1919 Pierce Arrow truck

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    We have a request to install an automatic starter.

    It has a closed flywheel and not sure if it has a ring gear.

    Can anyone help locate the necessary parts and/or help with installation instructions? Thank you for your time, Peter Fawcett


    Running a flat belt starter around the flywheel works well and is very popular with the brass guys. The run a cub cadet starter generator and a 12v gel cell battery and the unit keeps it charged. You only need to add a starter button somewhere and the entire unit is self contained. It’s easy to mount the starter and battery to the frame. As long as you can access the flywheel it shouldn’t be too difficult. I have no clue wheat a Pierce truck set up looks like.


    Ed, do you know someone who has done the Cub Cadet starter / belt on a 40 hp or so car?

    I’d like to do it but speeds, pulley size, other questions arise…


    We currently have the same issue with the Pierce-Arrow Museum’s 1913 Truck.

    As a former longtime owner of a Cub Cadet so equipped and familiar with it’s cranking ability, I do not think that is a good solution to engines of this size. The truck is currently in a shop waiting for them to size and locate a ring gear to apply to the flywheel. This is a busy shop (critically near the Museum) and is being done pro bono so I don’t expect quick resolution.

    There is a gentleman who comes to Hershey each year that specializes in ring gears and says he can fit ‘everything”. I don’t remember the name right now.



    Hello David C. and Ed, I have completed such a belt drive starter conversion on a Model L Locomobile. That car is just at 40 hp and is a 300 CID engine. I do not think the belt option is good for the P-A truck as has been stated above. I can also share a thought on the Cub cadet starter but not on this forum. Peter, I think I would bite the bullet and simply go to the effort of mounting a ring gear then locating or modifying a starter to work.



    Peter: Does this truck have a split flywheel/clutch to transmission? or put another way: is there a driveshaft between the clutch assembly and a remote mounted transmission?

    If so, you might be able to mount a chain sprocket on the shaft between the transmission and clutch output shaft. then use single-roller chain and small starter motor with a chain sprocket drive.

    Greg Long


    I know the cub cadet set up has been used on a decent size six……a Wiinton. If there is a jack shaft like Gr g asked that would also be a good option. The engine on these early cars are low compression and the starters have no problems spinning the engine. Running a mag with a pulse also makes them start easy with a crank. The trick is to set it up right, and run avgas to prevent bad fuel. Most any engine is easy to crank when set up correctly……..99 percent of them are not. Also, as long as the timing is set to always fire AFTER top dead center, it is impossible for it to kick back. Thus no danger to life and limb…….just exercise!



    I put a starter on a 1906 Tourist and it wasn’t too difficult by using 2 Mopar replacement ring gears and a Mitsubishi starter. Give me a call and I’ll explain since it’s too long to post here. Number is in the roster. JimL


    Peter: what type of clutch and what size flywheel does the truck have? It might be possible to find a period flywheel and starter to use. What engine is used in the truck? Karl’s truck has a 4Cylinder T-Head Pierce engine. With a Dual-Delco distributor. Which when the engine is set up right, like Ed said, the engine is fairly easy to hand start.

    My 1919 Series 31 Pierce has a cone-clutch, with completely exposed flywheel. and the ring-gear is easily accessed. Since you are familiar with the series 31/51 cars, is the bell housing about the right size to hold the flywheel used on the 1919 cars? If so, contact the Ring-gear guy mentioned earlier in this message thread. They can fix you up with a ring-gear that will work.. Hopefully without any machining required on the flywheel.

    Fabricating a mount for the starter itself is not too difficult usually. Making it look ‘old’ or at least not ‘brand new’ is sometimes more of a challenge..

    Can you post a few photos of the flywheel and the clutch ?

    Greg Long


    We wish to thank everyone for the fast replies. Once the Pierce Arrow is shipped to the shop I will have more information and photos. All the best, Peter


    One problem that has come up on using a Cub Cadet or Dodge Brothers starter/generator, with belt drive over flywheel:

    To get the right torque to turn the engine, the drive pulley needs to be small, and of course the driven pulley is the diameter of the flywheel.

    Let’s say you use a 3 inch drive pulley on a 15 inch flywheel (diameters). Starts fine with good torque, but then at 1500 rpm on flywheel, starter/generator is turning 7500 rpm! Doubt most would take that.

    On a Dodge Brothers, maximum rpm for a s/g is about 3500 rpm.

    Testing would tell if a larger drive pulley would work, but at most, it couldn’t be more than about a 3:1 ratio…..


    Studebaker I think ? used a one-way ratcheting sprocket and roller chain.

    I’m not sure if it was a teens Studebaker or ?? what make, but an ‘overrunning’ clutch-drive will work.

    Sometimes called a ‘Torrington Bearing’. ?? again, I ‘think’.. or seem to remember..



    Here’s the contact info for Al’s ring gears, the source used on my 1912 Hudson.

    Al Seuering

    10058 Krogwold Road

    Amherst Junction, WI 54407

    Phone: +1 715-677-3809

    E-mail: al@suehring.com

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