Ignition switch / starter wiring issue - Chevy Nova Forum
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Old 10th-March-2011, 07:10 PM   #1
walkerjay
 
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Ignition switch / starter wiring issue

Fired up my motor! Runs like a champ. Have an issue when I turn the key. Not getting good spark. Checked with meter. Volts to Big Al's coil wire is low.

I noticed when I was wiring up the car that my ignition switch harnesses did not match up with the diagram completely. I'm pasting what I have below. If anyone happens to see something that catches your eye, please let me know.

My starter currently has only the purple starter wire going to it. I don't see any reason to use the R terminal with my HEI setup so not sure if it's starter wiring.

My NSS is wired thru my shifter and is functional. I only get continuity in park or neutral. So far so good.

I'm thinking it's something with the ignition switch. I guess to summarize, I am not getting full 12 volts to the coil power wire. What do you think? Thanks so much.



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Old 10th-March-2011, 09:30 PM   #2
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When you say low voltage, what is low ?.

You may have stacking up voltage drops through connections coming from the battery through the bulkhead connector up to the ignition switch then back out of it and through the bulkhead connector. I have taken a factory ignition switches apart and they do wear out and can have voltage drop issues.

I know it's a bandaid solution but if you have enough volts on the new HEI power wire, you may be able to run this through a relay and get power directly from the battery. Some relays only take an amp or two to trigger and can operate with a low voltage down to something like 8 volts or so.

Try this, get power for the HEI directly from the battery and see what happens. The engine will not shut off with the key but taking power for the HEI away will kill the engine.

When an engine is cranking the voltage will go down but then once it's running the voltage should come back up.


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Old 10th-March-2011, 09:39 PM   #3
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I am guessing that you had a points distrubutor to start with did you replace the resistor wire that was running to your points coil with a new wire the old wire only feeds like 9v that was so it didn`t burn the points up it fed 12v from the wire that was coming from your starter but only during start up then it switched to the constant 9v. You only need the one wire running from the fuse box connector on firewall not from the starter.
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Old 10th-March-2011, 11:41 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Custom Jim View Post
When you say low voltage, what is low ?.

You may have stacking up voltage drops through connections coming from the battery through the bulkhead connector up to the ignition switch then back out of it and through the bulkhead connector. I have taken a factory ignition switches apart and they do wear out and can have voltage drop issues.

I know it's a bandaid solution but if you have enough volts on the new HEI power wire, you may be able to run this through a relay and get power directly from the battery. Some relays only take an amp or two to trigger and can operate with a low voltage down to something like 8 volts or so.

Try this, get power for the HEI directly from the battery and see what happens. The engine will not shut off with the key but taking power for the HEI away will kill the engine.

When an engine is cranking the voltage will go down but then once it's running the voltage should come back up.


Jim
6-7 volts.

Your suggestion is exactly what I did. I ran a jumper directly from the battery to the HEI coil. It worked! Perhaps I could wire in a push button switch as a quick fix too. So whats the next step?
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Old 10th-March-2011, 11:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichP View Post
I am guessing that you had a points distrubutor to start with did you replace the resistor wire that was running to your points coil with a new wire the old wire only feeds like 9v that was so it didn`t burn the points up it fed 12v from the wire that was coming from your starter but only during start up then it switched to the constant 9v. You only need the one wire running from the fuse box connector on firewall not from the starter.
Original car had points distributor. Yes,I converted to a 12g red wire from bulkhead to coil. Now that should begetting 12volts all the time right? Like in start/run and also during cranking..?

You only need the one wire running from the fuse box connector on firewall not from the starter.

I'm not following you here...? could you please explain?
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Old 11th-March-2011, 11:46 AM   #6
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I still think you need to have two wires to the positive side of the coil. So If it,s Gm,s H.E.I you need to group the two circuits. The bulk head wire you change from a resistor wire to a 14 gauge red. A wire from the R terminal of the starter to give you 12 volts when you are cranking it. If you have the new style starter with just the S you can run from that up, it will do the same function,12 volts in crank position. Gary
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Old 11th-March-2011, 02:48 PM   #7
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I still think you need to have two wires to the positive side of the coil. So If it,s Gm,s H.E.I you need to group the two circuits. The bulk head wire you change from a resistor wire to a 14 gauge red. A wire from the R terminal of the starter to give you 12 volts when you are cranking it. If you have the new style starter with just the S you can run from that up, it will do the same function,12 volts in crank position. Gary
So are you saying I need to get 12 volts to that R terminal on the starter? If so , I wonder why so many guys are telling me, and I also see, that one starter wire is enough....

I already have the 14 gauge red bulkhead wire which replaced the resistor wire. You think I need another wire in this power circuit to the starter "R" terminal?
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Old 11th-March-2011, 03:56 PM   #8
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You should only need one wire.

The stock *points* setup used a resistor wire from the bulkhead connector to feed 10V or so to the points in the 'run' position so the points would arc less, and last longer. There was a second wire from the starter to the points that fed a full 12V *while cranking* to give a hotter spark when you were trying to start the car.

The HEI gives you a nice fat spark all the time, and there's no points to wear out, so it wants a full 12V all the time. Follow Big Al's (nicely done) instructions, replace the resistor wire from the bulkhead connector with regular wire to feed 12V to the HEI in 'start' and 'run' positions, and you're done. You don't need the wire to the starter if you're using HEI. (It won't hurt, but...why do the work if you don't need to?) If there is a wire from the starter, remove it entirely, or make sure it's secured properly so it won't accidentally ground out on something and start a fire.

As stated earlier...check the quality of the connections. The path goes from the battery to the horn relay, then to the bulkhead connector, to a fuse in the fusebox, through the ignition switch, the neutral safety switch, back to the bulkhead connector, and then to the distributor. There's a lot of different connections that can corrode and add resistance.

