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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One of the things I love about my 50yo Solex and points & condenser 1972 GT is the adventure of taking it on a long trip, and it returns on its own power. When I purchased it and got it running on the road a couple years ago, I only changed 1 thing. The starter. The original "I guess" starter would crank too slow to start it, when the engine was warm. After taking it apart, cleaning and lubricating it, and not finding anything inside that may cause a problem, I purchased and installed one of those permanent magnet starters from OGTS when I heard that it had faster, more starting power. I also did the separate relay thing, OMG!!! I think I just figured out what happened! Ok, the new starter worked flawless the approx. 10,000 miles I put on the car the last 2 years. Returning from a 400 mile round trip last weekend, I was running 70mph down the Interstate and all of a sudden, I hear this metal to metal grinding sound, and the amp gauge pegs to the plus side. It stays there maybe 20 seconds, then starts to settle back towards 0, but still shows charge. I finally was able to pull off and pop the hood. Definitely the sound was from the starter. I kept the engine running and drove it home. The only thing I can think of happened is that the external relay either malfunctioned, or the outside terminal connections on it touched and caused the starter to engage while I was driving. Amazing it didn't destroy all the electrical components and wiring in the car. I put another starter on today and everything seems to work fine. Is there anything anyone else can think of that may have happened? Lucky the flywheel teeth only had slight damage.
Automotive tire Wood Gas Motor vehicle Automotive exterior
Automotive tire Wood Gas Motor vehicle Automotive exterior
 

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My guess is your ignition switch has deteriorated to a point where it is allowing bleed thru to starter. At this point the best thing to do is disconnect the relay until you have replaced the switch. You are not the first person to have this problem. Brad Dennis, (poor GT) now deceased, wrote about the same experience. I also had similar issues. The relay is meant to take the load off the ignition switch that causes it to carbonize inside over time. Unfortunately, it works best with a fresh switch. Once you disconnect the relay you should not have the problem. Signs of bad switch are, intermittent operation, I.E. sometimes starter will engage sometimes not. It will get progressively worse and then quit altogether. You can then sometimes start the engine by shorting across the starter solenoid with key in the run position.
 

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Opeljohn is right on the money. This started happening 30 years ago with me and it’s very common. I interrupted the wire to the starter with a push button type mounted under the dash. I haven’t had any problems since. One of these days I’ll replace it with the new ignition switch from OGTS.
In the meantime it’s served as a small theft deterrent I guess.
 

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Über Genius
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Good timing on this thread. I've planned to put the OGTS starter on before the rains start (Oct 26th).
I was contemplating the OTTO start relay but I'm lazy and it takes an extra 10 minutes to install it.
I'd rather use the factory ignition or a push button starter. Heck, even the new cars have push button start these days.
 

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I guess I’ve been “lazy “ for over 30 years. I decided when I went the push button route, (recommended by Gil before the internet) that I would make the move to replace the ignition switch (which would have been a used ignition back then) as soon as my ignition develops further trouble. It’s nice that the new ones are available, when I finally get around to it I will install the relay to protect the new ignition switch.

It seems that the weakest part of the original ignition switch is what the OP is posting about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all for the responses. I was afraid to drive the car until I could figure out what to do that would keep the same thing from happening again. I still can't believe anything else electrical got damaged. I forgot to mention that I checked the condition of the factory ignition switch 2 years ago as instructed by OGTS, and determined it was still good. I installed the external relay to keep the ignition switch from deteriorating. This is why I'm still slightly confused. If I would have replaced my ignition switch 2 years ago with a new one, and at the same time, installed the external relay, would I have had this problem? Anyhow, this is what I will do. I will immediately disconnect the external relay and wire the starter how it was wired from the factory, and hopefully my spare starter will work. I will then plan on installing a push button starter to bypass the ignition switch and external relay so this never happens again. Does this sound like a good plan?
 

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The push button starter will be an easy way to prove your failure in the ignition switch. I’m not advocating that not replacing the ignition switch with the added relay is the best way to go, been a good way of getting around in the meantime in my experience. I’d have to look at the wiring to the relay to see how it works, yes your solution sounds good to me but if there’s a way to leave the relay in series with the starter I think the relay is a good solid permanent solution and would keep it handy at a minimum. The relay idea came along well after I had my ignition trouble.
 

