maybe a dumb quetion, but I have to ask.....

I have an 76 that sits a lot of the winter and I just fire it up occasionally, then drive it in the summer.
The other day, I drove home, parked and then it would not start. The
engine would not even turn over. Then I stuck the key in again and it almost threw the engine out of the car turning over. I have had this happen numerous times and it has always been the battery - one cell goes bad and those are exactly the symptoms.
I took the battery in and it checked out ok, but I suspect it still may die again. I go thru one every 2-3 years sitting this way. It's under lifetime warrantee as long as I own the car, so I don't really care.
Now - I am cleaning up connections, etc just as a precaution since I dont want to get stuck somewhere and I have heard that a starter can develop a 'flat spot' from sitting too long.
My question is - is this actually a possibility (a starter developing a flat spot), or a misnomer, or an old garage hoax....???
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Yes - thanks - your replies make perfect sense. As I say - I usually have battery issues, but it is not a new car and I expect othr things (namely connections, solenoids, etc) to deteriorate with time.
Thanks for the clarification about the starter dead spot... versus.... flat spot.
regards.
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Yes, sometimes there are dead spots in starters. I'm not sure what causes them, as I have never had one, but sitting in one spot could create corrosion on a contact and make it so that you can't get current through, I would assume.
Your winter storage method doesn't sound all that good. When a car is sitting, firing it up to idle creates its own problems in that moisture is not forced out of the whole car from warming it completely. It usually takes a half hour run in the winter to warm the parts like the transmission and rear end, not to mention getting the mufflers hot enough to dry out. So often it is better to sit unused for long times than to fire it up, run for 10 minutes, and shut it down.
IMHO, it is rarely bad enough in winter anymore to not drive it. Now if you live on a dirt road that is mud in winter, of they use a ton of salt on the road pass your house alone, then yes, that is something to avoid. But in my experience, they don't salt until it snows the first time, and that can be anywhere from November to January, depending on the winter and the location. Yet many put them away in September to sit.
Drive it until the first snow.
If they don't salt, there is no reason not to take it out even in the snow to get a half hour or more running in to keep everything going. Unless the snow is deep and it is an automatic, they really are decent in the snow, too. If you worry about rust, you can spray the dry clean frame with a light coat of oil before each winter. Or you can repaint the frame. Remember, the paint on them new wasn't that great, yet it kept most from rusting for 20 years or more. A fresh coat of paint on the frame could keep it that way for another 20 years and let you not hide from every dark cloud that passes overhead.
I'm surprised you don't have to rebuild brakes each summer. Sitting all winter is well known for making brake issues. I think if you set up to make a drive each month through the winter, you'll find the car much more responsive to driving without many issues you have been experiencing.
If you are in a place where the winter is so bad you have to sit for the 6 months, then buy a battery tender. These are "smart" battery chargers that control the charge so that the battery is never overcharged and will extend the battery life greatly.
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---------------------------------------------------------------------- Here's info I received elsewhere about the starter question.
I normally hear the term flat spots used more for tires, but a starter can develop a dead spot.
Two common things I see that could be happening to you (outside of a battery issue)
The starter solenoid could be failing or the circuit feeding it.
The starter itself can get a dead spot or have worn brushes. You have carbon brushes in the body of the starter that are held against the commutator by spring pressure. Here is a picture of a commutator
http://www.btinternet.com/~roland.czerny/commutator.jpg Each of those pieces of copper is an individual circuit. If one fails the starter will be a bit weaker but you would probably never notice when it was spinning. If one fails and the starter happens to stop so that the brush is against only that one circuit then the starter won't spin next time you crank. I don't think this is your problem though as you normally have to do something to cause the starter to move a little before it will work again.
As for the storage method - I agree totally. But I have lifetime warrantee on the battery and the mufflers so it costs me zilch to get them replaced every so often. Your points are well taken though. I do, however, start it up about every 3 weeks for 1/2 an hour or so and let it idle on the drive and sometimes run it back and forth on the driveway a bit.
I'm in Canada and they salt for no apparent reason half the time and in my area traditionally we have snow up to the eyeballs (except for recent winters), so I don't bother trying to run it past when I feel comfortable in it..
I do recollect reading (probably on this group) that one way to eliminate the leaky caliper issues on these things is to pump the brake pedal on them every so often during the winter. There are probably much more rigorous regimes that could and should be applied as you suggest. I do need a rebuild job on the brakes when I get to it and I am sure that is the reason. I think, but am not sure, that the pumping will eliminate the sticking of the piston and sort of displacing the o-ring seal on it with subsequent leakage. The pitting is something else entirely and I think is caused by electrolysis type of effect and moisture between dissimilar metals and I think the only way to really fix that is stainless steel sleeves.
I do keep it in a fairly dry garage, usually above freezing, but your points on frame preservation are well taken.
I have had the beast since new and must admit to my embarassment have not babied it at all (but now with a teenage son eyeing it, I now wish I had). I have a new composite spring and shocks to go into it when I get a chance and the above noted brake job. The rest of it needs a lot of work, but maybe I will have the time to at least make it more presentable as I go along. Without pouring money well past the point of no return, it will regretfully never be a showcar. :(
regards.
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I bought a 79' L82 that was cold natured... it would start cold and not hot! Went thru batteries pretty fast also. Replaced the starter twice, fuse links, carb plate and assorted other things... until someone on this group told me a story about 'ground cables'.... you'd be surprised what happens inside the insulation. Long story short... replaced all three for ~12 bucks and haven't ever had the problem since...
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wrote:

====================================== An easy check to see if your ground cable is bad is just disconnect the negative post on the Battery and hoop a jumper cable to it and attach the other end of the cable to the frame....
Wish I did not learn this the hard way.....
Bob G. 64 72 76 79 & 98 .
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