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Possible Ignition Switch Issue?

Discussion in '"Stock" Alpine' started by Ian Faulkner, May 9, 2022.

  1. Ian Faulkner

    Ian Faulkner Donation Time

    After letting the car sit overnight I tried starting it again today (via crossing the 2 points at the solenoid). The starter sounded, I'm not sure how to frase it, extra crunchy/vibraty? I can post a video with the sound in a bit. Regardless after letting it sit for a bit the starter seemed to work like normal again. For the time being, I'm going to pretend this isn't a problem until I solve some other things first. The next big issue the ignition has been the main reason I can only turn the engine over at the solenoid. I had initially thought it was a bad ignition switch, so I ordered one and installed it a few minutes ago, but the same issue is apparent. The engine will not turn over on its own. Someone had mentioned a possible starter button but I'm not sure where that would be, or where it would connect to since I have the red/white wire going to the ignition switch. That wire goes to the solenoid to actuate it. Below is a very rough drawing of the ignition switch and how i have it wired. 1 and 2 are in the same location that the old wires were on the old switch, which leaves me with 3 and 4. The ignition wire that goes to the solenoid was never connected properly and was dangling, so I'm unsure where it is supposed to plug into. I've tried plugging it into 3 and 4 but the starter does not start.
    When turning the key i noticed neither of the ignition switches turns like a normal modern car, the key wont come out unless you click it 1 click clockwise. To have the key in what ill call absolute zero position the key won't come out. The starter does start when plugged into 4 when in absolute zero, rather than on the far clockwise position like you would a normal car.
    Any ideas on what's happening?
  2. Ian Faulkner

    Ian Faulkner Donation Time

    Image of ignition switch wiring

    Attached Files:

  3. JR66

    JR66 Platinum Level Sponsor

    On Series V (I don't know about the older cars) 12 V comes into the ignition switch on terminal 1. Beginning with putting the key in (key vertical) one click clockwise puts 12 V on terminal 2 that powers the ignition (and other things). Fully clockwise against the force of the spring puts power on terminal 3 that should be connected to the solenoid to activate the starter. With key fully counterclockwise 12 V is put on terminal 4 which is for accessories. My original Series V didn't have anything connected to terminal 4. The original starter solenoid had a push button on it to activate the starter from under the bonnet. There is an excellent color coded wiring diagram for Series V available on this web site. Here's a pdf.

    Attached Files:

    Tim R and Ian Faulkner like this.
  4. Acollin

    Acollin Platinum Level Sponsor

    The starter button would be on the solenoid . On mine, there is a rubber cap opposite the wired end. I believe that this is how a series V came from the factory. It allows you to start the engine or bump the motor from outside the car.a very useful feature.

    I will try to run out to my car and take some pictures— button and how it is wired. There is what I would call an odd wire in this mix on my car. A cold start feature. If memory serves it runs from coil along the fire wall to the solenoid.
    Do you have a wiring diagram? Page 55 section N will clearly show which wires are connected where. I can also take apicture of that for you if you do not already have one.
  5. Acollin

    Acollin Platinum Level Sponsor

    Great wiring diagram — thanks.
    I tried to show the “button” end ,the wiring end and the odd wire. The white/ green is the wire for the cold start. I recall now I was able to buy a solenoid with button that did not have a cold start connector. I repaired my original with the cold start connector, but never reinstalled it. The white / green wire is not connected on either end but remains in place. There must have been a few options back in the day.
    Hope this helps

    Attached Files:

  6. Ian Faulkner

    Ian Faulkner Donation Time

    Thank you all for the replies.
    Sadly I have an after-market starter solenoid, ill post an image when I have a chance to take it. When connecting the starter solenoid wire to pin 3 and then turning the key against the force of the spring nothing happened, no starter clicks or anything. When I connect the starter wire to pin 4 and turn the key to accessory mode the starter does rotate. I have no idea what would cause it to not work on 3 but work on 4, I guess its a good thing to know that the wire does indeed still make a connection to the starter, just not when connected to the correct pin.

