My '67 Won't Start

I have a starting issue so I need some advice. I put a new Optima red top 800cca/1000ca battery in my 1967. It won’t even act like it wants to turn over. All I get when I turn the key is a clicking at the solenoid. I replaced the positive battery cable to the solenoid. I checked the battery voltage and it was 12.5 without being under load. I put a battery charger on to help aid the starting (13.4 volts) still just a rapid clicking at the solenoid. I changed the solenoid with the solenoid off of my 1968. It made no difference, still a rapid clicking when I turn the key. The negative cable looks good and the terminal is clean. I’m going to replace it today along with the cable from the solenoid to the starter. I replaced the battery because it was slow cranking the last time I took the car out for a cruise. The old battery was a 2009 model from Advanced Auto so I figured that was my issue.

Is there something I’m overlooking? Any advice would be helpful. Thanks.

The starter itself perhaps ? We had that with the Jeep. Swore it was the battery due to slow cranking and eventually it just stopped completely even with a new battery. Ended up swapping the starter in a gas station parking lot while on vacation.


I would remove the starter and have a shop bench test it. Carbon buildup within the starter increases its resistance to the point where it will have issues as you described ( plus you have already changed the solenoid with a known good one ).

Note there is a slim chance that the battery’s cell are internally shorted. The battery will still show 12V but it will not deliver the amperage required when starting the car.

Coach Jack

Sure sounds like a starter issue. you could jump it and see if you get the same result, or simply remove it and bench test it as well. Make sure the wiring to the starter is good too.

Do any of the cables or connections get hot? Have you jumped the solenoid (used a jumper cable to go from battery positive to the starter side of the solenoid?) Is the battery ground attached to the engine block?

Just something to watch for with bench testing, we had pulled the starter on the Jeep and it bench tested with lower resistance than a new one out of the box, so I didn’t bother getting a new one at that point. Really wished I had a thousand miles later in the middle of CO in the middle of the night …

Thanks Coach Jack. I’m leaning towards it being a starter issue. I’ll try to pull it this evening and bench test it. At least then I’ll have an idea if the starter will actually engage and spin.

Bill I did not hold the key in the start position long enough to see if the wires would get hot. The ground strap is in place. I was going to clean the connections this evening to rule out a ground issue. I also jumped from the battery side of the solenoid and nothing happened except a few small sparks at the jumper cable end when I was hooking them up.

If it is my starter that causing the issue I’d like to go to a more modern high torque starter to help with the “hot starts”. Has anyone used one on a 390? If so what make and model? I looked up this starter on Summits website: 1967 FORD MUSTANG Powermaster 3131 Powermaster OEM-Style High-Torque Replacement Starters | Summit Racing
Any thoughts on whether this is worth the extra money over a stock replacement?

Rapid clicking at the solenoid is either a bad connection somewhere or a bad solenoid. If the starter was locked up but making contact you would get a single click then hot battery and starter cables. If the starter was open circuit you would get a single click and then cool battery cables. If the bendix was bad you would get a single click and then hear the starter spinning or grinding on the flywheel.

I would suspect the negative battery cable attachment to the block first. Disassemble it and clean the block and the cable until shiny. Then assemble with a coating of wheel bearing grease to keep corrosion away permanently. Then the cable from the solenoid to the starter, same treatment. Last thing I would do is swap the solenoid for a new Motorcraft unit (not Chinese auto part store junk and not Chinese reproduction Autolite).

Thanks for the input Royce. I replaced the positive cable along with the battery because it was black and I wanted it to be red. I’ll upgrade the negative cable as well and clean the attaching point on the block to ensure a good ground. I’ll clean the starter cable as you described or purchase a new one if my local Napa store has one. I’ll also check with my local Ford dealership and see if they carry the Motorcraft solenoid. On a different note I know that you have had a lot of FE engines . When you have built your engines what starter have you used? Have you ever had an issue with “hot starts”?

