Q: : I have a 1975 Mustang II built for drag racing. It has a 302 V8 and a C-4 transmission with an Ultra II bellhousing. I’m having problems with starters grinding when I try to start the engine. I’ve tried several different starters, but they all do the same thing. I’ve also tried changing the flywheel, with no success. What can I do to correct this problem?

A: Because the starter mounts to the bellhousing on the Ford engine, the bellhousing directly determines the starter to be used. If the bellhousing is designed to house a 164-tooth (large diameter) ring gear, the location of the starter would be moved outward to allow for this larger diameter ring gear. Conversely, if the bellhousing is designed to house a smaller 157-tooth ring gear, the starter position would then be moved inward so the starter and ring gear would mesh properly when trying to start the motor. Also, Ford uses what they call a thin (usually 1/8-inch) block separator plate, which plays a role in obtaining the correct depth measurement and, ultimately, the correct starter for the application. As per J&W instructions, this separator plate MUST BE used!

RingGear1Another point to consider is the use of quality of the ancillary parts. J&W recommends their matching flexplate to ensure mating tolerances are correct, as well as a quality mini-starter such as a Summit Racing brand or Powermaster. Proper starter choice will require a depth measurement from the face of the block separator plate to the front face of the starter ring gear.

This is another in a series of weekly Q&A Mailbag sessions with Summit Racing‘s tech department, in which there are hundreds more. Click here to see them all

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Author: David Fuller

David Fuller is OnAllCylinders' managing editor. During his 20-year career in the auto industry, he has covered a variety of races, shows, and industry events and has authored articles for multiple magazines. He has also partnered with mainstream and trade publications on a wide range of editorial projects. In 2012, he helped establish OnAllCylinders, where he enjoys covering all facets of hot rodding and racing.