Cant get engine to start

I have an old 1979 F150 pickup truck. It has a 400 engine. I drove it for years until the box got so rusty that one of the sides fell off. After that it just became a farm truck and was no longer used on
the road. It always got terrible gas milage, so when the gas prices got really high I quit using it. It has sat for the past year and a half. Yesterday I decided to get it out of the yard, and plan to sell the engine, and make the frame into a wood hauler. I tried to start it, and it will not start. The clear inline gas filter is showing gas coming into it, but I suppose that old gas may be getting stale. I poured some gas into the carb and it still will not start. I tried some ether *starting fluid* but it seems like it's not getting a spark at all, because it just does not even try to fire. With the poured in gas and ether, it should have at least popped.
I should mention that less than a year before I quit driving it, I replaced the distributor with a brand new one, and also replaced the control box for the ignition, and the engine ran like a charm. I have checked all the wiring to be sure none was chewed by a mouse or something, and it all looks fine.
I put a 12v tester on the coil primary and it's getting voltage. It shows +12v on both sides of the coil, but when I unplug the terminal to the coil it's only on one side, thus the coil is sending the voltage thru to the other terminal. The wiring that feeds the control box has 3 wires at a plug. One is always hot, the other one keeps flashing on and off (WTF is that about), and the 3rd one is probably a ground because there is no reading.
Can anyone tell me what might be going on with this? ? ?
I wish I had a helper to see if there is actually a spark, but I dont. However, it's pretty obvious there is no spark or it would at least pop when I added gas to the carb or sprayed the ether.
Thanks
LM
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Any chance the needle valve is stuck open and the engine is flooded? Does it smell like it is? Does the choke work, or has it been disconnected? Pull one of the plugs and see if it's wet. I assume you're using a known good or freshly charged battery?
SC Tom
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My wild ass guess is gunked up fuel system or mice eating the wiring.
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"I wish I had a helper to see if there is actually a spark, but I don't."
Can't you jumper the starter solenoid? Make a remote switch .... much easier than having to walk around the door and climb back into the vehicle every time that you want to turn it over.
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snipped-for-privacy@invalid.com wrote:

Dear LM.
Remove a spark plug out of the block, then reconnect the spark plug back into the spark cable ... place the wire end of the plug on the block, turn over the engine .. it will spark if it is working.
You got a spark, you got engine turn over, you got carb fluid ... it will run if the timing is on ... which I am sure it is.
Doubt that you tossed a timing chain and don't know it.
Surprised the block is not rusted together needing to be made lose before firing.
sumbuddie hopes this helps
:?
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When I can't find a helper (most of the time) I use a timing light pointed at the windshield where I can see it from the driver's seat in order to check for spark. My guess is that somebody ate some wires somewhere, possibly near the ignition coil. They especially like to chew through wires where you can't see them or get to them.
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There are starter buttons to purchase that hook up to the starter switch that on the old fords, are located at the firewall, and push a button to turn things over.
I usually do the screw driver to the starter posts, jump the battery juice over to turn the engine over while the plug is out of the block and laying outside to see if it grounds out to spark there. if it does, sure to spark in the block.
This backyard mechanic screw driver trick to short out the starter electrics are hard on the screwdriver, the starter posts, and the whole electrical system in a haphazard way to get a engine going, used only in an emergency usually.
Ulysses wrote;

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On May 18, 2:58am, snipped-for-privacy@invalid.com wrote:

You should check the points but do not change them. Sand them down a little and spacing is everything. In case of electronic distributor, check electronic control module on the fenderwell. Also replace the coil with same type. Coil should be replaced anyway.
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