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Discussion Starter #1
Hello Folks,

I just recently acquired my first FE engine, a factory 390 as installed in my new (to me) 1962 Thunderbird Convertible. I have questions about the spacer plate installed from the factory between the engine and Cruise-o-Matic transmission. Apparently a previous owner decided it was an option and neglected to install it.

I wouldn't have noticed except for the persistent starter noise and the missing flywhell inspection plate.

So, how necessary is this plate? I have been told by some other Tbird experts that it is necessary for correct converter and starter engagement, and I have to admit that seems to make sense. Nonetheless, this is one headache I would just as soon avoid, if possible.

So, assuming that I need one, would it be OK to split one in two halves to simplify installation? This way I could just slide the transmission back instead of completely removing it.

Your thoughts and observations are greatly appreciated.
 

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The “block plate” as it’s called, is absolutely necessary for proper starter alignment.
You cannot split it to install.
The trans and flywheel need to come out to install it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
No, the plate locates the starter.
No shimming possible.
Why not?

Not being argumentative, just curious, perhaps I'm missing the bigger picture.

The transmission/bellhousing mounting surface is what locates the starter...what if you fabricated a circumferential starter shim equivalent to the width (1/8"?) of the block plate which would move the starter away from the ring gear the same distance as the block plate?

Just brainstorming here, feel free to shoot down my theory at any time.

I obviously have an ulterior motive, which is to avoid having to separate the trans from the engine if possible.

Thanks!
 

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The transmission/bellhousing mounting surface is NOT what locates the starter.

The plate locates on the engine dowel pins.
the hole in the plate that the starter passes thru is then precisely located.... to locate the starter with regard to tooth depth engagement with the ring gear.
It is not a question of the thickness of the plate (though that is important too).

Think in 3 dimensions. Not 2.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The transmission/bellhousing mounting surface is NOT what locates the starter.

The plate locates on the engine dowel pins.
the hole in the plate that the starter passes thru is then precisely located.... to locate the starter with regard to tooth depth engagement with the ring gear.
It is not a question of the thickness of the plate (though that is important too).

Think in 3 dimensions. Not 2.
A-ha! NOW I get it. Thanks for the explanation!
 

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Why not?

Not being argumentative, just curious, perhaps I'm missing the bigger picture.

The transmission/bellhousing mounting surface is what locates the starter...what if you fabricated a circumferential starter shim equivalent to the width (1/8"?) of the block plate which would move the starter away from the ring gear the same distance as the block plate?

Just brainstorming here, feel free to shoot down my theory at any time.

I obviously have an ulterior motive, which is to avoid having to separate the trans from the engine if possible.

Thanks!
You had me scratching my head on that one.

The starter and the engine are supposed to be on the front of the plate while the transmission is on the back.

Shimming the starter/transmission faces without shimming the engine/transmission faces would put the starter and engine on different planes. Not sure if it would be enough to prevent full tooth engagement given the travel of the bendix drive but it would not help the situation.

That just sucks having to disassemble, especially removing the flywheel and all but to galaxiex point, you need the alignment dowels and precision holes in the plate to make it work.

There is often a world of difference between "Can I" and "Should I."

Looks like you CAN cut a wedge out of a plate and cheat the thing back in there. Buy some cheap bolts a few inches too long and slide the transmission back. Somehow get that plate slid in and two bolts back in the holes. Install the correct bolts and put a washer in the spot where you cut the wedge out before torquing things back in place.

Sounds easy if you say it fast but still a lot of work. You might end up with a rattle when you got done and you might wish you had done it right in the first place.

You SHOULD remove the transmission and flywheel, change the rear main seal and the transmission input seal, output seal, shifter seal, and dipstick o-ring, and install the correct plate.

Best of luck with it
 

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I would not d**k around with half-assed solutions to this missing block plate.

ANYTHING other than sucking it up and pulling the trans and flywheel and installing the plate properly like it should be... is just a hack job.

I have NO respect for hack job doers.

Fix it RIGHT, fix it ONCE, and be DONE with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I would not d**k around with half-assed solutions to this missing block plate.

ANYTHING other than sucking it up and pulling the trans and flywheel and installing the plate properly like it should be... is just a hack job.

I have NO respect for hack job doers.

Fix it RIGHT, fix it ONCE, and be DONE with it.
I couldn't agree more.

