Introduction: How to Disassemble and Clean a Starter Motor for a Toyota 22R Engine

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I enjoy things that last a long time. I'd oftentimes rather maintain an item, rather than replacing it later because it broke, or failed, leaving me stranded. 

I have a Toyota Motorhome with a 22R engine, and while I am rebuilding the engine, I decided to re- grease the motor and mechanism. The 22R engine is regarded by many as one of the most reliable internal combustion engines made.

I found what I think to be the most well- built starter motor I have ever seen. Everything has either ball bearings, or roller bearings, on both ends of each shaft. Wow... A far cry from the sintered brass bushings you'll find on other starters. 

Oh! Sorry. On to the instructable. 

P.S. You'll find I enjoy using a *lot* of grease. You may disagree with the amount of grease I use, and that's fine. The principles are the same.

Step 1: Begin by Removing the Two Small Phillips Screws on the Back of the Motor.

Degrease the starter motor assembly. I recommend hot water and Super Clean. 

Begin by removing the two small phillips head screws on the back of the motor. These two small screws hold the brush assembly against the rear motor cover. 

Disconnect the positive motor terminal from the other end of the solenoid connection post. This nut is under the brown protective cover. Thread the nut back on the stud so you do not lose it. 

Next, remove the two long bolts holding the motor assembly to the gearcase assembly. 

If for some reason the rotor sticks and the coil assembly and brush assemblies come out, do not pannick! In fact, this must happen at some point, anyway. 

If you are adventurous, you could remove the motor end cap first, then the rotor, then the coil assembly. 

You can now remove the rotor if ti did not come out. Look at the pics. Bearings on both ends. Nice!

Step 2: Next, Delve Into the Solenoid.

Next, you want to remove the three slightly larger phillips head screws on the solenoid cover plate. Be careful not to damage the rubber gasket. 

When you are done, remove the solenoid plunger. 

Plunger is the round thing in the middle. A word of caution! There is a ball bearing that will fall out if you tip the assembly upside- down. (Cover plate access area down) Keep this in mind, friends! Bearings carry a deep- seated anger over having to do lots of work! They will run from you and hide in a corner where you will never find it! Rather than counseling the bearing before removing it, just try to keep it from escaping in the first place!

Step 3: Remove the Two Large, Very Tight Phillips Head Screws in the Starter Face.

Please, do not attempt this step unless you have an impact driver! You will need the number 3 (THREE) phillips bit in your impact driver, friends! Don't use the number TWO because you're lazy, like me. You'll mangle the heads! 

Now, pop the gearbox main assembly apart. 

In case you are actively reading this and following the steps on by one, sorry! Be careful! There are 5 (five) fairly thick roller bearings on an idler gear, housed in a white plastic retainer. See the pic... 

Loose roller bearings are almost as bitter as ball bearings are. Especially if the grease is dry, then they will run from you, but they don't run as far as ball bearings. They just don't have the stamina.

The flywheel engagement plunger will pull right out. It makes it easier to remove the idler gear. 

Step 4: Now That Everything's Apart...

Now that you got everything apart, the next step might be hard for seasoned mechanics to accept. As someone who has had to MAKE IT WORK with NO MONEY, I have had to, well, make it work with no money. 

I amazed a seasoned, college educated mechanic of thirty years recently. 

A squeaky bearing in a golf cart. Mechanic said "Bearing's lost lubrication. It must be replaced." I say, "No, sir. Let's put the lubrication back inside." He literally said "That's impossible! I've been in a shop for thirty years!" Huh... Well, I popped the rubber dust cover off with a sharp instrument and greased the insides, then replaced the dust cover again. He didn't have much to say after that. The bearing is still in service today!

Anyways... You'll find a series of partially dust sealed bearings in this starter motor. Two ball and race bearings on the starter gear plunger assembly, and two smaller ball and race units on the rotor itself. 

To make sure the grease is injected properly, I use a *very* special tool. For applying grease in tight spots where there are no Zerk fittings, it is indispensable, friends. For the $5 you pay for it, it is invaluable. You can get them at Wal Mart in the turkey basting aisle. Or, was it the kitchen utensils aisle? See image. 

So, how do you get a bunch of cold, thick grease in it? Easy, friends. Unscrew the plunger assembly, and remove it. Unscrew the needle adapter as well. Using your index finger, grab some grease and start ramming it in. Why unscrew the needle adapter? Because as you insert the grease, the air you displace int he cylinder has to go somewhere. If the needle is clogged, the grease will fight you. Don't fight the grease! It will win! 

