How to rebuild Ford Diesel Starter

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Above you see the typical Mitsibishi starter for Ford’s 7.3 L (445) diesel engine. You can find this starter on F-Series trucks, E Series vans, Excursion, and many medium and heavy duty trucks from 1994-2001.

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Ford Diesel Starter rebuild

Notice the 3 bolt flange, and the 12 tooth bendix.  The open gear design is typical to many Mitsibishi industrial apps.

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Ford Diesel Starter repair

To take one apart: First remove the nut on the motor terminal of the starter. This is the large copper stud closest to the field housing, where the motor field lead bolts to the solenoid

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Ford Diesel Starter parts

The 2 bolts that hold the solenoid on, are quite often very challenging to remove. First loosen them with a 6″ x 1/4″ extension.  Place the solenoid, or the body of the starter tightly in a vice.  Pound directly down onto the heads of the bolts to loosen them.

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Ford Diesel Starter rebuild kit

Then tap a phillips screwdriver or socket bit into the smashed over grooves where the phillips head was.  At this point, if you wish, you can apply some penetrate oil or heat the body of the solenoid, where the threads would be. Remove screws.

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Ford Diesel Starter repair kit

For extra stubborn cases :  Use a sharpened center punch to make a mark on the outer edge of the screw. Then tap with a hammer CCW by holding the center punch at a 30-45  degree angle. This method sounds primitive but in actual practice, is extremely effective. Also an impact hammer may work .  Lift up on the solenoid and pull it out.

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Ford Diesel Starter solenoid

Remove the two phillips head screws on the back of the starter. Usethe same methods as described in solenoid removal if necessary.

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Ford Diesel Starter bolts

Remove the two 10mm head thru bolts that hold the starter together.

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Ford Diesel Starter powerstroke

Penetrating oil is advised in the area shown.  Heat may be necessary as well.

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Ford Diesel Starter 7.3

Tapping on the aluminum after heat or penetrating oil will also help brake the corrosion loose.

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Mitsubishi Diesel Starter

Tap the commutator end plate off the field housing.

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1994 Ford Diesel Starter 7.3 powerstroke

Tap on a screwdriver placed as shown to split the field housing from the drive end ass’y.

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1995 Ford Diesel Starter 7.3 powerstroke

There is a metal ball, about the size of a b b, at the bottom of the hole, where the shaft was.

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1996 Ford Diesel Starter 7.3 powerstroke

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1997 Ford Diesel Starter 7.3 powerstroke

Push the armature and bearings out of the field housing.

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1998 Ford Diesel Starter 7.3 powerstroke

This armature would be considered re usable. The copper bars are all in tact. Polish with 120 grit sandpaper or scothbrite.

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2000 Ford Diesel Starter 7.3 powerstroke

This armature is not re usable. The pits in the copper go through to the plastic underneath. Get a new armature.

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Ford Starter Commutator

Obviously, this armature has been completely trashed. Some of the bearings would be reusable, if they are still smooth feeling. New bearings are suggested, but not usually an absolute necessity. If the seals are removable, wash out all the old lubricant. We suggest 2 drops of Marvel Mystery Oil. 4 drops of 10w40, and a small amount of white lithium grease before replacing the seals.

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Ford Starter Diesel gears

Remove the grease guard plate and take special note which side goes toward the armature.

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Ford Starter Diesel nose cone

Remove the rubber seal and 4 planetary gears. The gears are in no special order, but should  be kept same side up if possible, for re- installation.

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To remove the bushing in the planetary gear. Use a tap that threads into the bushing. When it bottoms out it starts pulling the bushing.

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Remove the bushing.

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Install a new bushing with a 1/4 inch extension being tapped gently with a hammer.

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We don’t recommend changing the pinion gear or the bendix clutch unless necessary. Usually you don’t have to. Inspect the gear for excessive wear or chips.

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After cleaning, place a little oil on the posts.

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Place the gears back in and lube with white lithium generously

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Place the ball back in the hole

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Install grease gasket.

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Install grease seal metal cover.

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Place armature gently in vise. Use 2 screwdrivers simultaneously to wedge corner of vise and pry off bearing for service (clean, 3 drops of oil, small amount of grease) or replace with new bearing.

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Some units have spacer under bearing. If not, ignore this step with no concern.

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Install spacer if you have one.

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Install bearing with socket diameter that is same size as internal race. Gently tap with hammer. Note : do not allow socket to contact shielded area of bearing. 

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Place DE ass’y on vice. Set armature in hole.

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Place housing in place. Notice grommet goes in slot in aluminum as shown.

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Hold ground brushes back with fingers or push out with screwdriver. Weasel one side at a time onto commutator.

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Pull brush spring back with hooked coat hanger or needle nose pliers and install 2 hot brushes.

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Pay special attention to the U shaped grooves in the brush holder ass’y. There are ribs in the back plate

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There are 2 ribs and 2 U shaped grooves. This aligns the brush location on the commutator.

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The flat areas must be sanded with 80 grit and coated with white lithium grease.

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Also carefully sand the top of the back plate where the phillips head screws go through. Clean the under side of the screws also. This is the most important ground path on the entire starter.

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Line up the holes with an awl.

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Install screws.

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Clean through bolts and also clean with wire brush the back plate where the through bolts make contact. A small amount of white lithium grease in this area would be advantageous.

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Pull the bendix out and put a few drops of oil on the shaft. Make sure the bendix travels freely.

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Install solenoid with small copper post by the starter body.

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Install top nut on field lead. Use a generous amount of white lithium grease. Do NOT use a lock washer.

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Install top nut loosely with a generous amount of white lithium grease. Do NOT use a lock washer.

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