    Any thoughts on what could be causing this?
  7. Ian Faulkner

    Ian Faulkner Donation Time

    Starter solenoid:

    Attached Files:

  8. JR66

    JR66 Platinum Level Sponsor

    Hi Ian, do you have a DVM (digital voltmeter)? If not you will need one and you can get a simple one very inexpensive. Also some wire and alligator clips. Even though you changed the switch you can start by checking switch operation anyway to be sure it's ok. You can try the original switch that is off the car. Check continuity from pin 1 to all the other pins for each switch position. Make sure you're connecting to the correct pins. The numbers are not easy to see and as you know some have multiple spade connections. Also these old cars often have a layer of oxidation on the connectors. You can temporarily bypass the starter wire by connecting a test wire from terminal 3 directly to the starter terminal on the solenoid. Using a long wire you can just run it outside the car without going through the firewall. Then try starting the car with the ignition switch. Also a wire with clips can be used to temporarily improve grounding, such as grounding the solenoid case to a clean ground connection. Sorry I can't think of a simple definitive thing that would be causing the problem. You may have to do a bunch of troubleshooting looking for voltage where it should be and grounds where they should be using a DVM.
  9. Ian Faulkner

    Ian Faulkner Donation Time

    I was able to get the starter to go after I disconnected one of the white wires on pin 2. The wire with 2 wires coming off it. I suspect an electrical short somewhere in there but for now, the car has ignition, intermittently sadly but its there.
  10. Ian Faulkner

    Ian Faulkner Donation Time

    It seems i can either have spark or starter, but not both at the same time. When I have one of the the white wire plugged into pin 2, the starter runs when put in the correct position. But when I unplug that wire and plug in the other white wire into pin 2, I get spark at the coil but no starter.

    Any thoughts?
  11. hartmandm

    hartmandm Moderator Platinum Level Sponsor

    Maybe you have a short in that one white wire. You can check the resistance of the white wire to ground with a multimeter. You should see some resistance, though I'm not sure how much.

    You can also check the ignition switch is as you expect. Maybe disconnect all wires from your ignition switch to do continuity tests. Just remember the brown wires are hot.

    When in the 'run' position, pins 1 and 2 and 4 should have continuity.
    When in the 'start' position, pins 1 and 2 and 3 should have continuity. (Not sure, but guessing the accessory pin 4 does not receive power.)

    Paul A likes this.
  12. Acollin

    Acollin Platinum Level Sponsor

    Hey Ian


    Know that you are working in an area where a misconnected wire or something touching that should not be touching, could cause wires to melt and burn.

    i had a “white wire” ignition problem routed through the tach in my series V that I was sorting out. I toasted my tach. The scary thing was sitting in the drivers seat I smelled it before I located it so I wasn’t sure where that burning smell was coming from. The good news is I only burned up my tach.
    That wiring diagram sent to you , could be your best pal.
    Good luck
  13. Ian Faulkner

    Ian Faulkner Donation Time

    So ive attempted to bypass the wire I suspected was causing the short in the ignition switch. What I did was disconnect one of the white wires that went to the ignition switch, this wire is also the one going to the coil. I wired in a bypass wire, connecting the coil to the ignition switch hoping it was just a short along the original wire. The same issue has continued, even after bypassing the original white wires, its either spark, or the starter rotation, still not at the same time. I have no idea whats causing this issue other than a possible short in the distributor?
  14. Tom H

    Tom H Platinum Level Sponsor

    Ian, All electrical problems are not "shorts" . Why would you suspect a "short" or ANY problem at the distributor? If the problem were in the distributor why would it not be there all the time, not just when trying to get the starter to work? It seems to me you are doing too much jumping around, switching wires, and noting what seems to work. JR66 suggested you get a DMM, but really I think you'd be better off to just get a test lamp, either a simple tool from an auto parts place, consisting of a plastic handled awl with a lamp inside the handle and a ground lead . Or just use spare 12 V lamp and a set of wires.

    You started out OK with the wires connected probably correctly. You were puzzled about the key positions. I assume you now know that fully counterclockwise is the Accessory position where only Pin 4 gets connected to Pin 1 - proving power to accessories like the Radio, for example. One click to the right, where the key can now be removed, is the OFF potion with no pins connected to the 12 V on Pin 1. One click to the right from the OFF position applies 12 V power to pin 2 (as well as Pin 4) proving power to the ignition and other circuits. One click further right, the spring loaded position connects power to Pin 3, applying 12 V to the solenoid ,via the red/white wire thus powering the starter motor, while Pin 2 stays powered as well..

    In you first post it seems the only problem was the starter did not crank. Go back to that beginning, and, with your test lamp see if there is is 12 V at the terminal on the solenoid that the red/white wire is connected to , when the ignition key is turned to the Start Position. If not find out why. If 12 V is there the problem is the solenoid. - maybe defective, maybe the solenoid ground is poor.

