"Chicken of Thunders" fails to start (for 15 min.)

'94 Tbird LX V8 (66k mi.).
Everything working fine for literally years. Pulled into a parking slot, unloaded trunk. Turned on ignition, idiot lites are OK,
motor wont turn over.
I figgered maybe Park tranny sensor, so I set the 'mergency brake and shifted to neutral. Same thing.
Neither the idiot lites nor the "guages" indicated a problem.
So it's gotta be the Idiot-Garbage Inertia switch (you can tell I'm a big fan <g>). But the little red button is locked down and not sticking up (ready to reset).
I scratched my head for about 15 min., tried it again and it started OK. 20 mi. to home, no problem.
Whot hoppened???
Puddin'
"Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens!" -Friedrich Schiller
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Puddin' Man wrote:

If it cranked but wouldn't start, I'd say Crank Position Sensor (CPS) is on the way out.
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I had a starter go bad the same exact way on a Lincoln Continental.
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It wouldn't crank.
Everything looked fine, no apparent problem, but the ignition switch wouldn't turn the motor over.
I am assuming that the circuits to solenoid and starter motor did not close. Ford is known for problematical ignition switches.
Maybe I oughta focus on the ig. switch. But why would it cease to function for 15 min. then resume functionality?
Would love to hear from someone intimate with Ford ig. switch functionality/disfunctionality and/or anything else likely to cause such a problem.
Prost, Puddin'
"Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens!" -Friedrich Schiller
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|Maybe I oughta focus on the ig. switch. But why would it |cease to function for 15 min. then resume functionality?
The starter gets heat soaked, 15 to 30 minutes down time gives it a chance to cool down.
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Puddin' Man wrote:

Then it's most likely the starter motor (it "heat soaks" and locks up). It used to happen on GM cars a LOT, but I suppose Fords aren't immune.
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It was medium-hot when it happened. Temp guage read 'normal', 'tho.
I didn't even hear "the click" (of the solenoid), but I was alone, sitting behind the wheel, and there was considerable noisy traffic, so I can't say for sure if the sol. kicked in.
Thx, Puddin'
"Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens!" -Friedrich Schiller
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Puddin' Man wrote:

I'm still pretty sure it's an aging heat-sensitive starter motor, but another possibility could be the cable terminals at the battery, if you have those cheap stamped ones that Ford Cost Engineers seem to like (might save $1 a car). I say this because I have a '94 Lincoln Mark VIII that did what you describe 3 times in 2 weeks when I first got the car. I replaced those cheap stamped battery terminals with a set of the offset post marine terminals, and the problem just went away; added about 0.2 volts on the charging also.
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...

Interesting!
I shouda mentioned I checked the positive battery terminal when I wasn't scratching my head during the 15 min. It looked pretty solid, but ... I'll look again.
Thx, Puddin'
"Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens!" -Friedrich Schiller
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On Thu, 21 Jun 2007 14:59:08 GMT, Puddin' Man

Check the ignition wire on the solenoid on the starter. They get loose and corrode catching you at bad times. Give it a good cleaning and tighten it by squeezing a bit with pliers to get it going. You may need to replace the female spade connector if it is badly corroded. There was a TSB out on this problem. I have been bitten twice - both time during a cold rain. Fix should take no more than 10 min once you get under it. Use dielectric grease or whatever to coat the connection when you get it clean and tight. Battery post jell/grease works fairly well.
Lugnut
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...

Back in the 90's I had an intermittent problem with a motorcycle ignition part (failed to start). It took literally about 2 years before the damn thing failed in my garage so's I could torture over the wiring until I found the bad device.
I can't remember the last time someone knocked on my door or rang my phone when I wasn't up a ladder, on the throne, etc.
It's just gotta be that way ... :-)

So, slide under, hose the connection with brake-parts cleaner, inspect, etc etc.
If that's it, I sho'ly wish it would've acted up 6-8 weeks ago (my lil' garage is like an inferno now).
Much Thanks, Puddin'
"Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens!" -Friedrich Schiller
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Finally drug the ramps out the rafters, put car/ramps in a shady spot on the street. Climbed under, took a good peek. The connection is muy mucho factory-solid and tighter'n a cat's arse with little or no corrosion.
It's actually hilarious. I don't like to root around under the damned thangs, so I try to find illustrations etc of components before I dive under. I couldn't even determine which side of the floggin' block the starter was mounted. From a Haynes manual (admittedly junk), a Ford manual on CD from Ebay, and a quick search with Google.
I doubt it is battery cables, or I'd be having other problems by now. Guess the primary suspect is the starter motor overheating? If it happens again the same way -and- I hear the solenoid click ...
The mystery continues.
Prosit, Puddin'
"Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens!" -Friedrich Schiller
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On Sat, 23 Jun 2007 14:39:24 GMT, Puddin' Man

Sorry, The problem you describe sure seemed familiar. Does yours have another solenoid on the right fender like a lot of other Fords? That can also be finnicky. You may hear a normal click and nothing happens with the starter. If that is the case, I would replace that solenoid first - it is relatively cheap and easy. A heat soaked starter is not all that common on Fords; that is mostly a GM problem. I've been fighting with one on our old '65 Chevy PU rod for years with a heat problem. It seems to be the weakest point in a GM electrical system. I'm beginning to believe the guy who built the engines setup the forged pistons too tight when he built the engine. Anyway, Ford historically has other problems with bad connections that can't be found in a weekend.
At any rate, known problems should usually be checked first. If it is the starter on your 'bird, it's gonna be a *itch to get out. I would suggest the cheap easy things first - the starter is not the easy one!
Good luck Lugnut
BTW, I hope your remembered to check the terminal for voltage when the switch is in the start position assuming it is still not starting. There is a possibility the ignition switch has bit the dust. They had some problems with that vintage. Many/most were recalled because of a propensity to short out after a while causing fires and other little problems.
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No problem. At this stage of the game, anything *plausable* is worth checking. I figger I'm in over my po' head. :-)

I don't see one under the hood anywhere.

