When it comes to turning over, it always seems that Corvette starters tend to dislike two things: Compression and heat. Increase the compression ratio and the starter isn't happy. Increase the temperature and it gets grumpy. Mix high temperature (engine and ambient) with a higher-than-normal static compression ratio and the starter becomes downright cantankerous. To make matters worse, whenever the thermometer really rises, you too can personally approach the boiling point, particularly if you have a Corvette that refuses to crank over, let alone start. Sound familiar? If it is, then you need to check out the following pages. It's a look at modern starting systems, aimed directly at modified Corvettes that, appropriately, have added heat under the hood (as you know it's an all too familiar saga--adding horsepower adds heat). And it's jammed with real cures for hot starting headaches. Take a look. You won't be sorry.

Geared Reduction
Why is it that starters give up at the worst possible moment--such as when you're at a car show or cruise night and you jump into your Corvette to profile and for the lack of a better term, to show off? And why is that an 800-plus cubic inch Mountain-Motored drag race engine combination (complete with a 15+:1 compression ratio) has no problem turning over, but your 11:1 compression ratio 350-inch small-block-powered Corvette fails to spin at even the slightest hint of heat soak?

Those are tough questions, and they've been addressed in countless magazine pages by way of a plethora of quick fixes (rewired starters, Ford solenoids, heat shields, header wraps, etc.). But the real answer is the starter that's bolted to the side of the block. Let's back up a bit: Decades ago, racers discovered the gear reduction starter--a design that was initially popularized by the old Chrysler Corporation. Those Mopar-based gear reduction drive starters worked. But the trouble with the Mopar system was (and still is) weight. That starter was a very hefty piece--try bench-pressing one a few times and you'll know exactly what we're talking about. And to add to the troubles with the Chrysler-configuration starter is the inherent complexity of the unit. Sure it will start a hot, large displacement engine with ease, but if you use one, the (considerable) superfluous mass is on the wrong end of the Corvette. Then racers and manufacturers noticed something: Many Japanese vehicles are also fitted with gear reduction starters. In-line four cylinder engines power many of those cars. It's been said that the firing order arrangement of an in-line engine can actually create more difficult starting problems than those associated with V8 power plants. Just as important, those "off shore" starters proved small, light and durable. Bingo. Lights went off.

Increasing Starter Torque
What was really needed was a lightweight, simple gear reduction starter that combined the best of the vintage Mopar designs and the later Japanese configurations. Given this situation, several aftermarket companies came up with a new starter design (such as the McLeod "Mini Hy-Tork" starter shown in the accompanying photos). This starter design relies upon a gear reduction format: With a gear reduction of approximately 3 3/4:1, the motor can turn easily at a significantly higher RPM. Why is this important? Typically, a starter motor will draw higher electrical energy loads at low turning speeds. The gear reduction format solves that problem. Loads are decreased, windings are not as likely to become overheated and far less current is demanded from the battery. In the end, a starter such as the McLeod only requires roughly 250 amps of current to function (that could be as much as half of the draw found with a conventional starter under this condition). This leaves a considerable amperage reserve for the ignition system to supply spark to the turning engine.

But just as important, these mini-starters also deliver a whopping 50 percent more torque to the flywheel (or flex plate if your Corvette is automatic-equipped) than a conventional original equipment starter. Internally, some of the mini-starters on the market include full ball bearing construction. This small starter configuration not only allows for long service life, it is also less susceptible to heat (or even cold) problems.

But just as important, these mini-starters also deliver a whopping 50 percent more torque to the flywheel (or flex plate if your Corvette is automatic-equipped) than a conventional original equipment starter. Internally, some of the mini-starters on the market include full ball bearing construction. This small starter configuration not only allows for long service life, it is also less susceptible to heat (or even cold) problems.