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looking for a roller starter

74460 Views 121 Replies 26 Participants Last post by  speedrattle
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Machine Auto part Tool Cylinder
anybody have one , our know of one for sale or who sells em, other than the guy in aus... battery or gas or 120v electric, thanks, tom
Well, I am your man if you (or anyone else) needs a roller starter.
I just came across this forum and joined a few minutes ago.
So that makes me a brand new member.

I am a flat track racer and machinist riding a Bultaco Astro 360 in the Vintage class.
I am an individual racer, not a company.

Last summer here in Texas, where it is always hot....... my bike loaded up at a race and was difficult to start.
So I came home determined to buy a roller starter.
I soon found that outside of Australia or the UK no one makes them.

So, being a machinist I decided to make my own, since I have a machine shop at home.
Made one for my own use and soon found there were a few others out there needing roller starters too.

Here are some details of what I make:
Mine is made using 1/4 inch 6061 aluminum plate.
I make the rollers using 3 inch diameter DOM structural steel tube.
The starter motor is a Hi Torque starter made for a Ford diesel tractor.
I use a continuous duty solenoid made for a golf cart and marine winches.
Where welding is required I Tig weld the parts.

The unit can be completely dis-assembled in a few minutes using a couple of common wrenches.
Each starter comes complete with a ramp, a foot switch, and battery cables.
A battery is not included. But other than a battery the unit is ready to use.

My price for each starter is $825 plus you pay the shipping. I only ship to the 48 states using UPS Ground.
My starter is well made and you will find the workmanship to be pretty good.
I guarantee this starter will start any motorcycle regardless of compression ratio and will do that with any kind of tire, be it street, track, of full knobby.

My intention was to make a starter that is better than the Doc Z and far less costly.
I feel that I have achieved that in spades.

If you are interested in a starter then email me at [email protected] for pics and a video link about my starter.
If you give me your city and zip where you would like it shipped to I will give you a firm shipping price.

Since I am new here I have no idea how to post a picture at this time.
Also, at this time I have only one starter in stock but I am building more and will have them ready soon.
Thanks for your interest.
Blake Perry
Houston, TX.

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Nice product.
Thanks! It is well made and does what it is built to do.
So I've done some research and find most of the roller starters are in the $800 range to begin with. Some claim to be portable, but you still need to handle the battery separately. I've seen hand held units that were incorporated into a hand cart making them portable. I've priced the material needed and can incorporate a roller starter into a hand cart for less than $175, and make it totally portable and take up no more space than the hand cart standing up. What I am going to do is use my hand cart that looks like this:

I will cut the "T" strap out of the top center and lay the cart on the ground and weld in an identical unit to this one from member Mgmark:

You lay it down and back in over the top handle. All nice and tidy. I just won a starter motor on Egay for $59. I'm going to get the frame stock tomorrow from the local metal salvage yard. The battery will be a gel type and will be semi permanently attached. All you have to do is lay it down and place the start pedal where you need.
I'll probably make 2 to start and see if I can't $800 for one of mine to offset the cost of mine.

I look forward to your report on how your starter project turns out.
I hope the starter motor you bought has enough grunt to work.
The first one I made used two outboard motor starters (one on each roller) and did not have the power to do the job.
The second one I made used a good motor but was made out of steel. At 65 lbs it was not portable by any means, unless I put wheels on the thing.

The third roller starter I made was made of aluminum and weighs 45 lbs.
It is engineered out and built to almost perfection, and I continue to make this model aluminum starter.

It is easy to carry around in one hand, and yes the battery is a separate item.
But for my use, I unload the starter from the van and set it on the ground in the pit area.
It stays there all day with my bike, so I have no need to 'wheel' mine around anywhere.

Send us some pics when you get something together.
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Your unit is not convenient for places like Bonneville and Ohio where you have to take it with you to the start line and then remove it immediately. You can't say yours is any more easy to place where ever you need it.
I will post pics as I make it. I have an extra cart I can use for mine. The cost of the cart would raise my pricing by about $30. If I use a new starter it would bump it another $40, so I'm still less than $250 in material. The common starters for these are 1959 Ford tractor starters.
Yes you are correct about the motor. I use a 1954 Ford tractor Hi Torque starter motor. This motor cost me $145 and change.
With all of the parts involved along with the machining, I have serious doubts regarding your pricing being so low.
If that were the case everyone and his brother would be using a roller starter.
I am only speaking from the experience of making many of these units and selling every one of them.