Now you mention it, I seem to recall such trouble with a Chevy and maybe an Olds I had back in the 60's.

Uh-Oh. I didn't like the sound of that last ... :-(

Oh, I looked it over. I figger if I break my upper arm in only 2 places, and break each of 2 bones in my lower arm in only 1 place, I might be able to getta wrench on each bolt ... :-)

And there's no -hard- evidence that it -is- the starter.
Not sure what else to check, 'tho.

Which terminal?

Yeah, that's why I mentioned it in a previous post. Was hoping someone had specific knowledge of how the ignition switch might fail.
The problem hasn't recurred. I just put 20 mi. on it in considerable heat, no problem. Infrequent and intermittent problems are usually certified, 24 carat PITA's.
If anyone can think of other plausable culprits, I'm all ears.
Thx, Puddin'
"Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens!" -Friedrich Schiller
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lugnut wrote: <good stuff trimmed> . A heat soaked starter is not all

<more good stuff>
It's not common these days, but Ford starters used to be terrible to drag when hot. We called them Bar starters. When you stopped for a cold one after work, they were a great excuse to stay for two or three more. "Well Honey, I'm waiting for my darn starter to cool off". If you added headers, you got more beer time. :0
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Tom Adkins wrote:

LOL, so true. I can think of an exception though by way of a friends experience. Coming to California for the first time one August back in the 70's he stopped just around sundown to have a couple beers and wait for things to cool down for the last leg of his drive. The town he stopped in was Needles, Ca. When he stepped out of the air conditioned bar about an hour later he thought he had wandered straight into hell.
The "cool off" story would never fly in Needles, least not in the summer. :)
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We had a Chevrolet from the later '70's with the same problem; the starter would not turn over when hot. Waiting 10 to 15 minutes for it to cool off allowed the car to restart.
Eventually, of course, it failed completely. Well, not so eventually. It was a matter of a few days, two weeks, tops. A new starter cured the problem.
You might have the same problem. Then again...
Good luck!
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A very kind Ford mechanic figgered it might be separated battery plates or somesuch. We checked output amps: looks fine.
He also told me how to check for shorts etc in the ignition switch. I inspected the connectors: no evidence of a problem.
The problem has not recurred. But I'm betting it will. When I am beau coup miles from home and got immediate commitments out the wazoo, etc.
Soooooooooooooooooo, this one remains an "Extant Fordmobile Mystery". If anyone can think of something else to check, let me know.
Puddin'

"Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens!" -Friedrich Schiller
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| |Soooooooooooooooooo, this one remains an "Extant Fordmobile Mystery". |If anyone can think of something else to check, let me know.
Please let us know when it fails solid again and you have found the solution.
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Puddin' Man wrote:

Hey Puddin' I just re read this thread. I recalled the problem being a "crank but no start" but I was wrong. The engine just won't crank when this happens, right?.
If your ignition switch is original, it would be a good idea to replace it, cause of your problem or not. This is right at the time when Ford ignition switches were failing and causing fires. They can also cause untold other anomalies when they're on their way out, "intermittent no crank being" a really common one. They're about $20.
I don't recall if your Chicken has a fender mounted "starter relay" along with the starter mounted "solenoid". It is the same big "relay" that everyone used to mistakenly call the "starter solenoid" on older Ford products, close to the battery. I had one on a Ranger that nearly drove me to drink. It would "thunk" and show voltage on the output with a test lamp but the engine wouldn't crank (intermittently). I replaced the starter thinking the solenoid was intermittent. It kept coming back until I took a chance and replaced the relay. IIRC, your Tbird doesn't have this setup, but I mention it just in case my memory is faulty. If it has this relay, it might be a wise investment at less than $20. If it doesn't have the big starter relay, there will be a smaller one in the under hood fuse panel that may be doing the same thing. Less than $15.
Also, consider the brake lamp switch or the wiring to it's connector. It's very common for the wires at the switch to break inside the insulation. The ones I've seen caused a "no crank" all of the time but it is possible for them to be intermittent. Give the 2 wires at the brake lamp switch connector a tug. If one is broken internally, it will separate. A pigtail connector is about $8 if needed. If the brake switch is getting flaky, it will also cause a "no crank" condition at times. They're about $10. You can check it by having someone look at your brake lamps when the engine won't crank. No crank, no brake lights, bad switch or wire near the switch.
I'm certainly not a fan of tossing parts at a problem, nor do I usually recommend it, but if the car is old and the parts tossed are cheap and prone to weird, hard to catch, very intermittent failures that can leave you stranded... About $50 can buy a lot of peace of mind on an older vehicle in this situation.
Hope this helps, even a little bit.
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