<VV> Electrical Problem

Bill H. gojoe283 at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 2 16:22:41 EDT 2019

Hi Doc, thanks again for your help.
First, I just replaced the starter last week.  The problem has been going on for the past several years, actually.  But I finally got the nerve to start taking things apart and inspecting the wiring.
The old starter would occasionally "sneeze," making a sound like spinning/grinding.  I figured perhaps between the car's conking out on the highway, the "sneezing," and the burnt smell, that the solenoid was the problem.  Or that all these problems were related somehow.  In any case I replaced the entire starter and solenoid, probably wasn't necessary though.  The old solenoid's "R" terminal was very loose where it screws into the solenoid; perhaps that would cause the "conking out" problem.
I installed the new (rebuilt) starter with a brand new solenoid and while I haven't driven the car anywhere yet, the first time I turned the key to start the car I smelled the burnt wire.  And, the "sneezing" continued.  So I can't fault the starter or the solenoid.  The only other thing I could attribute to that problem would be a worn ring gear on the torque converter.  Either that, or not enough juice going to the solenoid to engage it every time.  I'd say 90% of starts were good, the 10% attempts got the "spin/grind" noise.  I'm really not looking forward to replacing the torque converter! 
Today I removed the rear wheel and disconnected the purple solenoid wire from the solenoid.  I also had the ignition switch disconnected from the multi-plug under the dash.  There was NO grounding of the wire.  The wire at the starter looks to be in good condition and it didn't touch any part of the car's body.
Despite operating the starter over and over, I couldn't reproduce the "burnt wire" smell (I shut the fuel supply so the engine wouldn't fire).  All wires to the ignition switch multi-plug were cold.  No sparks, nothing.
Voltage at the battery is 12.65 volts with the engine off.  Engine running, voltage at the battery is 15 volts (seems a bit high, doesn't it?  Voltage regulator?).
There are no fuel issues that I can identify.  The car runs as good as the day she left the showroom over 53 years ago, except for these electrical gremlins.
Best Wishes and thanks again...Bill Hershkowitz                                                66 Monza Sport Sedan, 110 PG factory A/C
    On Monday, April 1, 2019, 6:48:19 AM EDT, <roboman91324 at aol.com> wrote:  
Did you replace the starter/solenoid because of this problem?  If you made the replacement before the problem, that would be a strong indication that the problem is related to the starter/solenoid and/or the installation of same.  This is especially the case if the problem started soon after the installation.
Yes, a melted wire in that circuit is probably where the smell originates and is a serious concern for you no matter what.  If you can put your finger somewhere on that wire while trying to start the car, and it gets hot, you will confirm it is the wire that smells and this will help you focus your investigation.  There are several possibilities and experiments.... Process of elimination.
This is my logic; if the "BAT" wire isn't burning in any position other than the start position, the problem is either in the switch, the wire between the switch and the solenoid or in the solenoid itself.  The starter draws current from the battery once the solenoid kicks in.  The starter itself should not pull amps through the switch-solenoid wire.  Here are some things to try.
While you are experimenting with the bat wire, are there any other wires that get hot?  Again, the wire to the solenoid is the suspect.  It could be that the wire to the solenoid has a partial/resistive ground or even the solenoid has a partial ground but not enough to prevent the solenoid kicking in.

1.  Check the wire to the solenoid to see if there is any evidence of melted insulation.  It may not be obvious.  Keep in mind that the "BAT" wire will carry more current than the wire to the solenoid and may melt insulation before the solenoid wire.  If you can put your finger on the solenoid wire and it gets hot too while starting, you have narrowed your search even if it hasn't melted.  The problem is downstream from the switch.  Keep in mind that if the wire is hot enough to melt insulation, it is hot enough to burn your finger. 

2.  If "1" doesn't yield results, remove the wire between the switch and the solenoid from the back of the switch.  Turn to the start position.  If the "BAT" wire gets hot, there is probably a short in the switch or some other wire or wires exiting the switch in the start position.  In this situation the switch would be my first focus.  Other wires are unlikely to be the problem but cumulative amp draw could be the issue.