So I watch your progress with great interest.
Keep those pics coming.
I'm a price shopper, don't believe in paying retail for anything. I can get those starter motors new for $98.
Yes you can, and there goes 39% of your $250 budget. How much do you expect to charge for your labor? Free?
I included the used starter at $59 in my under $175 price, so a new starter puts me at $216. I'm sure my labor charge will come out of the $584 left over. I think I can make a few dollars after labor. Why do you continue to try and talk me out of it? I still won't want one of your units.
Quite the contrary,I certainly am not wanting to talk you out of anything. I want to see you make one in fact.
Since you are planning on making roller starters and making statements regarding the cost, I am just pointing out some of the things I have encountered in making mine.
When you start adding up all of the parts needed it comes to quite an investment.
Add to that the large amount of time to produce these things and you find yourself making $5 an hour for the labor unless you charge what it actually cost you.

As I said, I have made many of these and sold every one.
As for selling you one, I have no intention of doing that at all.
I sell these faster than I can make them now and one more order I do not need.
If you can make and sell them, then I welcome the relief it may give me on keeping up the production level.

If you think I am harassing you that is incorrect.
I am just passing on some of my experience and I will comment no more if that keeps us happy.
Good day to you.
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As I progress feel free to critique the build. I of course will custom powder coat them after all the welding, because that's what I do.
I am aware of the issues and have done enough research to know what to look out for. My plan leaves the cart to be a cart when the battery is not on it. Or I may put a second shelf on it for carry capacity or for a second battery for a 24v system.

Trailer Rollers $7.50 $15.00
5/8" Pillow Blocks $6.90 $27.60 $42.60
20t 35# 5/8" sprockets $7.50 $30.00 $72.60
10' 35# chain $13.00 $13.00 $85.60
59 Ford Starter $98.00 $98.00 $183.60
7" 1x2 steel tube $7.00 $7.00 $190.60
Solenoid $10.00 $10.00 $200.60
Bolts $5.00 $5.00 $205.60
Foot pedal $10.00 $10.00 $215.60
Shafts for rollers $2.99 $11.96 $227.56.
Battery cables $20.00 $20.00 $247.56.
Cart $30.00 $30.00 $277.56

I think that's everything.
Yep, your parts list looks complete to me.
I would consider some material for a chain guard and as I recall, you are going to use plywood for a ramp?
When you get to the point of attaching the rollers to the axle(s) I would like to see how you do it.

In designing mine I wanted to use trailer rollers at first, but could not find a good way to attach the rubber rollers to the steel axles.
I know it can be done as I have seen several home shop rollers using them. The roller vee will work nice to keep the bike centered.
I just gave up and Tig weld my rollers up using DOM structural tubing with steel end caps.

It is looking good.
You will want 13 to 13-1/2 inches between the roller center lines.
I am interested in how you attach the rollers to the axles too.
I am not sure. I have seen starters using the rubber rollers on steel axles but have never seen how the rollers were attached.
That is the reason I decided to use steel pipe and make my rollers. East to weld 5/8 inch axles to them.

I always thought the only way to attach rubber to steel was to use long screws through steel plates on the end of the rollers, but I have seen no evidence of anyone doing that.
I dunno. No method so far seems like something I would use.

Myself, I make the rollers out of DOM structural tube and Tig weld end caps on the tubes.
Then they get bored with a 5/8 inch drill in the centers and a 5/8 inch steel axle with a keyway gets Tig welded in place.
It leaves me with rollers that I never have to be concerned with.

