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  • Electrical: Ignition Switch Dead?

    Well, I drove my newly purchased '55 President State Sedan home yesterday with one stop on the way for lunch. A total of about 45 miles. She ran like a top. Everything worked fine. Parked it in the garage overnight and went out this morning to change a headlight. Got the light installed and checked, all the lights were working, including the dome light in the interior. Went to start the car and nothing happened. No indication on the ammeter. No clicking, nothing. Only the lights work.
    I tried putting the automatic transmission from Park into Neutral and that did nothing. I tried jiggling the key in the ignition switch. Nothing. I would think the battery was completely disconnected except the headlights and dome light work.
    There is a small toggle switch under the dash near the ignition switch which has an unknown purpose and I believe it may have been installed by a previous owner. Considering it's juxtaposition to the ignition switch I tried moving it from one position to another. Nothing.
    Since I am not mechanic and have only a basic knowledge of how automotive things work I am guessing I am going to have to have this car towed to my mechanic.
    Does anyone have an idea what may be the problem so I can give the mechanic a heads-up?
    Ed Sallia
    Dundee, OR

    Sol Lucet Omnibus

  • #2
    Check the starter solenoid and the wiring connections on the ignition switch. The solenoid probably fails more frequently than the ign switch. On a vehicle that age loose or corroded connections are always likely. ON my '55 State the ignition switch was about the only electrical component I didn't have to replace. The vehicle hadn't been on the road for over 30 years.
    American iron, real old school
    With two tone paint, it sure is cool

    Its got 8 cylinders and uses them all
    With an overdrive that just won't stall

    With a 4 barrel carb and dual exhausts
    With 4.23 gears it can really get lost

    Its got safety belts and I ain't scared
    The brakes are good and the tires are fair.

    Tried to sell her, but got no taker
    I"ll just keep driving my Studebaker

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    • #3
      Thanks greyben. I will check that. I just got a call from Lyle, the seller, and he said he had a problem in the past with the neutral safety switch. He acquired a new one but the old one quit acting up before he could install the new one. As it turns out, the new switch is in a box in the trunk. I may try installing that first and move up the food chain if that fails to solve the problem.
      Ed Sallia
      Dundee, OR

      Sol Lucet Omnibus

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      • #4
        To test the Solenoid you connect a small jumper wire from the "S" small terminal on the Solenoid to the (-) POS Hot Batt. Cable or Post, make sure it is in Park first, it should not start but should crank, bi-passing the Ign. Switch.

        To make it Run you would have to Hot Wire it by connecting a jumper wire from the Coil (-) Terminal to the Batt. (-) Negative Cable Terminal or Post before the above "Cranking Procedure". Double check that the Trans. is in Park.

        All of this is assuming this Car is still a 6 Volt Positive Ground Car as original.
        StudeRich
        Second Generation Stude Driver,
        Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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        • #5
          StudeRich,
          It is original. Thanks for the additional information.
          Question - if the problem was the neutral safety switch, wouldn't I see the needle on the amp meter move when I turned the key to the accessory or first position before "start"? Would this also be true if the problem was the starter solenoid?
          Ed Sallia
          Dundee, OR

          Sol Lucet Omnibus

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          • #6
            Take the time to troubleshoot the problem before replacing parts - any parts.

            To troubleshoot the neutral safety switch, just jumper it with a wire and two clips.

            To troubleshoot the solenoid, jumper the small terminal to either ground or hot with a wire and clips.

            Just replacing parts that you think are bad wastes time, wastes good parts, and potentially creates a second or third problem that can mask the first/original problem.
            RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

            17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
            10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
            10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
            4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
            5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
            56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
            60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

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            • #7
              RadiRoy, understood. Good advice. I'll check back in when I have identified the problem.
              Ed Sallia
              Dundee, OR

              Sol Lucet Omnibus

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              • #8
                When I bought my 50 Champion last summer it had intermittent electrical problems. The main problem was the nut of the rear of the ignition switch was a little loose. I just tightened it half a turn and that fixed most of the problems. It also had one brake light bulb burned out and a bad brake light switch.

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                • #9
                  You have my curiosity up... let us know what the problem was.

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