second alton starter failure - WTF?

BERT

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As I like to say, anything worth doing is worth over doing - LOL!!

I just do not ever want to experience the failures that I have had ever again. And my bike, my money, my shop, my time, my steel - so my rules :cool:

Good to know that the Yves fix is still serving well - gives me confidence that the work that I am doing will be successful.

Cheers!
May I add: ...worth over doing instead of doing over...
 
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Hi Joe.
Not read all the replies to your Alton problem but must admit the comment about it not spinning properly rang some alarm bells.
I had exactly the same issue last year and I believe I have written about this.

Solution, replace the 50 year old switch gear with a new old stock switch. As a precaution I also fitted a relay.
Mine was exactly the same, I even sheared a woodruff key.
Mine has very good compression at 160 psi.
The motor would spin freely as you’ve described but after a coupl3 of years sometimes it would not even turn enough to start.

it did my head in but eventually I put a meter across the connections in the switch and got some odd reasons suggesting voltage leak.

Couldn’t get it to work properly and sourced a new old stock switch from Austria.

As a precaution I also fitted a relay £5, which I niw don’t think I need.

Not had a problem since.
 
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Hi Joe.
Not read all the replies to your Alton problem but must admit the comment about it not spinning properly rang some alarm bells.
I had exactly the same issue last year and I believe I have written about this.

Solution, replace the 50 year old switch gear with a new old stock switch. As a precaution I also fitted a relay.
Mine was exactly the same, I even sheared a woodruff key.
Mine has very good compression at 160 psi.
The motor would spin freely as you’ve described but after a coupl3 of years sometimes it would not even turn enough to start.

it did my head in but eventually I put a meter across the connections in the switch and got some odd reasons suggesting voltage leak.

Couldn’t get it to work properly and sourced a new old stock switch from Austria.

As a precaution I also fitted a relay £5, which I niw don’t think I need.

Not had a problem since.
Peter - thanks for the reply. not sure i fully understand what you mean by "switch gear." do you mean the Lucas handlebar switch assembly ? also, a little more detail on the "relay £5".
 

Time Warp

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Unbelievable that they would run that nut into the clutch unit with no washer (galling) as standard practice even more so with a non machined (based on the pictures posted) nut riser inward.

Surely these kits also come with a relay so there is no load on the Lucas switch so they actually work consistently at activation of the solenoid.
 

Time Warp

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I wondered if there was instructions posted.


There looks to be no washer between the nut (Item # 9 ) and clutch unit (raised side inward if the vague instructions/pictures are anything to go by) and the raised portion of the nut has to get into any recess between the clutch bore and thread OD.
The then installed nut then shows plenty of shaft thread stick out that could have been used which makes putting the raised side inward even more pointless given the no washer.
Wow.

Maybe someone should ask the Frenchman to make that part of the installation clear.

At least it shows some form of solenoid in the kit but where is the relay to take any load off the Lucas switch.

They could have dunked one of these in Loctite.

DSC06399 (Small).JPG
 

bsaboss

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Looking at the various engineering solutions I'm left wondering why Alton don't upgrade their design and solve the issues once and for all? If competent home machinists are making the parts themselves surely the costs of incorporating upgraded parts from the outset can't be prohibitive?
 

baz

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Looking at the various engineering solutions I'm left wondering why Alton don't upgrade their design and solve the issues once and for all? If competent home machinists are making the parts themselves surely the costs of incorporating upgraded parts from the outset can't be prohibitive?
I agree
But I also wonder how many kits are out there running fine ?
With a product like this you only tend to hear if something goes wrong
I'm guessing the silent majority are just getting on with it!
 

BERT

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Joe, thanks for starting this thread. Several of us have these units installed and the posts from forum members have been constructive, inspiring several minds to conspire and improve on a great concept to allow old legs to keep riding without the risk of injury kicking these brutes over.
 
