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Starter non-starter

Posted by desflurane on August 24, 2012

I believe I mentioned a long time ago that my starter motor had died on me. After the bike sat for almost six months (as a few bits of stainless steel were holding my left leg together at the time), the old magic button had lost its charm.

I learned that the shop at our local KTM dealership could rebuild the motor for me, and rather than buying a new starter for around 300 smackers, I jumped on it.

$150 dollars later I again had a functioning starter motor – albeit with all the same, rather worn internal parts, with the exception of a new snout bearing – since the original unit was trashed. The shop meister said that it should work just fine “for a while” and it did. Up until about a week ago in fact. Just as it did before, the button went from fully functioning bike-lighter to useless clicker literally overnight.

I think it was somewhere on that I had heard about Rick’s Motorsport Electrics. It turns out that Rick’s offers complete rebuild kits for the starters they include essentially ALL of the starter’s internal components (armature, brush plate, brushes, bearings, etc.), and they only set you back $75 – shipping included!! I immediately ordered the correct kit for my bike (#70-604). It arrived promptly and I finally got around to rebuilding my ailing motor a few days ago.

All went well until I tried removing the two little phillips screws that hold the plastic brush retaining plate on the bottom of the housing. Water had seeped in (darn pressure washers…) and everything was mucky and slightly corroded. The two little screws were stuck firmly in place. I managed to apply enough downward pressure and torque on one of them to effect a successful extraction, but fastener number two stripped its little crossed head with the lightest of effort.

After much pondering and careful reflection (read: cursing and pacing around the garage looking for a sledge hammer…) I decided to break out the handy-dandy Dremel and convert the phillips into a slotted head. Five minutes toil and the screw was in the palm of my hand, wishing that it had just been cooperative in the first place…

The screw was NOT going back into my starter in its current sad state, and I knew that a replacement was needed. They are M3 x 5mm or so, and it turns out that none of the Home Depot/Lowes type stores carry such small hardware. I was forced to repair to a local specialty fastener outlet and buy twenty such screws so that I could replace the two I had just taken out (minimum purchase, don’t you know!) Only $4 though, not too painful, and I put in some nice socket headed cap screws which will hopefully hold up a little better.

The kit is great! With the exception of the housing and the two screws mentioned you can have a totally new motor. Since my bearing and seal had recently been replaced I elected not to swap them out. Everything went fine BUT the new brush plate did not have enough of a cutout to clear the base of the “Hot” brush that connects to the stud protruding through the housing, so I reused my original plate – which was still in good condition.

I greased stuff up liberally, torqued all fasteners down to Gudentite specs, and punched the right hand button. She lit up almost instantly! I was amazed! Previously I would have to crank for several seconds before the engine would catch, now I can hardly give the button a short enough tap for the bike NOT to fire up.

I’ll call that a success! Only time will tell how durable the components are, but for the price of admission – I’m totally on board with the Rick’s kit!


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