I am a details type of guy, always have been. Now that I fully grasp the significance of the block plate to the starter (and possibly the torque converter) my goal now is to figure out the easiest way to install the COMPLETE INTACT plate with the least amount of effort. The engine and transmission have less than a thousand miles on a rebuild, and I don't have any leaks, so I can't imagine needing to dig in to either unit.

As I mentioned on another forum, I have a transmission jack and I'm not afraid to use it.
 

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I couldn't agree more.

I am a details type of guy, always have been. Now that I fully grasp the significance of the block plate to the starter (and possibly the torque converter) my goal now is to figure out the easiest way to install the COMPLETE INTACT plate with the least amount of effort. The engine and transmission have less than a thousand miles on a rebuild, and I don't have any leaks, so I can't imagine needing to dig in to either unit.

As I mentioned on another forum, I have a transmission jack and I'm not afraid to use it.
With less than 1000 miles on both this is actually an easy job.
No 40-50 year old grease, grime and muck to deal with, plus no need to go into either the trans or engine.
All fasteners should be clean and easy to see.
The easiest to pull by far is the trans.
If you are careful and think the job thru,
you may not even have to drain any fluids, tho you may want to drain the trans "just in case".

If you were to pull the engine, at minimum you have to drain the cooling system.
Plus, going back in, it's a lot harder to get the engine lined up with the trans when the trans is still in place.
Whereas lining up the trans to the engine is far easier, esp with a trans jack, still need to be careful tho.

Do you have access to a hoist?
Or are you doing this on jack stands?

Who was the doofus that installed it without the block plate?
That is a boneheaded move if I ever saw one.
Musta been a chebby guy, huh? ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Do you have access to a hoist?
Or are you doing this on jack stands?
I have a 4-post lift, and a high-lift transmission jack, so it could be a lot worse...

Who was the doofus that installed it without the block plate?
That is a boneheaded move if I ever saw one.
Musta been a chebby guy, huh? ;)
No idea...I can't believe that the previous owners disregarded the starter noise, or didn't care about it, although the car drives very well otherwise, and they probably weren't mechanically knowledgeable and just passed it off as an 'old car thing' (ugh!).

No surprise actually, I've bought MANY cars over the years, and inevitably I find at least one bonehead fix/modification/screwup that makes me shake my head.

I knew the car had some issues when I bought it (and was priced accordingly) so I don't feel too bad. It's kind of weird, the car has had a fair amount of work/upgrades and all of it appears to be top notch - EXCEPT for this major screwup.

Go figure.
 

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I agree on what has been stated and the plate should have been installed during assembly of the engine to transmissions. But at the same time I will disagree that the plate needs (Have) to be there for alignment of starter engagement. The Dowel Pin is a necessary component which guild the Transmission to the engine and the Plate is only there due to the opening for the Inspection. As started the starter is also design for the compensation of the plate for starter engagement and can be duplicated.

The noise you are hearing is the starter Pinion Gear hitting the Flywheel once the Drive Yoke is engaged. If the Dowel Pins are verify in place. It is possible to slit the Engine Plate in pieces removed the Engine to Transmission bolts then reassemble the pieces in place and Torque the bolts. If you look in 3D there is no difference the distance of starter would be in the design position.

Ford Engineers designed the starter engagement with the plate in place, The starter is bolted to the Transmission Bell Housing not the engine. This distance is the thickness of the plate at the same time the Transmission is also moved away from the engine due to thickness of the Plate. Since the Torque Converter is bolted to the Flywheel which is part of the engine. The Torque Converter is now part of the engine which engaged into the Transmission Oil Pump including other functions of the transmission.

This distance can be reproduce and this process is used to design many thing.

Example:

1. Replacement of different stock Caliper by modifying a special place for the new alignment.

2. T5, T45,etc…. to be used for a FE or 385..

I know I talk to much…….
 

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well they do make a starter shim plate, but IT IS FOR RACING USE ONLY, and hard to find, the problem is as you start the motor it wear s on the bolt holes and the starter gets out of spec after continued use, and they are replaced regularly, I have a blown stroker fire breather 545, and I use the factory plate, I tried the shim plate thingy, and I put 3 flywheels in, 1 starter, and 2 Bendix, so I went bought a plate, another hays flex plate, and a 3hp gear starter, I start like a brand new car, get the plate put it in correctly and just be done with it and happy,
 

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I agree on what has been stated and the plate should have been installed during assembly of the engine to transmissions. But at the same time I will disagree that the plate needs (Have) to be there for alignment of starter engagement. The Dowel Pin is a necessary component which guild the Transmission to the engine and the Plate is only there due to the opening for the Inspection. As started the starter is also design for the compensation of the plate for starter engagement and can be duplicated.

