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1953 Pontiac Chieftain won't start

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My father has an all original 1953 Pontiac Chieftain with 25,000 miles he bought a year and half ago. Last fall before we put it up for winter (we live in the Northeast) it would not start. The wipers did not work at the time and we thought it was the fuel pump. We changed that out with an exta one that came with the car. That did not work, but we ordered a new one from Kanter and when we put that on it fired right up. That was the beginning of June. On Father's day we went to a car show. Again it fired right up no problem. When we went to leave the show nothing would happen. The interior lights work, the horn works and the gages seem fine. When you turn the key nothing. The motor/starter do not attempt to turn over. We have now put in a new solenoid. Still nothing. We put a volt meter on the battery and got the expected six volts. We also have 6 volts to the solenoid. Being that there is no park we are putting the car in nuetral to start. We did jump start it a few times when we were running the battery down with the bad fuel pump. Hopefully I am just missing something simple.

If anyone has any ideas it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Greg

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Greg- This sounds like a bad connection somewhere in the starter motor area or possibly an open in the field windings of the starter. It may also be a broken brush wire or brush spring. Even though it has a little more than 25k on the clock if it were me I pull the starter off and have a look see inside. Then I'd bench test it more than once before I reinstalled it. Good Luck with it, Mark

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You put a volt meter on the battery, and what did the volt meter read while you tried cranking the engine? Another way of doing this without a volt meter; turn on the headlamps and crank the engine-what happened to the headlamps when you did this? If the headlamps went out or went way way dim when you tried to crank, you either have a connection problem or a bad battery. To test the battery; charge the battery, then perform a load test on it. If your battery is ok perform the test again...the headlamps should stay on and dim slightly, if they dim way down or go out you have a connection problem, if they stay bright and don't dim at all check starter solenoid connections, check with a simple test light that your getting power to the solenoid wire from the ignition switch.... Yes? take a remote starter and hook it to the power with one lead and the other to where the solenoid wire attaches and press the remote starter switch- does the starter engage? With a fully charged battery it should engage the solenoid/starter motor.If it does not you have a starter solenoid problem.

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hi, i'm wondering if the problem might be contact problems inside the dash mounted key switch ?, also make sure the neutral safety switch is adjusted right. charles coker, 1953 pontiac tech advisor.

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hi, i'm wondering if the problem might be contact problems inside the dash mounted key switch ?, also make sure the neutral safety switch is adjusted right. charles coker, 1953 pontiac tech advisor.

Charles, the use of the remote starter switch, and the test lamp to the solenoid wire I instructed him to use will point him to which direction he needs to go.

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Here is the update the solenoid was changed as we thought that was the culprit. Still nothing, meaning no cranking of the engine when the key is turned. The battery is reading 6 volts so I think that is good. When the key is turned the lights dim slightly.

I do have a question about the neutral safety switch, is it mechanical or electronic. It is a hydromatic so I know it has to be in neutral to start. Any clarification would be appreciated.

The fuses, under the dash, look fine. Contacts on the back of the key switch look o.k. Next step is to take the starter out.

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hi, you will find the neutral safety switch mounted on top of the steering coluum under the hood. there will be four wires there, two are for the neutral safety switch and the other two are for the reverse or back up lights, the switch is mechanical, it makes contact when you shift to neutral so the starter will work, and makes another contact when you shift to reverse for the reverse lights to come on. there is one mounting screw, check to see if it is loose, if you have a 1949 to 1954 pontiac shop manual, you'll find on page 12-23 and 12-24. charles coker, 1953 pontiac tech advisor.

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[h=2]Re: 1953 Pontiac Chieftain won't start[/h]

Here is the update the solenoid was changed as we thought that was the culprit. Still nothing, meaning no cranking of the engine when the key is turned. The battery is reading 6 volts so I think that is good. When the key is turned the lights dim slightly.

____________________________________________________________________

Why did you change the solenoid? Didn't you use a remote starter switch to prove which way you would attack the problem? , did you use a test light to see if you got power to the solenoid wire from the ignition switch? I can charge a 6 volt battery that is sulfated and it will read 6 volts and it will NOT pass a load test. Did you perform a load test on your battery after it was fully charged???

Try first things first.

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hi, you will find the neutral safety switch mounted on top of the steering coluum under the hood. there will be four wires there, two are for the neutral safety switch and the other two are for the reverse or back up lights, the switch is mechanical, it makes contact when you shift to neutral so the starter will work, and makes another contact when you shift to reverse for the reverse lights to come on. there is one mounting screw, check to see if it is loose, if you have a 1949 to 1954 pontiac shop manual, you'll find on page 12-23 and 12-24. charles coker, 1953 pontiac tech advisor.

Hi, Charles. On my 1952 Chieftain, the neutralizer switch appears to have been bypassed. Both leads are tied together on the same contact on the neutralizer switch. Any idea why? I suppose to bypass a bad switch, but have you seen any other instance where this has been done? I don't think it should hamper starting, just might cause someone unfamiliar with the vehicle to try to start it in gear. Am currently having trouble getting the starter to turn, but I am valiantly trying with a suspect battery. Wish me luck. Regards, Rick.