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One of the first times I tried to use the relay was with an older switch that was still working relatively well, after installation everything worked fine. About 2 days later the wife drove the GT to work, when she tried to start it for trip home the starter engaged the moment she turned the key and would not disengage until key turned off. I came to check it out, unhooked the relay and it was okay. Left relay off and when switch shot craps wired in a starter button as others have. This was when new switch not possible. A few years later I bought a rebuilt switch and the relay built by Otto Barsch of Texas (Ottostart). Worked okay until switch went downhill, undid relay and went back to push button for a few more years. OGTS started selling new switch so went and installed one with Ottostart. Been a few years now and still doing fine. Bottom line, use relay with new switch. As to starter Button, very simple install. Cut two Lenthes of wire, run them thru firewall. Inside engine compartment attach an alligator clip to each end, under dash attach wires to some kind of toggle switch or pushbutton. Clamp one clip to main power lug on starter, the other to driver side of solenoid, push button and starter will engage but motor will not run until key is in run position. This type of button also works nice when you are trying to set points to the high lobe.
 

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... A few years later I bought a rebuilt switch and the relay built by Otto Bartsch of Texas (Ottostart). Worked okay until switch went downhill, undid relay and went back to push button for a few more years. OGTS started selling new switch so went and installed one with Ottostart. Been a few years now and still doing fine. Bottom line, use relay with new switch.
My OttoStart came with a diode on the relay plug, that prevents back-current from activating the relay. I don't recall exactly how the diode is connected, so I will have to look into that. Otto Bartsch had a stroke at the beginning of 2022 and isn't on this site very often, but he is on Facebook occasionally so I'll Facebook Messenger him.

But Otto's relay isn't immune from current leakage from an ignition switch that has carbon-arc'd contacts. When I installed it on my car, the few milliamps of current passing thru the arc'd "start" contacts energized the relay as soon as I turned the switch to "run". Not a nice surprise! Solution was to remove the ignition switch and replace it with a rebuilt switch. Then the Otto-start worked perfectly, and has ever since (3 years and counting).

As a further comment, I have taken to installing a "run" relay on Opel GT's I work on. Same concept as the start relay, except it only requires the ignition switch run contacts to carry a few milliamps to power the relay, versus the entire "run" current" which can be 30 amps or more.
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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I posted your starter pic to my Facebook Opel Group and someone mentioned a very important point: Check your flywheel for damage and wear!

I know it's a bummer to mention this. It's your flywheel that ground the teeth off of your starter gear, so it would make sense that the flywheel could also have suffered significant damage. Also, all those metal particles went somewhere and that somewhere could be your clutch disc, bellhousing, and other widgets in that area. Maybe consider hosing out the area or spraying some engine cleaner or something more appropriate in there and hosing it out.

Just a thought......
 

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Check your flywheel for damage and wear!

I know it's a bummer to mention this. It's your flywheel that ground the teeth off of your starter gear, so it would make sense that the flywheel could also have suffered significant damage.

Just a thought......
Yea, I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’ to point this out, but the starter teeth are much harder than the flywheel teeth.

It’s probably pretty trashed.

The R & R is a pain, but the good news is the ring gear can be removed from the flywheel and reversed to expose fresh teeth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Please correct me anyone if I got this wrong. I will disconnect/remove the wire on the relay terminal that comes from the start position of the ignition switch, and connect the wire from the start button to that relay terminal. That way the start button will only need low amperage going through it to trigger the relay. So then, no way can the ignition switch fail and send electrical current to the starter when I don't want it to, like what happened in my case, and now I find out, other cases. When I pulled the starter out, I got a good look at the flywheel teeth. It looked like the front edges where the starter gear first touches only got a good polishing. Also, I didn't notice any problems with the operation of the starter I'm using now after repeated cycles.
 

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Thank you all for the responses. I was afraid to drive the car until I could figure out what to do that would keep the same thing from happening again. I still can't believe anything else electrical got damaged. I forgot to mention that I checked the condition of the factory ignition switch 2 years ago as instructed by OGTS, and determined it was still good. I installed the external relay to keep the ignition switch from deteriorating. This is why I'm still slightly confused. If I would have replaced my ignition switch 2 years ago with a new one, and at the same time, installed the external relay, would I have had this problem? Anyhow, this is what I will do. I will immediately disconnect the external relay and wire the starter how it was wired from the factory, and hopefully my spare starter will work. I will then plan on installing a push button starter to bypass the ignition switch and external relay so this never happens again. Does this sound like a good plan?
I had exactly the same problem. I have a new ignition and even with that my new style starter will go a month or so after installation. Rebuilt the starter 3 times. So my 2 cents is to always have a relay. After I did that I never had any problems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I wired up the starter button yesterday and tried everything out. Using the relay, I was able to find and use smaller paired 16 gage wires I easily fed through the hood release cable grommet from the button. I drilled and tapped for 2 10-32 short screws into the right side steering column support to hold the push button bracket up in place. My opinion, a good place for the button. You can't see it, but you can easily reach into that void and push the button. Thanks again to all you Opel GT Gurus. Before this all happened, during every drive, I would say to myself "I love this little 50yo car" Now I can say that again.
 
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