  15. Ian Faulkner

    Ian Faulkner Donation Time

    Tom, I had made JR66's recommendation with a multimeter. What concluded from that was there were 12ish volts when turning the key into the ignition position from the switch to the coil when having one of the 2 white wires connected, but no voltage when having both and or the other white wire connected. Both white wires are connected to pin 2 of the switch. Because I'm new to sunbeams and old cars in general I had no idea about the accessory position, but thankfully JR66 explained how it worked. The reason the starter wouldn't crank at the beginning I found to be because of a poor grounding connection, which I cleaned and bolted back down. Thanks to those who recommended cleaning the grounding points, the starter turns the engine over great now. The reason I assumed a short was because it was only happening with one of the white wires, concluded by the 0 volts when having both wires connected to pin 2 when attempting to turn the starter over with the switch. Bypassing showed no difference which is why I presumed it was something to do with a bad connection in the distributor that could possibly be shorting somehow? I'm not sure.
  16. Tom H

    Tom H Platinum Level Sponsor

    Good to hear about your progress. But I am still confused. It seems you have solved the starter problem, but in your previous post - today at 2 PM, you said you can get either spark or starter, not both. And by the way, I assume when you say you "get spark", you really mean you have Voltage at the coil, not actually sparks at the plugs, right? When a short happens LOTS of current flow, creating heat, smoke, and blown fuse, etc., not just "no working".

    Please clarify- with all the white wires connected do you get 12 V at the coil with the ignition switch in the Run position (not start position).

    And if you turn the switch to the START position, do you get cranking?

    But while cranking does the voltage at the coil drop to zero?

    Additional question- Does your car have a ballast resistor - it's a large white ceramic device mounted near the coil. ?
    Last edited: May 15, 2022
  17. Ian Faulkner

    Ian Faulkner Donation Time

    When turning the key to the start position with all white wires connected to the ignition switch, the starter does not engage or spin. When I unplug one of the 2 white wires from the switch the starter engages and spins, but I no longer have voltage at the coil, and no longer have spark at the plugs. When I plug in the wire causing the starter not to spin, and unplug the white wire that would previously allow the starter to spin, I now have voltage at the coil but no longer have control of the starter through the switch. It's hard to explain with text ill try uploading a video later going more in-depth about my dilemma.
  18. loose_electron

    loose_electron Gold Level Sponsor

    A trick here - For cars with original wiring, disconnect the battery and put a 20A fuse in series at the battery while working on things. You pop the fuse instead of melting wires and tachs. Can not crank the engine thru that fuse but you can do everything else.

    A high current fuse (I use 300A ) in line with the battery at the battery is what I suggest for general use.

  19. JR66

    JR66 Platinum Level Sponsor

    Ian, I'm assuming the Series V wiring diagram applies to your car. There should be 3 white wires on switch terminal #2. The lone one sends power to the fuse block terminal #3. The other two white wires are hooked together at the switch. One of these two wires is directly connected to the + terminal on the coil and must be connected in order for the coil to get power assuming there are no other wires connected to the + terminal on the coil. So when you disconnect one of the white wires at the switch and have no voltage at the coil, unless there's a short somewhere, you should be disconnecting that particular wire. On its way from the switch to the coil it goes near the tach so that the tach can pick up pulses from it but it not hard wired to the tach. The other white wire is hard wired to the tach and beyond to provide power to the instruments. Disconnect the white wire at the coil and at the switch and measure the resistance in the wire by connecting your meter to both ends (use a test wire to connect). There should be continuity (very little resistance). Then check continuity between the wire and ground. There shouldn't be any (very high resistance). Reconnect. Then disconnect the other white wire at the switch. With that wire disconnected verify that you have 12 V on switch terminal #2 and voltage at the coil when the switch is in the run position. Also verify that you have 12 V on terminals #2 and #3 when you turn the switch fully clockwise (starter position). Also verify that you have voltage at the + terminal on the coil when the switch is in the starter position. Write down all your test results. This should give you a good start on troubleshooting this problem. More tests can be done based on those results if necessary. As a side note there are three brown wires at the solenoid. One of them supplies power to the fuse block terminal #1 and on to the ignition switch. Clean all the connections at the solenoid, fuse block and ignition switch to make sure you don't have bad connections limiting the current flow to the ignition switch.

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