I'm getting really sick of crappy new parts that fail quickly!
45 days ago I put a new starter on my '69 F250's stock 390 when the bendix in the original quit throwing out. So I went to O'Reilly's and asked for a starter. The results were incredible, but not in a good way at all. The 1st new one off the shelf I had the store test before I took it: it did not turn. Neither did the 2nd new one. The 3rd new one turned but the bendix didn't throw out. The 4th new one worked, but sounded rough. Heck, I needed a starter so I took it. Big mistake! The crude nose casting (some kind of poor quality pot metal!) It broke in half yesterday and ruined the ring gear. These were the Ultima series, the best warranty/highest priced that O'Reilly had available in the store.
So I'll be putting on a new ring gear and starter. Anybody suggest a source for a QUALITY ring gear and starter, meaning ones not made in Sh!ttyChina or Cr@ppyMexico?
I've been really happy with my Powermaster starters. I've also used Tuff Stuff starters and didn't have any issues except when one sat for a couple years, then it just wouldn't spin. While I can't say I've had problems with generic FE starters, I've had REALLY bad luck with typical parts store starters on other vehicles. I had a similar experience as yours on a couple occasions, where it took 3 starters to get a good one. By the 3rd time of installing and removing, I'm tempted to take them back and heave them through the front windows of the store.
Can't say I've ever had a problem with a ring gear that wasn't starter related. I'd try Ford first, then I'd try Summit or Jegs. Sounds like the only thing that caused a problem with yours was the starter.