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Old 07-03-2010, 04:37 PM
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Electrical mystery

I have an electrical problem that's getting the best of me. It is not my Nova, but the '34 street rod, powered by ZZ4. Problem is zero power to anything.
New Optima battery is mounted in trunk, with neg. ground bolted to the rear frame. Started fine up until yesterday. Had to jump the starter with a screwdriver to get the car to run and get it home. Jacked it up and checked power cable to starter sol. and it was clean and tight. Today I added another neg. ground cable from starter to moter mount , but I doubt it will help matters, but can't hurt. Because my battery is in the trunk, (which is power operated), I can't access the battery, but it's new, cables are in very good condition, clean and tight. Checked my starter with a meter, and it's getting 12.5 volts, but it stops there. There's no power to any of the accessories, horn, brake lights, radio, interior lights, nothing. Did a continuity check on the ignition switch, and was good. The fuse block is way under the dash and hard to reach, but looking at the fuses, they all look good. Problem with this car is the guy that wired it used all 10 and 12 gage RED wire for just about everything under the dash! It's so hard to try and trace a wire when they all appear the same! I'm thinking that there must be a main heavy wire that has a big fuse that supplies all the accessories in the fuse block with power, but can't seem to locate it as of yet. Checked the wire fron the neutral safety switch to the solinoid, and it's good. I've got two red wires running off the power terminal of the solinoid up into the engine compartment, and I'm thinking one of them must go to the coil. I'll have to run them down to see where they go. I'm stumped because there's no power getting to any accessories on the car, and yet the battery and cables seem fine. Any suggestions or comments will be appreciated.

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Old 07-03-2010, 05:39 PM
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There's probably a fusible link or fuse from the starter solenoid (you are not using a Ford remote relay/solenoid, right?) to the distribution point- I'd be looking for continuity from the starter to there, as a start.

If you want to access the trunk, you can use a second battery, ground the neg. terminal to the car, jump the positive to the circuit that controls the trunk solenoid or the output side of the trunk switch w/a jumper.
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Old 07-03-2010, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cobalt327
There's probably a fusible link or fuse from the starter solenoid (you are not using a Ford remote relay/solenoid, right?) to the distribution point- I'd be looking for continuity from the starter to there, as a start.

If you want to access the trunk, you can use a second battery, ground the neg. terminal to the car, jump the positive to the circuit that controls the trunk solenoid or the output side of the trunk switch w/a jumper.
Not using a Ford remote solenoid. Never thought about using a 2nd battery to open the trunk. Great idea. Thank you.
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Old 07-04-2010, 12:00 PM
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Do you have power to the ignition switch and do you have any power to the fuse block, both of those places should have power all the time . Check the back of the alternator and see if there is voltage there, it also should be hot all the time . These are checks for an absolute no power condition.


HOWEVER: you first said : "Started fine up until yesterday. Had to jump the starter with a screwdriver to get the car to run and get it home."

This says to me that the starter sol is intermittent, how to check, take your meter probe the small wire on the sol, it should read 0, then have someone turn the key to start it will read 12 volts, the wire you are testing is the wire that operates the sol.

To continue: you also mentioned 0 vdc all over, it does not fit the first event, but I will go on, not saying it could not happen..

Some of these after market fuse block and wiring kit folks have the fuse block wired in a fashion that puts the entire cars electrical though a fuse on the fuse block ... the mindset on this is anti theft, by ones ability to remove that fuse, shutting down the system like a battery disconnect switch.

So with that in mind and not knowing the brand of the wiring kit, you just might want to look for a big 30 amp fuse on that block see if that has gone south . Can not tell from the post what state the car sits at the moment so I am just taking what has been posted and giving you some ideas, if you have a meter and you said you do then what I have posted and using that meter you will be fine

And just one other suggestion DO not start to modify your electrical system until you first fix what is at hand .. That would be a huge mistake. .

Last edited by pepi; 07-04-2010 at 12:06 PM.
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Old 07-04-2010, 12:54 PM
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I am a little confused you said there is no power to anything but you also said you jumped the starter and drove it home. If this is the case you must have at least had power to the ignition circuit.

Did the person who wired it give you a schematic at least. I can believe they used all one color wire. This alone would make me nervous about the quality of the work done.
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Old 07-05-2010, 04:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pepi
Do you have power to the ignition switch and do you have any power to the fuse block, both of those places should have power all the time . Check the back of the alternator and see if there is voltage there, it also should be hot all the time . These are checks for an absolute no power condition.


HOWEVER: you first said : "Started fine up until yesterday. Had to jump the starter with a screwdriver to get the car to run and get it home."

