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Ed, there were 2 different starters but not in the 1997 year. The early series that had the shorter adapter plate uses a different starter than the 1994 up series. Starter for the 1997 is a 13 tooth so that sounds right. Flex plate should be 152 teeth which also sounds right. Flex plates for the '94-95 which had the 47RH are the same as the '97 which had the 46RE. Flex plates are even the same all the way back to the beginning of the Cummins. Very early units were a weak design that was updated but all at least up through 2007 are the same. Might need to have the starter checked. Sounds like a problem with the bendix. Now if you happen to have the early model starter that would explain the problem since its bendix doesn't extend as far due to the thinner adapter plate. If the starter is an original Denso what is the part #?
 

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Like I said, it looked like an issue with the bendix. Your parts all seems to be of the correct order so the issue had to be the starter. Yeah, a starter with sand in it just doesn't work too well. LOL.
 
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