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Yet another rookie question.  This has been the most challenging project yet.

I started to break in my flat tappet cam in the new engine today and after about 1 minute I heard a pop and then gray smoke pouring out of the ZF inspection window.

The strange thing is it didn't smell like clutch or even make any more sound after the smoke.  I turned the car off immediately.

Smoke poured out of the inspection window for at least 2 minutes but didn't have much of an oder.

Here are the caveats.

1. I noticed the car wouldn't run once the key switch was let go from the run position.  I figured this was a wiring issue so I hotwired the + of my MSD Blaster coil to the battery so I could continue with the break in.  This + of the coil also goes to the right post of the starter solenoid.  **So, I'm thinking the starter may have been running the entire time and maybe smoke was from there?**  The power master starter still works but seems like the bearing maybe bad and has a similar smell to the smoke.

2.  I didn't install the clutch slave cylinder since the tranny was in neutral.  The smoke didn't smell like clutch at all and the throw-out bearing wasn't noisy, so I don't believe the issue is with the clutch.

Any ideas?  I'm planning to put the original starter in it tomorrow and try again.




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How exactly did you wire your gear reduction starter?

Vendors often supply a little jumper from the battery terminal to the solenoid terminal and suggest you wire it similar to a stocker by simply reconnecting the big cable back onto the starter.

Problem with that is that the still spinning starter becomes a generator when you let off the key, which can keep the solenoid engaged, which keeps the pinion engaged with the flywheel.

I'm trying to imagine how fast the armature of a PMGR starter would be spinning engaged to a flywheel turning at cam break in speed.

Last edited by larryw

Here's some photos of how to do it.

Remove that little jumper you added.

At the firewall solenoid you will move the big cable from the big stud on the passengers side of the solenoid over to join the big cable on the drivers side of the solenoid and secure.

Connect the big cable to the big stud on the starter.

Add a 12 ga wire from the vacated big stud on the passenger side of the solenoid and run it beside the big cable and connect to the solenoid terminal on the starter.

You are done.


Images (2)
  • PMGR 2
  • PMGR 1


With an estimated cam break-in speed of 2,000 rpm, 164 tooth flywheel, and 10 tooth (estimated) starter pinion, the starter's OUTPUT SHAFT would be turning 32,800  rpm.  Note that that is the speed of the OUTPUT SHAFT.

Factoring in the starter's internal gear reduction being driven in "reverse", the starter's armature would likely be rotating at over 100,000 rpm.  

At 3:1 gear reduction:  98,400 rpm

At 4:1 gear reduction:  131,200 rpm

If the starter has a 9 tooth pinion, the rpm would be even higher.  It's lucky that the starter didn't explode !!


Thats scary.

I tried again with the updated wiring and I'm getting the same results.  I believe the start gear may be hanging up on the flywheel but I'm not 100% sure.  At this point I'm so frustrated I'm considering pulling the ZF out to make sure I don't have some other issue.

Pretty sure the battery and starter are both done at this point.

Does anyone have a better starter recommendation?  Mine is a Powermaster 9630.




A favorite starter has been a part number from DB Electric listed for ford small block w/ manual transmission. It is an aftermarket version of the stock ford part v the hitachi based item you have.
Very cost effective.
your ring gear may not have liked its recent adventure.  
Need to add that you may have to exchange your starter mounting studs for slightly longer ones or gently trim the DB starter flanges to accommodate.

Last edited by larryw

I mounted the starter when I had the engine out and it seemed to match up well but I didn't try cranking it at that point.  I'm not hearing anything like a starter hanging up but I guess anything is possible.

My next step is to replace the starter now that it is wired correctly and try again.

Hopefully I'm not missing something simple like a clutch or throwout bearing issue.  The ZF is definitely in neatral so clutch, pressure plate and throw out bearing should be out of the equation?


Even if you found a pantera on their website, it would be the old-school OEM starter as installed in the Pantera.

This is a PMGR upgrade starter that is a direct boltin replacement.

The only issue you may run into is the need for longer studs as the starter base plate is thicker.

you have already resolved the minor wiring changes required

you can use either of those two numbers in their listing to do a search on eBay or Amazon. DB does sell through Amazon, IIRC.


I've found the best starters are the ones made by Meziere. They use a motor that's smaller in diameter and a bit longer than the motors other gear reduction starters use. I replaced a Powermaster with the Meziere and immediately noticed it spun my motor over significantly faster than the Powermaster, which was supposedly a "high RPM" starter. Unfortunately, it's probably the most expensive starter too but in this case, you do get what you pay for.

Last edited by davidnunn

John, I had a 427 cubic inch SVO motor with 11.3:1 compression. I tried starters from CSR, Powermaster and Meziere. The CSR and Powermaster struggled when hot whereas the Meziere spun the motor over easily; hot or cold. Even when cold, the Meziere spun the motor at a much higher RPM than the others. When you hold it in your hands, you realize why it's expensive. I also required a modification to the nose piece of the starter and Meziere was happy to handle it for me, as the starters are made in-house at their facility in California.


Mine had to be modified because I had a 157 tooth flywheel. Otherwise, I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t fit a Pantera.

I’d call Summit and ask the question. It’s possible a customer had a header interference issue and Summit assumed all Panteras would encounter the same problem. If you don’t get satisfaction with Summit, call Meziere.


Last edited by davidnunn

You should probably call Meziere (or however you spell it) direct, and see if they have one modified for your car.

If you modify one from Summit, you won’t be able to return it!

I’m sure you already have this figured out.

I wonder what the difference is in the nose?  The starter I used was a PMGR for a Ford Truck, it bolted right in once I installed a set of longer studs.


Thanks for the all the info.  I called Meziere direct, and they had no notes saying  the starter had to be modified.  However, I could tell the tech person didn't know much about Panteras as he just said it was a Ford starter and not much else.  I made some measurements based on their online dwgs and seems like it should fit in the 2D world

Thanks again,



Images (1)
  • Mezier TS408

Follow Up: The starter issue has become quite expensive.

I received the Meziere TS408 on Thursday and installed immediately.  It did fit but took some time to get it clocked properly.  It appears this start is hanging up as well and needs to be shimmed almost .250".  I'm waiting on Ford shims to arrive today.

After reading thru Power Master and Meziere alignment specs it seems that they both need significant shimming. 

The DB electrical starter should show up tomorrow so I may give that one a try since the gear drive looks closer to the stock starter.  I know that my original starter wasn't shimmed and worked fine before I pulled the engine for rebuild.

Just curious if everyone is having to shim their aftermarket starters?

Attached are pics of the nose on the stock starter, Power Master and Meziere.





Images (3)
  • OEM Motorcraft Starter Nose
  • Power Master Nose
  • Meziere Nose

I just checked all three starter teeth count.  The original motor craft has 9 teeth and the Power Master and Meziere each have 11 teeth.

I'm using the factory flywheel.  The only thing I could think of is if the engine builder put the wrong flywheel on when he used it to balance the engine.  I don't think that is likely though.  Is there an "easy" way to check the flywheel count with it in the car?



Here is the caption in the specs of the Power Master 9603 (PWM-9603)

Special Attention:
Starter has a 3/4 in. offset and fits applications with automatic transmissions using a 157 or 164 tooth ring gear or manual transmissions using a 157 tooth ring gear (Normally 5-speeds). This replaces OEM starters with a 'nose' that extends 2-3/8 in. past the mounting surface. This starter features the infi-CLOCK mounting block.

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