I agree w/Royce’s advice, also. I use really fat (ie non-stock) grounds and cables, and I make very sure to get good metal contact at all points (fresh paint = looks nice = crappy grounding). If you don’t have headers, a nice, freshly rebuilt stock FE starter will work just fine. You’ll get some heat soak with headers and I actually put a high-torque mini starter on my S-code Cougar years ago (that one has been gone a long time)…that worked great but it sounded a little different when it cranked – no biggie. For headered FEs and heat-soaked, stock starters, just treat the car like it’s flooded to start: you get that very slow, rawr…rawr…when you turn it over, so pin the gas pedal to the floor and crank it. You’ll get a couple more slow rawrs, but then it’ll catch just fine and you can take off. If you can fit your hands up in there on the stock starter/header/FE situation, a Kevlar wrap on the starter seems to help.

I agree it’s usually a solenoid issue when the relay flutters; however, replacing the solenoid usually does it.

Doesn’t the solenoid ground through the mount on the back of it rather than through the grounding cable ? Maybe a jumper between it and the negative of the battery would be a good test to see if it will stay engaged.

A remote start trigger (old school that clips on the solenoid) would be a good test too as that would take the switch circuit out of the equation.

Couldn’t overtightening the positive battery to solenoid do that?

Thanks for the advice Kim. My S code has it’s stock exhaust manifolds but I have experienced heat-soak with the starter. I’m not sure how old it is because I purchased the car after the restoration. Maybe it’s just time for a new starter. I’ll know better tomorrow when I get off shift from the Fire Dept. I’ll check all of my cables to ensure a good ground or connection point. I’ll replace as needed, even though they look good I’ll put my meter on them to know for sure. Do you remember what mini starter you used?

One of the ones the guys from the FE Forum recommended – RobbMc maybe? RobbMc Performance Products | Starter Comparison I’ll ruminate on it and maybe I can remember…I sold that car maybe 12-ish years ago? A guy over on the other Cougar Forum has it now in one of the NE states. I’ll see if I can find his name over there and you can PM him and ask what it has – I’m sure that same starter is still on the car.

Luckily, the starter removal job isn’t the end of the world with nice stock exhaust manifolds (I’ve gotten to hating headers!)…if you’re getting heat soak, I do think the starter is getting weak. There is a shop here that I take my stock stuff to and have them rebuild (starters, alternators, etc.) as I have found out the hard way that not all FE starters that are alleged to fit the application do NOT. If your starter fits – whether it has the magical numbers and dates or not, do NOT trade it as a core (I always pay the fee when required); have it rebuilt if you can or at least keep it for a spare and try the new one you buy. But some FE starters have lips and ridges cast in them and you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what is wrong when you’re laying on your back, getting chunks of grease and dirt in your eyes and trying to get the bolts started and why it’s not fitting right.

Good luck! :sunglasses:

I have used this starter to solve hot engine starting issues.
Many of the things to do already mentioned can solve this issue. Another is to clean the metal under the solenoid and use bolts with nuts and serrated washers and crank them down. Corrosion between the starter case and bellhousing can happen. If you were to remove the starter to clean it then just put in a new one. One of the starter mounting holes is open to the back of the bellhousing I run a longer bolt through it then put a nut on the back, once again crank it.

I snapped this picture today. Overall I think the rust and the paint on the block aren’t good. I checked from the positive side of the battery to the unhooked negative cable and I was getting a reading from 11.5- 11.75 volts. So there is definitely a ground issue at the block.
Battery Ground.jpg
I’m on the way to get a new negative cable and a solenoid to starter cable. I’ll keep everyone updated.

ClawIt thanks for the information. I cleaned behind the solenoid as you mentioned. I am grateful for all of the input that everyone has given to help me. It helped me solve this issue. I have had the Cougar out stretching her legs this afternoon. I cleaned the block at the mounting point for the new negative battery cable. I checked all of the connection points on the solenoid. I also purchased a new cable to run from the solenoid to the starter. I turned the key and the engine turned over easily. It was great to hear the 390 come to life and let out it’s growl! :smiley: Thanks again everyone for the advice. This is truly a great community. :thumbup:

I use stock everything. Never had any issue with hot starting. The key to success is cleaning everything to bare shiny metal and protecting that shiny metal with grease or Vaseline.

Thanks for the response Royce. I cleaned the connections with my Dremel tool and a fine wire brush. Befoe putting everything back in place I actually used Vaseline, I didn’t have any bearing grease. I was please that my issue was resolved with the advise and direction of the members here at The Classic Cougar Community.

Just remembered that makes the starter stick… Sorry