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Starter Relay vs. Starter Solenoid

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Old 05-28-2012, 11:54 AM
19fifty4 19fifty4 is offline
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Starter Relay vs. Starter Solenoid

Are these different terms for the same animal? A starter relay used in a 56 F1 12 volt system as compared to a starter solenoid in a generic 65 Ford 12v system.
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Old 05-28-2012, 12:58 PM
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The relay is the correct term for a 56 starter activating thingy. It connects the high current required by the starter. A solenoid is usually referred to an electrical device that does mechanical work and or electrical work such as moving the starter engaging gears into the flywheel. Both terms used incorrectly many times.
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Old 05-28-2012, 01:59 PM
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raytasch is on the right track...in pure electrical terms, a relay is bascially just an on/off switch whereas a solenoid is an electrically controlled device that activates a piston. In terms of automotive starters, you will never find a solenoid mounted anywhere other than on top of a starter. The solenoid is used to activate the starter bendix drive. A starter relay merely provides a high current voltage source to the starter...the relay's main function is to control a high current supply via a low current circuit.
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Old 05-28-2012, 04:12 PM
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So if it's mounted to the firewall it's basically a relay. The hot from the battery to one side / cable from relay to starter on the other? Is this correct? The part I got from AZ says "starter solenoid" on the box where as the wiring diagram I'm looking at for the 56 refers to it as a relay. I don't care if they call it different things as long as I got the right part.
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Old 05-28-2012, 05:07 PM
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The issue is not what it says on the box, it's what the part looks like. A starter relay mounts on the firewall/inner fender....a solenoid mounts on the starter motor.
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Old 05-28-2012, 05:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 19fifty4 View Post
...The part I got from AZ says "starter solenoid" on the box .....
Sure it doesn't say this? 接力
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Old 05-28-2012, 06:13 PM
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[QUOTE=raytasch;

Both terms used incorrectly many times.[/QUOTE]

You are correct. The relay mounts remotely from the starter as on the firewall or sometimes an inner fender panel. The solenoid application must be attached to the starter.
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Old 05-28-2012, 09:44 PM
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Thanks for the clarification. The device I got from AZ is identical to the first pic.

I've got it hooked up and the relay makes a clicking sound when I hit the starter button. Is it not getting enough juice from the battery? Defective out of the box? It seems straightforward to hookup but I'm not above making a mistake either.
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Old 05-28-2012, 10:46 PM
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Check your voltages at the battery lug, and at the starter lug when the key is turned to Start. Sure the battery is good and fully charged?
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Old 05-28-2012, 10:54 PM
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Just short the battery lug to the starter lug...that takes the relay out of the circuit. If the starter turns over then the relay is bad, if not then either the battery is low or the starter motor is bad (or has a bad connection/cable).
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Old 05-28-2012, 11:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlieLed View Post
Just short the battery lug to the starter lug...that takes the relay out of the circuit. If the starter turns over then the relay is bad, if not then either the battery is low or the starter motor is bad (or has a bad connection/cable).
Worth mentioning you need to do this with a BIG wire! 200 amps at least will be going thru it. We used to use pliers... But I can't recommend that. Wear leather gloves.

Edit: Charlie, I think now you're saying to take the battery cable lug off the solenoid and touch it to the starter lug?
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Old 05-29-2012, 12:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 19fifty4 View Post

I've got it hooked up and the relay makes a clicking sound when I hit the starter button. Is it not getting enough juice from the battery? Defective out of the box? It seems straightforward to hookup but I'm not above making a mistake either.
To answer your questions intelligently, we need some background. Why did you change the relay in the first place? What symptoms were you experiencing previously? Is it doing the same thing or something different than before?
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:40 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions. It sounds like there are 4 items I need to check:

Battery - It's reading 11.97 volts. I get the clicking sound from the relay. I put my battery charger booster on it with same result. I swapped the battery out with the one from my Galaxie / reads 12+ volts. Same result.

Relay - The voltages at the battery lug are the same I'm getting off the battery itself. Same for the starter lug. I will go back and check this one again just to make sure. I'll also try and short the battery lug to the starter lug but my guess is if the reading is the same on both sides, the result will be the same.

Starter cable - I initially checked this but I need to pull it and clean both ends again and make sure I've got a good connection. Seems like I had voltage to the starter but I will recheck.

Starter - I can pull it and take it to the parts house and have it tested. I thought it was good but in hindsight have no basis for that assumption.

Is there anything else in this chain I should examine or revisit? Thanks again.
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:07 AM
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A battery that reads 11.97 volts is essentially discharged. A battery that reads 12 volts is not much better but you should get at least a grunt out of the starter.
Have someone hold the starter button so the relay "clicks" and you hold your meter on the starter side post of the relay and see if you're getting 12 Volts there. This will pretty much prove or disprove your relay being good. Luck!
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raytasch View Post
The relay is the correct term for a 56 starter activating thingy. It connects the high current required by the starter. A solenoid is usually referred to an electrical device that does mechanical work and or electrical work such as moving the starter engaging gears into the flywheel.
Terminology varies, depending on who is using it. For example 1948/56 Ford truck catalog sez: B6A-11450-A .. Starter Motor Relay-Solenoid Switch.

In the 1960's/70's, some FoMoCo Passenger Cars had a solenoid mounted atop the starter, no relay on the fender apron.
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