History of The Starter

Starter Rebuild Kits: History of the Starter Motor

Getting starter rebuild kits instead of buying brand new starters can save you a good amount of money.  There is a little bit I would like to mention about the history of a starter.  Without further ado here we go.

Many years ago, in a galaxy far, far away, internal combustion engines had to be started with hand cranks.  This was no job for the faint of heart, particularly the extremely heavy, high compression engines of yesteryear. Many people of the day didn’t enjoy the “element of danger” and many stubborn engines so rightfully earned the reputation of bone breakers. Special instructions and care had to be taken to not end up with a broken thumb or wrist. And often, a slightly advanced timing mark resulting in a back fire would reek havoc on the unsuspecting skeletal structures of the arm and shoulder.

unknown early 1912 no doors

It was clear to Charles Kettering of Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (DELCO) that something had to be done. Previously, in 1899, Clyde J Coleman invented an electric motor, but it had its problems. Then one day, Henry Leland who was the head of Cadillac, told Kettering that he wanted electric starters to be part of the Cadillac production in the up coming year. Leland had a friend who actually died of extenuating circumstances that resulted from an injury received to his jaw bone when the crank wrench kicked back and struck him.

Kettering took about a dozen men who referred to themselves as “The Barn Gang” because they worked out of a barn. In 1911 Kettering applied for and received patent for a conveniently sized electric motor that possessed enough torque to crank over an engine for a short period of time, yet crank it fast enough so that internal combustion could be started….. The following year, 1912, Cadillac production lines included electric starters.

Soon all other manufacturers would follow, never again would physical stature be a requirement for automotive operation. Young men, women, and even children could successfully start the family auto without physical risk.  The “Barn Gang” had succeeded, and their contribution to the booming automotive industry was one that to this day has held its ground.

Kettering’s early drawings included plans for his invention to become a generator after starting the vehicle. Ironically, this is a design concept that seems to be incorporated in today’s state of the art hybrid vehicles. Kettering made the cover of Time Magazine in 1933. He became famous as a pioneer in chemistry as well, and was known for his involvement with the Dupont company.

Charles Kettering’s generous financial contributions as a philanthropist and humanitarian to his mid American communities and fellow man were rivaled only by his genius inventor’s brain that was involved in a complete spectrum of cutting edge technology for his time. Kettering died in 1958.

There are times you will need to buy a new starter, however you should look into getting a starter rebuild kit instead.

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