Anyone near downtown recommended to help me diagnose electrical issues? - Vintage Mustang Forums
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-28-2007, 03:06 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 77
Right now, my car won't start, after I messed with some electrical issues. I've probably gotten in over my head.

If it were closer, I would take my car out to Chris at Mustang Restorations, since I have a lot of confidence in his work -- he did wonders with my vacuum system and console installation. Unfortunately, with my car not running, I'd imagine a tow there would be exorbitant in price.

I could probably go to most any repair shop to do some electrical diagnosis, but it would be nice if someone had some vintage Mustang expertise or came highly recommended. Any ideas?

Basically, I had an issue with my aftermarket alarm interfering with my power top switch (I'd hit the switch, and the alarm would chirp). This started occurring after I played around to disable the interior motion detector. At some point, I was driving, and my car shiut down electrically. It started back up, I drove home, but I think it killed my power top switch. My convertible top is now stuck in the "open" position (not bad if I'm only driving in good weather!).

I tried bypassing the switch just to get the top closed, but after running an 8 gauge jumper cable straight to the convertible top motor, I got a response from the power top motor (confirming that the problem is the switch or the circuit breaker to the switch), BUT there were also some sparks as I made the connection. Despite having all the electrical schematics printed out, I realized I was in over my head, especially with the top motor not being too far from the fuel tank.

I've since disassembled my entire dash, including taking out the aftermarket stereo and most of the alarm (left some of the connections for the contact points but disconnected the power and re-attached the starter wires which were attached the the "starter disable" wires of the alarm). I was hoping to get back to the basic wiring (without the alarm) to help me diagnose the issues. At the same time, it has given me the opportunity to replace my emergency flasher, clean up the instrument lenses, and take a look at my heater cables and hoses, which need to be replaced.

Last night, when I attached the battery cables (after removing the alarm), I could get the interior lights to go on, but nothing would happen when I turned the key.

I understand the electrical setup "conceptually" but also recognize that I don't even have the tools to diagnose the problems. I don't have a voltmeter or even an electrical circuit tester.

I realize most club members are in the burbs (and maybe I'll just suck it up and tow my car out to Chris in East Dundee), but thought maybe someone would have an idea for me in terms of a mechanic near downtown. Or, any club members downtown that could do a little diagnosing and allow me to either pay them or take them to dinner downtown?!

Thanks so much for reading. Despite my issues, this has been a great learning experience.

- Steve
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-28-2007, 08:38 PM
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Sorry to hear about your troubles.

First things first - go ahead and jump the top motor like you did and let it run all the way up even if you see some sparks.

That is a rather large load on the battery, and it will spark when you touch the wire to it like that.

If the motor is running and the top is going up, don't worry about the gas tank.

As for the other problems, you have to ask yourself what level you want to get into this.

If you are going to chalk it up as a learning experience and not get in too deep - then you will need to get it towed somewhere.

If you are willing to work through it - it can be done rather easily most of the time.

But you will need to invest in a volt meter. You can get a cheap digital one at any hardware store.

I would get one of those and a package of alligator clip wires.

Then, go here and download the 67 wiring diagram.

Try to do what you said, and return everything to as close to stock as possible.

From the description you gave, you messed up the circuit between the ignition switch and the starter solenoid somehow.

Hopefully, someone will be able to get to you to help, but if not - keep us updated here and we can try to help!

Good luck,


Jason Zimberoff [email protected] - 64.5 convertible
260 V8 - C4 Auto - Power Top - Console - 4 Wheel Drums

Zim's 64.5 Mustang -- Mustang Color Archive -- Chicago Vintage Mustang Club

"Nobody ever learned anything from listening to themselves talk..." - My grandfather
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-28-2007, 09:37 PM
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Steve, where are you at in chicago. I work in the city and maybe I can stop by and help after work. If you need a tow I have a dolly you can use.

69 coupe
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-29-2007, 12:18 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2004
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Zim - I am going to invest in a voltmeter on Tuesday. Maybe I'll try a little more troubleshooting, since I recognize that not having the voltmeter makes electrical diagnosis impossible. Will let you know. Thanks for the concern and advice.

Mark - I appreciate the offer. I didn't see an email for you. You can try me at: srs503 AT gmail. com in case you're near my neighborhood (River North - near Grand & Orleans) sometime in the next week or so.

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-29-2007, 01:20 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2004
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Quick update. In thinking things over, I'm starting to wonder if upon my "initial" tinkering with in-dash electrical items, my car wouldn't start due to my disabling the alarm WITHOUT reconnecting the starter wires back to stock. (which are cut to allow for the "starter disable" function of the alarm)

I wonder if by just disconnecting the alarm control box, I made it such that the car had no connection in the starter wire.

Meanwhile, I had considered this the next day and unhooked everything power-related with the alarm "back to stock" (and re-connected the original starter wire), but PERHAPS I was doing this with a "drained" battery -- still enough to light the interior lights but nothing else. I wouldn't be surprised if I left a connection to metal and drained the battery overnight.

I may go take my battery to Pep Boys this afternoon to figure out if it's charged. At the same time, I'll buy a voltmeter... hoping I won't need it but will still be good for my toolkit. Fingers crossed.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-29-2007, 05:16 PM Thread Starter
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What a sound! Car just started.

Zim - thanks so much for your advice. I had already been using the wiring schematics, which caused me to feel even more certain that I had everything correct. However, the "first try" on Thursday evening, I must have left a wire touching metal that was draining the battery. A car enthusiast friend alerted me to this possibility and assured me that it was possible for the interior lights to come on (and they did become a bit dim) without there being any ignition/crank of the engine.

So, after learning the battery was indeed dead, having it charged (took just over an hour for $5.45 at NAPA), and reinstalling it, the engine fired right up. I now have the confidence to properly fix the power top motor/switch issue. And, for good measure, I'll probably re-install the alarm and aftermarket stereo, since I think I now have a good understanding of how it all works. Plus, I now know how all the dash pieces fit together and am reconditioning the instrument panel myself.

I wish I had a real garage to learn more and do additional work. It's a quite bit more fulfilling than having a shop do it for me.

Mark - thanks again too for the offer to meet up, but it seems I'm good for now.

(Look for my "Alarm Installation Issues" thread coming tonight! )
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