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Prestolite vs. Mitsubishi Starters for J Series

JohnnyC

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
03/18/2020
This thread is just a simple size and weight comparison between the Prestolite ME0 6003 starter which was used on 2 and 4 cylinder J series sets and the Mitsubishi starter under Onan part number 191-1399 which was used on the 4 cylinder J series sets. There is a small Mitsubishi starter under Onan part number 191-1398 which was used on the JB sets and maybe others too.

I got all three starters and wanted to compare the size and weight between the larger Mitsubishi started and the Prestolite ME0 6003. Basically, my pictures below sums it up. The Mitsubishi larger starter is smaller and almost half the weight.

I did a few Googles on the Mitsubishi starter and seen various prices for a new starter and was shocked to see a price as high as $1200 under the Onan name, not Mitsubishi. That is insane.

That is all :wave:

JohnnyC
New Jersey
 

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Leon N.

Registered
I just want to say in my intuitive mechanical knowledge, I think the JB Prestolite starter was over designed. I can speculate several reason why I think this to be the case. Bottom line, Onan wanted assurances that J-Line machines especially the DJ line would reliably start under all conditions. I had no problem getting an auto-electric shop to refurbish mine, although it took two attempts to complete. What a PITA that was.
 

Wayne 440

Registered
Perhaps the Prestolite starter was another part common with Studebaker automobiles, like the water pump for the water cooled J series.
 

brianh

Registered
My DJB has a Prestolite and my DJE has a Mitsubishi. I had to have the the Prestolite on my new-to-me DJB rebuilt last winter and it was almost $300. It was really trashed. They told me there were not many parts left for the Prestolite units at their parts suppliers. The armature in particular was NLA. My suggestion would be, if you have a Prestolite you were thinking about getting rebuilt, bite the bullet and do it now while you still can.

Brian
 

Motormowers

Subscriber
Age
55
Last Subscription Date
07/13/2019
I would have more faith in the Mitsubishi starter. My 1983 Mazda diesel had one and I never changed it in 579,000 miles. My 1984 still has the original one with 186,000. When I was a Thermo-King tech the Onan RDJA diesel used a Prestolite starter that looked just like that. They both were garbage. lol
 

JohnnyC

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
03/18/2020
I had the pleasure of rebuilding a Presolite from A to Z several years ago. The problems that caused me to either rebuild the starter or buy another and take my chances are shown below with explanations as follows:

First picture shows the linkage between the solenoid and the starter motor. It was binding. Water and crap worked its way into the black rubber boots.

The second picture shows the solenoid piston hanging. It should slide, but was sticking.

Third picture shows the Bendix (old and new). The leading part of the teeth are worn and was not sliding too well. It had to be replaced.

Fourth picture shows the fork (or wishbone since it looks like one) that works the Bendix. The fork's stubs are worn out badly on the top fork. Compare it to the bottom fork.

These were the main factors that caused the starter to sometimes engage the ring gear on the flywheel and at times would not disengage the ring gear on the flywheel.

………… To be continued in my next post since I can only post 4 pictures at a time.

JohnnyC
New Jersey
 

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JohnnyC

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
03/18/2020
Part II

This is the continuation from my last post. In the last post I showed the problem areas of the Presolite starter that I worked on. The following are pictures of the rebuilding process. The starter worked like new afterwards, but personally I would take a Mitsubishi starter over Presolite.

JohnnyC
New Jersey
 

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BigBlockChev

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/06/2019
I want to say that the Prestolite starter was not designed for the Onan J series, according to catalogs I have seen it was used in quite a few vehicles so it seems likely that it was selected by Onan as an off the shelf accessable item. Im not sure about the Mitsubishi whether it was used in any other applications. Cheers Dan
 

Motorhead

Subscriber
Age
67
Last Subscription Date
07/09/2019
The biggest plus for the Mitsubishi starters is that they are a gear reduction starter. The motor doesn't draw as many amps as the direct drive Prestolite.
I can give some real data between direct drive starters and gear reduction starters.
When i was at UPS, we ran mostly 292 GMC and 300 Ford 6's. They came equipped with their respective DELCO and AUTOLITE direct drive starters. Typical UPS delivery package car is started and stopped 100-150 times a day. Starter failures were common and costly in time when the breakdown was on a time sensitive route. UPS changed over to Nippon Denso, gear reduction starters for both engines and later all of our diesel powered package cars. The breakdowns due to starter failure was cut in over half and the starting batteries lasted longer. The starters themselves lasted twice to three times as long as the direct drive starters. UPS was able to buy them NEW and not rebuilt. Multiply this factor to 150,000 delivery cars and the savings really adds up.
I agree with BBChev in that the Prestolite starter is not unique to Onan only. Lots of earlier cars of the 30's 40's and 50's adapted to what was already being built by the electrical companies such as Prestolite, Delco, Autolite.

My late JB came with the 191-1398 Mitsubishi starter. I came across a New Old Stock higher HP rated 191-1399 Mitsubishi starter. I installed it in my JB and sold the lower HP output 191-1398 starter. My JB cranks faster now. I believe the 191-1399 is also used for the J series diesel engines, both 2 and 4 cylinder.
 

EICBob

Subscriber
Age
62
Last Subscription Date
06/15/2020
I would love to lay my hands on a Mitsubishi starter for both of my JBs.

-Bob
 

Leon N.

Registered
The way I see it, if the machine is operating correctly, the starter gets little use and should last a very long time. Problem is, most folks like to crank and crank and crank. Keep your machines tuned up and the Prestolite starter should be very reliable. One can do even better by employing the hand-crank switch if so equipped.
 

EICBob

Subscriber
Age
62
Last Subscription Date
06/15/2020
How badly do you want one?
Well I do want one or two, but obviously I would prefer not to have to take out a mortgage to get them. I rebuilt the Prestolite on my first JB, was able to get most of the parts necessary to fix it. So far, knock on my wooden head, it still works. As mentioned the Mits has the advantages of lower current draw, the gear reduction and better availability of parts.
What do you have in mind Wayne??

-Bob
 
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