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I have a '87 5.0 HO mated to a top-loader trans which was previously mated to my 351W. I tried to start the car today and all I get is the starter spinning, but not engaging the flywheel, not even a gear grind. I'm trying to find the correct starter, or figure out why the starters I have don't work.

Thanks in advance.
 

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It sounds like you have the 164 tooth bell housing and a 157 tooth flywheel. You need to get a bell housing for the the 157 tooth flywheel. The starter must match the flywheel also. I forget which is which but there is a 9 tooth and a 10 tooth starter. What ever year the bell is for just get the correct starter for that year.
 

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If you have the stock 5.0 flywheel on the motor, it's a 157 tooth unit. I would say it is likely RTM is right, you have a bell-flywheel mismatch, as most 351's used the 164 tooth flywheel. I would look at the 351 flywheel if you have it and either count the teeth or post the casting #. This is an easy fix, just locate a 157 tooth bell, which is really easy, all the pre-73 6cyl, 289/302 cars used them.

Also, the starter should be from anything that used a small block with a manual tranny, not including the 5.0 from 81 and up.A nice upgrade is a mid 90's 351W manual trans truck starter. These were a permanent magnet gear reduction unit, much smaller and lighter than the moster Motorcraft can...
 
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