Corvette C5 starter mount failure - welding aluminum engine block?
I thought I would solicit ideas from you folks here:
I am helping a friend of mine with his 2002 Corvette C5. This past Monday his wife got in and started it up. It started, but she said it sounded a little funny starting. She backed it out of the garage, but remembered she needed something inside so she shut the car off and ran inside. When she came back out and tried to start it, the starter just made a grinding noise.
I told him I would help take a look at it. On Wednesday, we crawled underneath to take a look and could see a crack in the starter housing. Initially the thought was "oh good, the starter housing cracked and the starter shaft/gear no longer aligned properly with the flywheel ring gear." So we proceeded to remove the starter (you have to drop the down pipes to access it). While removing the bolts that hold the starter, a hunk of metal fell out. At first we thought "oh, this part of the starter housing", but upon extracting the starter it became obvious this hunk of metal was the outer part of the ear/flange/support that the starter bolts to. To make matters worse, this is flange is the PART OF THE ENGINE BLOCK. The block is cast aluminum. It is amazing to see this much damage. Cracked starter housing AND broken engine block casting. The starter is well protected and would be very difficult for it to have ever been struck by an object when driving.
In searching the Corvette forums, there appear to be a couple of others that have had the same thing happen. At least one replace the engine and another had theirs welded (I think this was on an older Corvette that had a cast iron block). So far we have checked several local places (Corvette specialty shops, machine shops, dealers, etc.) and the opinions seem to lean more toward replacing the engine with a few saying it could be welded. Unfortunately, neither option is inexpensive as with the welding, they are saying the engine would have to be removed to get to it. With welding, I also worry about him paying for the removal and replacement of his engine only to find out that the "fix" didn't work. The starter only has two bolts holding it (there is no back bracket or other support). How good of a weld can you get on cast aluminum like this?
Would appreciate any recommendations that anyone could offer!
Picture of the piece that broke off:
Picture of the flange where the starter mounts:
Picture of the starter with cracking visible on the housing:
Picture of the starter with casting perched where it would be when mounted up:
Picture of another person's Corvette engine (removed from car) with same issue:
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