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Apptrak User’s Guide—Part One  - by ERA Staff

Apptrak is a web-based starter/alternator information database tool created for electrical rebuilders and managed by the electrical rebuilder, Whatcom Electric. Having the parts and cross-reference information that you need, right at your fingertips, saves you time and eliminates trial and error guess work. Apptrak is designed to help electrical rebuilders operate more efficiently and produce a higher quality product by quickly providing the data that they need when they need it.

Like any new website, program, cell phone application or computer operating system, you have to invest time to learn how to use it before you can reap all of the benefits that it offers. The more you use it, the more proficient you become. Eventually, using the Apptrak website becomes second nature. This article is the first of a two-part Apptrak User’s Guide that will demonstrate what Apptrak can do, and explain, step by step, how to use it.

Before you can begin using Apptrak, you will need a username and a password. If you do not have one, use the phone number or email address in the Apptrak ad on page 7 of this newspaper to request one. A 14-day trial period with full access to the Apptrak website is free to any electrical rebuilder without any obligation. Once you have your username and password, don’t waste any time. Two weeks can pass by in a flash, and you get only one free trial.

With your username and password in hand, go to the Apptrak homepage at www.apptrak.com (see Figure 1). Then use the log-in button at the top right corner of the page to open the log-in screen (see Figure 2).

Once you are on the log-in page, bookmark it or save it to your favorites. That way, you will be able to go directly to the log-in page whenever you need to return to the website. Also, check the box that says: “Keep me logged in.”

Once you are logged in, you will be returned to the Apptrak homepage. On the top right side of the screen, you will see “Welcome, (your username)”, letting you know for sure that you are logged in. ...

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Cores—Your Most Valuable Resource  - by Bob Thomas

I learned early on in this business that cores are a rebuilder’s most valuable asset. Not only is a core the basis for every finished rebuilt product that you sell, it is also the best source for known high quality component parts.

Once I decided to open my own auto electric shop, the first thing that I purchased was a large assortment of cores—as many and as wide a variety as I could afford. I set aside 25% of my startup budget for those cores. As the business grew, I made it a point to buy cores on a regular basis, especially anything that was late model.

When I moved everything to a different location in 2004, I dedicated 25% of the available floor space in the new building to cores and stored them on shelving, built specifically to make it easy to organize and access them. Whenever I need a housing, a rotor, a stator, a field case or an armature, the first place I look is the core shelf. It is a little like shopping a secondhand store for a used but well made product, instead of buying something new. “New” today, all too often ends in disappointment, no matter what it is. Parts salvaged from original cores are proven. They are used but fully functional original equipment parts that have been road tested on a vehicle.

Rebuilders often find themselves in need of a part that cannot be found for any price, and the only way to get that part is from a core. It could be that little ...

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ERA Introduces Product Labels  - by ERA Staff

ERA members can now purchase labels to affix to their rebuilt units. They are printed on 3M Scotchcal Film with pressure-sensitive adhesive backing, which ensures that the labels will not fall off. They are very durable and made to withstand engine heat, water and oil.

The first label is circular, and features the ERA logo in full color with the words “Rebuilt by a Proud Member”. These labels meet the FTC requirement that rebuilt parts must be clearly labeled as such. They are sold by the sheet—each sheet containing 81 individual labels.

A second label is also available— designed as a warning for permanent magnet starters, with a “no-hammer” symbol and the words “Warning— Striking Will Damage”. These labels also feature the ERA logo and come 18 labels per sheet.

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“Just the Brushes”  - by Nathan Unger

Every so often, an anxious customer will suggest that maybe his unit needs “just the brushes.” Of course, you and I know that if you want to make a good quality rebuilt unit, you cannot fully depend on the customer’s diagnosis.

But in this case ...

Some time ago, a customer and friend of mine asked me to check out his Harley Davidson generator. He said that it was a 32E from a 48-57 Rigid. When I took it apart, the internal wiring looked most like the model 48 diagram in the ERA website Technical Article Library, “Harley Davidson Generators – 6-Volt Models.” It was a 6-volt, counterclockwise, 15-amp, 3-brush unit.

“It just doesn’t seem to be putting out enough,” the customer said. Being a mechanic himself, he had tried to determine what the problem was, but everything looked fine to him. So he brought it to me, hoping that I could figure it out. He didn’t want to buy a new unit, because he didn’t trust “Chinese made units” (sic).