This project took me about one and one third cylinders of Red Line CV-2 grease, which was the closest Synthetic (I always use synthetic oil and grease in my stuff. It's not *that* much more expensive. Take it from a guy who's been working on cars since he was eleven. [literally] It's worth the extra money...) grease that matched the consistency of what was in the starter motor. Clingy. But not overly thick like Green Grease (Not that it's bad. Green grease has it's place, no doubt!) 

If you have your doubts about the thickness of the CV-2 grease, feel free to use Mobile-1 General Purpose Synthetic grease in the tub. Much less hydraulic friction, but it will not "Stick" as good. Still, I'd use it in a heartbeat if I didn't have the CV-2 on hand. After all, it is a thirty year old starter. It's pretty much appreciate just about any fresh grease at this point.

A word to the wise, do not attempt to re-insert the plunger of the syringe into the cylinder straight. The silicone oring will want to bunch up and pop out of it's groove. Instead, insert it crooked, and right (Straighten) it *inside* of the cylinder! This way, the oring will behave.

Screw the plunger guide and base back on, then the needle adapter and needle. Push the air out of the needle by pushing on the plunger shaft end, until some grease comes out. If you have other grease in the needle, get it all out. You want to minimize cross- contamination of lubricants. Trust me on this :)

This little syringe has saved me a lot of headache in the past. I have gone through two of them. It beats using a Q-tip to cram grease in a tight spot.

Step 5: Grab Your Super Clean

Grab your Super Clean. Spray the insides of *everything* including the bearings. Sacrilege! Some may say. "Running bearings dry will destroy them! You're crazy, wolfman!" Crazy, like a fox! Or, uh, a wolf. Running bearings dry under load will certainly destroy them instantly. But spinning them under water with your finger, to get the old, contaminated grease off, will not hurt them. Just don't let them out for a few days without at least a coat of WD-40! They will rust and then you're pooched! 

Using a small flathead screwdriver, remove *all* of the old grease. Using a Q-tip, get in all the cervices. Super clean helps. So does hot water. Hot water breaks up grease one, and two, it evaporates faster than cold water. 

Step 6: The Fun Part!

Grab your paper towels! No, seriously, grab a bunch. 

Got 'em?

No, more than that. Yeah, that's about right. 

Okay! Now, grab your syringe!

Hopefully you waited 'till all the water evaporated. Or, used a blow- dryer to facilitate the drying process. (it works very well)

It helps to verify that the bearings spin freely, this ensure all the old grease is out of the raceway, although you should NOT obsess if there's still old grease in the ball retainer. There will always be unless you soak everything in the ultrasonic hot tank :)

Greasing old bearings is a multi- step process. I like to inject every space between the balls, then roll it by hand to work the grease into the race. Then, I will add more grease around the top of the race. (See pics.) Your red grease will get darker as it mixes with the stock grease, which might have been black, or, it might have just gotten dirty over time. This starter motor looks original, and has the same amount of grease as the rest of the engine (Think, tree rings for dating it's age) which might make it thirty years old!

One you have the rotor bearings greased, break out the Dremel with the mild abrasive polishing bit. Note, please, that this bit is soft to the touch. If you use an actual abrasive bit you'll be sorry because your commutators will need to be cut. You will have to remove the bearings, stick it in a lathe, and slowly turn the commutator assembly until everything's even. So, use the soft, soft bit you would use to polish a knife.

Now, polish each individual commutator pad, one by one, until you got them all. Once they are all fairly shiny (Don't overdo it. All we're doing is removing some minor scratched and pitting. You don't want any commutator pad lower than the next one!) Once you're done, using the same light abrasive bit, use a wide sweeping motion to sort of "even up" the pads. Don't stay in any one place too long, you want to use wide swaths to sort of even them all up. 

Once you;re done with that, use a small razor knife to scrape the areas between each pad. Carbon dust will accumulate between the pads and create resistance issues. You cane use a little brake cleaner (not, uh, brake fluid...) to clean and dry out the small valleys between the copper pads, if you want. 

Step 7: Greasing the Flywheel Engagement Plunger Assembly Bearings

Sounds complicated. But it's not, grasshopper.

