98 Trooper 3.5L Gas starter changeout

Yesterday, about 60 miles from home, with just my 2 year old in the truck with me, I heard the starter tell me it didn't feel good. A sluggish crankover before the engine caught had me wondering is it the battery
(again!) after having to replace that on July 4th, could it be the alternator not charging and the voltmeter reading incorrectly, or is it... the starter? I'd left my wife and 3 month-old at the mall, so I didn't have to deal with that, so we drove into town in search of an Auto Zone, where I'd be sure to find a friendly clerk who would loan me a voltmeter so I could check the charging circuit independently. While we searched, I found an antique store that looked interesting, so we pulled in. After I shut off the truck, tempting fate, I turned the key again.... and this time, ole starter really told me it was hurting.... and wasn't going to start that truck. I knew I was in trouble now. We took a few minutes to let the battery recover, and when I went back out to the truck to try again, and I held the key in the start position, it cranked very slowly but all of a sudden, the engine caught, and we were running. Ok, no shutting off this thing for the rest of the day, or at least until I'm somewhere that I can get help, or home!
Well, after a stop at both a West Marine and a Big 10 tire store where I learned that the alternator was putting out 14.5volts, as it should, my confidence was restored, and we filled the tank with gas and prepared for a long afternoon of idling the truck during shopping.

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