This says to me that the starter sol is intermittent, how to check, take your meter probe the small wire on the sol, it should read 0, then have someone turn the key to start it will read 12 volts, the wire you are testing is the wire that operates the sol.

To continue: you also mentioned 0 vdc all over, it does not fit the first event, but I will go on, not saying it could not happen..

Some of these after market fuse block and wiring kit folks have the fuse block wired in a fashion that puts the entire cars electrical though a fuse on the fuse block ... the mindset on this is anti theft, by ones ability to remove that fuse, shutting down the system like a battery disconnect switch.

So with that in mind and not knowing the brand of the wiring kit, you just might want to look for a big 30 amp fuse on that block see if that has gone south . Can not tell from the post what state the car sits at the moment so I am just taking what has been posted and giving you some ideas, if you have a meter and you said you do then what I have posted and using that meter you will be fine

And just one other suggestion DO not start to modify your electrical system until you first fix what is at hand .. That would be a huge mistake. .
First, thanks Pepi, for your in-depth response to my problem. I have a good 12.5 volts to the starter solenoid, but no power getting to the ignition, alternator or fuse block. The mickey mouse fuse block is not labeled, so I have to try and follow each wire to see where it goes, which seems almost impossible. There is no wiring schematic to systematically trace this bowl of red spegetti wires. I visibly checked for blown fuses and after removing each one and testing each buss fuse, found that they were all good. Before calling it quits last night I removed both rear ground cables from my Optima battery, and cleaned the connections, which looked fine, but did it anyways. I also cleaned the other ends under the rear of car, which also looked fine. One connection goes to rear frame, and one goes to an Anderson connector plug, which I'm thinking was installed to access the power trunk in case of battery failure. As it turned out, I had tried to power the car using this Anderson connector and another battery yesterday, but it didn't work. As per another member's instructions, I jumped the power trunk switch with the extra battery, and got access to the trunk compartment. The last thing I did last night was to click the key to see if the starter would turn and guess what? I got power! I tried all the accessories (lights, etc.) and everything is now getting power! Is it possible that all this is caused because of a poor ground? I could see if the grounds were dirty and rusty, but the grounds were nice and clean, and the mounting areas were free of dirt or paint. Before I put the dash back in I want to make sure this doesn't happen again. I'm thinking that it may be a good idea to run a heavy cable from the battery in the trunk all the way down to the engine block, seeing that this is a glass bodied car. You think?
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Old 07-05-2010, 04:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T-bucket23
I am a little confused you said there is no power to anything but you also said you jumped the starter and drove it home. If this is the case you must have at least had power to the ignition circuit.

Did the person who wired it give you a schematic at least. I can believe they used all one color wire. This alone would make me nervous about the quality of the work done.
Thanks Chet for response. There was power to the ignition the night I got stuck when we used the screwdriver to cross terminals, (still had headlights and a sol. click when we tried to start it with key before using screwdriver) and drove the car home with all accessories working. After i shut it off, there was nothing. Next day we had battery power to sol. but couldn't get it to ignition. Tried tracing wires (one yellow wire went to neutral safety switch, one red wire to alt. and the other red wire went under the dash and never found out where it goes. Some of these wires even changed from red to orange, so there's no rhyme or reason to this mess. No schematic. Whoever wired this car was either a complete rookie or an idiot, or both.
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Old 07-05-2010, 07:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brickyardboy
I'm thinking that it may be a good idea to run a heavy cable from the battery in the trunk all the way down to the engine block, seeing that this is a glass bodied car. You think?
Oh a thousand times yes to that thought, I have a steel body car with the battery in the rear and have the battery cables + & - to the block .

If you want a suggestion for a good cable, find a welding supplier and buy there cable, nice and flexible fine stranded wire ..

Quite a few hotrods suffer from electrical problems and I think you are seeing why that maybe, happy to here you are making head way over there.
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Old 07-08-2010, 08:48 PM
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Took your advice and ran a welding cable from battery in back to motor mount. I think I have a good ground. Now,another problem - when I turn the ig. key to start, the solinoid will not disingage, it just keeps cranking, evn if i turn off key. I had to jump out and quickly disconnect the neg. battery cable, or I probably burn up the starter and cables! Those cables and battery sure get hot with all that draw! Do you think the solinoid is bad?
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Old 07-09-2010, 04:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brickyardboy
TNow,another problem - when I turn the ig. key to start, the solinoid will not disingage, it just keeps cranking, evn if i turn off key. I had to jump out and quickly disconnect the neg. battery cable, or I probably burn up the starter and cables! Those cables and battery sure get hot with all that draw! Do you think the solinoid is bad?
Saw your post at work, could very well be a bad solenoid ... How to test, remove the small wire on the solenoid and hook the meter to it.

