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Hey all, I have a 76 Plymouth Gran Fury Sport Suburban with a 440 in it, last fired up about 6 years ago. I've been trying to get it going for the last few weeks with no success. I've replaced the starter with one of the "high power" units (known working) from a running driving 75 Cordoba (at first I suspected the starter was shot), got a brand new battery, replaced the power AND ground wires, as well as got new battery terminals. For some reason, the key doesn't crank the starter, so I have been jumping it with a screwdriver at the relay/solenoid on the firewall (cleaned all the connections there as well). I've taken the plugs out and lubed the cyls through the plug holes as well, and stuck an endoscopic camera down them, they all look good, no rust as far as I can see. It spins over decently with no plugs in, probably not as fast as it should, but it can spin dozens of times no problem. When I screw plugs in though, it turns over very slow and depletes a fully charged, brand new battery after probably 15 revolutions. The wires get hot, which tells me there is resistance, but I'm not sure how there can be. The distributor hasn't been touched, and is in very securely, so I don't think the timing could be off either. The power wire visually "hops" when I crank it with the plugs in. I've got it to pop off a few times and nearly start, but it just won't spin fast enough to run. I've repeatedly checked and cleaned connections, both ground and power, with no issues found. I feel like I've eliminated all the possible issues and am at a complete loss of what to do. The fact that the motor has turned dozens, probably hundreds of times tells me the motor isn't seized, and I feel like I have eliminated all possible weak points in the starting system as well. I also took off the exhaust at the cat to make sure it was all clear, and it is. The oil in it looks pretty good as well, so it is lubricated. If you have any possible ideas, let me know. The car was pretty mouse-infested from sitting, but I think I've replaced and checked everything that could have been effected by them. Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to give you as much detail as possible. Thank you for your ideas, Tyler Wrage.
 

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Sometimes battery cables get corroded inside and cause issues like this.

Try using some "booster cables" to temporarily make a ground connection.

Same thing with positive but be more careful!!

Thanks
Randy
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sometimes battery cables get corroded inside and cause issues like this.

Try using some "booster cables" to temporarily make a ground connection.

Same thing with positive but be more careful!!

Thanks
Randy
Hey Randy, I completely replaced the cables with new ones, thinking that was the case, with no real improvement. Bought some factory replacement wires as well, still no luck. Any other ideas?
 

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I think you are dealing with two separate issues. I would either buy or make a second heavy ground cable. Attach it on the engine block where the negative cable attaches. Connect the other end to one of the starter mounting bolts. Second, you stated you get no crank using the key. You need to check the ignition switch, wiring from there to the solenoid coil (make sure the solenoid is good too) and also your neutral safety switch with the transmission. Timing which is too far advanced will also be difficult to crank. Even though you have a new battery, get it tested to make sure it is up to the job.
 

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I'd also remove the plugs and turn the engine by hand to make sure the rings are not binding after all this time.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I think you are dealing with two separate issues. I would either buy or make a second heavy ground cable. Attach it on the engine block where the negative cable attaches. Connect the other end to one of the starter mounting bolts. Second, you stated you get no crank using the key. You need to check the ignition switch, wiring from there to the solenoid coil (make sure the solenoid is good too) and also your neutral safety switch with the transmission. Timing which is too far advanced will also be difficult to crank. Even though you have a new battery, get it tested to make sure it is up to the job.
Hey Rickorino, I'll have to give the "secondary" ground a shot this afternoon. My understanding is that jumping the solenoid with a screwdriver would bypass the ignition switch and neutral safety switch and provide power directly from the battery to the starter, wouldn't it? I have a battery load tester and the new one plus two other batteries I've tried have all tested good, I just don't get how it can deplete them from 100% to roughly 50% in a few seconds. I don't suspect the timing is off, I had it running roughly 6 years ago and it sounded pretty happy, but I guess it's a possibility to look into. Thanks for the ideas, greatly appreciated.
 

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I'd also remove the plugs and turn the engine by hand to make sure the rings are not binding after all this time.
Thanks, Bob. It's somewhat difficult to turn by hand, but I'm not sure how tight a 440 should be, I've only ever dealt with small blocks before. Without plugs, it's somewhat tough to spin with a 1 foot 1/2" breaker bar, but not horrible, one hand on the bar and applying body weight to it spins it over. With the plugs in I can barely get it to rotate. Does this sound about right? If not, what can I do to free up the rings if they're dry? I've sprayed penetrating oil down the plug holes, and I'd think oil would be pumping by now, I've probably turned it over a few hundred times or so. Any ideas would be appreciated!
 

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Sounds like that's not the issue, then.
When you attempt to crank with the battery, start off with a fully-charged battery, and while one person holds it in the start position, have someone measure the voltage. Should not drop below about 10 to 10.5 volts. If the cables are getting hot, it's drawing too much current, and the voltage drop will be excessive. Then it's either a defective starter or bad connections somewhere.
 

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Make sure the starter is installed properly ,it could be binding causing your problem. Also as was stated try rotating it by hand with no plugs at least two or three times. Also the starter could be weak. How long did you let it sit after lubing the cylinders without plugs ? Also try some marvel mystery oil in the cylinders.
 