Before you begin, grasp both ends of the flywheel engagement plunger assembly. Now, with your other hand, grasp the big gear. Now, slide the big gear up and down on the shaft. You might have to force it! If it does not move you will not be able to adequately lubricate the bearings, so make sure you can move it!

See pics.

After the bearings are lubricated, be sure to place several drops of oil on the area between the secondary (Smaller) bearing and the large gear, on the shaft inside. You MUST hold the flywheel engagement plunger assembly with the flywheel engagement gear pointing to the ground after you place several drops of oil between the secondary bearing and the large diameter gear! This allows the oil to gravity- feed down the shaft, lubricating the one- way clutch assembly! This is essential, friends. You will *feel* it work a little easier, and ideally you'd want to see some of the oil trickle down the other side of the main (large diameter) gear. This lets you know there's enough oil on the shaft. 

What oil do I recommend? Why, Break- Free CLP, of course. It's synthetic, naturally.  

Step 8: Greasing the Gearbox.

On to the gearbox. 

It's good to have grease in the roller bearing retaining basket. (White plastic castle looking thing)

Take a look at the idler gear with a flashlight. The inside of it. You'll see a short, shiny ring on the inside edge, then a taller, more dull ring. 

The short, shiny ring is where the plastic roller bearing retaining basket rubbed against it. The taller, dull ring is where the roller bearings meshed with the idler gear. Make note of this! It is important, friends. 

You must install the idler gear short, shiny ring facing the gearbox housing. (Down) Otherwise, the inside of the idler gear will have to wear  a new meshing friction point with the white plastic roller bearing retaining basket. If this happens, the hardened metal gear will win the battle against the plastic retaining basket. It will not explode, or anything like that, but it will cause undue wear. Not a lot, even, just... It bothers me to think about it :)


Do ***NOT*** put the idler gear back in, yet! You will not be able to get the flywheel engagement plunger assembly in. They simply will not mesh. The flywheel engagement plunger assembly AND the idler gear must go in as an ASSEMBLY. It makes life so much easier!

Step 9: Now, the Motor.

On to the motor. 

Locate the back of the gear case housing where the motor slips into. 

Put a bead of grease where the bearing housing is, so that the bearing never starves for grease.

Insert the rotor into the housing. 

Turn the housing over and grease the areas that need it. (See picture.)

Turn the housing back over so the commutator end is facing up. Place the coil assembly over the rotor, making sure the coil assembly is facing the right way. (Blue silicone wire protector facing up towards the commutator)

This next part is not going top be easy. But it's not as bad as doing the same thing with the brush assembly from a V Star 1100. I keep a Wizard on hand for that one. 

Anyway... place the brush assembly over the smaller rotor bearing. This is the easy part. The bottom of each brush should now be resting on the black ridge under the commutator pads. 

Now, using a small flathead screwdriver, push each brush into it's holder against spring tension, and put the back of the brush holder assembly to get that particular brush onto the commutator. Do this in a circular motion until all four brushes are on the commutator pad. Then, push the brush assembly down fully onto the pad. 

Be careful when using the screwdriver, not to gouge the soft, carbon brushes. Gouges equal less electrical contact with the commutators, and reduced output power of the motor. 

It might take a few tries and some cussing, but i'll go. Just be gentle with that screwdriver.

Now, place the end cap on the motor. (Make sure it's clean inside! Carbon dust is conductive and will rob the starter motor of it's power if it finds it's way back into the commutator, friends.)

Note the groove for the positive (+) lead out of the coil assembly. The end cap can only go on one way. 

Check to make sure it;s on right by glancing at the back. Do the threaded holes for the screws line up with the holes in the cap itself? If they're off a little, that's okay, just lift the cap from the coil assembly and rotate a little. A word to the wise- when you get the first screw in do not tighten it. Leave it loose so you can finagle the second screw. Otherwise it'll be tight, and want to fight you, okay? Once both screws are in, take care not to remove the cap. If you do, it'll tub on the brush assembly and it'll pop the brushes off of the commutator, and you'll have to remove both screws again, and use your screwdriver to place them back on the commutator. What a pain! 

Step 10: Final Step, the Solenoid

Now, on to the solenoid and plunger assembly. 

Using the same soft abrasive bit in your Dremel, polish the contact points in the solenoid assembly. These contact points act like a heavy duty "Switch", bridging the connection between the battery positive and the starter motor itself, which needs a ton of current to turn the engine over. 

