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Discussion Starter #1
Im in OKlahoma, and i own a 1974 El Camino Classic with a stock SB400 with a TH350 transmission. I am 17 and this is my first car. I bought this car and have done a lot of work to it to get it running, but now i am having a BIG problem. It keeps breaking starters. I have gone thru about 6 rebuilt starters from NAPA and i just broke a brand new high torque starter, I replaced the flexplate because it was missing 2 teeth, and i put on a 168 tooth flexplate which is what was on it,, aand is supposed to be on it(thats what NAPA told me). Just need help, i cant afford to buy a diffrent car and i need it cause im in school, have football, and work! I hope this car wasnt a big mistake.
If anyone knows what could be wrong i would really appreciate it!
P.S. the rebuilt starters lasted about 1-2 weeks and the high torque starter lasted 2 days! the nose cones are what are breaking on them!

Ryan
 

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They make shims for starters. I would try to shim it down a little.Try to get a paper clip sized wire (about .030) between the teeth of the flex plate and the starter teeth, when holding the starter out with a screwdriver. This will keep it from binding, even when hot. Hope this helpes fix your problem. Welcome to the site.
 

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Welcome to ECC! Sounds like you have a full plate with school, football, work, and an El Camino project. Don't give up on it, it's still better than a rice burner. Your starter sounds like the alignment is off. Some need to be shimmed to provide the proper meshing with the teeth on the ring gear and starter teeth. Good luck with it.
 

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hey Ryan12193,welcome abord the EEC..

I hope this might help you on your problem...


the one I have on mine, is the stager bolt pattern..:beer:

:cali:
 

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Welcome to the site!! I am just throwin` this out,, when you put the flex plate on are you sure its one right? It can go on backwards, there is a small radius that needs to be out that goes around the crank, and does it have the huge counter weight welded to the outside flex plate? The 400`s have to have one, externallly balanced, how are the bolt holes in the block? Do they feel tight and look up in the block to see if the holes were every drilled out or a heli-coil installed. What are you torquing the starter bolts to? Theres a problem somewere,, post some pics if ya could, matty man
 
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Welcome to the site. GLade to see younger guys like yourself getting into the muscle cars and for certain EL Caminos!!! HOpe you can fix your problem
 

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Rebuilt starters usually come with a section of round rod/pin for checking mesh of the starter teeth in the ring gear teeth. The dust cover under the flexplate has to be off to check the mesh. That determines if shims are needed, and how much/many will get the clearance correct.
The problem there is getting the gear meshed without the starter turning. That's possible with the bat cable off, and a jumper wire from the free cable to the solenoid (small) terminal (S) on most starters.
 

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The last comment is 100% correct, your missing a piece:nanawrench:
 

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Can't tell from the pic , but there should be a brace on the front end of the starter. It attaches to the lower thru stud of the starter and to the eng. block. Keeps the starter from moving around.
thats right,mines on there too..:beer:
:cali:
 

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WOW.... sure hope that "missing part" fixes your problem! Starters get expensive. I loved the 400 I had in my '75 S3 elky.:beer:
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks

About the shims on the rebuilt ones I tried that I used two and it was not grinding or getting stuck bit it broke so on the next one I had to put 4 shims on it to get it ti back off enough. Then on the high torque one the guy said it was brand new so it didn't need shims so I didnrt put any but like I said it broke after 2 days(6 starts). About the brace the block has one on the back of the starter toward the front of the car so I used it with the rebuilts but the high torque one was too short. The starter bolts I just tighten real tight I have not been torquing them. The flexplate is externally balenced and the weight is toward the front of the car. The timing is a little off when I got the car it was 180 degrees off but I just lined up the dots on the timing chain sprocket. Someone told me I have to set the Valves I don't know what that means or how it helps the timing. But when it starts it starts fine and runs fine it only backfires when I rev it up in park. Oh and I'm working on getting pics of the underside.
Thanks for all yalls help so far!
Ryan
 

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If it's kicking back on the startrer hard enough to braek teeth off it's more than likely a timing problem. I bet it starts easy when it's cold after it's warmed up is when you have the problem.
Check the vacuum advance and the mechanical advances, HEI distributors are bad about rusting up and sticking advanced. If your running a bigger cam that needs more advance get and adjustable vacuum advance. Delt with this problem many times it not a hard problem to fix.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
no its a stock cam. and its not hard to start warm. so thats why im really confused. I dont know how many miles are even on it, the odometer reads about 44k so i was thinking 144k cause the body was in really good shape when i got it and it sat in a garage for 16years before i bought it in november of 07
 

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welcome Ryan
only other thing i can think of is water/coolant in the cylinder???
is it looseing or useing coolant???any white smoke from the exhaust???
400s are bad about cracking heads if they get hot...hope not.
you can pull the plugs,,see if any are differant looking...
usually its 1 of the 4 inside cylinders...goodluck.:texas:
 

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Count your flex plate teeth while there or two common sizes there is a chance you got a miss boxed or mis marked flexplate
 

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I have been having the same problem. No more autozone. I went to Oh oh oh Orillies, They told me about the bracket that goes in the front, You'll probably have to get it from a dealer or a shop that hoards misc parts(thats where I got mine.) I just put it on yesterday so we will see how it works.:nanawrench:
 

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Discussion Starter #20
i havent checked the head yet but, i only have white smoke when i first start it but im pretty sure its oil cause it gets a little low every few months and its just when it starts never when it changes gears or i take off or driving.
 
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