So, first of all, I checked all of the insulation on the brush holders, the armature, and the field coils with a megger—all good. The commutator looked good, the brushes looked good, the fields had correct current draw, there was equal voltage drop on both sides. (I even peeled back a wee bit of the cloth tape on each one just to see if the varnish on the wire was in good shape.) I put the armature on the growler, and it also passed the test. So now I had to look deeper. ...

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Plain Talk: The New “ADD”  - by Rob Buksar

For those of you not familiar with my title, “ADD”; it stands for Attention Deficit Disorder. If this is an ailment that you personally or your children have been burdened with, you’re well aware of what a problem this can be.

The short definition of ADD is simply this. The affected individual has a problem with either focusing or staying focused on the matter at hand. It comes in varying degrees, very mild or very extreme. Staying focused in the classroom (schoolwork) or on missions at work, can vary from difficult to almost impossible. The individual’s behavior often times is very flighty. The person will be assigned a task, and shortly after being assigned, they’ll be doing something else then something else again. Either way, the matter at hand or assignment goes by the wayside and often becomes forgotten. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to get an education or to be successful on the job with this problem. The good news is that if ADD is recognized, diagnosed and treated with medication, most people can lead a normal and successful life. Untreated, whether it is a child or an adult, the person is on a fast track to nowhere!

What I want to chat about today is a different type of ADD It’s called a cell phone.

Cellular technology evolved during most of our adult lifetime. Remember the box phones? From there we went to a version that resembled a smaller version of a World War II walkie-talkie. Keep in mind that the only functions these gizmos were able to perform was making and receiving phone calls. (Basic communication) The rest is history. Now, most of us (including our youngsters) carry around a piece of technology that is as capable as any state-of-the-art computer.

Now, as in many things, an innovation can be a blessing, or if mishandled, a curse. You won’t get much debate over the blessing of instant global and Internet communication in one’s shirt pocket. That comes in real handy, especially in an emergency. I knew about the downside, I just never realized how bad it was. First, let me tell you what really sobered me.

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From the President’s Desk: Mark Your Calendar!  - by Hank Henke

There is a date that you need to mark on your calender right now. It is the second weekend in March, 2015.

You will not want to miss this event. That is March 13–15, 2015. Just a few months have past since the ERA Expo 2014 in Atlanta, but we have been busy as bees planning our next show. Perhaps you have already heard that it will be in Davenport, IA next year.

This is one of the oldest agricultural and industrial centers in the US, and among the few that are growing today. A blacksmith named John Deere moved his plow manufacturing business to Moline in 1948, to have access to the railroad and the river to transport his new implement to customers. In those days, tools were made to order, with customers often waiting weeks or months to receive their goods after they had placed their orders. Deere decided to manufacture his new steel plows in advance, so that farmers could see what they were buying and have their plow to use the very same day.

Today Deere & Company is a world leader in agricultural equipment, and they have three production facilities in the Quad-Cities, along with their international headquarters. The John Deere Pavilion is a museum of agricultural history and a showcase for the equipment they have produced, right up to the current models.

Our Expo 2015 location is in the heart of the Midwest, along the Mississippi River and Interstate highways I-80, I-88 and I-74. Davenport is one section of the Quad-Cities, a metro area where five individual cities, from two different states, have grown together. In Iowa the Mississippi River separates Davenport and Bettendorf from Rock Island. Moline and East Moline are in Illinois.

The Quad-Cities boast a cost of doing business as among the lowest in ...

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Quad Cities To Host ERA Expo  - by ERA Staff

The Exchange is pleased to announce that the 27th Annual ERA Trade Show will be held at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center in Davenport, IA on March 13–15, 2015. Davenport is part of the fast-growing metropolis known as the Quad-Cities which straddles the Mississippi River.

The area is served by the Quad City International Airport in Moline, IL, located just 13 miles from the host hotel. The Clarion provides free shuttle service to and from the airport, which is serviced by United, American and Delta Airlines, as well discount airline Allegiant Air.

The exhibition, seminars and sleep rooms will all be conveniently located under a single roof with ample free parking to accommodate any who drive to the show.

The Quad Cities is a well known agricultural and industrial manufacturing center including three John Deere factories and the John Deere Pavilion, an agricultural museum and showcase of 177 years of John Deere equipment. Mark the date on your calendar now. We will have more details in the next issue. ...

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Sidekick From Hell: Part Two  - by Dan Marinucci

We began our Suzuki Sidekick saga last month and we’ll finish up this time by explaining what it took to solve the problem. Safe to say Lester won’t get kicked again by wrong parts that look right.

