1951 Oldsmobile 88 (Deluxe) by 1951Olds88

By diyauto
( 3 )

4 minute(s) of a 31 minute read


After the starter had been replaced , but it was not working 100%, it was time to take the car to the starter rebuilder for an on-car evaluation. Stalled the car getting out of the garage, and click, click, click.... The ammeter was pegging out but no turns on the engine. Called the shop and the flat-bed to the car in. The starter was out quite quickly, but before it was removed they did some testing. The comment was that my new Optima was getting drained very quickly, quicker than normal. So either the battery was defective or there was something wrong with the starter. SO off to the rebuilder with the starter only. At the rebuilders the owner took the starter into his shop for 20 minutes. I could hear the starter being tested , over and over and over. Finally he came out with his diagnosis. The good news was that the starter was working within specs and not drawing more amps than expected. In his opinion it meant either that the engine was more difficult to turn over (but that fact that it ran normally belied that) or that the cabling had an issue.

However, the shop had confirmed that the cables seemed to have the correct gauge, so now what?

Back to the shop, sat down with the owner and the mechanic to discuss. The big question why had this suddenly appeared after the starter had been rebuilt, whereas before the issue had been heat soak. I asked whether the cables looked original, or whether they had been replaced in earlier restorations, like the radiator and other hoses. I was told no, the cables looked original. So I suggested that perhaps the old cable might be brittle inside and the strands might have broken during the disconnecting and connecting, increasing the resistance which would also raise the amps drawn. That would explain the fast drain on the battery. We all agreed that this was a likely scenario and that it could be resolved by replacing the relevant cables (battery to starter and neutral safety switch to solenoid).

Next morning everything was done, and yes, it does seem that the starter issue is resolved. Now to address another problem, the stumble, hesitation or worst, stall, when accelerating from idle. According to the mechanic while not super bad the carburetor probably needs a rebuild too. So that is my next project. I have found a couple of places that have the right kits for the carb in my car - a Carter WGD 851S, as well as one that carries out rebuilds. I would love to have a try at rebuilding the carb myself, but at the moment with some home projects and a back problem, I might not be able to devote the time necessary.


Took the car out for a drive, stalled just outside the garage and needed another 4 or 5 pushes of the starter button to restart. So the new cables did not help. But not all the cables associated with the starter were changed. In this case from the battery to starter and from the neutral safety switch to the solenoid were replaced. So now I guess I have to replace from the ignition switch to the starter button and from the button to the other side of the neutral safety. Bleach (and thanks for your advice again) also suggested the solenoid but it looked like a brand new one when I picked up the starter from the rebuilder. I will check with the rebuilder but I suspect it must be the cables or even the ignition switch or starter button not allowing enough amperage to the solenoid. I don't think the battery is the issue because once you get over the initial click-click-click, the starter turns over quite normally and the car starts well too.

At the same time I also confirmed what the mechanic has warned me about, that some of the wires were losing their insulation, for example on the backup light cables (also run from the neutral safety switch). Uninsulated wires - shorts = sparks can = fire, so have put a new wiring harness on the top of the list for my major work to be done after the S.E. Oldsmobile Gathering in a few weeks. 

Starter reliability, wiring and carburetor rebuild, my toy will be stripped down and not running for a couple of months at least. Because there is so much, I have decided that I will have to outsource the carb rebuild, thanks to the members of the AACA forums who helped with advice in that matter too, as well as some other questions.

Next update probably after The Gathering.


Nice car!

Posted by stevegolf on 11/21/20 @ 5:46:10 PM