3.  If "1" and "2" don't yield results, remove the wire from the solenoid.  Jumper between the battery and the solenoid with a wire of the same gauge as the one between the switch and the solenoid.  You can do this by jumping between the heavy starter wire and the solenoid terminal.  Use a wire and not a screwdriver or other tool.  See if the insulation melts or gets hot.  If so, it is likely to be the solenoid that is the problem.
Note:  If you don't have wire of the proper gauge, use what you have that is close but slightly heavier, if possible.  In any case, if the jumper wire is heavier gauge than the existing wires, the insulation may not melt but it will probably still get hot.
By the way, logic doesn't always dictate the solution.  I have found electrical problems to be a real nightmare especially where there are resistive shorts.  My worst automotive electrical problem in memory was the electric fuel pump circuit on a Datson 260 Z.  My testing kept coming back to the heater control but my "logic" told me that this couldn't be.  Out of desperation, I finally replaced the heater control and the problem was resolved.  What were they thinking?  It was probably an Engineering afterthought or some insane attempt to save a buck or two in manufacturing.  Probably the latter.  Oh well.
Happy hunting.
PS: You may want to replace the "BAT" wire after you track down the problem.  The wire between the switch and the solenoid will be suspect too if the problem is either in the wire or the solenoid.  (Assuming my logic holds true.)  The melted insulation where you can see it may look "good enough" but it may be far worse where you can't see it and may eventually lead to a short or even a fire in your car.  Some day I will tell you the story of an AUDI that lost the wiring harness from the battery under the back seat to everything forward of that.  The problem occurred hours after someone replaced the switch due to someone breaking off the key in it.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In a message dated 3/31/2019 9:31:29 PM Pacific Standard Time, gojoe283 at yahoo.com writes:

Thanks guys for responding!
In response to Doc's email:
1.  The smell goes away after I release the key from the "Start" position.2.  The engine fires instantly with a flick of the key and runs smoothly (except when she unexpectedly stalls, usually on the highway going 65 mph, then she starts back up with the flick of a key.  This happens so randomly there's no way to predict it...I took her from NY to Pittsburgh this past summer and she ran perfectly the entire 700 mile trip...didn't even breathe hard...drove to my Mom's 50 miles away and she stalled about 6-7 times on I-87, but restarted instantly each time)).3.  I recently replaced the starter with a rebuilt (and new solenoid).  Starter itself seems to work fine.4.  On the dash wiring harness connector to the ignition switch...the plastic connector to the "BAT" terminal on the switch is melted.  I'm sure there's a relationship here between the burnt wire smell and that melted plastic...

My ignition is a Crane Cams XR700.  Coil is a Bosch Blue 0012.  Doesn't overheat and works perfectly.
I'll disconnect the purple wire to the solenoid and see if it's grounded and let you know.
Thanks again everyone...Bill

On Sunday, March 31, 2019, 11:46:09 PM EDT, roboman91324 at aol.com <roboman91324 at aol.com> wrote:

There are few things as scary as "that smell."
First, if you leave the switch in the "run" not "start" position for a while, do you get the smell?  If not, the problem is in the start circuit somewhere.  In the start position does the starter try to turn the engine over?  Again, if not, the problem is likely in the switch, the wire between the switch and the solenoid or the solenoid itself.  You say you tested the switch and it is OK.
A way to test for this possibility is to disconnect the wire from the ignition switch to the solenoid and see if there is a dead short in it.  I am not sure how the solenoid normally looks with an ohmmeter on it so a better but more difficult way is if you can disconnect the wire at the solenoid and test for a short to ground on the wire, not the solenoid.  It should read "open circuit" to ground.  I. E., infinite ohms.  While you are back there, I heard that a failure mode can be the heat duct from the engine to the passenger compartment coming loose.  I have heard of it shorting to the heavy gauge power wire from the battery to the starter.  It isn't unreasonable that the duct could short to the solenoid wire and cause exactly the problem you describe,
Good luck and keep us posted.
In a message dated 3/31/2019 9:00:19 AM Pacific Standard Time, virtualvairs-request at corvair.org writes:

Message: 1Date: Sun, 31 Mar 2019 01:21:04 +0000 (UTC)From: "Bill H." <gojoe283 at yahoo.com>To: virtualvairs at corvair.orgSubject: <VV> Electrical ProblemMessage-ID: <1413369079.14199063.1553995264165 at mail.yahoo.com>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?B"HHi all...I have a problem that is driving me a bit crazy.? When I turn the key to "START" in my 66 Monza, I smell that "burning electrical" smell.So I disconnected the ignition switch from the dash wires, and tested the switch. It works perfectly.However, I assume the connections to the switch are 12 volts positive?? If so, with the battery disconnected, all the wires connected to the switch show full connectivity with the ground.? I'm confused, are the BAT, SOL, ACC and IGN wires supposed to show connectivity to the 12 volts negative (ground)?Any advise would be greatly appreciated!Best Wishes,??Bill Hershkowitz66 Monza Sport Sedan 110 PG factory A/C?


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