Remove the + battery cable from the starter, and put the ground back on.

We just want to power the electrical system, ignition switch off.

Question: on the small wire removed from the solenoid, is the reading 0 vdc if 0 vdc good.

Next ignition now on it still should read 0 vdc

Now go to the start position and you will see voltage as long as you hold it in the start position.

Just for grins put the car in drive and make sure that you will NOT read voltage on that wire in any position that the ignition could be put in. This now checks the neutral safety circuit.

If these checks give the results that I describe all bets are a bad solenoid.

The solenoid has a two contacts inside, one the battery cable + is attached to and the other is for the starter motor. They will get pitted and carbon-ed up causing high resistance. High resistance more current and it can weld or stick the contacts together .

When this happens that starter becomes an electric motor that runs until you kill the battery power to it. This can happen intermittently just to add to the confusion . Bad or week grounds could also speed up or cause the pitting to occur.

No logical need for a remote ford relay in the starter circuit, it just adds more wire and accomplishes nothing . The starter mounted solenoid is a compact design that works very well, about 60 years worth of tested reliability.

Last edited by pepi; 07-09-2010 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 07-09-2010, 04:51 PM
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If you take the solenoid apart, you'll find the terminals shown below. They will sometimes be very corroded and worn, causing an erratic starter.

The "trick" is to loosen the lock nuts that hold these terminals in place and rotate them both 180º. This gives a new, unpitted or burned surface to make a better connection with.



I would also suggest researching the use of a remote Ford solenoid.
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Old 07-09-2010, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brickyardboy
Took your advice and ran a welding cable from battery in back to motor mount. I think I have a good ground. Now,another problem - when I turn the ig. key to start, the solinoid will not disingage, it just keeps cranking, evn if i turn off key. I had to jump out and quickly disconnect the neg. battery cable, or I probably burn up the starter and cables! Those cables and battery sure get hot with all that draw! Do you think the solinoid is bad?
I have seen this with poor battery connections. I think it has to do with something backfeeding through the electrical system. I have seen this mostly on vehicles with side terminal batterys and more than one wire under the battery stud.

I had an 80 Seville that did this when the positive battery connection loosened up.

Check all connections to be sure they are tight.
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Old 07-09-2010, 06:56 PM
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Someone could physically wire a ground to the positive side of a circuit and that might be called back feed.. But an operating circuit will not have a failure and start to back feed voltage.

Back feed is just one of those, needle in a haystack, grabbing at straws, what if type of conclusions . It is misleading, can be hypothetically cured by installing diodes in all the circuits.

Back feed can happen in AC, aka counter emf and in audio ... but DC not likely, people use the term but it does not mean it is so ..

Just clearing the air, another misconception while I am on a rant, just adding grounds all over is another one I see all the time that has little impact. Yes a good ground is important, notice I said a good ground not a load of grounds.
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Old 07-09-2010, 07:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brickyardboy
Took your advice and ran a welding cable from battery in back to motor mount. I think I have a good ground. Now,another problem - when I turn the ig. key to start, the solinoid will not disingage, it just keeps cranking, evn if i turn off key. I had to jump out and quickly disconnect the neg. battery cable, or I probably burn up the starter and cables! Those cables and battery sure get hot with all that draw! Do you think the solinoid is bad?
Had that very problem with my 34, it was a bad solenoid from Auto Zombie (Chinese). Got one from NAPA and solved the problem.

Vince
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pepi
Someone could physically wire a ground to the positive side of a circuit and that might be called back feed.. But an operating circuit will not have a failure and start to back feed voltage.

Back feed is just one of those, needle in a haystack, grabbing at straws, what if type of conclusions . It is misleading, can be hypothetically cured by installing diodes in all the circuits.

Back feed can happen in AC, aka counter emf and in audio ... but DC not likely, people use the term but it does not mean it is so ..

Just clearing the air, another misconception while I am on a rant, just adding grounds all over is another one I see all the time that has little impact. Yes a good ground is important, notice I said a good ground not a load of grounds.
A circuit that gets its power from other than the intended source is considered to be being back feed. I am not talking about feed back which is what I think you are referring to as you brought up EMI which is generally induced. A bad connection can cause a circuit that is energized, and is feeding another connection that it does not normally feed, can cause the original circuit to be remain energized. This happens mostly in poorly designed wiring harnesses. If you have never experienced this you must not have done a lot of automotive electrical.
I have seen this dozens of times throughout the years.
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