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Well, after 7 months of working on my '54 it makes no sound when I turn the key. I removed most everything when I painted the engine. Cleaned all contacts/connections and hooked everything back up the same including linkages. My battery is fully charged and the lights come on. When I turn the key the gas gauge moves up then when I turn it all the way to start it, the gas gauge goes back down as if I was turning the key off. The car started no problem when I parked it. Electrical is my weakest subject. I need some suggestions on where to start looking. Thought today was going to be the most exciting day! But I'm not surprised just disappointed. 

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Posted (edited)

Because your lights and gas gauge work until you turn the key to start your problem has to be weak battery (you say it is fully charged) or jammed starter or poor ground. 

The battery needs to be grounded to bare metal on the frame, or preferably to one of the starter mounting bolts.  If you ground the battery this way you must make sure that the engine is grounded to the frame so that all your lights and/or accessories receive full current.

The starter needs to be grounded (metal to metal) to the engine.  Make sure there is no paint between them.

The battery cables need to be 6 volt cables preferable 00 or 000 gauge.

The cable ends need to be properly connected to the cables. If they have been laying around it Is possible they are corroded inside.

Edited by Tinindian (see edit history)

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The lights stay on when I turn the key. I just removed the starter thinking I may have painted where it grounds. I did not. Now that I have the starter out, I tested both it and the solenoid. They both work as expected. Would it be the neutral switch or ignition? I cleaned the connections at the switch. Maybe remove the ignition and check those connections?

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I may have stumbled across something. I also removed the neutral switch to inspect. I was questioning to myself before all of this, on the positioning of the arm switch when it didn't start. It seems the switch is adjustable somewhat on the column, which does ring a bell from years gone by. I can remount it with the arm more in the fully upright position which it wasn't before. I'm thinking it wasn't fully in neutral causing it not to make a circuit. It's too late to put everything back tonight but when I do, I'll let ya know the outcome!

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I found this post from 2012. The person's engine also didn't start. The switch is actually called a neutralizer switch and is exactly on the page Charles mentioned:

 

"hi, you will find the neutral safety switch mounted on top of the steering column 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.

 

Now I know what those other wires are for. 

 

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Yup....neutralizer switch out of adjustment. My bad, engine turns over now.....sorry Tinindian but thanks for the reply!

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