1957 Ignition problem

Joined
May 28, 2019
Thunderbird Year
1957
I have a 1957 Ford Thunderbird 312 automatic. Sometimes when I go to start it up it acts as if there is no power (current) going to the starter from the battery. Only the oil light comes on to show that there is a connection. A couple of hours later; or perhaps the next day I can turn the key and it cranks right up. I suspect that this might have to do with the neutral safety switch. The battery cables are tight. Does anyone else have any idea?
 

Ward 57

Active Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2019
Thunderbird Year
1957
It could be burnt points in your starter relay. Most people don't understand there are moving parts and contacts just like in your distributor. A good test would to short the connection from the battery post to the starter post when it's actin up and see if it cranks every time. A jumper cable would be a good choice as you will be delivering some good amperage. Expect some sparks when you connect (normal) If it does I'd suspect the relay/solenoid. many people who take road trips keep one in the trunk. Not expensive and easy to swap out.
 

74 Harley

Active Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Thunderbird Year
1962
Are you getting a click, or no sound at all? Remember when checking the battery cables to check both ends. Often there is a bad connection at the block or on the starter itself. If it clicks then like Ward said, check solonoid. If no click check the neutral safety switch.
 

Ward 57

Active Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2019
Thunderbird Year
1957
Are you getting a click, or no sound at all? Remember when checking the battery cables to check both ends. Often there is a bad connection at the block or on the starter itself. If it clicks then like Ward said, check solonoid. If no click check the neutral safety switch.
A click would indicate the solenoid/relay is working and then it's a connection issue. If it cranks when jumped it points to the relay/solenoid.
 
Joined
Feb 23, 2021
Thunderbird Year
1960
check all your grounds, take off all terminals on battery, clean them, and clean bat neg to block surfaces. also consider running a ground cable from the neg battery to the bell housing so shorter way for the current to flow thru the bell housing rather than thru the block to the starter.
 
Joined
May 28, 2019
Thunderbird Year
1957
There is no clicking at all, just dead silence. I had the ignition switch replaced about four months ago thinking that might be the problem.
 

74 Harley

Active Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Thunderbird Year
1962
Try wiggling the shifter, if that helps your neutral safety switch may need adjustment or replacement. If still nothing you can test the wire at the solenoid the make sure you're getting power to the solenoid.
If you don't get power at the solenoid, you need to trace back and find out if you get power to the nss.
Good luck, and keep us posted.
 

Ward 57

Active Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2019
Thunderbird Year
1957
I have a 1957 Ford Thunderbird 312 automatic. Sometimes when I go to start it up it acts as if there is no power (current) going to the starter from the battery. Only the oil light comes on to show that there is a connection. A couple of hours later; or perhaps the next day I can turn the key and it cranks right up. I suspect that this might have to do with the neutral safety switch. The battery cables are tight. Does anyone else have any idea?
I'd still try bypassing the solenoid to see if it cranks. when you first turn on the ignition the gen light should glow along with the oil light. Could be a loose wire on the ign switch itself but you said you had the problem before replacing the switch or an intermittent connection to the solenoid or even power to the switch. I've had my '57 for over 40 yrs and never had a problem with the safety switch.
 

CSPIDY

Active Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2016
Thunderbird Year
1957
The cable from the starter relay to the starter is prone to loosing the insulation from the heat where it passes the right exhaust manifold, then could be shorting out against the clamp.
 

cscolastico

Active Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2019
Thunderbird Year
1957
Hi all. Had a very strange thing happen. Was going to change my fuel pump so I was trying to get my engine to TDC, as I read this would make it easier to install a new pump. In doing so I removed the distributor cap so I could line up the rotor with the #1 cylinder. As I goosed the ignition to turn the rotor, there was arching from the coil to the block ( I believe). Anyway, I think something got fried because the engine started to crank and would not stop cranking even when I removed the the key from the ignition and shifted out of neutral. I had to actually disconnect the battery before the engine stopped cranking. Every time I connected the battery ( I have a quick disconnect), the engine would crank on its own with the car in park and the key out of the ignition switch. I disconnected the starter from the solenoid and reconnected the battery. The car did not crank, but I did notice that the oil and gen light were lit as though I put the key in the ignition switch and turned the ignition on. Could I have damaged the ignition switch? does this sound like an ignition switch problem? What else might it be. How hard is it to replace the switch. Any help would be appreciated with this crazy problem. Thanks
 

Ward 57

Active Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2019
Thunderbird Year
1957
Sounds more like the starter solenoid. Appox.$35-40 at almost any auto parts store. They have electromagnetic solenoid actuated points inside which can burn and melt together.
 

Cuul59

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Thunderbird Year
1957
Lots of good advice here from everyone. Let me add that if you use a battery cutoff switch (I do on both my birds), it could be the culprit. Try taking it off and connecting the battery cable directly to the battery and see what happens. Good luck. Neil
 

Ward 57

Active Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2019
Thunderbird Year
1957
Lots of good advice here from everyone. Let me add that if you use a battery cutoff switch (I do on both my birds), it could be the culprit. Try taking it off and connecting the battery cable directly to the battery and see what happens. Good luck. Neil
I disagree. Once that connection is broken at the battery everything is dead. just pull the Ign. wire off the solenoid and the indicator lights go off, sure sign there is feedback from the starter solenoid. many people who go on long trips keep a spare as they are inexpensive and can cause havoc when they go bad.
A quick cut-off switch at the battery is a very inexpensive and reliable unit that could actually save your car.
 
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