The noise you are hearing is the starter Pinion Gear hitting the Flywheel once the Drive Yoke is engaged. If the Dowel Pins are verify in place. It is possible to slit the Engine Plate in pieces removed the Engine to Transmission bolts then reassemble the pieces in place and Torque the bolts. If you look in 3D there is no difference the distance of starter would be in the design position.

Ford Engineers designed the starter engagement with the plate in place, The starter is bolted to the Transmission Bell Housing not the engine. This distance is the thickness of the plate at the same time the Transmission is also moved away from the engine due to thickness of the Plate. Since the Torque Converter is bolted to the Flywheel which is part of the engine. The Torque Converter is now part of the engine which engaged into the Transmission Oil Pump including other functions of the transmission.

This distance can be reproduce and this process is used to design many thing.

Example:

1. Replacement of different stock Caliper by modifying a special place for the new alignment.

2. T5, T45,etc…. to be used for a FE or 385..

I know I talk to much…….
You are a hack job idiot.
The plate absolutely must be installed to locate the starter properly.
Have you ever actually worked on a Ford engine and transmission and starter?
Stop posting stupid misinformation.
 

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You are a hack job idiot.
The plate absolutely must be installed to locate the starter properly.
Have you ever actually worked on a Ford engine and transmission and starter?
Stop posting stupid misinformation.
Hack job......really. Please explain the difference if the Engine Plate is used and the same Engine Plate is cut into Let say 4 pieces and place into the same position, What is the Difference? Do you know anything about design??

I have probably worked on more engines when you were still in diapers. Have you ever heard of ACAD??

Idiot?? Stupid?? Misinformation??? What language. I thought Forums are for posting discussion of information.
If you have something to share or ask be my quest. If you believe the information is incorrect, then take each part of my response posting voice your opinion by writing the evidence.
 

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well they do make a starter shim plate, but IT IS FOR RACING USE ONLY, and hard to find, the problem is as you start the motor it wear s on the bolt holes and the starter gets out of spec after continued use, and they are replaced regularly, I have a blown stroker fire breather 545, and I use the factory plate, I tried the shim plate thingy, and I put 3 flywheels in, 1 starter, and 2 Bendix, so I went bought a plate, another hays flex plate, and a 3hp gear starter, I start like a brand new car, get the plate put it in correctly and just be done with it and happy,
Again as mention I don't disagree the plate should be in place. The transmission has to completely separated from the engine, the Torque Converter has to be completely removed. Now the Flywheel has to be completely removed Once the plate is in place the Flywheel, Torque Converter and realignment of the Transmission to engine. Every Bolts has to Re-Torque, Well I guess you don't have too but I've seen to many bolt worked itself out. I guess it depend on experience the time it would take to perform this task.

Interesting a Starter Shim used in Racing application which re-align the starter. I remember an 1968 Mustang notchback with a 428SCJ w/4-speed in 1976 he ad the engine and trans. He purchase a 302 from a wrecked Mustang II and a C4 from the same wrecking yard when he wanted better gas mileage. When I went to pick up the engine and trans he was having problems with starter (Grinding) and when it started the whole Mustang would Shake. He made a Starter Shim from Aluminum but still Noise when the starter engaged and had shaking problems. I help him separated the transmission from the engine and found Flywheel (Flex-plate), Harmonic Balancer, Starter and Torque Converter was all from different year Windsor Engines and Transmissions. I still have the engine and trans and he just gave it to me for helping him.
 

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I think these pics may explain what happens when the Starter is engaged to the fly-wheel. Now remember this a Manual transmission with a Hi-Torque Starter for a Stroked AC427 Cobra. As you can see the engine plate is in place but remember it's only there due to ALIGNMENT. This starter Pinion Gear on this is different then stock one due to the gears of the starter is further away including the clutch just behind the gears. All old Ford engines starter use a clutch just behind the gear tooth which will hit the flywheel if the distance is not maintained. On this example, If the Transmission bell-housing is in place and the engine plate is removed this starter gear would be closer and actually the engagement would be better.

The last Pic is a starter from 1963 FE 352 engines.
 

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