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Unbelievable that they would run that nut into the clutch unit with no washer (galling) as standard practice....
correct - i would think a washer would help distribute the clamping load over a greater surface area. not having a washer most likely contributes to half the problem. the whole concept of using a single, stand alone nut to provide 100% of the clamping force necessary to keep the sprag-clutch assembly from rotating, especially on a straight portion of the crankshaft, and taking any load off the woodruff key, i find somewhat problematic. the Derek Wilson and Yeves design fix, eliminates the nut as the clamping force, thus eliminates the problem. IMO, it is a vast improvement to the original design. my understanding, the basic fix was presented to the alton folks, but went nowhere.
 

cliffa

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Just catching up with this. I too have had issues with my Alton.

First off - I think that you have your crankshaft nut on the correct way around. Every piece of documentation and video posted on how to install it has the step facing inward (like the original nut, only a much smaller step).

Second: The keys do shear. A friend of mine has had his shear repeatedly. I have had mine sheer once. I am developing my own fix for that. Alton is well aware that the keys sheer.

I have also had my share of bad luck.

The first issue I had was a lack of ability for the alternator to develop adequate current to keep the battery charged while powering the rest of the electrical system. My bike has all LED lights, and only requires about 45 watts to power it running down the road (engine running, head/tail lights on). This was diagnosed as a faulty alternator rotor, and Alton provided me a new on under warranty. Charging woes behind me.

The next issue I had was with the solid leads off of the alternator stator fracturing, likely due to vibration, and maybe all of the other issues I had gone through with alternator. I have crimped/soldered 16AWG multi-strand leads to the broken off stubs of the stator leads, and supported them to the central boss in the inner primary. Multi-strand wire is much more tolerant of vibration. No issues since (knock on wood).

The next issue requires pictures.
I was riding along when I noticed my charging system had quit (based on all of the alternator issue I have had, I have installed a permanently mounted digital volt meter for just such occasions). Me thinks I have broken a wire, I was only a mile from my destination, and only 10 miles from home. I shut off the headlight and continue.

I go to leave for home, hit the starter, it spins, but the motor does not. Bike starts first kick and I head for home.

Arriving home, I put the bike up on the bench, pull the primary cover and this is what greets me:

View attachment 80289

So, not good... Thankfully no other damage (other than the previously mentioned sheared key), and Alton provides replacement parts with no question (other than the key of course - lol).

I continue to disassemble the sprag clutch assembly to determine what went wrong. I notice immediately that the drive flange carrying the torque from the sprag clutch to the crank shaft is only about 2mm (0.083") thick and that the fracture path runs through the two shallow threaded holes in the flange.

View attachment 80290

This indicates that the crack leading to the fracture likely propagated from the sharp root of one of these threads. For the life of me, I have no idea what these threaded holes are for. They look like they could be used with some sort of puller, but the thread engagement and the strength of the material would destroy the threads before generating any significant pulling force.

View attachment 80291

While they are not as defined as they would be in harder materials, some beach-marks are visible in the fracture zone, indicating metal fatigue.

Alton mentioned that they have seen this at least one time before. This was after about 4000 miles of travel, and less than a year after install.

As I am not yet ready to give up on my electric start (too much money invested to turn back now), I have taken to CAD to develop my own stronger replacement parts, which I am currently machining out of 4140. They hopefully will deal with both the above issue, and will render the alternator key redundant, and therefore, no longer an unintended weak link.

FWIW.
Derek, just out of interest, were the points on the nut in close proximity to the puller holes when you finished tightening? As I'm sure you've noticed the Alton nut appears to be a standard nut machined on one side to create the lip. The face has been machined flat and I wonder if that has caused the stress points leading to the failure?

I agree with TW, I would never fit a nut without a washer as it just doesn't seem right to me, especially under a flat faced nut like that one.

Any chance you could post some more pictures of the inside of the sprag please? I'm interested to see it's inner workings.
 
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I agree
But I also wonder how many kits are out there running fine ?
With a product like this you only tend to hear if something goes wrong
I'm guessing the silent majority are just getting on with it!
Or breaking woodruff keys and not reporting
it. . . . . .
 