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hi, i would say that someone in the car's past determined that the neutral safety switch was bad, and bypass it by connecting the two wires together. i rarely see this, it wouldn't hamper starting, and yes accidential starting in gear would happen. make sure the battery and starter connection are really clean and tight. good luck, charles coker, 1953 pontiac tech advisor.

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i must remember that you also have a starter button, 1953 was the first year with no starter button switch, lol. charles coker, 1953 pontiac tech advisor.

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Hey guys! Name is Corey and I have a 51 Chieftain Deluxe 4 dr. I have 2 questions...

1) can anyone tell me which hose goes to which side on my vacuum wipers. ( drawing or diagram) would be awesome.

2) can any one tell me why my 4 speed Hydramatic is starting in 1st, missing 2nd and going to 3rd and it used to get into 4th but not now?

Is there anything that can be done from the kick down cable?

Any help that you can give will be deeply appreciated.

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Hey guys! Name is Corey and I have a 51 Chieftain Deluxe 4 dr. I have 2 questions...

1) can anyone tell me which hose goes to which side on my vacuum wipers. ( drawing or diagram) would be awesome.

2) can any one tell me why my 4 speed Hydramatic is starting in 1st, missing 2nd and going to 3rd and it used to get into 4th but not now?

Is there anything that can be done from the kick down cable?

Any help that you can give will be deeply appreciated.

hi corey, there should be a vacuum line that goes from the wiper motor to the inlet port of the vacuum pump and another line that goes from the vacuum pump outlet and is a J shape and goes to the vacuum port (source of vacuum) on the side of the intake manifold, below the carburetor mounting area, nearest to the inner fender panel. single range hydra-matic, it may need band adjustments, but I would say it needs a complete rebuild, there is no kickdown cable, there is only the gear selector lever, and the throttle pressure lever, there are two bands that are adjustable, but takes a special adjusting tool with built in turn counter.

Charles L. Coker

1953 Pontiac tech advisor

tech advisor coordinator

poci

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Hi Charles, that is good information. I am some what new to the Pontiac scene. At some point if you could buzz me and kinda give me a walk through that would be great. I am really slammed today welding in some front and rear frame rails on a 65 Stang. My cell is 704-779-3382 Corey. Thank you once again.

Edited by wcjames01
miss spell (see edit history)

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powder coated front brake drums and 1953 olds 98 and 88 wheels, four 98 wheels are 15x6, two 88 wheels are 15x5.5, 1953 olds wire wheel hubcaps with 1951 - 1953 Pontiac rear fender indian chief emblems.

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powder coated front brake drums and 1953 olds 98 and 88 wheels, four 98 wheels are 15x6, two 88 wheels are 15x5.5, 1953 olds wire wheel hubcaps with 1951 - 1953 Pontiac rear fender indian chief emblems.

[ATTACH=CONFIG]292291[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]292292[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]292293[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]292294[/ATTACH]

Hi Charles, Do you have any pictures of the engine for your car? Wheels & drums look great!

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Thanks for the pic's. Is that a 57-347 ( valve cover makes me think )? Will you mount the engine 55-58 style, meaning does the frame mount to the timing cover ? I know we have talked about 53 & 54 was engineered for a V-8, so was the frame altered of just the steering?

Thanks in advance,

D.

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Thanks for the pic's. Is that a 57-347 ( valve cover makes me think )? Will you mount the engine 55-58 style, meaning does the frame mount to the timing cover ? I know we have talked about 53 & 54 was engineered for a V-8, so was the frame altered of just the steering?

Thanks in advance,

D.

hi, you have a good eye, yes, the valve covers are the 1957 style, I pick them up somewhere, originally thought I might use them, but the engine and trans are both 1955, 287 and dual range hydra-matic, they came out of a restored 1955 safari wagon that the new owner wanted to street rod it with a 1992 chevy pu 454 and automatic trans, the safari had only 60,000 original miles on it, 287, factory four barrel carter wcfb, power steering pump, generator, factory A/C A5 compressor. the mounting will be the 55-58 style has that's what Pontiac would have done with a V8 in 1953, and that way requires the least amount of modifying to get it mounted, drill two holes for locating the V8 front mount and then using a 1955 Pontiac trans cross member, locating it forward of the location of where the 1953 cross member was to secure the dual range hydra-matic. i have a pair of 1955-1956 style Pontiac valve covers to use when the engine is completely installed. due to the design of the V8's left exhaust manifold and design of the 1953 power steering coluum, choosing the front mount location became even more critical than if the car had standard steering, i had to be sure, that where the engine would be, there would be clearance of the exhaust manifold in front the Saginaw power steering's power cylinder, and enough room between the same power cylinder and the engine's starter, so that the starter could be removed for repairs or replacement. that doesn't show very well in the first picture.

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Thanks Charles, I'm very interested in seeing your car completed. Probably destroyed by now, but I wonder if Pontiac engineering had any documentation on their cars with the V-8. Seems like all the people to ask are gone except maybe one....Bill Collins.

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I was lucky enough to sit and talk with Pontiac engineer Malcolm mac kellar while he was still alive, about the start of the strato-streak V8 engine, and about the 1954 Pontiac Bonneville special concept show cars.

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