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Thread: Faulty Solenoid

  1. #1
    Speedster Member
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    Faulty Solenoid

    One of our car group members had a harrowing experience recently and I would like to pass along the details of that experience. The member replaced the starter solenoid on his 1978 Ford pickup that has a manual transmission. After installing the solenoid and doing an initial checkout he came back to do a final tightening on the connections. As he was tightening the two large cable lugs the solenoid shorted internally and began to move the truck forward because it was still in gear. He was pinned between the wall of his shop and the door of the truck suffering two broken ribs and a broken collar bone. The truck finally stopped when it hit a cabinet.
    He brought the disassembled solenoid to lunch today and there is nothing to prevent the lugs from turning internally and making contact when tightened. It is a typical solenoid that is found in many FLAPS and is made overseas. His wife did an internet search and found that this is a common problem with these units. It appears that it is a faulty design.

  2. #2
    President Member 63 R2 Hawk's Avatar
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    The old solenoids from the '50s and '60s were made so you could remove the screws, take them apart and flip the solid copper contacts over and they would be good for a long second life. I remember doing that on several old cars I've owned over the years. The contacts were designed so they could not rotate and the nuts were also solid copper. They don't make them that way any more. A good point to remember, always disconnect the battery when doing any work on the electrical system!!!!

  3. #3
    Golden Hawk Member 8E45E's Avatar
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    I'm VERY surprised anyone would be replacing a starter solenoid with the battery connected, knowing the positive cable will be 'live' (on a negative ground vehicle).

    Craig

  4. #4
    Speedster Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by 8E45E View Post
    I'm VERY surprised anyone would be replacing a starter solenoid with the battery connected, knowing the positive cable will be 'live' (on a negative ground vehicle).

    Craig
    My understanding is that he had disconnected the battery cable before changing out the solenoid. After he checked out the installation, he then went back to final tighten the lugs on the solenoid. He probably should have taken the battery cable back off again. He is a competent mechanic and has built a 53 coupe with Jaguar suspension and LT1 power.

  5. #5
    Golden Hawk Member
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    It is too bad that this happened and he got injured, but the other question is; Why was the truck in gear?

    Sometimes a "competent mechanic" is so used to doing things that they tend to take short cuts. I was working in a garage when the owner jump started a Studebaker. It was an automatic that was in reverse. By bypassing the safety switch, the car started. It quickly went backward through the wall behind it.
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

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