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Re: 63 Starting Problem

On  8 Dec 97, Lee Thomas Hedges wrote:

> Over the past couple days, starting my 1963 Notch Sedan is strange.  The
> ignition is the original 6V one (the whole car is in very original
> unmodified condition).
> When I go to turn the key to start it, the two ignition lights come on
> bright and then dim when I turn the key to start it. Nothing!  Other
> days, the car starts fine with the key.  Here's the strange thing: when
> it won't start with the key, I grab a screwdriver and lay down under the
> starter solenoid and "jump" the starter to get the car started.  If I
> use the screwdriver to jump it, and then go to the key to try starting
> again right away, the car starts up fine!  Subsequent attempts just
> after that work fine!  However, if I drive the car for awhile (down the
> street for beer), then turn it off and restart it again, nothing!  I
> hate intermittent electrical problems!!!
> Question:  Why (after jumping the starter terminal) will it start ok and
> then not after driving it?  Should I be looking at replacing the
> ignition or the starter?  Or am I missing something completely?!!

This is THE classic 6V VW problem.  People who have worked on lots of 
6V VWs have described it often, unfortunately (or, perhaps 
fortunately) I don't have any significant 6V experience.  Your 
description indicates that the battery voltage is getting pulled 
down because of a large current drain, yet there is not sufficient 
current to pull in the starter solenoid.  The classic repair for this 
is to mount a 6V relay on the side of the transmission and use the 
power from the ignition switch (in the start position) to close that 
relay.  You then wire the contacts of the relay to "jump" the starter 
as you have been doing with your screwdriver.  I know that Gene Berg 
had a nice writeup on this and carries an appropriate relay.  Perhaps 
if you're going to be in that area you could just drop in and buy 
one.  If not, call and order.

The resistance of copper changes with temperature.  As the starter 
warms up, the solenoid resistance will go up and it will draw less 
current and thus produce a weaker magnetic field.  "Jumping" with a 
screwdriver may loosen up some old grime in there and allow it to 
pull in with a bit less effort the next time.  It is POSSIBLE that a 
fresh Bosch rebuilt starter would be clean where it needs to be clean 
and lubricated with the right grease in all the right places so this 
might fix things.  There are lots of possibilities.  I would check 
the voltage regulator and then install the relay.

This solution has always bothered me because it seems like it should 
be possible to find the true underlying cause and fix THAT.  The 
consensus out there seems to be that if there is such an underlying 
cause, then it is a misdesigned 6V starter solenoid and wiring 
harness, and the next one will be just as bad.  I remain skeptical, 
but openminded.  I wonder if a NEW starter solenoid might fix things, 
or is it possible that the voltage regulator is bad and the charging 
voltage is low, leaving the battery only half charged?  [Should be 
7.0-7.2V.]  If you are in southern CA you probably have no idea 
whether your charging system is working properly or not, because you 
never really use it.

I would be interested in what others have to say.

       Melissa Kepner                                    Jim Adney
                             Laura Kepner-Adney
                             Madison, Wisconsin

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