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let me digest the replies overnight and get back in the AM. one thing to add now, is the alton starter turning the engine over is hit or miss. sometimes, about 50% of the time, it spins the engine unimpeded - very fast, almost like no plugs. the remaining 50% of the time, i hit the starter button, and nothing. it's like i'm fighting full engine compression. the starter engages and "ooomph" - nothing! i can hit the starter button again, and sometimes it will spin the engine, and other times the same "ooomph" - that can happen several times to the point where i give up. there has been cases where i've actually gave up, and went to the kick start. if something else is at play here, i'm at a loss. as a side note, there's no good way, that i can think of, to use any kind of wheel or gear puller on the clutch-rotor. the first time i tried it, i damaged the sprag clutch-rotor. not the smartest guy on the planet, but i'm thinking of fabricating some sort of plate that i can bolt to the assembly and somehow apply pulling force more on the center of the clutch-rotor assembly. anyone - any ideas?
Engjne might be stuck at the top of compression and/or battery not fully charged.
Need to test battery on a "load testing meter:"
It may not hold full charge.
 

Fast Eddie

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And it would seemingly be in their best interest to sort this out , since they now have competition in the form of cNw's kit.
I know it’s not in the OPs interest to say what I’m about to say, so I apologise in advance… but having read through this thread, and having fitted and experienced the cNw kit on my own high comp 920, the cNw kit is simply in an entirely different league. It is thoroughly robustly designed and engineered IMHO.
 
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And it would seemingly be in their best interest to sort this out , since they now have competition in the form of cNw's kit.
I know it’s not in the OPs interest to say what I’m about to say, so I apologise in advance… but having read through this thread, and having fitted and experienced the cNw kit on my own high comp 920, the cNw kit is simply in an entirely different league. It is thoroughly robustly designed and engineered IMHO.


i agree on both counts. the fix seems simple enough, so yes, it would be in their best interest. i'm going to give this one more try with the "yeves" design fix.

FE - apology not needed. from what i know now, it's a good thing i can't turn back the clock. fairly good chance i would go cNw. guess we all learn from our past experiences. i really hope this threads makes future e-start upgraders think twice about which direction they travel.
 
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Joe, have you contacted Alton ?
not with this failure. still getting into what really happened. i need to pull the clutch-rotor assembly.

the first time this happened, i contacted them via e-mail, and felt they were not much help. suggested i go thru the U.S. distributor - jack manning at classic bike experience. he was more helpful, but really didn't provide any fix to the problem. alton only repeated the assembly instructions - "torque the nut to 65# and use thread locker, and periodically recheck" when i needed a new clutch-rotor, alton indicated they were not is stock, but were expecting them in a week or so. jack @ cbe, tore into a kit they had for a customer, and got me the parts immediately. i'm guessing alton would send them the parts to complete the kit, and the customer at cbe was not in any hurry. the way i figure - alton, can't provide a fix or solution to the problem, other than, repeat the assembly instructions. i'm sure there are folks that their starters are trouble free, and some of us have the problems - really need to figure out WHY - why do some work and some fail.
 

cliffa

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not with this failure. still getting into what really happened. i need to pull the clutch-rotor assembly.

the first time this happened, i contacted them via e-mail, and felt they were not much help. suggested i go thru the U.S. distributor - jack manning at classic bike experience. he was more helpful, but really didn't provide any fix to the problem. alton only repeated the assembly instructions - "torque the nut to 65# and use thread locker, and periodically recheck" when i needed a new clutch-rotor, alton indicated they were not is stock, but were expecting them in a week or so. jack @ cbe, tore into a kit they had for a customer, and got me the parts immediately. i'm guessing alton would send them the parts to complete the kit, and the customer at cbe was not in any hurry. the way i figure - alton, can't provide a fix or solution to the problem, other than, repeat the assembly instructions. i'm sure there are folks that their starters are trouble free, and some of us have the problems - really need to figure out WHY - why do some work and some fail.
That's pretty dissapointing from Alton. I have always had very good response from Paul in the past. I'm actually wondering if it is better not to fit the woodruff key at all, but just rely on the clamping force. That way if it does spin it won't wreck the pto shaft.
 
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i'm sure there are folks that their starters are trouble free, and some of us have the problems
I would be guessing but if a thread has not been formed correctly or the two faces on nut and the driven plate do not have full engagement then you will have the issue. Seems odd to rely on just a thin area on the nut for the 65lbs to be transferred and so few threads, probably just manages on a good set of parts and dubious if any part is compromised. Yves solution is the best, even a nut with a greater number of threads and a large Belville washer would be an improvement.
 
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