94 Escort ignition trouble

After starting the car, she runs just fine with the key in the on position. I can put the car in park, turn the key to off, and the car remains on. I can remove the key (only in the off position) with the
same results, car remains running. Turning the key to start functions as it should when the car is already started (grind grind). The only (possibly) related problem is a very (apparently) loose connection between the battery cable and the battery post.
Recently, when the car is off, putting the key in the ignition with the door open yields a ding or two, but then nothing. Turning the key does nothing, no attempt to turn over, no running electrics off the battery. (lights dont work, etc). If I then turn the key to the off position, and then back to on, I get a split second of electronics (lights work, dings from the door open, radio lights up) then it dies immediately. Turning to off and back on does the same thing, over and over. I disconnected the cable from the terminal and reconnected it (it didnt seem loose before), and the car functioned normally, no ignition problems at all (turning to off turned off the car). But the next time we'd try to start the car, same problem. It would take moving (jiggling, really. sometimes we'd see a spark, sometimes not) the battery cable connection on the terminal/post before getting a solid enough connection to start the car (?). As in, with the key in, and turned to on, there would be a second of electronics, then nothing. Turning to start did nothing. With the key in, or turned to on, we could move the battery cable connection around on the post, and eventually everything would be okay; lights on, bell dinging, and ignition functioned normally. Note that the connection on the post did not seem loose at all; moving the battery cable connection on the post usually requried loosening the bolt.
I'm not sure how related the two problems are, if at all. It seemed to me I just needed to replace the battery cable (the connection doesnt appear very corrorded at all, neither does the post) and spraying some non-corrosive on the terminal post and cable connection.
This ignition problem is new, which requires me to pull a fuse or disconnect the battery for the car to, well, die (from lack of charge left over in the alternator, correct?)
Im lost, and wondering if i should bother to replace the battery cables before bringing her in for service for the ignition. Suggestions? Explanations other than a bad ignition mechanism for the car continuing to run when the key is in the off position? Also, note the key is not loose in the ignition, nor can you take it out in any position other than off.
Thanks in advance Michael, Seattle
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I had the same problem with my 94 wagon. I traced it to rear defroster wires at the rear hatch. The bundle of wires shorted together. After splicing and re-insulating the wires, the problem was gone.
Ed L.

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Your problem is the ignition switch. I just replaced mine on my 92 escort. Mine would not start when turned to start, everything else worked fine. You could push the car, and pop the clutch, and it would start. It turned out that the inside of the switch got buggered up. The switch is only 65 dollars, and you should be able to replace it yourself. Just go to the library and get a haynes manual.

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