Do I need to replace this starter or is it something else? Grace (her name) gets harder and harder to start then won’t turn over at all unless I give the starter a whack with a rock or something. Then she starts fine for a while and then it gets harder and harder till it won’t start again unless I whack it.
Replace the starter.
Replace the starter. It sounds like the contacts within the Bendix assembly portion that complete the circuit to the motor are getting fried. It’s as common with aged starters as arthritis is with aged vertabrates.