Over time, these contacts become burned, pitted, and dirty, increasing resistance and giving the motor less current to work with. 

How rude!
So, we must clean the contacts. The soft abrasive bit is perfect for this task. You can tell when the area is clean when it becomes shiny. There is also a contact ring on the plunger. See pics.

A small current is applied a coil; inside of the plunger housing. The current induces an electromagnetic field that strongly attracts the solenoid plunger downward. This downward movement does two things. 

1. It drives the plunger contact ring down onto the two copper contact points inside the starter housing, making a high current connection between the battery, and the starter motor itself. 

2. It forces the flywheel engagement plunger assembly out. Once the flywheel engagement assembly is thrust out, it engages the flywheel, turning it. The reason it must pop out, is because when you release your ignition key from the "Start" position, the flywheel engagement solenoid plunger assembly is retracted back inside the starter housing, free of the flywheel, which is now spinning as the engine has not started. The flywheel is always connected to the engine at all times. Otherwise, the engine would constantly be turning the starter motor. The starter motor would eventually lock up, as the flywheel would be spinning at a very high RPM, forcing the motor inside the starter to turn at forty times the speed of the engine! The one- way clutch protects the starter motor when the key is release, as there's a slight moment where the starter is engaged to the flywheel whilst the engine is operating. The clutch prevents it from back feeding back into the starter motor itself for that moment. But the clutch will burn it if left engaged to the staring motor. But we oiled it previous, remember? So we're all good, there. 

Also, it might be a good time to re- attach the positive lead from the battery to the other solenoid terminal.

Now, attach the back solenoid cover plate with the three medium sized Phillips screws. Make sure the rubber gasket is intact, and that the indented side goes against the starter housing and not the plate. 

Insert the plunger spring. This long spring will go inside the hole opposite where the starter motor output gear is protruding from. Just push it right in.

Grease the large single ball bearing and insert it into the end of the flywheel engagement plunger assembly, making sure it goes all the way in. (And doesn't come back out! The solenoid plunger spring will push against the bearing.) 

Now, mate the two assemblies, being careful not to let the motor assembly come apart. Remember what I said about the brushes. They will pop back out!

Once the assemblies are together, put the two large Phillips screws in the face of the starter, and tighten them, then put the long bolts back into the motor housing. Tighten the bolts down, then use the impact driver to fully tighten the larger Phillips screws in the starter face. Do NOT forget to torque those Phillips head screws in the face!! Use a number three bit, please. 

Re- attach the positive motor lead if you have not already. 

Before bolting it back up, test the starter for functionality by using a jumper cable and alligator clip. 

Attach one end of the alligator clip to the small black terminal near where the positive terminal direct from the battery attaches to. This will operate the solenoid. 

Now, attach the jumper cables to your battery.

Ground the negative (Black) cable to the starter motor mounting ear. 

Touch the positive (Red) jumper cable lead to the terminal the battery connects to. 

The small gear should shoot out (Scaring you) while spinning. (Also scaring you.) 

It will also spark and jump in your hands, which will scare you. 

Now, disconnect the alligator lead from the small black blade terminal and the positive battery terminal.

Turn the starter motor, so the lead directly from the starter motor is exposed. Leave the black jumper cable attached to the mounting ear.

Now, touch the red jumper cable lead to the bolt. The motor should spin without the flywheel gear jumping out. It will spark. 

Leave the lead touching the terminal and listen while the motor spins. 

The motor should increase in RPM and level out. 

What is happening here, is that all that fresh grease you put in is being run through the works. Most of it is being displaced. This is what you want. It reduces hydraulic friction, and puts grease in the crevices, so that dirt won't collect there and fall into the workings later. 

Secondly, the brushes are now wearing into the clean commutator pads. They must mesh perfectly, and as the connection becomes more intimate, the current will increase to the rotor, giving it more power, as it spins faster. 

Generally speaking, you want this to happen with the starter motor unloaded, so it has a chance to full "Break in", instead of bolting it back up to the engine and starting it, although, friends, this is fine, too. You can do that and not worry, but the motor may turn a tad slow at first, especially if your battery is a little old. 

Dry running it off of the engine ensures it is working, and the motor is allowed to break in the commutator pads to the brushes, as well as displacing the grease as best it can be displaced, reducing hydraulic friction and allowing the internal mechanisms to operate smoothly. 

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