Believe me, the rollers are subjected to a lot of stress and you better have done it right or your project is in big trouble.
Hillsey is correct!
Using a belt set up like is shown in the pic will have one immediate result....... The bike is going to shoot backwards off the rollers and belt as soon as it starts moving.
Been there done that with my very first roller starter I made. That is the prime reason I have elevated the rear roller on the starters I now make and sell.
I have made my 38 different starters using 13-1/2 inch between roller centers and the wheel fits nicely, dropping down between the rollers. Please note that my rear roller is higher than most others.

Recently I have shortened my frame size by 7/8 inches so my starters fit better in an 18 inch shipping box.
I tried starting my bike with the new center line to center line distance of 12-5/8 inches and the wheel now almost wants to roll forward onto the ramp. Almost, but not quite.

So that was my reason for suggesting 13 to 13-1/2 inches.
Since it all depends on where you locate your rollers, you need to consider this when you choose a center line dimension, as well as the elevation of the rollers.
Just something I learned the hard way.
No, not 38.
Actually I have made 41 starters since August 2014.
I made the first one using an outboard motor starter on each roller.
That did not have the power needed to turn over the engine if I sat down on the bike. So it went into the trash can.

The second starter I made using a Hi Torque starter motor found on a Ford diesel tractor and some other models. That did the trick!
But I made that starter out of 1/4 inch steel plate and the thing weighed 65 lbs. without the battery. Much too heavy for my taste.
I sold that starter to a local rider for $360 which was about the costs of parts.

My third starter I made out of 1/4 inch aluminum plate and fixed some problems found on the steel model.
This worked perfectly, and I kept it as my own with no intention of making another one. The aluminum starter weighs 45 lbs without the battery.

Well, someone saw my starter and wanted me to make them one. I did and sold it to them.
Then I began getting more requests for the starters so I soon found myself working 6 to 7 days a week.
Starter #1 was the second aluminum starter I made and sold last November and I shipped starter #38 to the buyer in Australia last Friday.
I am currently building starters #39 and #40.
I have sold every starter I have made (outside the outboard model) and about half of those were sold as I was building them.
I have yet to have 2 complete starters sitting in the shop unsold.

I like machine shop work, being a machinist, and what started as a need for an easy way to fire up my Bultaco Astro flat track bike became a bit more of a serious endeavor.
38 customers with not a single complaint makes me happy.
I would sell more if I had a way to get the word out. But the way things are I can barely keep ahead of the demand for these things, so it works out fine for me.
And I built the first one only because I could not find anyone outside Australia who made and sold them.
So, being a machinist, what was the next step to take? Make my own.

Another part of this activity is to find better or time saving ways to work without raising the price or degrading the quality level I have set for myself building these starters.
Quality comes first with me, followed by the lowest cost possible to the buyer.
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Nope, not a business at all. If it becomes a business I will stop building the starters.

I do this because I like machining work and providing riders (a lot of them are older folks) a way to get their kick start only bikes fired up.
As one customer told me.......'Your starter has added years to my ability to be able to ride my Husky MX bike.'
It takes me many hours to build a starter and I am not getting any wealth from it. Just pleasure as it is one of my many hobbies.
We have not heard much lately about the progress on your starter. So how is it going?

Update for me.......Today I finished my 45th starter, having sold 4 last week within 4 days time.


It has put me under some pressure to get them completed and it feels like just work rather than something I like doing.
Once it calms down things will be back to normal around here.
It would seem to me that you want to buy pillow blocks to fit the shafts, not spend money having the shafts turned down to fit the pillow blocks.

What I recommend to anyone is to first consider the diameter of the starter motor shaft, then build out the remainder of the unit (bearings or pillow blocks, shafts etc) matching all components to that same shaft size.
Otherwise you will find yourself with a less than ideal situation. Good planning ahead of time always makes for a betterend result.
Jesus, what a project you have undertaken!
I have built and sold 20 of the starters while you have fumbled away the same amount of time trying to get your first one together. And you are still fumbling.
Now if you want to call THAT a critical comment, you have certainly earned it!

When you get the starter built (if that ever happens) I look forward to having a good laugh over the thing.
I shall comment no further in any way because you seem to think I am being critical.
I also thought your buddy was going to build one for you. That would be your ticket out of the mess you seem to be in.
Goodbye and good luck to you!
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