Tips For Installing Ford Starters From Powermaster

Not every starter is installed the same — Ford owners will be the first to tell you this. There are a few tricks to getting a Ford starter bolted up properly that are important to know to prevent engagement issues, and the team at Powermaster has broken down the blue oval starter secrets you need to know.

To begin, you always need to check the pinion gear depth and alignment every time you install a starter. GM owners have it easy…they can just pull out the gear and see where it’s engaging for measurement. Ford owners can’t see where the gears mesh and how much engagement there is for the starter.  This means a Ford owner has to use a technique to check mesh similar to how you set up a rearend, with paint on the gears. The gears should have 1/4- to 3/8-inch of engagement…if there’s more than that the starter could hang up, but it can be addressed by adding internal shims to correct the engagement.

The correct parts are also important when you’re trying to install a Ford starter. Chris Donaldson from Powermaster talks about a common issue the company sees with customers that select the wrong components.

“Remember, the position of a Ford starter is set by the bellhousing and index plate. One common mistake is putting the wrong flywheel with a bellhousing such as running a 157T flywheel in a bellhousing designed for 164T. In this case, the starter mounting holes are going to be in the wrong position. You also want to make sure you have the starter indexing plate installed. Many times it is mistaken as a dust cover or shield and is tossed aside, but it actually helps position the starter and is critical to maintaining the correct starter geometry.”

According to Donaldson, you want to measure from the starter mounting surface to the engine side of the ring gear on a Ford application. Here are a few measurements Powermaster provides to customers looking for a Ford starter.

Small Block based engines: (289, 302, 351W, 351C)

  • 3/8″ – Manual transmissions with 164T flywheel
  • 3/4″ – All Automatics (regardless of ring gear) and manual transmissions with 157T flywheel

Big Block based engines: (351M, 429, 460)

  • 5/8″ – All transmissions

FE based engines: (360, 390, 427, 428)

  • 3/4″ – All 184T transmissions

For more information make sure you check out the Powermaster website right here.

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About the author

Brian Wagner

Spending his childhood at different race tracks around Ohio with his family’s 1967 Nova, Brian developed a true love for drag racing. When Brian is not writing, you can find him at the track as a crew chief, doing freelance photography, or beating on his nitrous-fed 2000 Trans Am.
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