Here’s what happened so far. A loyal customer brought a 1989 Sidekick to my pal Lester’s shop. The fellow bought this clean, rust- free little SUV in North Carolina and drove it back to northern Ohio. It ran fine until the starter—which we believed was the original one— failed. The customer’s son replaced the starter and the Sidekick started when the engine was cold. But it wouldn’t restart hot without some help. It also acted rich for no obvious reason during hot restarts.

Lester’s technicians discovered that momentarily disabling the vehicle’s single, throttle- body injector enabled the engine to restart readily when hot. No trouble codes were present. Fuel pressure and the critical sensors, they said, tested OK. What’s more, a scope test of that injector cast doubt on the ECM. When they tried a hot restart, the ECM was switching the injector very erratically and inconsistently (refer back to the scope patterns on page 12 of the March issue).

One of the techs found a source on the internet who specialized in Suzuki ECM repairs and upgrades. In all fairness, the symptoms this specialist listed matched some of the Sidekick’s problems. The stumped techs wanted to send the ECM out for repairs.

Fortunately, the customer was in no rush; he was willing to leave the Sidekick for as long as Lester needed it. Plus, he loved the vehicle and wanted to keep it for outdoor family activities. In the past, he had cheerfully paid for thorough, reliable repairs on all of their vehicles. Allowing his teenage son to replace a starter seemed like a momentary lapse of judgment.

Meanwhile, Les and I weighed his techs’ potential lapses of judgment. First, they seemed to gloss over the fact that the vehicle performed fine until the son replaced the starter. To the best of our knowledge, no one had touched this SUV prior to the hot restart problem— except for the starter ...

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Rebuilding Tip: Solenoid Substitution On 35mt Starter With Exposed Shift Lever  - by Bob Thomas

If you should find yourself rebuilding a 30MT or 35MT starter with an exposed shift lever, such as this Delco 1113619 (see Figure 1), you will quickly realize that most of the parts are NLA (no longer available). This particular starter came from a customer working on a 1958 Detroit Diesel engine on a stationary generator. It was in pretty good condition given its age, except for worn out brushes, a drive end bushing that was almost nonexistent and a badly damaged solenoid. Both the battery stud and the motor stud on the solenoid were stripped, and the insulators and wires under the cap were broken.

This was not a restoration project. The stationary generator was being used as an emergency backup for a local county’s vehicle maintenance facility. Therefore, I decided to look for an alternative solenoid that might work in place of the original.

Delco D985, better known by the Accurate part number 951, looked like it could work. The D985 fit later model 30MT and 35MT starters. It has a slightly larger bore, but it looked similar enough to work. The plunger throw was also similar, and was adjustable, using the external linkage. The plunger shaft on these older starters is threaded and screws into threads in the end of the plunger. A tang in the original solenoid’s bore fits into a slot in the plunger to prevent it from rotating on the threads, once it is in place. So the first concern was preventing the plunger from rotating, once it was adjusted. I used thread-locking compound for that.

The next problem to solve was the taper on the contact side of the original plunger, which was shallower than the plunger normally used with a D985 solenoid (see Figure 2). This meant that the plunger would bottom out before closing the contacts. The solution required a visit to a machine shop, where the taper on the original plunger was cut to match the taper on a D985 plunger (see Figure 3). ...

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Rebuilding Tip: Installing Tight Snap Rings  - by Bob Thomas

Among the most difficult snap rings to re-install are those used on Bosch industrial starters. If you have a 3-jaw puller, this can be an easy job. This also works with any other drive that has a flat surface under the drive body for the jaws to hook onto. ...

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Understanding Root Diameter: Does It Matter?  - by Bob Thomas And Wes Grueninger Sr.

If you look up any starter drive in a catalog, a reference book or an online database, you will probably find specifications like the number of teeth, the direction of rotation, the number of splines, the drive length, the gear OD (outside diameter), the gear ID (inside diameter) and possibly the drive’s OD at the widest point. Root Diameter (RD) is seldom ever mentioned, except to differentiate between two nearly identical drives. What is the RD, and does it really matter? Will drives that differ only by RD interchange with one another?

Pinion OD is the cross-sectional measurement of the gear taken across a circle drawn around the outside of the tops of the gear’s teeth. Pinion RD is the cross-sectional measurement taken across a circle drawn around the base of the gear’s teeth. The height of the gear teeth accounts for the difference between the two diameters. If you think of the gear teeth as a series of mountain tops the root will be the bottom of the valleys between them. The root is also often called the base of the gear.

Measuring the root diameter with an even number of teeth is relatively easy (see Figure 2). When working with an odd number of teeth you will have ...

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