12v Jeep AutoLite StarterStarter Issues Fixed!

After dealing with the bad starter last week, a new one arrived and fixed all the issues! But, on a drive not long after, I ran into yet ANOTHER issue, this time with the shifter…

The new rebuilt starter from Ron Fitzpatrick Jeep Parts! More on this in a few…

As a recap from last week’s update, I was having issues with my starter causing slow starts (if it would start at all) and eventually sparking with some white smoke. Opened it up to find a mess inside, looks like it’s never been opened. Aside from rust, debris, grime, etc I found exposed wires and other areas where things were contacting causing bad ground.

Here’s my starter once it was taken out, which had a model # but no date (due to pitting and rust) on the data plate. I could have just had this one rebuilt, but it was going to take several weeks and was the same price, if not more, than just getting a rebuilt original.

Ron Fitzpatrick from Ron Fitzpatrick Jeep Parts got me a rebuilt one ASAP. On the top is my original one, while the bottom is the rebuilt original. The quality was really amazing, and it was shipped very well.

The paint job had some scratches and nicks, but it was in great shape.

The Bendix end was nice and solid, compared to my starter which actually wiggled quite a bit in the housing.

These next two shots are comparison shots looking inside the starter. It was suggested by Ron Fitzpatrick that I move the data plate band on my starter and switch it with the rebuilt one, so I could keep the data plate. While I had both bands off, I wanted to show just how bad mine looked inside… here’s my rusted/debris-filled starter.

And here’s the rebuilt one I got. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! Thanks Ron Fitzpatrick / Ron Fitzpatrick Jeep Parts!

Here’s a recap of my band from my original starter, you can see all the rust and grime. I carefully removed all the grim and rust and got it down to the metal after this shot was taken. In the last update, I also hit it with red oxide primer but was waiting to paint it black until I got the rebuilt starter so I could match the starter.

Using a mix of a high heat black paint and a satin clear coat, I was able to get the black to match pretty well. The data plate has been masked with tape.

And here it is, the band on the new rebuilt starter. I thought about touching up the paint on the starter where it’s scratched, but it won’t be really seen easily in the engine, so I figured it was okay as is. The data plate is all silver as the color and most of the markings have vanished from rust/pitting for 75 or so years. You can still barely make out the AUTO LITE one it.

And here it is, all hooked up in the engine! After I took this image, I crossed my fingers and tried to start it up… to a nearly instant start! It works amazingly, and you can tell the difference between how worn out the original starter was! Since then it’s started right away nearly every time! If not the first go on a cold start, then the second go it starts right up. I’m okay with giving up my starter as a core as the one in the Jeep is also an original starter.

Something a little fun, I finally hit the threshold in a single order to get a Ron Fitzpatrick Jeep Parts (RFJP) hat! For those who don’t know, G503 is the designation type of WW2 Jeeps. It’s also the largest Jeep forum on the internet. It is partnered with RFJP.

Something else that came with my starter was two more knob balls for the shifters. These are the correct style with the ring around them, and replaced my solid round ones on the transfer canes. I sanded them with a scotch pad then hit them with black paint and a top coat of satin clear sealer spray.

The two knobs will go on these two shifter canes for the transfer controls. But, this photo here was added to explain the next major issue that came up. With the starter fixed and everything seeming to work great, I went ahead and spent almost an hour getting all the covers and rings back on this maintenance bay. It was less than 24 hours later when taking a drive that when shifting into second gear, the main shifter cane slipped and went into neutral while the engine went into 2nd. It then was stuck and I couldn’t shift to anything, and the Jeep was stuck in 2nd.

Turns out, these T-84 transmissions are finicky, and the shifter cane can wear out over time and cause it to slip out of its notches causing the problem I had. So, the fix for now was to remove the maintenance covers that I had just reinstalled (again), take off the top cover of the transmission (shown here), and then manually move the gear back into neutral, reset the shifter can, and reinstall the cover. But a new problem came up, which you can see in this photo… the MD Juan body tub still wanted to give me a little bit more grief, and because the body is shifted, the lip overhangs the cover on the left side (driver’s side) and made it impossible to get off as is. I had to take a hammer and carefully pry up the lip of the body tub to get enough clearance to get that lid and the shifter cane off.

Here’s the lid of the transmission cover on the inside, once I got it out, and the bottom of the shifter. You can see it’s slightly worn and will need to be fixed. But, I can still drive the Jeep once I reset everything, just being careful to change gears easy without a lot of force.

Here’s a look inside the transmission box showing the various gears for the Jeep. The Jeep is a 3-speed vehicle with reverse.

On this side is reverse and third gear.

And a look at the front of the box with some of the various gears. You can see the oil down in there, probably could use some more. I’ll eventually get this fixed, thankfully I have a friend who can fix this issue to near brand new!

My friend Tom Goodhope came over one early evening during the week to drive the Jeep for the first time. He’s driven Jeeps a while, and I wanted to get his opinion on the Jeep and how everything works/drives. I took that time to also test the lights and how well they work when actually driving since I’ve only driven the Jeep during the day. I’m happy to say the headlights were solid with no flickering or electrical connection issues when going over bumps.

The panel lights looked nice and bright as we drove around the neighboorhood. Tom said the Jeep drove well, but was a little tight which is to be expected since everything has been cleaned and restored or replaced. It was nice to have a stamp of approval! The shifter was a bit sloppy and lose, which is part of the problem I had and that’ll be fixed.

If you have been following the updates, I had another MD Juan issue where the two studs that hold the back seat hold down j hook are way way off. Until I can fabricate my own J hook that fits correctly, I have the back seat held up with some twine… a temporary bubba fix!

Finally, a look at the speedometer on the Jeep as of this afternoon (10/24)… up to 12 miles on the Jeep! I’m getting much better at driving manual and having a blast driving her around the neighborhood. One of my favorite things is the smiles, thumbs up, nods, etc from people as they see me come around the corner or down their street. I hope to post some video of the Jeep driving this coming week now that *most* issues seem to be fixed for the moment. Till next week’s update!