Ignition issues

First post on this board.
I just got a '69 Cougar Eliminator in decent shape for my son and I to restore as a project. It was running when we bought it. We tried to fire it up and the battery was dead, so we used a booster to start the car. As soon as it started, it sounded like the engine revved really high for about 45 seconds and then it just died. It will not even turn over now. I replaced the battery and still nothing when you turn the key.

I have read the previous messages about the tach issue. What do all the experienced guys here think? Tach? Bad ignition switch?
What is the best way to check these and how do I get to these parts to check them? Sorry if this has been addressed before.

The Cougar has a 351W with auto transmission. Thanks.

First off, welcome to the CCC
The tach will not keep the engine from turning over, you can test the starter solenoid by jumping the two big post together and see if engine wants to turn, if it does, then the problem is most likely in the ign. switch or the wiring from switch to solenoid.
The solenoid has to small terminals, one is marked I and one is S , you can jumper from the + side of the batt, to the S post on the solenoid and that should also make the engine turn over. If all of this works, turn ign. switch on , jumper the solenoid out and the engine should run, if not, then no current to coil. When you get this far, let us know what happens.

Welcome aboard, Okie…

I use some wires hooked to an old light switch for a poor man’s remote starter, wired up like Carlton (Catlover) says. That way you don’t get sparks flying everywhere, or weld your screwdriver to the solenoid, or anything crazy like that :slight_smile: Also makes it easy to just jog the engine a little bit.

~ Welcome aboard Okie! So, to clarify, when you turn the key you don’t get any cranking or clicking or anything, right?

Correct. When I turn the key, nothing at all happens. I work today, so will check the solenoid tomorrow. I have seen the screwdriver trick before it looks kind of scary, I will just use wires and I also have a voltmeter I can check it with.

Well, I jumpered the solenoid and nothing, so I am confused on what to check next. Sorry for my electrical ignorance, it is my weakness on cars.

go to basics

battery, is it charged? you may have a major draw. do you have lights, radio ect
if not charge battery and check again. or try to jump it again.

The battery is brand new (4 days old). Lights are not on (and actually, when you turn lights on nothing happens). I checked the battery posts on the voltmeter and it is over 12 volts. Could this be the wiring from the battery? And if so, how do I check to see that current is coming from the positive cable and/or negative cable is grounding correctly?

with light on what is voltage at battery?
also with volt meter positive lead on positive of battery, test for voltage with negative lead at a body ground then test at engine ground.

battery my have 12 volt but 0 amp when discharged

did car ever turn over with this new battery?

Grab your volt meter, start at the battery and work your way out.

Is the battery connected properly? POS + terminal to solenoid, NEG - post to ground.

Battery + post to battery - post / should be 12-13 VDC (B+). if not, charge, replace battery.
Battery + post to battery - post and key to START position. Battery voltage should remain the same or dip slightly. If it drops to zero replace the battery.
Battery + to alternator case (ground) / should read battery voltage. If not, check the ground from battery - to engine block.
Battery + to chassis (ground) / should read battery voltage. If not, check the ground strap from engine to chassis.

Battery side of solenoid to ground / should read battery voltage. If not, check positive battery cable and connections.

BAT post of alternator to ground / should read battery voltage. If not, check harness between solenoid (battery side) and alternator.
Pay close attention to the black wire with a yellow tracer (stripe). This is the main power feed for the entire car. Look for burned or loose wires,a burned fusible link and any fuses or switches a previous owner may have installed.

If all of that checks out, verify that you are getting B+ inside the car. The headlight switch (black w/orange), fuse block (yellow) and ignition switch (yellow) all get direct (unswitched) power. If none of them have power check the firewall junction box and recheck the Black/Yellow wire under the hood that feeds it. Verify you have power at the junction box under the hood, then check the black/orange wire coming out of the junction block inside the car.
69XR7Wiring_front.pdf (1.19 MB)

Thanks everyone. Here are my findings.

Battery posts get 12.2 volts.
Battery posts with key to start get 12.2 volts.
Battery + to alternator case get 3.2 volts.
Battery + to chassis get about 3.2 volts.

I assume this means I am not grounding from the -post? Do I need to take off the ground from the engine block and clean it?
Could this be something as simple as the negative clamp on the post is dirty and I just need to clean it (proving I’m an idiot at these things?)

Thanks everyone.

clean battery connections first and work down neg cable cleaning at each point until you get battery voltage at each point


Ok, my clamp on the negative battery was corroded. I replaced this and my battery is working fine and my lights will turn on now. When I try to start it, I hear clicking now.

I jumpered the solenoid as catlover described. There is a lot of clicking noise in the solenoid when I do this, but the starter does not turn over.
So, solenoid, starter, both?

charge battery, if you do not have a charger ask the store you bought it from to see if they will charge and test it

Ok, I will take it back to test it. I checked the volts across the posts, and it drop to 6 when trying to start. Did they sell me a bad battery?

Sounds like you still have a battery cable issue. Pictures would sure help.

it is possible but doubtful, it sounds like you have a major draw draining the battery. like I said in my first post.

since you said you just bought this car you have no idea of history or why he sold it.

electrical problems scare most people. but most are easy to fix, but can be difficult to find.

when not working on car remember to disconnect battery once you get it charged

I took the battery back, it was dead. I think they sold it to me discharged, because I bought it 2 days ago and immediately put it in the car, and it never turned over. It is getting charged and I will try again and update everyone. Everyone is very helpful, thanks.

Could it be a loose engine ground strap?

I have not attached the charged battery yet, but attached is a picture of the positive clamp. There is a red wire that is also coming from it and I think it goes back straight into an aftermarket stereo. Should I just take off this wire in case the stereo is draining the battery?