rebuild to cost anywhere near as much as the dollar figure you mention for an alternative.

SevenAmerica Avatar
SevenAmerica John Donohoe
Williamston, MI, USA   USA
Thanks for the suggestion -- its exactly what I suggested to him, but he says he already removed, cleaned, tested and reinstalled it, and it functions the same -- FWIW, my 1970 GT6+ starter did exactly the same thing for as long as I owned the car... so I never even solved that one in 20 years!

So, are there any tips and tricks to a clean and refurb of that starter then?


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Geo Hahn Avatar
Mt Lemmon, AZ, USA   USA
The basics I have dealt with are (in no particular order):

Confirming the brushes are is good shape and not worn down to nothing.

The commutator should be undercut a bit (details in the manual).

Confirming the bearing is snug enough that the armature isn't wobbly.

Examine the wrappings on the field coil - these can deteriorate over time and in the worst case a combination of this and a worn bearing can produce an intermittent short.

An possibly the most important thing is assuring the connections are clean and solid. You say his was cleaned so the starter connections may be fine but you also want to check all grounds, especially the one from the body to the engine (small braided cable near the driver's side engine mount).

ArtL Avatar
ArtL Art Liefke
Kings Park, NY, USA   USA
If cleaning things up did not make the starter work any better, then more then likely there is a problem with the armature, and/or the field windings. the armature commutators tend to throw solder if they run too hot. Best bet would be to take it to an electrical rebuilding shop and have them go through it and get an estimate.

Gear reduction starters are available for less than $200. I got one for my TR3 from British Starters a number of years ago. See link below...

British Starters

They are usually made from Nippondenso starters which are very reliable and use much less current than the original Lucas unit.


Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. - Benjamin Franklin

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2018-02-09 02:52 PM by ArtL.

Sarastro Avatar
Sarastro Steve Maas
Long Beach, CA, USA   USA
1952 MG TD "Thatcher"
1966 Triumph TR4A
For a good price on high-torque starters, see The TR4 one is $190.

For the existing starter, your only option is to remove it and try again. There are a lot of possible defects that are just not visible. That's why people use things like growlers for checking the armature. Any good auto electric place should be able to check the starter and rebuild it, if it's rebuildable.

Tommys4 Thomas G
Ojai, Calif., USA   USA
It sounds like the field coil is starting to ground out on the housing.As Geo said they are rebuildable , just retape the coils , turn the armature and use Glyptal paint were needed.
FYI........The tape can be purchased online?
Good luck TMG


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Tonyfixit Avatar
Tonyfixit Tony M
Duncan, BC, Canada   CAN
As stated the gear reduction starters are almost universally Nippondenso, they can be found on almost all Asian cars and many domestic, including V8's.

Before they became so readily available with adaptors for our cars, I made an adaptor plat to fit a starter form a Honda to my Spitfire.

A relativly easy job that has never given me a problem, even though for yeras now my car has been running on a small U1 lawnmower battery.

I would never go back to a lucas.

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