View original topic: Hi Torque starter intermittent problem
wbx Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:40 pm

Hi everyone,

My van is currently equipped with a Hi-Torque starter, which has worked just fine for the last 7 years or so. Over the last month, it has decided to not work 100%. Usually it starts just fine, but when it doesn't, i can hear the solenoid click, but then no spinny.

There seems to be no temperature dependence, it happens when i am first starting up, or after several hours of driving. It can take up to 10 times trying to get it to actually spin before it starts the van up.

It hasn't left me stranded, yet, but is feeling like only a matter of time.

Any ideas as to what the problem could be, and how I could go about repairing it?


tencentlife Mon Nov 02, 2009 6:13 pm

Damon, I've had one of the IMI starters (the ones GW used to sell) and after being in use for 2 or 3 years it began having some intermittent no-workiness. It would often do nothing on the first turn of the key, not even an audible click, but would always spin up on the second try. Seemed to be more prevalent when the thing was cool.

So I took it apart and it was clear that some water had worked its way inside and there was some rust, mainly in the solenoid section. I have to ford a creek to get to my house and in spring the water gets pretty high, enough to wet down the starter with every crossing, so I'm sure that's when the thing got soaked.

I did a complete disassembly and cleanup, and sealed every joint as I put it back together to make it completely watertight. That was awhile ago, maybe a year already, and no trouble since then.

wbx Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:34 am

I'm not much of a river forder, so maybe that is why i got so much more life out of it. Sounds like the investigation was pretty straight forward. Anything tricky about the rebuild?

Thanks for the reply,

tencentlife Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:55 am

It's a good bit more complicated than a regular starter because of the reduction gearing, but it's not terribly complex, just go slowly and take notes or pics as you disassemble if you don't trust your brain to keep track of where things go. The rest is standard electric motor stuff: clean out crusty lube, relube, brighten the commutator with a light abrasive paper and clean and degrease afterward, check brushes height and replace them if needed (they were a pretty standard size as I recall, although mine had a lot of length left so I didn't get new ones).

I looked it over to spot every place where water could potentially get in, so as I reassembled I used a silicone sealant (Reinzosil; black Dirko is the same stuff, but even Permatex would work here) between every joint. I remember making one or two special seals out of o-rings or plastic, use your ingenuity.

The thing doesn't need to breathe, it only operates a few seconds at a time so it can dissipate heat, so there is no potential trouble from making it watertight. My problem arose from it not.

I'm not going to be mch help for advice, this was a year ago and once a unique job like this is out of the way I forget all about it.

wbx Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:32 pm

No worries about the lack of specifics. I'm confident i can get in there just fine - i just wanted to know if there were any particular speedbumps that caught you by surprise. Doesn't sound like it, so a-disassemblin-i-will-go!

As always, thanks a ton for your contributions, 10c.


wbx Sun Jan 30, 2011 3:49 am

So... it only took me 1 year and 2 months to get to this, but hey... i got to it.

Here are a few pics from when i pulled my Hi-Torque / IMI-104 gear reduction starter apart. Really quite easy and a relaxing evening (except having to clean up the kitchen sink afterward).

Now, to preface this post, i have yet to put it back in the van and test it - this is just to show the inside of one of these things. Maybe someone will find this useful:

Just pulled apart and still dirty
From left to right:
motor end cap/commutator holder
solenoid plunger and starter gear push spring(below)
main case (starter and solenoid fields)
idler gear housing (& idler gear)
starter shaft w/1 way clutch mechanism (below)
solenoid end cap
starter shaft nose bearing support housing

Main case gear end

Main case electrical end

Solenoid main power bus contacts
These are pretty rough and i think part of my problem

Solenoid switch contact
Also pretty rough

Armature and Commutator
Could use some freshening up

Starter shaft
The little gear spins the flywheel, the big gear is connected to the starter motor via an idler gear.

Whole Amature
what are these grooves for? They don't go all the way around - only what you see here...

Parts cleaned up
A little degreaser, a little filing and some sandpaper

Armature cleaned up
I don't have any emory cloth, and this was the best i could do...

Solenoid switch contact cleaned up
This part required a bit of work to smooth out with a file. It spins freely on the shaft, and I wish i could have figured out how to just flip it over to the good side. Not perfect, but definitely better.

Solenoid switch contact cleaned

Assembling commutator on to armature
This was a little bit fiddly. Basically, install the brushes part way, letting the brush springs hold them in place. Start with the two attached to the commutator, then on to the one that is tucked in closest to the main body. Finagle the last brush part way in, slip over the armature, and then pop the brushes in. Not too bad, really.

Installing gear train
grease holds the needle bearings in place. The open end of the race faces towards the motor. Housing installs with 2 M5 socket head cap screws.

Installing nose piece
This is what adapts it to the vanagon. Held on with 3 M5 SHC screws as shown.

Installing solenoid plunger
Drop the long spring in the hole and the solenoid plunger into the spring

That was my last picture. Tighten up the obvious screws and there ya go.

I hope it helps :wink:

msinabottle Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:00 pm

Thank you for such a detailed and potentially useful post! Winston's been quite happy with his Hi-Torque, but your post could be so very useful when the time comes. Thank you for your time and trouble.

Christopher Schimke Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:32 pm

Glad to see that you are still alive too.

boulderdrop Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:52 pm

Nice work man! I pulled my HiTorque when it started having problems, but I still have it. That'd be a fun project!

wbx Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:59 pm

Glad it will help someone eventually. I figure there are probably like 50 people this pertains to, but why not document it? "Potentially useful" pretty much sums it up! :lol:

Oh and Chris - yeah, still alive, just largely in lurker mode. The house-on-foundation gets all the attention while the house-on-wheels gets sad and slowly falls apart.

Registration is coming up and step 1 is to get the starter to turn the motor over... and for the record: SUCCESS
Nary a hesitation with the starter. We'll see how long it lasts. The only thing i think i should have done differently was to lightly lube the solenoid cylinder with some silicone grease to help that even more so. Next time.

Step 2 is to get the engine to actually start... more diagnostics needed for that, apparently (and not for this thread).

MsTaboo Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:10 pm

WBX- those grooves are probably for balancing the armature

boulderdrop Fri Feb 25, 2011 11:07 am

wbx wrote: So... it only took me 1 year and 2 months to get to this, but hey... i got to it.

I'm next! I'll rip my apart in a few months and report back, perhaps they both failed for the same reason. It was a nice starter and I was a little sad to buy a OEM Bosch, but happy with a motor that starts. :P

wbx Fri Feb 25, 2011 11:50 am

A starting engine is definitely a good thing.

Please report back, as it would be good to find out if there is a common failure mode with these things. Servicing this starter really wasn't too big a deal at all, so hopefully a little knowledge will help keep people on the road reliably...

mmustang Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:30 am

Good day folks.
I have a 79 westfalia and started on vacation yesterday. Stopped for lunch and came out to go and there was nothing when I went to start. I had to be transported home thanks to CAA (AAA in the US). I have a new IMI -104 starter but no instructions about the wiring, Can anyone help me? I have had this starter for a few years just in case, now is the casae, Cheers.

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