Also...don't forget that this is a *circuit*, so the return side of the path matters too. The connection from distributor to the engine block to the negative terminal on the battery needs to all be reliable connections too.
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Old 11th-March-2011, 05:45 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by walkerjay View Post
So are you saying I need to get 12 volts to that R terminal on the starter? If so , I wonder why so many guys are telling me, and I also see, that one starter wire is enough....

I already have the 14 gauge red bulkhead wire which replaced the resistor wire. You think I need another wire in this power circuit to the starter "R" terminal?
If there is constant 12volts at the distributor on the red wire while you are cranking it you are good. I,m not sure it stays hot in the crank position. They may have wired that R wire in to give it 12 volts to the coil for start up when it was points. Testing this circuit in this fashion will tell the tale. When the starter is engaged the R terminal gave 12 volts to the positive side of the coil on start up only.

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Old 11th-March-2011, 06:03 PM   #10
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I guess we should ask dose battery voltage match the voltage on the red wire going to your distributor? Gary
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Old 12th-March-2011, 10:01 PM   #11
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patman - I have it wired precisely to Big Al's thread. One wire. Prob is I'm getting 12 volts in run but when I start and crank the motor over, it's dropping to 9 volts. When I check spark the old fashioned way (screwdriver in wire boot) the spark is weak.

gary - yes, battery voltage matches up...right around 12.

Here's something else going on....when I turn key to start, volt gauge drops from 12 down to nothing.
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Old 12th-March-2011, 10:03 PM   #12
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The connection from distributor to the engine block to the negative terminal on the battery needs to all be reliable connections too.
you talking about grounding here?
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Old 13th-March-2011, 04:38 PM   #13
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Added a jumper from coil to R on starter. Diagnostics with meter show a drop to 9 volts when cranking, with R wire on or not.

Also, my volt gauge drops to O upon cranking for start up. Perhaps this is a clue....

some wiring pics...
test setup


starter wired


bh1


bh2


battery w/ fusible link wire to junction


who needs a one wire alternator? This does just fine...


reverse light switch works fine. NSS worked ok, now is intermittent so It's bypassed for now


I lost a couple wires from the bulkhead that went to nothing. If anyone sees a major wire missing, please advise. thanks.

Besides Battery to jb, are there any other critical areas that require a fusible link?

My current status is voltage drop to coil during startup.
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Old 13th-March-2011, 09:07 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walkerjay View Post
Added a jumper from coil to R on starter. Diagnostics with meter show a drop to 9 volts when cranking, with R wire on or not.
If the extra wire isn't making a difference, the problem is likely elsewhere.

Some thoughts (at this point my money is on #4)

1) You said earlier that at one point you jumpered the HEI directly to the battery temporarily. If you have it fed that way, does it still drop to 9V when cranking? If so, it ain't the ignition wiring.

2) The negative battery cable looks nice, but it appears to be attached to a nicely painted alternator bracket attached to a nicely painted block. Make sure there is a good metal-to-metal connection (no paint!) between the bracket and the cable, and the bracket and the engine block (such as where it attaches to the intake manifold or water pump)

3) The block is grounded to the battery, but what about the rest of the car? Do you have a wire between the battery negative and the body? Do you have the grounding straps installed between the engine and the body?

4) Seems like you've been playing with this starting issue for a while without really having the engine running all that long. The starter draws a LOT of juice from the battery. It could be that the battery is just run down. Try throwing it on a charger to top it off and see if that helps.

5) Is the alternator working properly? You should get 12V at the battery with everything shut off, and 13.5 or so when the engine is running.

HTH...
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Old 14th-March-2011, 12:33 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patman View Post
If the extra wire isn't making a difference, the problem is likely elsewhere.

Some thoughts (at this point my money is on #4)

1) You said earlier that at one point you jumpered the HEI directly to the battery temporarily. If you have it fed that way, does it still drop to 9V when cranking? If so, it ain't the ignition wiring.

2) The negative battery cable looks nice, but it appears to be attached to a nicely painted alternator bracket attached to a nicely painted block. Make sure there is a good metal-to-metal connection (no paint!) between the bracket and the cable, and the bracket and the engine block (such as where it attaches to the intake manifold or water pump)

3) The block is grounded to the battery, but what about the rest of the car? Do you have a wire between the battery negative and the body? Do you have the grounding straps installed between the engine and the body?

4) Seems like you've been playing with this starting issue for a while without really having the engine running all that long. The starter draws a LOT of juice from the battery. It could be that the battery is just run down. Try throwing it on a charger to top it off and see if that helps.

5) Is the alternator working properly? You should get 12V at the battery with everything shut off, and 13.5 or so when the engine is running.

HTH...
thanks Patman

1) I do not have it set up that way currently. It was a temporary test and while I did not test it with the meter, I was getting good spark (with a screwdriver in the wire trick) and the car fired up strong.

2) Yes, everything appears nicely painted but all of those areas were taken down to bare metal underneath and all have star washers.

3) Yes, I have all those grounds but the negative battery does not ground directly to the body. I have negative battery to alt bracket and negative cable from back of head to body. Should I run another ground directly from negative battery to body?

4) Good idea though I really haven't turn it over all that much. Meter shows 11.8 volts at battery. When it was running, I was up around 14 per the volt gauge. I'll throw the charger on there for a bit.

5) Not 100% sure. Would the fact that I'm getting 14 on the volt gauge indicate alternator function?

thanks again. really stumped.

Is the voltmeter suppose to drop to zero when cranking? I am wondering if this is a clue.

Also, tapping off the R starter terminal didn't give me extra cranking volts. Could it be a solenoid issue or am I jumping the gun?
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