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Without plugs, it's somewhat tough to spin with a 1 foot 1/2" breaker bar, but not horrible, one hand on the bar and applying body weight to it spins it over. With the plugs in I can barely get it to rotate.
Should be easier to turn. If you can barely get it to rotate with a breaker bar then the same goes for the starter. Sounds like cylinder wall friction. Auto or manual trans? How about accessory drive? Anything attached can be the issue so don't assume engine without considering other possible causes. A good penetrating oil should be used in the cylinders and then engine should be hand spun to distribute oil. Then let set a day or two before spinning with starter to retest. If the issue is the engine dragging and you can't get it to spin fast enough to start, you can install one bank of spark plugs and leave to other bank out. Then see if it will spin fast enough to fire and run on 4 cylinders, so to loosen engine up enough to start on all 8. Good luck.
 

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Couple things. Check for mouse debris in the torque converter area. Might be a dragging nest there. Then check for spark from the coil. No spark, no start. Then check fuel, make sure fuel is in the carb (clean gas, I hope, 6 years is a long time). Might have to give it a little boost with some starter fluid, haven't mentioned that.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Sounds like that's not the issue, then.
When you attempt to crank with the battery, start off with a fully-charged battery, and while one person holds it in the start position, have someone measure the voltage. Should not drop below about 10 to 10.5 volts. If the cables are getting hot, it's drawing too much current, and the voltage drop will be excessive. Then it's either a defective starter or bad connections somewhere.
I'll give that a shot. Since the key doesn't work, should I jump it on the solenoid and spin it over and check if the voltage drops, or do you mean just to see if the key switch is causing current loss? Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Make sure the starter is installed properly ,it could be binding causing your problem. Also as was stated try rotating it by hand with no plugs at least two or three times. Also the starter could be weak. How long did you let it sit after lubing the cylinders without plugs ? Also try some marvel mystery oil in the cylinders.
I let it sit two days after lubing cyls. The starter felt like it dropped right in, but I noticed there was a thin metal piece on the trans that went around the teeth that had movement in it that I didn't notice on my SB 727 when I took the starter from the 360 Cordoba. Any idea what that is? I may try MMO as well. Thanks!
 

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Hey Rickorino, I'll have to give the "secondary" ground a shot this afternoon. My understanding is that jumping the solenoid with a screwdriver would bypass the ignition switch and neutral safety switch and provide power directly from the battery to the starter, wouldn't it? I have a battery load tester and the new one plus two other batteries I've tried have all tested good, I just don't get how it can deplete them from 100% to roughly 50% in a few seconds. I don't suspect the timing is off, I had it running roughly 6 years ago and it sounded pretty happy, but I guess it's a possibility to look into. Thanks for the ideas, greatly appreciated.
The reason I also suggested the ignition switch or neutral switch is you also mentioned you get no cranking at all when you turn the key but slow cranking when bypassing the solonoid. I have fixed a couple slow cranking issues on my Fords by adding the second ground cable. I guess resistive issues between the block and bell housing. Good luck and post your fix so we all can learn from this.
 

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I let it sit two days after lubing cyls. The starter felt like it dropped right in, but I noticed there was a thin metal piece on the trans that went around the teeth that had movement in it that I didn't notice on my SB 727 when I took the starter from the 360 Cordoba. Any idea what that is? I may try MMO as well. Thanks!
Sounds like a shim plate between starter and bellhousing.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Couple things. Check for mouse debris in the torque converter area. Might be a dragging nest there. Then check for spark from the coil. No spark, no start. Then check fuel, make sure fuel is in the carb (clean gas, I hope, 6 years is a long time). Might have to give it a little boost with some starter fluid, haven't mentioned that.
I've got spark and fuel and have had it nearly start a few times, I hadn't thought of the possibility of there being a nest in the converter, that's something to check out! Thanks.
 

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Couple things. Check for mouse debris in the torque converter area. Might be a dragging nest there. Then check for spark from the coil. No spark, no start. Then check fuel, make sure fuel is in the carb (clean gas, I hope, 6 years is a long time). Might have to give it a little boost with some starter fluid, haven't mentioned that.
I've got spark and fuel, I hadn't thought of the possibility of there being a nest in the converter, that's something to check out! Thanks.
The reason I also suggested the ignition switch or neutral switch is you also mentioned you get no cranking when you turn the key but slow cranking when bypassing the solonoid. I have fixed a couple slow cranking issues on my Fords by adding the second ground cable. I guess resistive issues between the block and bell housing. Good luck and post your fix so we all can learn from this.
Hmm, interesting, you may well be on to something. I'll give it a go tonight and report back. Thanks for the reply.
 

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So that probably isn't an issue then, right? It seemed enough "out of the way" to me, just am trying to rule out all possibilities. Thanks!
Generally if the wrong number or thickness of shims are used, the starter won't mesh properly and the teeth will grind.
However you activate cranking, when you do so, measure across the battery and look for the voltage drop. I'll bet it goes below 9 volts on a fully-charged battery.
 

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The sheetmetal are dust covers, and as long as they are not touching anything, they should be OK. Also, with the ignition switch not working, make sure the shift lever is actually in park or neutral, park preferably, and if mice have been in there, make sure the wiring is OK, vermin love insulation.
 
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