XK120 original starter vs new hi-torque one

Original everything car. Had the generator, trans, starter rebuilt. I was going to install a hi-torque starter because of all the positive comments. Just curious to hear from the old XK guys if I should stick with the original or go with the new tech one?

30 years ago I took my original starter apart, cleaned the commutators, cleaned up everything else generally, put in new brushes, and it has been fine ever since, cranks the engine fast enough even in cold spring and fall weather. It’s all just a matter of keeping the battery cable contacts clean, don’t allow them to get corroded.
The solenoid however is crimped together and cannot really be taken apart and repaired. I carry a spare.

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In good shape, the OE Lucas works quite well.

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Thanks, glad to hear that. Original it is.

Thanks. I wanted to keep the original.

I have kept my car mostly original, the most noticeable deviations being an alternator (Dynalite, so no visible change) and a hi-torque starter. It turns the engine very quickly, which was especially noticeable when turning with the plugs out to get oil pressure before first start-up. Its other big advantage is being very much smaller, and also a lot lighter than the originals.

Thanks. I almost switched to a Dynalite alternator also but decided to keep the original and keep positive ground. I had the original starter rebuilt and numerous old guys with these cars opined that the original is just fine as long as you keep the battery in good shape. I agree with you on the weight and fast turning of the hi-torque one but for now I will give the original a try. I sent the carbs to Joe Curto up in New Jersey and should get them back in a couple of weeks. Had to order new Exhaust manifolds because the originals have studs that are pretty corroded and a couple of shops have said they can get the old studs out but they usually break requiring drilling and tapping and the time it may take will come close to the cost of new ones ($180.00 a piece from MOSS). Had all the instruments rebuilt and had he dash redone and it’s beautiful. New wiring harness is in so now I have to decide what I do nest, install the new interior, the dash/wiring or the new top. I’m getting close to the end and can’t wait to drive this car. I’ve wanted one for decades. Thanks for the response. Good luck with your car.

If you want to keep the originals, I found that the best way to get the studs out without breaking the corners was to centre drill them from the top about half diameter, depth of flange

Now relieve the top of the stud of any staking or burrs with a slightly oversize drill

apply penetrating oil and let soak

heat and allow to air cool the stud a few times, dont make to hot or quench or it make it brittle

weld a nut on the stud

while it is still hot from welding, work the nut every so slightly back and forth, while applying penetrating oil. Once its started moving a bit, let it soak, dont be tempted to get it out in one go

never rush this job, the last bit of the stud is what breaks the corner by expanding it

You can do this job at home cause its a long slow process that one does an hour or two at a time, its not economic for a machine shop

Oxy is best, but lesser heat sources will work, even butane

A stick welder will induction heat a fastener in seconds just by holding the tip right on it

So its not economic for a shop to do it, but you will own the original XK120 manifolds, the replacements will probably not be exactly the same.

I cannot emphasize how important it is not to rush this job, I did it once and the last corner broke off just as the stud was almost all the way out, its critically important no burrs expand the manifold corner


I’ve used my oxy/acetylene torch to get out a lot of exhaust manifold studs, some on irreplaceable pre-war SS pushrod engine parts. I set them up in a bench vise and clamp on a long vise-grip pliers horizontal on the stud with extra weight on the handle, so it will be turned by gravity pulling down on the handle, and then heat up the corner red hot. Once it turns a little bit I stop and let it cool off and apply the penetrating oil. Yeah it does take 2 hours per stud so be patient.